Were the St Louis Rams right to let Austin Davis go?


What do Sam Bradford and Austin Davis have in common? Several things. Both have staunch supporters as well as those who question whether they should be playing in the NFL. Both have checkerboard careers, occasionally showing flashes of brilliance, occasionally making woeful decisions that cost their team. And, as of this week, they are both officially former members of the St Louis Rams.

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The news broke earlier this week that Austin Davis, the man who passed for over 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in ten games last season and leading the Rams to victories against divisional rivals Seattle and San Francisco along the way, is now a member of the Cleveland Browns. With as many question marks as ever surrounding Johnny Manziel, and Josh McCown having reached double figures in games played only twice in twelve seasons in the league, there is every chance Davis may see a fair bit of playing time. But what of the team Davis leaves behind?

Aug 23, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis (9) is hit and sacked during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. The Titans won 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With the arrival of Nick Foles in the blockbuster Sam Bradford trade, and Sean Mannion being drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, it was likely as preseason approached that we would be looking at a shootout between Davis and, also newly acquired, Case Keenum for a spot on the final 53-man roster. Keenum finished the preseason 21 of 35 for 256 yards and one touchdown. The 80-yarder to Chris Givens in game two against Tennessee was the highlight of the four game set for the young QB. Unquestionably, Keenum realised the experimental nature of preseason, and showed up when it counted. It is hard to argue against him having earned his place on the roster.

Ultimately, it was immaturity and lack of consistency that cost Davis firstly the starter’s job last year when Shaun Hill regained his health, and now a spot on the Rams roster. Davis’ fans will point to the flashes of potential he showed last year, and argue that the mistakes he made could be simply attributed to lack of experience which would fade out with more starts under his belt. However, with the highly-rated Mannion now on board, it is clear the front office saw that same potential but with a much higher ceiling with the former Oregon State man.

The questions in the early weeks of 2014 about where Davis might have taken the Rams had a degree of romance, excitement and intrigue. Unfortunately for Davis, he was unable to produce on a regular basis to cement his place on the team. Rams fans will think back fondly to the good performances he put in but football is a business, roster spots are limited and the Foles / Keenum / Mannion trio does have a nice look about it. Were the Rams right to let Davis go? The answer, with regret, is probably yes.