Fans in Los Angeles began chanting for rookie quarterback Jared Goff early in the Rams’ loss to the Panthers on Sunday, and who could blame them? The Rams gave up a bounty of draft picks to make Goff the future of their franchise in Southern California, and yet Goff stood on the sideline and watched while Keenum led the Rams’ abysmal offense to another loss.
So why is Goff, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, still on the Rams’ bench? Because head coach Jeff Fisher says so.
“Case was not the reason we lost this game today,” Fisher said after Sunday’s loss.
Well, Keenum was not the reason, but he was certainly a reason. Is Fisher really denying that? Is he really saying that the Rams’ quarterback bears none of the blame for a loss yesterday when they scored zero points in the first three quarters? Fisher similarly defended Keenum in the Rams’ loss to the Giants in their previous game — another game when the Rams went three quarters without scoring a point. And Fisher has defended Keenum over and over again while the Rams have lost their last four games.
At this point, Fisher sounds like he’s denying reality when he keeps defending Keenum. The Rams have the worst offense in the NFL. They have the first overall pick in the draft on the sideline. It’s time to make the change.
Goff won’t instantly turn the Rams’ offense into the Greatest Show on Turf, or even into an above-average offense. There are a lot of problems on the Rams’ offense that Goff alone can’t solve. But playing Goff now at least gives the franchise some idea of what kind of quarterback it has, and what kind of help he’ll need in the offseason. Keeping him on the sideline is holding the entire franchise back because it prevents the Rams from really finding out where Goff is in his development. Seeing what he does on the practice field can only tell you so much. The Rams need to see him in live action.
Fisher should change quarterbacks, and he should do it this week.
Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:
Steelers erred in playing Ben. When Ben Roethlisberger had arthroscopic knee surgery three weeks ago, initial reports suggested he’d miss four to six weeks. So when the Steelers announced that Roethlisberger would start yesterday, it seemed like he was rushing to return. And that’s what it looked like yesterday against the Ravens as well, when Roethlisberger went into the fourth quarter with a brutal stat line of 9-of-21 for 61 yards with one interception, and the Steelers didn’t score any points until the middle of the fourth quarter. Yes, Roethlisberger put up some garbage-time numbers to make his final stats look OK, but he did not play well. The Steelers should have given him another week to recover.
The Browns stink, but don’t give up on the Moneyball approach As the Browns fell to 0-9 with an ugly loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, I saw some folks on Twitter suggesting that the Cleveand front office, with its Moneyball approach, has failed. I just think it’s way too early to say that right now. The whole idea behind the Browns’ approach is to stockpile future draft picks to build the Browns into a good team three, four or five years from now. I don’t know if those Moneyball guys in the Browns’ front office will succeed or fail with those picks they’ve stockpiled, but it would be crazy to give up on their plan now. Until we see what the Browns do with all their extra picks in the 2017 draft, we simply don’t know if their front office approach will bear fruit or not.
Ten stats from Sunday.
1. The Raiders’ time of possession edge over the Broncos last night (41:28 to 18:32) was the best for any team in any NFL game this season.
2. Remember how great Randy Moss was at the start of his career? He had 29 touchdowns in his first 35 career games. With two touchdowns yesterday, Giants receiver Odell Beckham has 30 touchdowns in his first 35 career games.
3. Melvin Gordon’s 261 yards from scrimmage in the Chargers’ win over the Titans were the most for any running back in any NFL game since 2012.
4. The Browns have already clinched a losing record, their ninth straight losing season.
5. Jordan Todman of the Colts had 160 kickoff return yards in the first quarter against the Packers. No other NFL player even has 160 kickoff return yards in an entire game this season.
6. The combined record of the AFC North is 11-21-1.
7. Minnesota’s Blair Walsh leads the NFL with three missed extra points.
8. Of the 29 NFL running backs with more than 75 carries, Todd Gurley of the Rams is dead last with an average of 3.1 yards a carry.
9. Andrew Luck has been sacked 33 times this season. No other quarterback has been sacked more than 25 times this season.
10. Colin Kaepernick had 398 pass yards on Sunday, in a good indication of just how bad the Saints’ defense is.
Stafford for MVP? I mentioned on Twitter during the Lions-Vikings game that I didn’t buy into the talk that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is an MVP candidate. After the Lions came back to win, I heard from a lot of Lions fans asking me to eat crow. Sorry, but I can’t. Yes, Stafford is having a very good season. But MVP isn’t “very good season.” MVP is the single best season of any player in the league. And there’s just no way to argue that Stafford is the single best player in the league this season. He certainly has to take a backseat to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who has better numbers than Stafford across the board. And he has to take a backseat to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as well, unless you don’t think a player who missed the first four games of the season deserves MVP consideration. Stafford has played very well in the fourth quarter and overtime of all five of the Lions’ wins, but that doesn’t make him the best player in the league.
Prater’s most impressive field goal. Speaking of the Lions, their kicker, Matt Prater, is one of the best in NFL history. He has the longest field goal ever, at 64 yards. And after yesterday’s win over the Vikings he has the two longest game-tying field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history: A 59-yarder in Denver in 2011 and yesterday’s 58-yarder. But one thing about those aforementioned 64- and 59-yard field goals: They were both in Denver, where the altitude makes it easier to kick long field goals. Yesterday’s kick was at sea level, which in my book makes it the best field goal of Prater’s very impressive career.
The Sam Bradford trade is looking like a bad move. When the Vikings gave up their 2017 first-round pick and 2018 fourth-round pick for Bradford, it was a move that showed they saw themselves as Super Bowl contenders, this year. And it was a move that only made sense if Bradford could take them to the playoffs. Now Bradford has played three consecutive subpar games, the Vikings have lost three in a row, and I’m not so sure their offense is any better than it would have been if they’d just turned to backup quarterback Shaun Hill after starter Teddy Bridgewater suffered his season-ending injury in training camp. The Vikings are now in a three-way race with the Lions and Packers in the NFC North. If the Vikings miss the playoffs, the decision to give up next year’s first-round pick will go down as a major mistake.