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Time for L.A. Rams to turn to Jared Goff

LONDON -- Drained by another last-minute defeat, another unsuccessful "home" game in London, another season headed to the same "7-9 bull----," Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher refused to change course.

"The quarterback is not the reason, by the way, that we lost three games. I'm staying with Case (Keenum)," Fisher said before he was even asked Sunday afternoon at Twickenham Stadium, anticipating the long two weeks ahead.

Keenum was picked off four times in a 17-10 defeat to New York, which included roughly as many effective forward passes as a typical game at the Cathedral of Rugby. His final errant lob, the result of a miscommunicated hand signal with Rams receiver Brian Quick, could have been fair caught by Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Rams' caravan has taken them from St. Louis to Oxnard to Irvine to Thousand Oaks to Los Angeles and now to London over the last 10 months, carrying the same burdens that have plagued Fisher's entire five-year tenure with the team. There are the persistent penalties, the good-but-not-good-enough defense and a passing attack that ranks among the league's worst.

It's past time to see what No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff has to offer. Yet Fisher cut down that storyline before it could grow legs, playing better offense than any other Ram on Sunday.

"Take a look at the tape. See who's responsible for the interceptions. ... I'll make changes at receiver before I make a change at the quarterback position," Fisher said.

Fisher's stance is neither surprising nor sensible. Receivers were part of the problem on three of Keenum's picks, but that doesn't account for the other 52 passing plays that mostly led nowhere. The Rams failed to score on their final 11 drives. Keenum knew that his final throw was hardly his team's only failure.

"I've got to give our guys a chance," a dejected Keenum said after the loss. "A few plays before that, we had some chances, too. A little bit better balls. I think Mike Thomas scores if I throw a better ball on that, and I think Bradley (Marquez) scores if I throw a little better ball on that, too."

That sort of leadership is one reason why Fisher continues to stand by Keenum. Loyalty is a laudable trait in a head coach and one of the reasons why players love playing for Fisher. But players love to win above all, and it became increasingly clear in the second half that this was not Keenum's day.

Offensive coordinator Rob Boras has been resourceful the last few weeks manufacturing yards, and his team had its chances for more Sunday. Keenum missed Kenny Britt streaking wide open for a potential score on the first play of the second half. Three punts and one interception later, Keenum threw a pop fly to Quick, who had broken open in the end zone. By the time the ball fluttered back down to Earth, Quick was playing defense in an effort to prevent an interception. Keenum went deep again on the very next play and was picked off.

That was Fisher's moment to make a dramatic change. To rouse a sellout crowd that watched eleven straight punts and give his No. 1 overall pick a chance to do something special. For a team that has such an aggressive mindset defensively, the Rams are consistently cautious on offense.

Three times on Sunday, Fisher passed on a chance to go for fourth-and-short in Giants territory. Those decisions lay bare the enigma of these Rams: They have the confidence to stick with Keenum after the game but not enough confidence to convert first downs. Keenum is hardly the only reason why the Rams have lost three straight, but he wasn't the reason they started the season 3-1, either.

This is a team squarely in the middle of the NFL, with six straight games that have come down to the final series. Considering the team's minus-34 point differential, the Rams are lucky to be 3-4.

This wandering Rams season, so full of disruption, begs for understanding, if not excuse-making. Even halfway across the world in a supposed home game, they were relative afterthoughts to the Odell Beckham show. Giants fans turned out in numbers, creating perhaps the loudest atmosphere in the history of the International Series. The crowd noise had a direct impact on a Rams false-start penalty late in the fourth quarter and contributed to the Rams needing to burn timeouts.

It felt like New Jersey in Europe as "Let's go Giants!" chants rang through the packed Twickenham concourses after the game. Mobs of Big Blue supporters shrieked when they got a quick glimpse of Jason Pierre-Paul, a "Beatles landing in New York" story in reverse.

Yet, no matter which obstacles the Rams have faced this year, the lack of faith in Goff's readiness to play stands as a disappointment. He was drafted as a presumptive starter, with the billing that he was more "pro ready" than Carson Wentz. The Rams gave up two first-round picks, two second-round picks and two third-round picks for Goff because they believed he could snap Fisher's seven-quarterback losing streak, but they don't believe in him enough yet to start him over Keenum, who has eight passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season.

"Jared is going to play when we feel Jared is ready," Fisher said.

NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported during the week that Goff has taken significant strides in practice since Week 1, and the team is ready to increase his practice reps starting with the Rams' upcoming bye. That's a sign the Rams are feeling optimistic about Goff behind the scenes, and they recognize developing their quarterback is a crucial component to their season. They just refuse to commit to that development like the Giants did back when they elevated Eli Manning as a rookie in 2004.

The Giants wound up falling from 5-4 to 6-10 after making that change, but Manning credits his massive second-year leap to what he learned from that experience. The Rams might need to take a step back to some 5-11 bull---- to ever move forward.

Instead, the Rams continue to stay the course, deflecting issues like the Giants did to 12 Keenum passes on Sunday. Fisher noted that left tackle Greg Robinson "needs to learn" to avoid penalties, yet it's Robinson's third season since being taken No. 2 overall. Fisher was quick to point out this is not a veteran Rams team, but they have been the youngest team in the NFL for seasons running.

At some point soon, Fisher needs to show he is capable of change.

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