Generally speaking, when a quarterback is drafted #1 overall, it's to immediately improve the quality of play at the most important position in the NFL. If you look back at past #1 picks, you see a whole lot of QBs who played early in their careers. Not with the Los Angeles Rams.
When the Rams selected Cal product Jared Goff first overall, a lot of Rams fans (myself included) were hopeful that he could improve an offense that ranked last in the NFL in 2015. Jeff Fisher had other plans.
Fisher announced this week that Goff will be the backup QB in the Rams week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks. While this is an improvement over the #1 Overall pick not dressing for the Rams week 1 blowout loss, one has to wonder why the change is being made now.
What did Goff do this week that he failed to do in the preseason to earn such a promotion? In short... nothing.
Case Keenum was absolutely abysmal in week 1. There's no getting around that. But if this was about QB performance, Sean Mannion performed the best in the preseason so shouldn't he get a shot? Not on Fisher's Rams. Instead of getting a chance to be a short term solution, Mannion gets demoted.
"I've tried to not think about things that way," said Mannion, who wasn't happy that he'd been demoted but kept a professional demeanor. "All along I've tried to take things day to day and play my best football. I thought I put a lot of good stuff out there in OTAs, training camp and in the preseason. I just have to keep doing that and see what happens."
I truly feel bad for this kid. He's busting his ass, has played relatively well, and knows that there's zero chance he's given a legit shot at playing.
What this boils down to is that Jeff Fisher and the Rams actually believed that they could win with Keenum. The plan was to ride Gurley and the Defense as far as they would carry them. For those new to Fisherball, that's the recipe for 7 wins that the team has followed since Fisher arrived. Just enough to inspire hope for next year but perpetually failing to deliver on any potential the roster may have.
The fact that Fisher doesn't value competent QB play is concerning enough, but the way he's handling this situation is even more concerning. There is value in sitting a young QB to protect them, but there is going to come a point in the very near future where the Rams will finally realize that Keenum isn't going to win them many games.
With Goff becoming the backup, it becomes a matter of when - not if - he is thrown into the fire. Any chance Mannion was going to get a shot has came and gone. He may be a viable long term backup to Goff, but he won't start ahead of the rookie after being declared #3.
I'm an optimist by nature, but you have to look at this situation and wonder what the Rams were thinking. They've put themselves in a lose-lose situation. They're wasting their time with Keenum, but have handicapped themselves from playing Mannion without compromising Goff's confidence and/or development.