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2016 Rams Positon Preview: Quarterbacks

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Jared Goff is an investment in the future of the franchise, but can he be the immediate answer to the Rams quarterback dilemma or will it be the incumbent Case Keenum?

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There has been no shortage of headlines centered around Rams quarterbacks this offseason. Throughout the NFL Draft process, it was clear that the franchise with a new city also wanted a new quarterback to match. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were the Rams top two choices leading up to draft weekend, and they ultimately settled on Goff with the first overall selection. Of course, the selection of Goff set off a chain reaction of questions about the other quarterbacks moving to Los Angeles.

Before getting too serious, it was fun to see Sean Mannion getting first team reps earlier in the offseason. Case Keenum was not at practice that day and Mannion getting those reps obviously meant nothing, but the speculation was priceless. Though Mannion has a solidified spot on the roster, the starting job was never a realistic achievement for him.

Above all else, the media became obsessed with what might happen to Nick Foles, who the Rams had traded for just a year ago. Trading up for Goff made a strong statement to Foles that his days as the Rams starting quarterback were numbered. Les Snead tried to shop Foles to other teams, but nobody took the bait. Foles was ultimately released by the Rams and scooped up by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jared Goff versus Case Keenum has been the narrative since Foles made it clear that he wasn’t going to play in Los Angeles. Goff is a highly touted quarterback prospect with a sharp football mind and efficient passing ability. The Rams front office traded up for him in hopes of him being the franchise’s savior. In due time, Goff may revitalize the organization, but reports have been all over the place on him and it’s difficult, from an outside perspective, to assume Goff is ready to take to the field. Every instance of optimism is matched with doubt.

Keenum, on the other hand, has proven he can be a functional professional quarterback. He is smart enough and accurate enough to keep the offense relatively on schedule while Goff picks up a few extra weeks to prepare. Keenum won three of his five starts last season, accounting for 828 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. By no means was Keenum the reason the Rams won those games, but he enabled the rest of the team to do their job and win the game.

That said, it’s tough to justify starting Keenum. The Rams cut in Keenum in 2014 before re-signing him last year, making is tricky to start him over the quarterback that they just traded a bevy of top 100 draft picks for. Goff is supposed to be the future, but there’s a goof case that he needs to be the present, too, considering how much they spent on him.

The Rams are in a pickle. Their expensive young signal caller is not ready to take the wheel, yet it’s hard to rationalize benching the first overall quarterback selection on a team that desperately needs quarterback play to give the offense life. There seems to be no immediate win for the Rams. Realistically, they will focus the entire offense around Todd Gurley again while Goff works his way toward being ready for the NFL.

What point in the season Goff will be ready is a mystery. Ideally, he learns and grows swiftly through preseason games, but it’s more than likely that he won’t be completely prepared for the NFL by then. Whether or not Goff is ready for the start of the season, it is going to be interesting to see how Jeff Fisher and company handle the young quarterback’s first professional season.