Coming into tonight’s Rams-Jaguars game Thad Lewis knew he was playing for a spot on the roster. That much was true. However as the game progressed just which spot he was playing for came in to question.
As I began organizing my thoughts for this piece before the game, I was taking the angle of Lewis playing for a spot on the roster all together. I have since completely discarded those notes and thoughts. And now I have my new angle. At the end of the game Lewis had failed to earn a spot on the 53 man squad as the Rams 3rd QB.
Instead he won the job of Sam Bradford’s backup…as the #2 QB. Queue gasps. This is not based on AJ Feeley’s performance. He did not play poorly this preseason. This is based on how well Lewis played. Fact is he flat up and stole the job from Feeley, probably made off with his wallet too.
The role of a backup is not to play. If they are in the game more than often that is a sign that something bad has happened. It is an opportunity to learn, to improve and should something happen to Bradford, to keep the team afloat. Lewis has much more upside than Feeley and given the chance to take all the snaps with the 2’s and study Bradford brings a much different look to a game than Feeley.
Hell, if nothing else coach him up into a tradable commodity. No one is coming after Feeley, not happening. Now I don’t think this is the approach to take but it does present another option you don’t have with Feeley. Guarantee you other teams scouting the Rams this summer are daring them to cut Lewis.
Undrafted out of Duke in 2010 Lewis made this preseason his personal mission statement. Not invited to the combine…this has been his combine. Undrafted free agents tend to play well for the Rams, play hard and play with a chip on their shoulder. Admirable qualities that translate well onto a football field and have worked out well for the Rams in the past. See London Fletcher and Danario Alexander (see what I did there).
Lewis’ stat line for the preseason is solid; 23 of32 for 266 yards and a completion percentage of 72%, and no INT’s. But his play goes beyond the stat line. His two-minute drill against the Titans spoke volumes, 12 plays for 67 yards, passing for 1st down on multiple occasions and leaving no time left on the clock.
Tonight Lewis showed his ability to control the clock as he milked nearly eight minute to leave the Jags with precious seconds to play for the tie. The fact that Spags trusted him enough to pass as often as he did on that final drive is a statement in itself.
Two plays stood out tonight. On 3rd & 5 at the Jacksonville 35 yard line Lewis made it happen while scrambling out of the pocket and passing to the middle to Mardy Gilyard for 16 yards to the Jac19. Setting up a Josh Brown field goal. The other was a beautiful touch pass over the shoulder to Alexander for 43 yards to the 6 yard line.
Statement plays in a statement game from your new backup QB. Bank it.
I got to go to the Jags game last nite and got a seat in the end zone on the 2nd level. As we were watching a close game, I kept saying to the person I was with how in love with Thad Lewis as a QB and sure enough, he kept moving the ball down the field and the person I was with was like wow you were right. Thad Lewis is definitely a future starting QB
Oh, and a little gem from the internets... Thad Lewis' coach at Duke, David Cutcliffe, is best known for having been Peyton Manning's QB coach at Tennessee, and Eli Manning's head coach at Ole Miss. No wonder Lewis looks so polished, mechanically.
What's really exciting about watching Thaddeus this preseason is to see how far and how quickly he's progressed week to week. His comfort in the offense, his timing and his accuracy have improved leaps and bounds, on top of his natural play-making ability. Granted, he's still raw in some areas -- his early screen pass was as unballetic as you can get, and was lucky to not turn into a negative play or a turnover. But his positives and still-untapped upside are much more impressive now.
The only reason I can see keeping Feeley as the primary backup would be for Bradford's benefit as a mentor, a veteran guy to help break down plays on the sidelines and in the film room. But with McDaniels always in Bradford's ear on the sideline and in the film room as well, I'm not sure how much you need that.