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Article Credit Vincent Bonsignore (OC Register)
If your thing is reading between the lines, you probably saw the Rams’ decision to finally give Jared Goff the keys to the kingdom coming a couple weeks ago.
The Rams made that decision official Tuesday, according to multiple sources, by informing the first overall pick in last April’s draft he's taking over for Case Keenum at quarterback beginning Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
This was 100 percent a Jeff Fisher call, the sources insist, without any pressure from upper management.
That's an important distinction to make, as it's well-known Fisher is in the final year of his original five-year contract. And while there is a presumption of an extension in place to keep him in L.A. beyond 2016, nothing is official and his future could depend on how the Rams finish the regular season.
With that hanging over his head, it's understandable a decision as big as starting a rookie quarterback could be affected by factors that reach outside the playing field. Or be the result of interests beyond the office of a potentially lame-duck head coach.
That doesn't seem to be the case.
This is Fisher's decision.
And it's the right thing to do, as the Rams offense was going nowhere under Keenum, a marvelous person and fierce competitor who was simply miscast as a long-range NFL starter.
Some would suggest it's long overdue considering the Rams’ maddening inability to consistently score points, a weakness made even more frustrating with the Rams defense as sturdy and playoff caliber as its been. Even just playing average NFL offense would have meant a few more wins for the Rams, and Keenum couldn't deliver that.
Maybe Goff would have made the difference.
We'll never know, I suppose.
Certainly he'll have a say in how the Rams proceed, which makes the timing of starting him so intriguing.
Despite the Rams’ 4-5 record they are still very much involved in the NFC playoff picture. It's a fringe spot to be sure as they stand within arm's reach of a wild-card berth. But it's a spot nonetheless.
But there's one big problem: The offense has been an utter disaster all season and specifically the last four weeks while scoring just two touchdowns in three games. No surprise they've gone 1-4 over their last five games.
The Rams needed to make a move to vault deeper into the race, and it wasn’t going to happen if they kept going into games with one arm tied behind their back as they have essentially all season.
The hope is Goff can create the spark that Keenum simply hasn't been able to provide.
But even if Goff can't save an offense that needs help at offensive line and wide receiver, at the very least he'll get some much-needed experience over the last seven games to better situate himself for 2017 and beyond.
So ends a nine-week melodrama in which the football world wondered when Goff would finally get the keys to the kingdom – and pondered various reasons the first pick overall wasn't able to get on the field.
Was he a bust?
Did the Rams blow the call after investing six picks to move up from 15th in the draft to first overall?
Was Fisher out of his mind?