Alright, what's the point of overraction Monday without a little Keith Null talk, huh? The St. Louis Rams rookie, third string QB erased (some) memories of his five INT introduction to the NFL last week with what was an all-around solid outing, though not without rookie mistakes, in a near-win against the Houston Texans.
For the second week in a row, the young man from a little school in West Texas showed the poise and composure that had everyone talking last week. Null completed 18 of 27 passes for 173 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Nothing special, but Null did throw one more TD than Brett Favre and had better stats than Tom Brady. As far as the playcalling goes, the Rams did use more three and four receiver sets for the experienced spread QB compared to last week. And offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur had his rookie QB airing out, taking shots down the field too. Last week, Null averaged 3.5 yards per pass; this week it was 5.0 yards per pass. It wasn't the best QB performance for the 2009 Rams - that was Bulger's outing against the Saints back in week 10 - but in a season where good QB outings have been few and far between, Null's game does grade out as one of the better performances we have seen from a QB this season. (Just going by QB rating, Null's 81.2 was the second best for a Rams QB playing a complete game this season; Bulger had a 93.5 against NO).
One digression: I feel a little bad for Null or any QB. The Rams are so talent starved every single mistake gets amplified because they just can't overcome those errors.
So, that makes Null the next Kurt Warner by default? Absolutely not. Ryan Leaf's former protege has a long way to go before he earns the title of anything other than fill-in. However, he is the team's best option at QB at this point in the season, and should start the last two games.
Why not Boller? We've had five games of Boller's six year career. We know what he is capable of when he is under center. Maybe he's less likely to muff a snap because he's at least used to taking them directly, but at least he can go through his progressions and find a receiver...even though that receiver will probably drop the pass. Null seems to be working better with the team around him than Boller.
What about "beating him down" a la JaMarcus Russell, as PD columnist and sometime Rams watcher Jeff Gordon suggests? Ridiculous. Sacks weren't Russell's biggest problem; Russell was Russell's biggest problem...that and being part of the Raiders. Null, whether he pans out or not and he could very well not, at least has the passion and committment to keep pouring every ounce of effort into it. His follow up to a 5 interception proves that.
It sounds like the Rams do plan to start Null over the season's final two weeks, which will go a long way toward determining how he fits into the plans for 2010. Whether he winds up back on the third string or not, Null is the only Rams QB to see the field this season that actually does figure into the plans for 2010.