Rams mailbag: Setting expectations for Nick Foles

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- We've moved a week closer to the start of the St. Louis Rams' 2015 training camp. But we're still about two weeks away. That means plenty of time left for speculating on how things might play out.

And perhaps no question (on the field, anyway) burns hotter than how new quarterback Nick Foles will fare in his first season with the team. That leads off this week's Rams Twitter mailbag.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @nwagoner and shoot questions at any time using the hashtag #RamsMail.

@nwagoner: That's a tough question to answer at this point because we still need to see how he fits and how well he grasps the new offense. By Foles' own admission, this offense is much different from what he had in Philadelphia. That's not a surprise but it means it will take some time to learn. It would be foolish to expect him to repeat the 27-touchdown, two-interception performance of 2013. But he will also need to be better than the 13-touchdown, 10-interception version from last year. And, of course, he'll need to stay healthy all season. With all of that in mind, we probably need step away from using his history with the Eagles as a predictor of his future and focus on his fit with the Rams and what will be asked of him. Considering the Rams' desire to run the ball first and foremost and need to take care of the ball, I could see Foles coming in somewhere near what Alex Smith did for the Chiefs in 2014 if he remains healthy. So let's say, again assuming health for 16 games, that a reasonable projection for Foles would come in somewhere in the range of 3,100-3,300 passing yards, 18-22 touchdowns and seven to 10 interceptions. If he puts together that type of season, it's reasonable the Rams will be in playoff contention.

@nwagoner: Again, no update until they report back for training camp at the end of the month but Brian Quick made progress throughout organized team activities. At that time, he was participating in individual drills before practices but then sitting out during team drills. Clearly, that's a good sign for his progress but it guarantees nothing in terms of when he'll be back at full speed in full-team practices. I still tend to think he'll be ready for Week 1. If he's not, I'd lean toward Stedman Bailey being the starter in his place on the outside though I'm sure Tavon Austin would get plenty of snaps as well. Bailey has traditionally showed more ability to line up and get the job done outside the numbers while Austin has primarily been used more in the slot.

@nwagoner:I wouldn't project that, necessarily. The thing with Jared Cook is that at this point in his career, he kind of is who he is. For those waiting for him to break loose and post 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns, well, that's probably not going to happen. But he's also probably not going to regress to something like 350 yards and a touchdown, either. Cook has posted 51 and 52 catches, 671 and 634 yards and five and three touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Rams. And it's not like they were throwing the ball all over the place in those two years. It's probably safe to expect a healthy Cook to come in somewhere around 50 catches with 650 yards and four touchdowns once again. And it's possible he might have an uptick in all of those areas with a better quarterback in place than he's had with the likes of Kellen Clemens, Shaun Hill and Austin Davis.

@nwagoner: It's early to make any sweeping judgments about the offense but to answer the question, yes, I believe there's an emphasis on getting the ball out quick in the offense. In OTAs, part of that stemmed from an offense that lagged far behind the defense but it's more than that, as you mentioned. There are going to be growing pains for the offense as a whole but especially on the offensive line. There are two ways to protect Foles in that sense. One is to run the ball effectively and a lot. The second is to get the ball out quick in the passing game. It's safe to expect the Rams to do both. It's also safe to expect Foles to take his deep shots, too, with many of those shots likely coming off play action.

@nwagoner: The coaches were pleased with Ethan Westbrooks' progress throughout the year, but yes, he did have a setback. He seems to be doing fine now, but the expectations aren't much right now. In some ways, though, this is a big year for Westbrooks. He likely won't need to take many snaps but he does need to continue to improve through the course of the season. William Hayes and Eugene Sims are free agents after the year and that could be Westbrooks' opportunity to earn an expanded role. If he doesn't progress how the Rams envision, he might never get much of a chance. If he does, the Rams could part with Hayes and/or Sims to allow Westbrooks more snaps at a lower cost.