St. Louis Rams A.J. Feeley And The Thankless Work Of A Backup QB

A.J. Feeley #4 of the St. Louis Rams looks to pass the ball against the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on October 30, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

St. Louis Rams backup quarterback A.J. Feeley deserves a little credit for last week's win. He did exactly what a backup quarterback is supposed to do, which is not screw up and run the offense just enough to let the rest of the team around him pick up the slack. Fortunately, the rest of the team decided to pick up the slack last week, and the Rams were able to get the win. 

I can't think of a better statistic to quantify a classic backup performance better than this one from Football Outsiders

A.J. Feeley on passes at or behind the line of scrimmage: 8-of-10 passing, 67 yards, three first downs. All other passes: 12-of-27, 109 yards, seven first downs (including a touchdown).

Game management is what some people call that. It worked because the rest of the offense stood tall and the Rams went back to a healthy mix of Steven Jackson in the offense. Feeley made quick, short passes that were more reminiscent of the Pat Schumur days. That gave the offensive line a little bit more to work with in pass protection. The receivers, aided by the presence of Brandon Lloyd and an effective running game, were able to extend some of those shorter catches. 

In truth, Feeley's passing in the 0-9 yard range has been acceptable. For all his throws this season in the 0-9 yard range, Feeley is 24 for 39, a decent 61.5 percent completion rate. Looking deeper...well, you saw what happened on those two throws to Brandon Lloyd behind the Saints defense. 

Feeley wasn't flawless, but he didn't do anything to put the Rams at risk this week. The team was able to step up to prevent his late game fumble that the Saints converted to a touchdown from biting them. That's about all you can ask for from a backup. If the Rams defense can build on their performance, if the receivers can keep catching the ball and the offensive line can block that that, then the Rams should be just fine against the Cardinals this week if Bradford can't play.

And of course, if Bradford can play this week, all the more reason for the team to play like that. 

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