Brett Favre? Tim Tebow? Examining St. Louis’ options at QB with Sam Bradford sidelined
The St. Louis Rams still find themselves very much in the NFC playoff chase, just a game back of a wild-card spot at 3-4 as the season’s halfway point approaches. The wheels, though, may be on the verge of falling off if this week is any indication.
After losing starting QB Sam Bradford to a season-ending knee injury last week, the Rams promoted Kellen Clemens to the starting job, then began looking just about everywhere possible for another choice at the position.
What they have come up with so far does not bode well for their chances going forward and suggests a lack of confidence in Clemens. With the St. Louis-Seattle showdown looming on Monday night, we take a look at some of the possibilities to inherit the Rams’ quarterback spot in Bradford’s stead:
• Kellen Clemens: The de facto starter for the matchup with Seattle. Clemens has been with the Rams since 2011, which means he’s familiar with the Jeff Fisher/Brian Schottenheimer offense. His last start, though, came in 2011, under then Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo and with Josh McDaniels calling the plays.
“I’ve been in this offense for quite a while and I know the ins and outs,” Clemens told Jonathan Webb of the Rams’ website. “I think I have a pretty good rapport with most of my teammates and I’m ready to play. … I’ve worked really hard the last several years and I’ve got some experience, this won’t be my first game.”
Clemens’ last win in the NFL: Dec. 13, 2009, when he threw for 111 yards in a Jets victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s 0-3 since then, with all of the decisions coming during that 2011 season.
• Austin Davis/Brady Quinn: The Rams added both of these QBs this week, presumably so one could serve as Clemens’ backup for the foreseeable future. Davis probably has the edge, given that he battled Clemens for a roster spot back in training camp.
Would either guy be an upgrade on Clemens in the No. 1 role, though? Doubtful. Davis’ inability to beat out Clemens back in August is a pretty clear indictment of his current status (though, at just 24, he still has some potential); Quinn has bounced around with four other NFL teams and has a brutal 4-16 record as an NFL starter.
• Brett Favre: An option in rumor only, it appears. The Rams reportedly reached out to the 44-year-old Favre in hopes that he might renege on retirement to help solve the Rams’ QB woes. Favre said no thanks.
“It’s flattering, but there’s no way I’m gonna do that,” he told Sports Talk 570, according to Pro Football Talk.
• Tim Tebow: Tebow’s name continues to be broached whenever a quarterback opening arises, even though the evidence is mounting that there is no longer interest in him as an NFL QB. That the Rams turned to the inexperienced Davis, the consistently-underperforming Quinn and even Favre instead of formally giving Tebow a ring puts the Heisman Trophy winner’s status in some perspective.
The 26-year-old Tebow continues to have a devoted fan following, who are quick to point out his 8-6 record as an NFL starter and the playoff victory he helped deliver to Denver. But he fell out of the Broncos’ plans, failed to break through with the Jets and bombed with the Patriots this past preseason.
• Vince Young: Unlike Favre, who apparently has slammed the door on another NFL gig, Young wants back in … and can’t figure out why his phone has been so silent. On Sirius XM with Gil Brandt and Alex Marvez this week, Young reiterated his desire to return to the NFL.
“Me and my wife and all my peers and fans, we’re all trying to figure this stuff out,” Young said. “So I don’t have the slightest idea. It’s like a huge question mark over my head every day when I wake up in the morning … to not have one of those calls is tough, man.”
You might recall that Young had a spectacular opportunity to claim the Packers’ backup job in the preseason, only to be handed his walking papers just prior to Week 1 as the Packers opted for Seneca Wallace in that role. Young finished the exhibition slate with 20-of-42 passing for 177 yards.
• Matt Leinart: Is he the top free-agent quarterback option left on the board? Maybe — which doesn’t say much for the candidates. ESPN reported earlier this week that Leinart was headed to St. Louis for a tryout, alongside a gaggle of other quarterbacks. Davis and Quinn obviously claimed spots in the Rams’ organization instead, leaving Leinart to keep scouring for a home.
When we last saw Leinart in action, he was making a cameo appearance in Buffalo’s final preseason game. He completed just 3-of-10 passes against Detroit, then was cut by the Bills. Leinart saw action in two 2012 games for the Raiders; he has not started since picking up a win for the Texans in ’11.
• Greg McElroy: The Rams reportedly tried to go the practice-squad route following Bradford’s injury, with New Orleans promoting Ryan Griffin to its active roster lest St. Louis swipe him. But given the lack of exciting QBs out there, why not dip back into that well?
McElroy may be the most likely claim if the Rams again try to pluck someone from another team’s practice squad. The 25-year-old QB spent time with Schottenheimer when both were with the Jets, so he at least should have some knowledge of the Rams’ offense. He currently resides on the Bengals’ practice squad, and Cincinnati would have minimal desire to cough up a roster spot for him at the moment.
Other practice squad players who could pique the Rams’ interest include Scott Tolzien (Green Bay), Chandler Harnish (Indianapolis), Matt Scott (Jacksonville, though the Jaguars probably would try to hold onto him) and Tyler Wilson (Oakland).