It is easy to admit that Kellen Clemens had outperformed what was expected of him this season. He was serviceable when Zac Stacy was effective and carrying the load of the offense taking pressure off of him. The St. Louis Rams could overlook his erratic passing because Stacy was doing all of the damage against defenses. Over the last two weeks, teams have focused on shutting down Stacy and putting the game in Clemens’ hands.
That shift has made his erratic throwing more noticeable and less effective. For those that falsely believed that Clemens could ever challenge Sam Bradford as a starter, remember these last two weeks and compare them to Bradford’s early-season performances when the Rams couldn’t run for 50 yards.
Bradford was accurate and efficient even without a running back, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 14 TDs and only four INTs. He never had a slide like Clemens’ last two weeks, throwing three INTs and only one touchdown.
In six starts at QB, Clemens has never surpassed the 250-yard mark, and he has been held under 200 yards three times. While that isn’t a big deal for a team that has leaned on the run game since naming him the starter, it is a big deal when the run game hasn’t been nearly as effective with the exception of Tavon Austin’s explosive runs.
His 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio is better than his career numbers, which is a notable sign that the best of Clemens is not enough for any team to experience prolonged success. It’s worth pointing out that Clemens’ 18 sacks in seven total games is more than Bradford’s 15 in just as many games. Sure, Clemens has escaped pressure with his mobility, but that has also led to six fumbles. Turnovers turn into losses in the NFL, no matter how good your team is.
Why should the Rams turn to Austin Davis for the last three games of 2013? To put it simply, just to find out what he has to offer this team. Davis shares the same mobility that Clemens has in the pocket, but he is also a more athletic runner. While Davis was given every opportunity to take over the backup role during the preseason, he didn’t do enough to outweigh Clemens’ experience in the NFL and the amount of time Clemens has spent in Brian Schottenheimer‘s system.
Davis had a rocky preseason, only completing 51 percent of his passes over four games. He did manage to throw three touchdowns and 0 interceptions while playing with the second and third-team offenses. Davis deserves to get a chance to at least try to prove himself at the end of the season. Doing so will give the Rams more confidence in him as a backup next year, or give them more reason to seek out a young project in the 2014 draft.
Given Davis’s athletic ability and lack of opportunity thus far in his career, it is a must for St. Louis to at least get a glimpse of what they have in him.