As much as the starting quarterback does like to cheerlead for the backup whenever he goes down with an injury, the relationship dynamic between the two is always a delicate balance. No one ever wants fans to get the crazy idea that ‘heck, maybe the team is better with this guy than the starter’, but fans of the St. Louis Rams might be leaning that way currently.
Now obviously Kellen Clemens is not the future under center for the team, but his success with the same cast of characters that starter Sam Bradford struggled with is a bit puzzling. Clemens is a 30 year old journeyman who was a former second round pick whereas Bradford is a 26 year old former No. 1 overall pick who was drafted to be the savior of the franchise. Putting these factoids aside, however, it’s hard to notice the difference between the two on the field.
Now there’s no disputing that Bradford was the more accurate QB (60.7 completion percentage vs. 53.5) and more careful with the football (Bradford had six turnovers in seven games while Clemens has six in just four outings so far), but there’s also no denying the fact that the Rams could easily be 3-0 with Clemens as a starter. Even though they did come up on the short end of two of those close contests, the team’s relative success with Clemens orchestrating the offense has been easy to see.
Though it could be argued that the game plan has been tailored to fit his limited skill set and Clemens is actually the reason the Rams lost those two games they’ve dropped under his watch due to turnovers, it’s just as easy to say the Rams would have been in a similar if not worse situation with Bradford at the helm. This alone gives pause to the former top pick in the draft’s future at the quarterback spot for the franchise.
None of this is meant to persuade anyone that Clemens is the future under center for the franchise, but it should serve as an eye-opener for management who is set to pay Bradford a staggering $17.6 million next season and $16.6 million in 2015 when Clemens makes $585k and is nearly just as effective. At some point Jeff Fisher and company must do a cost-benefit analysis on their former top overall selection and realize that he just isn’t worth that kind of compensation.