With a usually strong defense and the emergence of rookie running back Todd Gurley, the St. Louis Rams are waiting for another piece of the puzzle to begin contributing more to the overall game plan.
That would be quarterback Nick Foles, who struggled through a rough day Sunday and heard some boos during a 37-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Foles got off to a quick start, connecting with tight end Jared Cook on a 29-yard gain before he and Gurley hooked up on a 31-yard play on the first drive of the game. That set up a 6-yard TD run by Gurley that proved to be the only time the Rams (4-5) reached the end zone all day.
Obtained from the Philadelphia Eagles in an offseason trade for quarterback Sam Bradford, Foles has been at or over 200 yards passing only twice all season. The second time was Sunday as he connected on only 17 of 36 passes for 200 yards, hitting the 200-mark after the game was well out of reach.
Foles overthrew receivers several times, failed to locate open men and seemed a bit anxious in the pocket. Forced to throw once the Bears bolted out to a big lead, the Rams were unable to generate much offensively.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher brought in backup quarterback Case Keenum on the final series, but said later he had no plans to replace Foles earlier in the game or make a change at the position.
“That’s my choice, but no,” Fisher said. “I’m just going to look at it. We have to play better around him. I’ll look and see how he played, but he was prepared. He had a great practice this week and he missed a couple of throws and we had a couple of drops.
“We’ll look at it, but at this point, no.”
Does Fisher feel that Foles has lost confidence? Foles has thrown only one TD pass in the last four games and the Rams rank near the bottom of the NFL in offense and passing offense. They have been held to 18 points or fewer in five of their nine games, all losses.
Foles has completed 145-of-246 passes (56.6 percent) for 1,678 yards and seven TDs with six interceptions.
“He’s a confident, competitive person,” Fisher said. “He thought, with seven minutes left to go in the game, we were going to put two drives together and score. That’s how he is and it’s real. It’s got some realness to it.
“It’s not one of those things that you think how someone is supposed to act. I don’t think confidence is an issue with him.”
This was a so-so Bears team that came to St. Louis with a sub-.500 record and had just played a game on Monday night. The Bears were also without their injured top running back (Matt Forte) and second-best receiver in Eddie Royal along with star linebacker Pernell McPhee.
The Rams also had won three of four at home, including a season-opening overtime win against Seattle.
Foles liked the quick start, but also admitted he has to play better. So do receivers that continue to drop balls and an offensive line that remains a work in progress (left tackle Greg Robinson was called three times for holding) thanks to injuries and inconsistency.
“I mean, not good enough to win,” Foles said when asked to assess his own performance. “We’re not winning, so I have to keep working to get better, working to make sure offensively we get rolling. I feel good. Rhythm, I feel good dropping back, throwing, reading defenses — I feel good about it.
“But I have to continue to play better. Part of being a quarterback is making the guys around you play better, understand.”
New Rams receiver Wes Welker went from being out of football to back on the field in less than a week. He made his Rams debut Sunday and had three catches for 32 yards while being used almost exclusively on third down plays.
One of Welker’s catches went for a first down and another came up about a yard short. Hoping Welker would improve their NFL-worst third-down conversion rate, the Rams still were 4-for-14 on third down Sunday.
“It felt good just kind of getting my feet wet a little bit and just going out there and playing and just trying to get accustomed to everything,” said Welker, one of the game’s top slot receivers in his days with New England and Denver.
The 34-year-old didn’t feel out of place or think the quick turnaround from signing last week to hitting the field was a big adjustment.
“I think when you’ve been doing it this long and understand everything, nothing’s changed” he said. “It’s still football. All this stuff is stuff I’ve seen a lot of times and just going out there and trying to be on the same page with everyone else.
“It was good to get out there and play. I missed it. That part of it was great.”
- Injuries to two rookie offensive linemen have weakened an already fragile position for the Rams.
Rookie guard Jamon Brown went down with a lower leg fracture with 4:55 remaining in the fourth quarter trying to make a play on an interception return by the Bears.
Rookie right tackle Rob Havenstein, who has been bothered by an Achilles/ankle injury, left the game in the fourth quarter with a calf injury and was replaced by undrafted rookie Darrell Williams.
“When I got over there he was in a lot of pain,” Fisher said. “He tried to make a tackle and in those particular situations, sometimes you get landed on in the back or get your foot caught in the turf. It’s unfortunate for ‘JB’ because he was off to a great rookie year.”
- The exposed concrete surface at the Edward Jones Dome between the back of the bench areas and the stands was covered with a thick, rubberized blue surface on Sunday.
The slick concrete led to a knee injury to San Francisco running back Reggie Bush earlier this season and caused Bush and another opposing player to slip.