Oct 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) is pressured by Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Jerry Hughes (55) during a NFL game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Bills defeated the Rams 30-19. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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After suffering their second loss of the season to the Buffalo Bills in Week 5, the Los Angeles Rams have to be feeling the frustration over their play at quarterback from Case Keenum.
Originally, Keenum was seen as the short-term answer at quarterback due to his veteran experience until Jared Goff was comfortable enough to handle the starting role, but things haven’t gone according to plan over the first five games. Los Angeles may be sitting right below the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West standings with a 3-2 record, but some of the performances by Keenum have been average at best.
Unless Keenum miraculously turns things around over the next few games, Jeff Fisher may want to strongly consider replacing his veteran with Goff to see if it will provide a boost to the passing game. At this point, any quarterback would seem like a major upgrade over Keenum when taking a closer look at his numbers not just from this season, but his career.
Don’t think so? Well, here’s a closer look at five reasons why the Rams should strongly consider benching Keenum, and give Goff a chance as their starter at quarterback since the veteran has been anything but impressive so far in 2016.
Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) looks on during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
One Career 300-Yard Game
Keenum may have set all sorts of passing records during his college playing days at Houston, but the NFL is a completely different league. And unfortunately for Keenum, this league hasn’t been too friendly for him throughout his playing career.
How bad is it exactly been for Keenum? Well, let’s just say entering Week 6, Keenum has appeared in 21 games during stints with the Rams and Houston Texans. In those 21 games, there’s only been one time where Keenum has thrown for more than 300 yards in a game, which is sad to think about for a veteran NFL quarterback.
That performance took place all the way back in 2013 during Keenum’s second-career game with the Texans in which he completed 20 of 34 passes for 350 yards with three touchdowns in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts. To top it off, Keenum lost all eight games he appeared in that year for Houston as his first career win didn’t come until the following year.
It’s easy to cut a player slack for struggling to adjust from the college level to the NFL, but it’s amazing to see how much Keenum has struggled to record 300-yard games throughout his career. What makes this statistic even more sad to think about is even if Keenum remains the starter throughout the rest of the regular season, it seems unlikely he would record more than one or two 300-yard games when considering the weak receiving corps.
Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) signals to teammates during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Three Games With Zero Touchdowns in 2016
As if his inability to throw for 300 yards in a game wasn’t already painful to think about, take a closer look at his game log over the first five weeks, and see how his lack of touchdowns is just as bad.
In five starts this season, Keenum has only thrown touchdowns in two games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals, both of which resulted in wins for the Rams. While Keenum managed to throw two touchdowns in each contest, the main focus for Los Angeles should be the overall numbers for their quarterback as it’s never a good sign to have more games without a touchdown than games with at least one.
Keenum deserves a little slack for failing to find the end zone in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, but there’s excuse for his performances against the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. It’s easy to accept Keenum’s struggles in Week 1 against the 49ers when considering he’s never entered a regular season as a starter, but there’s no way to defend Sunday’s game against the Bills when looking at all of the missed opportunities.
The fact that Los Angeles settled for field goals on four of their scoring drives is the perfect example of how Keenum tends to struggle with getting his team in the end zone.
Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) attempts to tackle Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Rams won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Todd Gurley is Suffering
After taking home Rookie of the Year honors in 2015, expectations were high for running back Todd Gurley heading into his second season with the Rams. In fact, Gurley even made a bold statement prior to the start of the 2016 season as to why fantasy football owners should strong consider selecting him with the No. 1 overall pick.
Unfortunately, just like his teammate, Gurley has gone three games himself without a touchdown, but the most disappointing statistic from the former Georgia star’s end is he’s gone five games without breaking the 100-yard mark. For a player many expected to be in the running for the rushing title at the beginning of the season, it’s frustrating to see these type numbers from Gurley, but it’s understandable as to why it’s happening.
Other than the whereabouts of Tavon Austin, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist for opponents to figure out Los Angeles has one of the league’s weakest receiving corps, which means the Rams will try giving Gurley the football as much as possible. With this in mind, opponents of Los Angeles have been stacking the box more on defense in an effort to limit Gurley in the ground game.
As a result, Gurley has struggled for the most part by averaging just 2.7 yards per carry heading into Week 6.
Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) calls a play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Not Long-Term Solution
Even though he started off the year as the starting quarterback, Keenum knew it would only be a matter of time before the job went to Jared Goff, whether that time happened this year or next. Otherwise, the Rams wouldn’t have surrendered all of those draft picks to acquire the former California star at No. 1 in May.
The main reason why Keenum was handed the starting job this year was due to the fact that Fisher believed the veteran gave Los Angeles the best chance of winning when considering how talented this team was. After finishing 7-9 record in 2015 thanks to a top-10 defense, Fisher knew the main thing holding the Rams back from reaching the next level was improvement at the quarterback position.
Keenum may not be the top option on most teams, but he was certainly a better option at Goff when looking at how much the rookie struggled in the preseason. It’s only a matter of time before Goff officially takes over at quarterback, but if Keenum continues to struggle over the next couple of games, it may not be a bad idea to throw the rookie into the mix, and see what he brings to the table.
Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) takes the field for warmups against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
More Career Turnovers Than Touchdowns
The good news for Keenum is he has more career touchdowns than interceptions (19 to 14). The bad news for Keenum is that he has more overall turnovers than career touchdowns, which is an embarrassing stat no matter who the quarterback is.
With 23 career turnovers in 21 games, Keenum just continues to provide more examples of why it’s taken him so long to earn a shot at a starting quarterback job. If Keenum can’t even manage to outweigh his turnovers with touchdowns, how is any team going to trust him with running their offense?
As bad as it sounds, these next few games should be considered an audition for Keenum when considering the chances he ends up with a different team beyond the 2016 season. No team is going to be interested in bringing on a quarterback with the type of struggles displayed by Keenum over the first five games of the regular season, even if some people believe he deserves the benefit of the doubt for lack of weapons to work with.