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Thread: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

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    Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Bernie Miklasz

    I wasn't surprised to see Kellen Clemens draw interest on the free-agent market, and on Thursday he agreed to terms with San Diego on a two-year deal for $3 million.

    All things considered, Clemens did a solid job for the 2013 Rams in his nine starts after Sam Bradford was lost to a knee injury. Given the Rams' midstream change in style and the shift to a big emphasis on the running game, I don't know that Clemens' stats have much relevancy.

    In his nine starts Clemens completed 59 percent of his throws with eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and a decent passer rating of 79.0. The Rams went 4-5 in his starts, and that included impressive wins over Indianapolis, New Orleans and Chicago.

    Bradford's critics liked to point to those wins as evidence of Clemens being a “winner” in comparison to Bradford. Sure. Just completely disregard the fact that the Rams rushed 100 times for 542 yards and five touchdowns and forced 11 turnovers in those three Ws. Clemens played well, but he wasn't anywhere near the top of the list when assigning credit for the three upsets.

    Perhaps more on point was Clemens' four starts against NFC West teams in 2013:

    Completion rate: 57 %

    Yards Per Attempt: 5.71

    Touchdowns: 2

    Interceptions: 7

    Passer Rating: 55.2

    Record: 0-4.

    From 2012 until the time he was injured last year, the Rams had a 5-2-1 record when Bradford started against NFC West rivals. He was terrific in several games, mediocre in some, and was brutally bad in the home loss to San Francisco last season. But Bradford showed he could make plays against three outstanding defenses, throwing 10 touchdown passes and connecting for 14 completions of 25 or more yards.

    But I don't want to dog Clemens here. He actually played much better than I anticipated. And more than that, Rams players respected him and trusted him. Unless it's a situation where a Steve Young is backing up a Joe Montana, it's unrealistic to expect your No. 2 guy to be a real impact guy. What you realistically hope is that the No. 2 steps in, handles the emergency with poise, makes the plays that are there, minimizes his mistakes and does his part to secure victories in games that are winnable.

    And for the most part, Clemens did that. Not always; the home loss to Seattle last season was an example of Clemens failing to make a play when the Rams had the Seahawks vulnerable to a knockout punch. But Clemens did a fine job, and then some, because this could have been a disaster. Granted, the Rams didn't ask a lot of him; Clemens took over an offense that had been redesigned to gear up for the run. But he ran that offense effectively, and limited the damage. And for the realists among us, that's pretty much all you can ask a No. 2 to do – at least most of them, anyway.

    That's why ESPN's Bill Polian – one of the greatest general managers in NFL history – gave Clemens a B minus rating when assessing the quarterbacks before the opening of free agency. Polian had Clemens as his top QB on the free agent list, rating him higher than Michael Vick, Josh McCown, Matt Cassel and others. I don't think I agree with that, but I certainly expect Polian and his opinions.

    Polian wrote, “Clemens filled in capably when starter Sam Bradford was injured. There's no starting potential given his skill set, but he can be a reasonably good backup.”

    Given the relative quality of Clemens' performance in an emergency scenario, it raises the question: Did the Rams make a mistake here by not re-signing him? The Chargers didn't exactly overwhelm Clemens financially.

    I think this makes for a good debate. My friend Nick Wagoner, who covers the Rams for ESPN.com, made a case for keeping Clemens. And I agree with much of what Wagoner said.

    I would have been good with keeping Clemens around, but what really matters to me is what the Rams do next. This is a sensitive time for the Rams and the QB position. Bradford has been their starter for four seasons, but has made it through only two of the four without being struck down or compromised by injuries.

    Though the Rams appear to be in denial, Bradford's durability is an issue. So it makes sense to have a veteran No. 2 that can bring reasonable stability to a crisis, as Clemens did last season. If the Rams don't sign a veteran backup, then what?

    Two obvious options:

    1. Make Austin Davis the No. 2, and don't fret over his inexperience. Davis has been on the Rams' roster for much of the last two years, and he's never played in a regular-season NFL game. Do the coaches trust Davis to take over if needed? I don't know. After all, they cut Davis last summer only to call him back when Bradford fell. If you have a strong positive feeling about a young QB, you don't cut him. You keep him to develop him.

    2. Draft a quarterback in May. GM Les Snead has expressed a desire to do that, but is it a priority? Do the Rams do something aggressive, like taking a QB in the second or third round? Or do they wait for the middle/late rounds? Only they can answer that. It depends on their level of enthusiasm for a particular prospect.

    We can certainly lay out the reasoning for making it a priority. Bradford has two seasons left on his massive rookie-year contract. If he flops or is hurt again in 2014, Sam could be a cap casualty before 2015. One way or another, the Rams soon will face a major decision at a vital position.

    If they plan to stay with Bradford come landfill hell or high water in Earth City -- and enrich him with another contract -- then developing a prospect at the No. 2 spot is less of a priority. But if the Rams decide to cut ties with Bradford, they'll need someone to be ready to take over soon ... and take on those punishing defenses in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona.

    Would the Rams be insane or irresponsible to go with an untested No. 2 quarterback in 2014? Not really. Some postseason contenders have veteran backups, but a few of the better NFL teams have inexperienced No. 2 quarterbacks.

    Ryan Mallet (four career passing attempts) backs up Tom Brady in New England. Brock Osweiler (20 career attempts) backs up Peyton Manning in Denver. It's also true that some of the more successful teams have lived – or are living – dangerously with what they have at No. 2. Think of Green Bay in 2013. There's no sure way to go about this; NFL teams are all over the place in their philosophies on No. 2s.

    I come down on it this way:

    If the Rams are truly excited by a QB prospect and are confident that he can quickly develop into a starter, then take the gamble and hope that Bradford can stay healthy.

    Besides, this isn't the most progressive offense under head coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. It's not as if the Rams are asking their quarterback to dominate games. As long as the guy is good at executing handoffs to Zac Stacy, he's already on track to winning the starting gig for a staff that likes 1960s offense.

    But if the Rams aren't going to use the Clemens departure as an opportunity to install a potential or probable future starter, then they should have kept Clemens. That way, they wouldn't have to use an early-round pick on a quarterback. They could use the pick to plug another roster hole.

    Thanks for reading …

    — Bernie


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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    I thought I saw Colt McCoy on the market from the 49whinners...could be wrong there. But he was my 1st pick in the second round of the draft. I still think he has potential given the right development.

    Barring that as an option, am thinking a 4th rounder for QB--more a project kind of QB to develop and perhaps become the starter in 3 years if Bradford is a bust or trade him in 2 years. Am looking at potential QBs as it is. I still say there is another A. Rodgers/K. Warner out there somewhere in the smaller schools. Its just a matter of a little luck and some good scouting to find him

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    I'm hoping for Aaron Murray in the 4th round.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Ryan (Fitz of Harvard) Fitzpatric was just cut by the Bills>
    Kiss my ass, football gods

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    If sammy gets hurt again we are going nowhere again. I am not too worried about a backup.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Quote Originally Posted by live4ramin View Post
    Ryan (Fitz of Harvard) Fitzpatric was just cut by the Bills>
    I'm assuming you mean the Titans. (That or your post is a year or two old)

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    There's no way the Rams can go into this season with only a draft pick behind Bradford. The idea of Bradford or bust isn't the right approach in BRADFORD: YEAR 5. We need a vet back-up who has a shot of keeping the ship afloat if the worst happens. I have no clue who that vet back-up guy is but let the search begin.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Please articulate what you think "keeping the ship afloat" means. We are in the toughest division in the nfl. To make the playoffs, realistically, we are going to probably have to win 10 games. The idea that someone is out there that we can afford cap wise (or is a wise use of cap dollars), and can win enough games to get us to 10 wins after bradford gets all the reps in preseason and in practice is a biblical longshot in my view. Whoever it is will have no timing or coordination with the receivers. Can we win some games with a backup? Sure. But to me, realistically, to have the kind of season we are all looking for, we need a healthy bradford, because a healthy bradford can be a real difference maker, as we all saw flashes of last season before he went out (just look at the numbers for all the people on sammy's case).

    Said another way, the fact that the guy is a veteran doesnt mean that he is capable of stepping in cold without a history with the receivers and winning several games in a row. I personally think Sanchez is our best bet at this point given his knowledge of the system, and he has certainly had major problems in the past. Matt Schaub? Maybe. Fitz? I have no problem with him, he has played well at times. But at the end of the day, i really think its up to Sammy to get us to the playoffs. If you are talking about winning a few games and going 7-9 or so if sammy gets hurt, sure, a backup will likely help more than a rookie.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Who knows what happens injury wise with the Seahawks or 9ers. But I can't believe the Rams would go into a season without a reliable back-up at QB given what happened to Bradford last season. Given the stadium situation the Rams writing off another season after another Bradford injury or Bradford not being 100% due to last season's injury is not an option. Is it? The Rams have wiggle room with draft picks to go outside the box in the upcoming draft and make a deal or look into the names you mentioned. A green 4th or 5th rounder from the draft would be a disaster in our division if the plan is to keep or put rumps in the seats in St. Louis.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    For the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams pick Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Quote Originally Posted by SavageRam View Post
    For the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams pick Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.

    God help us......
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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    God might love a fool, but haven't heard where he stands on idiots--LOL! Nooooooo and Hell no on Manziel. Maybe if another team who wants him is fearful the Rams might take him and make a stupid deal to get that number 2 spot....

    We need a QB for the present, just in case, and hopefully for the future. I don't doubt the Rams will enter the season with 3 QBs on the roaster. I can't say anything about how well the Squawks/49whinners number 2 QBs would play, but all teams are a QB injury away with potential disaster. But of all the possibilities who best fits the Rams system should he have to fill in? Someone fresh and not tainted with other NFL teams imprinting or someone that understands just how fast professional defenses are? And how much will that player cost?

    To answer those questions will depend on what the Rams can do. A solid ground game, might have it that the Rams have to pick up a solid second RB less Stacy get hurt. But more to that point, FIX THE OL first. Regardless who you have back there, he can't throw a deep pass laying flat on their back. Any elite line makes any QB look good. T. Dilfer took his team to a Super Bowl riding the backs of a superior defense and a solid OL
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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ram Dragoon View Post
    T. Dilfer took his team to a Super Bowl riding the backs of a superior defense and a solid OL
    So did Russell Wilson a little over a month ago hehe
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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Actually, if you haven't noticed AvengerRam has been around much lately. The RAMS coaches are down in Florida for Av's pro day.
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    Re: Ram Bytes: What's the plan for a No. 2 QB?

    Quote Originally Posted by SavageRam View Post
    For the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams pick Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.
    ugh.... Manziel in the 3rd or 4th round you mean~

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