NFL AM: QB Non-Changes Best For Franchise Or Coach?


All of the best decision makers in all of sports (and life) have one thing in common.  It’s not that they don’t make mistakes, but they can readily admit when they have made them and do their best to correct those errors.  The NFL’s model franchise, the New England Patriots, have waived draft picks a year or two into their careers because the front office doesn’t have to worry about their job security so they can stick to their convictions in a productive way, which occasionally involves admitting to mistakes.

That’s how the best in all of the world do things.

Far too many decisions in the National Football League are made with “CYA” in mind.  It appears that we’re seeing those decisions acting out in both New York and Los Angeles.

As bad as Rams quarterback Case Keenum has been this season (9 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 77.2 quarterback rating), he probably gives the Rams a better chance to win right now than No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff.  Although Rams head coach Jeff Fisher proudly proclaimed in the team’s league mandated appearance of HBO’s Hard Knocks that his team wasn’t going to go .500 again, he might be right, but on the wrong side.

“Little things are important, you follow me?” Fisher said after waiving a player for sneaking a lady into his dorm room during training camp. “I am not f—ing going 7-9 or 8-8 or 9-7, OK? Or 10-6 for that matter. This team is too talented. I am not going to settle for that, OK? I know what I am doing. We had some 7-9 bulls— this morning. Now, Deon’s gone. That is 7-9 bulls—. We don’t need it.”

After starting out of the gates with a 3-1 record, the team has dropped four straight games to sit in third place at 3-5.  Keenum’s play has been a major factor in the losses, as he’s been turnover prone and they haven’t been able to score many points.  With the No. 1 overall pick in the draft collecting dust along with his clipboard, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Fisher would make the switch in the betterment of the franchise.

Wait, we’re talking about Jeff Fisher here, the most mediocre of mediocre head coaches, who like the might cockroach can survive a nuclear winter.

He said in a press conference that they “didn’t expect to be 3 and whatever we are, OK, but I’m not uncomfortable at all.”

Fisher added that “I never look over my shoulder” and that he and owner Stan Kroenke were “on the same page” regarding the team.

“He understands what we’ve been through,” Fisher said. “He’s as disappointed as I am at the losses … and he understands that we’re competitive and we’re doing everything we possibly can to get this turned around.”

Of course he’s not uncomfortable.  If the “Mustached Maestro of Mediocrity” can squeeze out seven wins on the season, he can likely segue that into yet another extension due to the distractions of the team’s first year in a new city.

That’s what’s best for Fisher.  What is likely best for the organization would be to play the quarterback that they’ve deemed the face of the franchise to get some of the lumps out of the way in a season that’s all but lost anyway.  Even if it means just one or two more victories the rest of the way.

Still, Fisher is sticking to the usual script entering this weekend’s matchup against the New York Jets.

“Case right now, especially against this defense, gives us our best chance,” he said.

Keenum probably does give the Rams the best chance to win, but is that what’s best for the organization?

The team that the Rams are playing on Sunday, the Jets and their head coach Todd Bowles are in a similar situation.  Bowles squad is 3-6 and if there’s been a worse starting quarterback than Keenum this year it’s New York’s signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitz was already benched once (for about seven minutes) for Geno Smith, who promptly tore his ACL in the first half of his first start of the season.  The Harvard graduate was back to being the Jets starting quarterback by default and despite flashes of mediocrity, Fitzpatrick has been mostly bad.

New York doesn’t have the type of investment in their backups (Bryce Petty- 4th round, Christian Hackenberg- 2nd round) as the Rams do, but that should make it even easier to “throw one of those guys out there.”

The Jets even have an injury to fall back on as Fitzpatrick apparently hurt his knee in the team’s loss to Miami.

“He has a sprained knee,” Bowles explained.  “He’s probably day-to-day.  We’ll know more as the week progresses.”

As for his status as starting quarterback, Bowles was unclear.

“I don’t know,” the second year Jets head coach said.  “I have to see him run around a little bit on Wednesday and Thursday first….If he misses a significant amount of time, then Bryce (Petty) will play.  He’ll have to practice some on Friday, at least, and have him get an understanding of the game plan and we’ll make a decision going forward.”

There’s nothing from preseason that says that Petty would be a legitimate upgrade over Fitzpatrick, but knowing that this is Fitz’s last year in New York and with the team going nowhere, what harm would it be to find out?

The easy answer to that question is that Bowles win-loss record could be harmed, which could cause him some premature unemployment.

There’s an epidemic of coaches and general managers doing what’s best for themselves instead of what’s likely best for the organization.  That type of thinking, while certainly founded as human beings, furthers the divide between the Patriots of the world and everyone else.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.