EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are making a quarterback change.
One day after the Rams lost 37-13 to the Chicago Bears, Rams coach Jeff Fisher named Case Keenum his new starting quarterback and sent Nick Foles to the bench in a move Fisher said he has been contemplating for the past four or five weeks.
"We're going to go ahead and go with Case," Fisher said. "This is my decision. Nobody came down the hall and said, 'This is what we need to do.' The lack of offensive production is a collective effort and coaching. But we need more production, and it starts with that position."
Nine games into the season, Foles ranked 32nd in QBR (34.1), 29th in passer rating (75.9) and 28th in passing yards (1,678). As an offense, the Rams are 31st in yards per game and 32nd in passing yards per game.
Despite those offensive woes, the Rams were 4-3 just two weeks ago, after consecutive wins over Cleveland and San Francisco. However, Foles' struggles came into view more clearly after back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Chicago, which apparently tipped the scales in Keenum's favor.
"I don't expect Nick to like it," Fisher said. "He's competitive, but he understands, and we're gonna move forward here. I'm not saying this is week-to-week, but this is what's best right now for our team as we move forward, from a production standpoint offensively."
Keenum has started 10 games since he signed with the Houston Texans in 2012 as an undrafted free agent. In those games, the Texans went 2-8 and Keenum threw for 2,195 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions with a QBR just above Foles' current mark of 34.5.
Fisher is seeking to jump-start his offense, and with rookie offensive linemen Jamon Brown (leg) and Darrell Williams (wrist) lost for the season, Keenum's mobility could be important behind a patchwork offensive line.
"He's won games at Houston with a team that had significant injuries around him and he found ways to win games," Fisher said. "We're going to trust his mobility and his ability to extend plays and things and just give us an offensive spark that we need."
Fisher stopped short of committing to Keenum for the rest of the Rams' seven games, but he said he's not going to have Keenum on a short leash if the QB struggles against Baltimore on Sunday.
"He's going to play, we're going to use his legs and going to make some plays," Fisher said. "Nick also understands that he will eventually be under center for us again. But this is my decision, based on what I think is best for this team, offensively, is to go this direction."
Keenum spent part of the 2014 season with the Rams before Houston signed him off St. Louis' practice squad at the end of that season. Although he never got much of a chance to play in St. Louis, Keenum did enough to impress for the Rams to attempt to get him back.
"This is my decision. Nobody came down the hall and said, 'This is what we need to do.' The lack of offensive production is a collective effort and coaching. But we need more production, and it starts with that position." Rams coach Jeff Fisher
Before Foles took a snap in a regular-season game, the Rams signed him to a deal that guarantees him almost $14 million.
"By no means do we regret the trade, by no means do we regret the extension," Fisher said. "Nick is a good quarterback."
Fisher said Foles will step into the backup role with rookie Sean Mannion continuing as the team's third quarterback.
"Nick just needs a break," Fisher said. "He just needs a break right now. He's going to continue to work. He'll run scout team, he'll be prepared to play, but he just needs to get more experience under his belt in this offense. And we need to do a better job around him. I keep circling back to that. It's not easy. It's hard, but to me, it's the right decision for us moving forward."