THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Case Keenum lost his job Tuesday, and he wasn't happy about it. He wasn't going to pretend to be, either, even when the cameras were pointed in his direction the following day.
Moments after the Rams' practice Wednesday, Keenum stepped to the podium and mostly frowned. He was initially asked if being replaced by rookie Jared Goff as the team's starting quarterback took him by surprise, and he was curt.
"Yeah," Keenum said. "Yeah it did."
Later, a reporter began a question by referencing what coaches said Keenum "brought" to the team.
"What I still bring to the team," Keenum said, correcting the reporter.
He was asked to relay what Rams coach Jeff Fisher told him Tuesday morning, when he sat Keenum and Goff down to inform them of his decision.
"No," Keenum said, "that's Coach Fisher. Ask him."
Keenum, undrafted in 2012 despite a record-breaking stint in Houston, worked so hard to establish himself as a starting quarterback in the NFL. And it was taken away from him this week, nine games into his first full season doing the job, after a victory no less.
"Honestly, I wasn’t happy," Keenum said. "I want to play. That’s why I play football, is to play football, is to be the quarterback, to be the guy with the ball in his hands. With that being said, I trust Coach Fisher, I trust the coaches and their decision. I’m a leader and a captain on this team. So I’m going to do my job. And my job is whatever they tell me my job is."
That job, a crucial one, is to help Goff, the 22-year-old No. 1 overall pick.
Keenum, 28, was under center for an offense that was last in the NFL in points per game and had managed only two touchdowns over its past three contests. He had the game's lowest Total QBR (43.1) and the second-worst touchdown-to-interception ratio (0.82) and ranked 23rd among 33 qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt (6.93) and 24th in completion percentage (61 percent).
The offensive line's struggles, which have also greatly affected running back Todd Gurley, certainly had a hand in all of that.
"There’s always stuff I could’ve done better," said Keenum, whose Rams are 4-5 and 1½ games out of a playoff spot. "But I thought I [gave] my team [a] chance to win. Obviously, we didn’t win, and there’s a lot of games that we’d like back and feel like we should have won, but it’s kind of across the league. It happens across the league. And we’re still in the hunt."
Then there was the element Keenum couldn't control -- that the Rams traded up 14 spots to draft Goff, and that Goff was going to start eventually.
"I really don’t look at the big picture," Keenum said. "I know you can look at it and say what they traded away for a first overall pick, so I guess it was going to happen at some point. But in my mind, it’s my team. That’s the way I viewed it. It’s my offense, and I took ownership of it.”
Keenum will remain the captain, Fisher said Tuesday. He has the respect of the locker room, even if the fan base was quick to move on. And he promises to do whatever he can to be a good teammate for Goff, no matter how much pride-swallowing it requires.
"That’s what I am," Keenum said. "That’s what I’ve always been. I’ve always been that guy. My job is the same, no matter what I’m doing. It’s to help this team to be the best team that it could be. If I’m taking the snaps, or if I’m not, I’m going to do whatever I can to make this team the best team it can be.”