It's been deemed taboo to speak of Keith Null starting. Coach Spagnuolo thought of it as a last ditch effort, something that shouldn't happen save for (gasp) an injury to Kyle Boller. Browsing through Jim Thomas' article today about last weeks game was confusing, as I saw quite a few tidbits of information stating that Keith Null's psyche is much stronger then we (or at least the coaching staff) thought.
Firstly, you have this quote:
Yeah, I would love to get out and play again...The more experience I get, the better.
That comes straight from the Texas mouth of Keith Null. It pretty much reiterates everything that has been said on this board for a while; there is no shortcoming to seeing what talent the rookie has. As I am told unfortunately, 1-12 does not bode well in Wild Card math. (Neither does Kyle Boller, but that's an entirely different story. I'm sure he would hate to lose yet another job to a rookie though).
In fact, as another quote in the article points out, he was even cracking jokes about his play:
I made some good throws. Good reads. I threw the ball to the right read most of the time. I had a lot of completions. If you count the interceptions, [I had] even more completions.
It's beginning to get obvious that Spagnuolo was merely making excuses; there is no doubt that Null didn't just magically get this bravado by stepping in for the Rams (during a blow out, no less). It's more and more obvious that the reason Null didn't play was to salvage any credibility the Rams had during this season. It's one thing to look at what you have, it's another thing completely to throw out a 6th round draft pick when your season is effectively over. Evaluating is different then throwing in the towel.
Spagnuolo has always seemed to be a classy guy and it shows in some of the things he said:
You always want to see the look in their eye. And I thought [Keith] had a good look. He wasn't frazzled by anything, really.
Spags' even went so far as to say:
I'm not comparing Keith to Peyton Manning, but I think in his first year (Manning) had a bunch of interceptions. Now again, please don't be writing down that I'm comparing Keith. I mean, that's what they go through. And he'll learn from that. I know he will.
Like I said, not playing Null had to have been a face saving measure. Playing him now or next year, the Rams will still be going through all sorts of growing pains. Seriously Spags, this whole "Lets not hurt him mentally, he's still young, he needs teaching and experience before he plays," type of mentality doesn't quite work when you compare him to Peyton Manning. You wouldn't have said that to the media (of all people) if you didn't mean it.
After sitting on it last night and watching the tape, I did some things and I know I can play at this level.
At this point in the season, there is no reason why Null shouldn't be playing. It's one thing when you can keep him riding the pine and not have to play him, but once you've let the cat out of the bag...there just isn't a point to keeping him as the backup anymore.