Keeping perspective on Austin Davis' hot start


EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When the St. Louis Rams travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles this Sunday, Austin Davis should be the starter at quarterback.

I wrote as much after Davis' performance against the Dallas Cowboys, and obviously nothing has happened in the time since that has made me change my mind. Many of you feel the same way. And, for what it's worth, I still believe coach Jeff Fisher will give Davis another shot against the Eagles. I know he has repeatedly said a healthy Shaun Hill will take the job back when he returns from an injured calf, but Davis has earned the shot.

Either way, it's important to put what Davis did in starts against Tampa Bay and Dallas in perspective. In Davis' two starts, he is 52-of-71 for 562 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 98.4 and a QBR of 77.5. His completion percentage of 72.3 is the best in the NFL, and he is eighth in the league in yards per attempt at 8.02.

Against the Cowboys, Davis was 30-of-42 for 327 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions as the Rams came up short.

Let's take a look at a couple of former or current Rams who got their first opportunity in circumstances similar to Davis and how they fared in their first two starts and what happened after:

Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Rams used a seventh-round pick on Fitzpatrick in 2005. Like Davis, Fitzpatrick began the season as the third-string quarterback behind Marc Bulger and Jamie Martin. On Nov. 27 against the Houston Texans, Fitzpatrick entered the game in place of Martin and went on to energize the team, completing 19-of-30 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The effort was similar to Davis' work against the Cowboys in that it came against a fledgling defense and the numbers appeared the same. A week later, Fitzpatrick was 21-of-36 for 136 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Doubts began to creep in about whether he should continue to start, and those doubts came to fruition later when he threw five interceptions in a loss to Minnesota. Fitzpatrick has gone on to a nice career that has seen him bounce from Cincinnati to Buffalo to Houston, where he is currently the starter.

Case Keenum: Like Davis, Keenum entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Texans. After the Rams destroyed the Texans in Week 6 last season, Houston turned to the hometown favorite to take over for Matt Schaub. Also like Davis, Keenum offered immediate results. In his first two starts, Keenum was 35-of-59 for 621 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 118.0 and a QBR of 74.8. Those numbers even exceeded what Davis has done in his first two starts, but the Texans were unable to win either game. From there, Keenum went on to get six more starts, and though he sprinkled in some strong outings (particularly against New England), the Texans were 0-8 with Keenum starting. Now, Keenum is on the Rams' roster providing depth behind Davis.

Of course, Fitzpatrick and Keenum are just two examples of backup quarterbacks who made a splash when they first got starting opportunities but then came back to Earth a bit after. Some backups have gone on to greater success, some have gone on to worse. Davis does have the advantage of being in his third NFL season as opposed to Fitzpatrick and Keenum, who were rookies when they got their first opportunities.

Really, what happens with Davis from here is simple. If he keeps producing, he should keep starting. If he doesn't, the Rams can go back to Hill. Assuming Davis gets the next start, we will learn a lot more about him as the Rams get into the teeth of their schedule.

In the meantime, there is little reason to make a big announcement to declare Davis the starter for the rest of the season. To borrow the cliché from coaches and players all over the league, Davis' position as starter should be taken one game at a time.