When discussing the possibility of whether the Rams should give backup QB Austin Davis a chance to start over current starter Kellen Clemens, one must answer these two questions: Has Clemens done anything the past two weeks, and what do the Rams lose by starting Davis?
The answer to both questions are the same: nothing. The Rams are out of the playoffs for the eighth straight year, and while Clemens wasn’t producing flashy stats in the wins against Indianapolis and Chicago, he struggled considerably in these past two losses in key division match-ups against San Francisco and Arizona.
Clemens threw for 51% of his passes against the 49ers along with a pick, and the only TD he threw was in complete garbage time with the game already lost for St. Louis. Against Arizona, he wasn’t much better, throwing two picks, one that Cardinals’ linebacker Carlos Dansby took back for a touchdown in the 30-10 loss. The Rams, who were once a force within the NFC West (only losing once in the division last year) haven’t beaten a divisional opponent since Week 1 against the Cardinals (1-4 division record this year).
Davis was seen warming up on the sidelines during the Arizona game, and it really started to raise questions within Rams Nation as to who should start these last three games between Davis and Clemens. The answer: Davis.
Why shouldn’t he? St. Louis needs to have a clear-cut backup for next year when Sam Bradford returns, and now is the perfect time to have a competition between Clemens and Davis. Clemens is 2-4 in his six starts, and now, Davis should be allowed to take the helm for the last three games against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and Seattle.
After the absolute flop of a signing that was the Rams’ pickup of Brady Quinn, who is on injured reserve, St. Louis is down to two main QB’s: Davis and Clemens. A last resort would be punter Johnny Hekker (although, he’s shown himself to have a good throwing arm).
Davis was signed in 2012 as a undrafted free agent out of Southern Miss. and was regulated to the backup role on the Rams. Earlier this year, he was released, and eventually re-signed, by the Rams after a minor stint with Miami.
Davis has struggled with accuracy issues during his tenure with the Rams, but in the preseason, he did throw three touchdowns and unlike Clemens, did not throw a single pick. St. Louis went with Clemens as the main backup.
When Bradford went down, the reigns went to him right away, and not only was he one yard away from beating Seattle at home on Monday Night Football, he has already put up two career games (by backup’s standards) against the Colts in a 38-8 romp and a big win against the Bears at home. But his struggles have began to become more frequent.
St. Louis needs to give the starting job to Davis for the remainder of the 2013 season because in all reality, there is nothing to lose. Worse case scenario: Rams lose last three, and very possibly will get two top-ten draft picks. Best case: Rams win at least one game, and yet, still end up with a top-5 pick (from Washington).
With a franchise QB that is now can be considered an “injury risk” (it may sound harsh, but after an ACL tear, you can never be too sure) you want to make sure whoever is backing up Bradford next year is competent enough in case something does happen, and Clemens has shown while he’s had good moments and accuracy, his inexperience despite his tenure catches up with him.
Davis is a 24-year old second year pro with a bright future ahead of him, and only time will tell where he will remain, but for now, it’s best for the Rams to give him some experience during in-game action and see how he performs.