MOBILE, Ala. — Les Snead wouldn’t say the Los Angeles Rams have buyer’s remorse about trading for Nick Foles.
However, there is something that the general manager does regret about the 2015 season — and it’s a mistake he doesn’t plan for the franchise to make again.
Snead said Tuesday that the Rams are planning to have all three of the quarterbacks on their current roster — Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion — as well as any potential offseason additions battle for the starting spot. Last year, the Rams designated Foles their starter after acquiring him and a 2016 second-round draft pick in a trade with Philadelphia for Sam Bradford.
"If I learned one thing last year, we should have let the quarterbacks have a competition from the start and the best man win instead of just passing the torch to Nick," Snead told co-host Mark Dominik and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Foles was impressive enough upon his arrival that the Rams signed him during the preseason to a two-year, $24.5 million contract extension that included $13.7 million guaranteed. But Foles struggled to the point that he was benched for the final four games in favor of Keenum as the Rams (7-9) finished without a winning record for the 12th consecutive season.
Snead said the body of work Foles compiled during two seasons with the Eagles prompted his early designation as the Rams’ first-stringer.
"He obviously had a lot of success at Philly and it was proven so we brought him in," Snead said, referring to Foles’ 15-9 starting record with Philadelphia in 2013 and 2014. "As you go through things with a new quarterback and he’s learning a new system there’s going to be some growing pains whether it’s in OTAs or training camp.
"You saw that a little bit but, hey, we open up and beat Seattle and went to Arizona and won. He did some good things for us. We just ran into a slump there in the middle of the year."
Snead also defended Foles and the play of the team’s other quarterbacks by pointing to mitigating factors. One of them was having a first-time offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti Jr., who was fired before the season ended. Another was disappointing play from the Rams’ receiving corps.
In particular, Snead cited the Rams’ 19-16 loss at San Francisco in the season finale.
"We had a chance to win four straight at the end of the year. Every wide receiver that dressed out dropped one ball that day. You can’t have that," said Snead, whose team will have a new wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator next season in Mike Groh.
"I think Nick’s season would have been better and coach Cignetti’s season would have been better and even Case’s last game would have been better had those guys stepped up."