Rams turn to Case Keenum to provide a spark, but it might not last long

Rams bench Nick Foles in favor of Case Keenum (1:21)

Louis Riddick examines the Rams' decision to bench quarterback Nick Foles and replace him with Case Keenum. (1:21)

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher named Case Keenum his new starting quarterback on Monday evening, sending Nick Foles to the bench just nine games into his tenure with the team.

Some takeaways from Fisher's decision and what it means for the Rams at quarterback, in both the short and long term:

1. With his team at 4-5 and flailing in the NFC playoff chase, Fisher made the right move here. Let's not get it confused: Foles wasn't the only problem for the Rams' offense. They need more production from the offensive line and all of their pass-catchers. But, as Fisher put it, this is an offense sorely in need of some sort of a spark. The Rams are 31st in the NFL in yards per game and last in passing yards per game. Foles simply didn't look comfortable in the pocket and hadn't showed signs of improving in the past four or five weeks.

2. Keenum probably isn't a major upgrade, let alone a panacea for the offense. So what does he bring to the table that Foles doesn't? Fisher mentioned Keenum's mobility and ability to extend plays with his legs multiple times at Monday's news conference. Foles rarely makes plays outside of the pocket and part of his lack of comfort in the pocket stemmed from the amount of pressure the offensive line has allowed. The offensive line was already struggling, and now has lost guard Jamon Brown and tackle Darrell Williams for the season. Having a quarterback who is more willing to stay in the pocket when pressure arrives and is capable of escaping that pressure to make plays when he leaves the pocket is probably a good idea, given the state of the offensive line.

3. Just because Keenum is the starter now doesn't mean he will be permanently, or even for the rest of the season. When Austin Davis replaced an injured Shaun Hill last year, he went on to start eight games. Davis went 3-5 in those starts before the job went back to Hill. But Davis held the job that long because he played well in his first few starts. Davis' fearless, frenetic style worked for a few weeks before he played better defenses with a better idea of how to stop him. In hindsight, the Rams probably should have kept closer tabs on Davis and gone back to Hill before the spark fizzled. That probably won't happen again. Fisher said Monday that Keenum won't have a short leash, but he also said that "Nick also understands that he eventually will be under center for us again." My expectation is that Keenum will get a chance to give the Rams the spark Fisher seeks and his hook won't come out for three or four weeks. But if Keenum struggles or is struggling after getting a few opportunities, Fisher will go back to Foles before Keenum gets the same number of starts Davis did in 2014.

4. The Rams liked Keenum enough that they traded a 2016 draft pick to reacquire him from the Houston Texans after the Texans signed him from the St. Louis practice squad late last season. Keenum impressed the Rams with his work ethic and mobility on the practice field and then earned even more respect for winning two games for Houston at the end of the year. Keenum threw for 435 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in those two victories, one of which came against the Rams' opponent this week, the Baltimore Ravens.

5. This quarterback change should serve as yet another reminder that the Rams still don't have their long-term quarterback solution on the roster. Yes, they signed Foles to an extension before he ever played a snap for them, but the Rams structured his deal so they can get out of it relatively easily without much of a cap hit after next year. Keenum will get a chance to state his case, but his previous 10 starts don't offer much hope he can be more than a spot starter. Third-round rookie Sean Mannion hasn't had many reps in practice as the team's third quarterback and he doesn't appear to be close to competing for the backup job yet, not to mention the starting job. The Rams' decision to pass on quarterbacks repeatedly in the draft, especially when they had extra picks from their 2012 trade with Washington, has left them with a number of other teams in quarterback purgatory. Until that gets fixed with someone capable of playing even average football on a weekly basis, it's going to be hard for the Rams to have the playoff breakthrough they seek.