The Rams enter the offseason with much uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position. The Rams' braintrust will spend a considerable amount of time assessing the three-headed monster they've created at the most important position on the football field. Will one of Nick Foles, Case Keenum or Sean Mannion emerge as the Rams' clear-cut starter in 2016? Or will the Rams seek to upgrade the position through the draft, by trade, or via Free Agency?
From Coach Jeff Fisher's year-end press conference on Monday:
Fisher also said that Case Keenum will head into offseason as the starting QB. Keenum is a restricted free agent.
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) January 4, 2016
Fisher said that Keenum will be the starter with Nick Foles getting a chance to compete. Also said that they'll evaluate outside options.
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) January 4, 2016
NFL Passer Rating
NFL Passer Rating measures the performance of quarterbacks and (since 1973) has been the official formula for determining passing leaders. Passer Rating is calculated using Completion Percentage, Yards Per Attempt, TD's Per Attempt and INT's Per Attempt in a weighted algebraic formula. Although the rating has its critics, its importance in determining a teams success cannot be underestimated.
From Kerry Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts, in an article for Sports Illustrated:
"you cannot be a smart football analyst and dismiss passer rating. In fact, it's impossible to look at the incredible correlation of victory to passer rating and then dismiss it. You might as well dismiss the score of a game when determining a winner. Few, if any, statistics are more indicative of wins and losses than passer rating."
2015 St. Louis Rams Passer Ratings: Nick Foles & Case Keenum
The accompanying chart presents the 2015 NFL Passer Ratings for Nick Foles and Case Keenum in each game they started:
Opponent Quarterback Passer Rating Game Result Seattle Nick Foles 115.8 Won Washington Nick Foles 76.3 Lost Pittsburgh Nick Foles 73.1 Lost Arizona Nick Foles 126.9 Won Green Bay Nick Foles 23.7 Lost Cleveland Nick Foles 86.0 Won San Francisco Nick Foles 101.9 Won Minnesota Nick Foles 68.7 Lost Chicago Nick Foles 53.0 Lost Baltimore Case Keenum 75.2 Lost Cincinnati Nick Foles 49.9 Lost Arizona Nick Foles 43.3 Lost Detroit Case Keenum 59.7 Won Tampa Bay Case Keenum 158.0 Won Seattle Case Keenum 86.2 Won San Francisco Case Keenum 77.6 Lost
The accompanying chart presents a summary of "86" Passer Ratings and applicable won/loss records:
|Rating 86 Plus
|Rating under 86
|4 wins-0 losses
|0 wins-7 losses
|2 wins-0 losses
|1 win-2 losses
|6 wins-0 losses
|1 win-9 losses
Observations & Analysis
There are a lot of moving parts associated with individual statistics, Passer Rating included. A quarterback's Passer Rating can be influenced in many ways: by the wide receivers (Do they gain separation? Percentage of drops?), team scheme and offensive philosophy, quality of the running game and pass blocking (to name a few). Nonetheless, Passer Rating presents a relatively simple and effective method for comparing quarterbacks and assessing their effect on a teams' won/loss record.
Over the past 5 seasons, the average NFL Passer Rating among all NFL quarterbacks is 84.4.
For the analysis of Nick Foles and Case Keenum, a base/cutoff point Passer Rating of 86.0 was used. An 86.0 Passer Rating is very slightly above average and its usage clearly illustrated how the Rams fared in the won/loss column in 2015 when their quarterbacks performed somewhat better-than-average/less-than-average. There is a strong correlation between the Rams' won/loss record and their quarterbacks' Passer Rating.
When the Rams scored more than 20 points in a game, their record was 7-0. Conversely, when the Rams failed to score 20 points or more, their record was 0-9. The defense kept them in most games. The failure of the offense to score points was all too apparent, especially in the 5 games the Rams lost consecutively in mid-season (54 points scored combined).
Nick Foles started 11 games for the Rams in his debut season with the team. In those 11 games, Foles had a Passer Rating of 86.0 or better 4 times. The Rams won all 4 games (including victories over Seattle and Arizona early in the season). In the 7 games where Foles' Passer Rating was less than 86.0, the Rams' record was 0-7.
Case Keenum started 5 games for the Rams in 2015. In those 5 games, Keenum had a Passer Rating of 86.0 or better twice. The Rams won both of those games. In the 3 games where Keenum's Passer Rating was less than 86.0, the Rams' record was 1-2.
Overall, the Rams' quarterbacks had only 6 games where their Passer Rating was 86.0 or better. In those 6 games, the Rams were a perfect 6-0. In the remaining 10 games (where their Passer Rating was less than 86.0), the Rams' record was an abysmal 1-9. Quite simply, you need consistently decent quarterback play to win in today's NFL.
As an aside (with the playoffs starting this weekend), 7 of the top 10 passing teams in the league did not make the playoffs. Conversely, 5 of the top 10 rushing teams made the playoffs.
The Rams could very well roll with Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion as their quarterbacks in 2016. Given their offensive philosophy, the Rams don't need one of the three (or another acquisition) to be the next coming of Drew Brees. What they need is efficient, consistent play from the quarterback position. Similar to what re-tread (and 2005 St. Louis Rams draft pick) Ryan Fitzpatrick accomplished with the New York Jets this past season, leading the Jets to a 10-6 record with an 88.0 Passer Rating. Bear in mind, the Rams were only 12 points away (over three games) from 10-6 themselves.
Thanks for reading!