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St. Louis Rams: Jeff Fisher Discusses Benching Foles, Promoting Isaiah Battle, and Looking For O-Line Help

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday afternoon, St. Louis Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher made the move to bench Nick Foles.  The team will start Case Keenum in Week 11.  Here’s what Fisher had to say about making the change, season-ending injuries, Wes Welker’s play, and more...

Jeff Fisher - Press Conference - 11/16/15

(Opening statement)
"Let me give you a little injury update here. Unfortunately, we’ve lost ‘J.B.,’ (G) Jamon (Brown) for the year. He’ll have season-ending surgery probably middle of this week. Last night, (T) Darrell Williams had season-ending surgery as well. He dislocated his wrist. Finished the game, the last four or five plays. Coincidentally, it happened on the same play, both injuries happened on the interception return. So, he’ll be lost for the remainder of the season as well. We got some good news on (T) Rob (Havenstein). Rob left the game with a calf injury and it’s not as significant as we feared last night. He’ll be day-to-day, possibly week-to-week, but he’ll be returning. So, at some point here we’ll be placing on injured reserve both J.B. and Darrell, which means our intention is to bring up (T) Isaiah (Battle) off the practice squad. Then we’re currently looking at other options right now. I don’t have any other information for you. We’re discussing stuff with our pro scouting department to see what our options are to get some depth in here and potentially some practice squad help. Unfortunately, it was a blow but we’ve got a good group of young players. I’m not going to go into detail as to who is going to play where for competitive reasons, but we’re planning that as we speak right now as far as (G) Cody (Wichmann) and (G/T) Andrew (Donnal) and what we do with (G/T) Garrett (Reynolds) and so on and so forth. We took a little blow but we’ll be fine. Fortunately we’ve got depth, we’ve got youth. These guys are going to become good players because of their experience. So, that’s where that is.

"(DE) Rob (Quinn) came in. Our goal was somewhere between 15 and 20 snaps. He got 14 snaps, on most of which he rushed. It’s good to get him back so I would expect to see his reps increase this week. (DE) Chris (Long) felt really good. I think we’ll get Chris back on the practice field this week and we’ll see where that goes. (S) T.J. (McDonald) got back, got through it. We had a couple little minor things but... We’re going to benefit from some rest this week. We’ve got a great opponent, a disappointed opponent in Baltimore, who suffered a difficult loss last night and lost a number of close games.

"Additionally, we’ve been over the last, probably say four to five weeks, been looking at the offense and the big picture of our offense and just the production of our offense. I’ve decided to go ahead and make a quarterback change. I’m going to go ahead and go with Case (Keenum). I have as of recently, an hour or so ago, talked to all three quarterbacks and (QB) Coach (Chris) Weinke. This is my decision. Nobody came down the hall and said, ‘This is what we need to do.’ This is my decision. As I told the quarterbacks, the lack of production is not Nick’s (Foles) fault. The lack of production is a collective offensive effort and coaching. But, I need more production and it starts with that position. As I told Case, he doesn’t have a short leash. We’re going to let him play. We’re going to use his legs and let him make some plays. Nick also understands that he eventually will be under center for us again. But, this is my decision based on what I think is best for this team offensively is to go this direction. By no means do we regret the trade. By no means do we regret the extension. Nick is a good quarterback. He’s captain of this football team. But at this point right now, based on where we are offensively, I feel this is the direction we have to go."

(On his history of avoiding ‘quarterback controversies’)
"It’s not a quarterback controversy. Right now, all three of those guys in that room understand exactly what’s going on. I talked to all three of them together, like I said, and I don’t expect Nick to like it because he’s a competitor, but he understands. We’re going to move forward here. I’m not saying this is week-to-week, but this is what’s best right now for our team as we move forward from a production standpoint offensively. They all need to play better. The receivers need to play better. The tight ends need to play better. (T) Greg Robinson needs to play better. They all need to play better. Nick didn’t fumble the ball on the 17-yard line, nor did he give up two explosive plays for over 80 yards. It’s not his fault. We all need to play better. But I’m confident that right now this is the right decision for us as we move forward."

(On trading for Keenum and what he saw from him last year)
"What we saw in Case here on the practice field was special. His instincts, his mobility, his arm strength, his anticipation. Mind you, it was just practice, he was running scout team. When he got to go two-minute against the defense, it was there. He’s won games. He’s proven it. He’s won games in Houston with a team that had significant injuries around him and he found ways to win games. We’re going to trust his mobility and his ability to extend plays and things, and just give us an offensive spark that we need."

(On if the injuries to the offensive line factored into the decision to switch quarterbacks)
"Did not factor into it, no. I’ve been contemplating this prior to yesterday with the injuries."

(On how well Keenum knows the offense)
"Knows the offense. Pays very particular attention to everything that we do. Whether it’s practice, or obviously he’s great in the meetings. He gets every call on the sideline. He knows exactly what’s going on. He hasn’t had a regular season practice rep on offense yet, but I promise you he’s going to get plenty of them this week."

(On what Foles has to do to reestablish himself)
You know what, Nick just needs a break. He just needs a break right now. He’s going to continue to work. He’ll run scout team. He’ll be prepared to play. But, he just needs to get more experience under his belt in this offense. And we need to do a better job around him and I keep circling back to that. It’s not easy. It’s hard. But, to me it’s the right decision for us moving forward."

(On if Foles looked uncomfortable on film)

We had some people open when the ball should’ve been delivered on time and the ball should’ve been completed. Again, it’s not just yesterday. It’s over the last few weeks

"There were some routes that weren’t correctly run. There were some protection issues where he had pressure in his face. There were some opportunities where we had some people open when the ball should’ve been delivered on time and the ball should’ve been completed. Again, it’s not just yesterday. It’s over the last few weeks."

(On his impressions of WR Wes Welker)
"He was exact in his plays. He ran the routes appropriately. He got open. We hit him a few times and missed him a few times. He looked like he’d been doing it for a long time, which is good to see."

(On if he noticed if Foles was too hyped up)
"Nick is full of energy and he just loves to play and is competitive. As I’ve said numerous times, even when things go bad, it’s okay. He believes he’s going to come back and get it done - that’s good. I love those qualities in him. I love the leadership qualities in him. There was a few times when, had we been a little more patient and gone through the progression, the ball would’ve gone to the correct place and we may have extended some drives. Again, I go back to all of that. The offensive holdings and the third-and-17s that we had to overcome and the first-and-20s and those kind of things, they weren’t Nick. We have to all get better."

(On if T Greg Robinson is making enough progress)
"He’s making progress from the standpoint of knowing exactly what to do, but how to do it has been a little inconsistent here as of late. So, we have to keep working with him. The holdings, sometimes they’re called, sometimes they’re not. But, if they’re looking at him as a grabber right now, then he’s got to keep his hands inside."

(On the holds on Robinson in the last few games where he shoves the defender to the ground)
"When they stumble, when someone stumbles and you push them to the ground, it shouldn’t be a foul. Sometimes they’re called, sometimes they’re not."

(On what he saw on the crack-back block penalty)
"I didn’t like it. I thought it was contact on the shoulder. The head was across and the contact was on the shoulder. I didn’t see any helmet-to-helmet contact. I wasn’t a fan of that call."

(On if he noticed a crack-back block on the Bears’ screen-play touchdown)
"There was, yeah. There was a few of those that went unnoticed, yeah."

(On if the Bears using two tight ends was unexpected)
"Their plan, well (WR) Alshon (Jeffery) didn’t play, he didn’t practice much during the week. And they had a good plan. Their plan was to come out with the two tight end stuff just to kind of reduce our defensive package. You come out with three wides - and of course (WR) Eddie (Royal) was out – so, you come out with three wides, you’re going to get a lot more exotic stuff. The two tight end package made sense for them. We anticipated that. So, the game wasn’t, from our defensive standpoint it wasn’t as exotic as it normal is. Especially on first and second down."

(On if it’s tougher to blitz against two tight ends)
"Well, they weren’t going to get (QB) Jay (Cutler) hit. That was their deal. They were getting rid of the ball. Run the ball, get rid of it quick. It was a good plan. Since the start of the season, we’ve been tackling good. We’ve made some… I referenced (S) Rodney’s (McLeod) tackles on ‘AP’ (Vikings running back Adrian Peterson) last week up in Minnesota. We’ve done a really good job minimizing gains. Here, we give up two giant plays on what is in essence a two-yard flat route by a tight end and a screen pass to a back. That’s not good defensively."

(On if he’s aware of the comments that were made by Jay Glazer on the FOX pregame show about the Bears complaining to the league about the Rams)
"I did not hear about it. It would surprise me that (Bears Head) Coach (John) Fox would do something like that. I would be surprised at that. Games are officiated…we all want more consistency as it relates to officiating the games. That’s what every head coach talks about is let’s gets consistency from crew to crew to crew. But, crews don’t come in and officiate games differently based on who the opponents are. They don’t do that. Now, there may be a formation issue or a motion issue or something like that that comes up or things like that that they’re alerted to. But, I find that hard to believe."

(On Glazer having a close relationship with Bears Head Coach John Fox)
"Well, that’s their issue, not mine. We didn’t lose the game because of that. We lost the game because we gave up two big plays because on defense and weren’t productive offensively."

(On what he thought about the roughing call made against S Mark Barron)
"Well, we had (Bears QB) Jay (Cutler) around the legs. Jay was going down and still had the ball, and Barron just came and tried to finish the tackle. (Referee) Jeff (Triplette) said he hit him with the crown of his helmet to his chest. I don’t know if Jeff was in position to see whether the crown or helmet or whether it was the hairline of the helmet, but sometimes those things are called."

(On how he thinks QB Sean Mannion is progressing)
"He’s got a good feel for what we’re doing. He’s paying attention. He’s not getting reps. He’s getting very few scout team reps, but when he gets them, he’s doing fine. He puts our cards in our terminology and he’s doing fine. So, we’ll try to get him some more reps here as we push forward."

(On if T Andrew Donnal and G Cody Wichmann will have bigger roles now due to injuries on the offensive line)
"Well, Andrew got to play last week. He got to start and played the whole game, so that’s valuable experience. Now, as we move forward, it looks like they’re both going to play. I mean, I’ve been pleased with Cody. Cody missed some time with the calf injury during camp, but since then, Coach (Paul) ‘Bou’s (Boudreau) getting him reps and he knows what to do – big strong guy who can pull and can pass protect. So, we’ll see."

(On bringing T Isaiah Battle up to the active roster)
"From a conditioning standpoint and a lower body strength and overall strength standpoint, he’s much further ahead than he was when he got here. He wasn’t in good shape when he got here for obvious reasons, of supplemental and so we had to get him in shape. He’s done a really good job in the weight room. He has a much better feel for what we’re doing. He’s got really long arms. He’s athletic. So, I spoke with him today. He’s a snap away from playing."

(On if C/G Demetrius Rhaney figures into the mix of offensive linemen)
"He does. Yes, as backup center/guard and all that."

(On Rhaney being close to winning the center starting position during camp)
"He was very close, but (C) ‘Timmy’ (Tim Barnes) won it. I see ‘D’ as a center right now and see the other guys more as guards. So, he’s, in essence, your backup center."

(On if G Garrett Reynolds has to play right tackle)
"(He) has done it before, yeah. So, we’ll plug him in. I’d be more concerned about my field goal protection right now than who’s playing on the offensive line."

(On his thoughts about University of Missouri Football Head Coach Gary Pinkel’s announcing his retirement last week)
"Well, I’ve met him several times. Great respect for what he’s done and what he’s done in the program. It’s hard to walk away. It’s even harder to walk away on your own terms. But, when you make a decision based on his personal situation, his medical situation and his family situation, you can’t help but wish him the best of luck. They’re going to miss him. I mean, he’s going to miss ball and they’re going to miss him. He’s an outstanding man, outstanding coach."