Breaking Down What Shaun Hill Gives the St. Louis Rams

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterAugust 26, 2014

St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill passes against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)
Scott Kane/Associated Press

When news broke that St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford would miss the entirety of the 2014 season with a torn ACL, there were some Rams fans who reacted in a state of panic. 

This was an appropriate response considering Bradford is supposed to be the organization’s franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. Yet head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead should know by now that the No. 1 overall pick is as injury-prone as it gets.

As it’s scheduled, Bradford will have missed 31 of 80 regular-season games by the end of the 2014 regular season. In turn, this means No. 8 will have missed 38.7 percent of the contests he was scheduled to play in by the conclusion of his sixth pro season. Certain players just have the worst luck when it comes to injuries.

The good news is the Rams do have a talented backup quarterback behind Bradford. Sure, Shaun Hill isn’t the youngest at 34 years of age. But he has had limited success in the NFL, and Coach Fisher has a ton of faith in him.

“I think it's important once you make a change for whatever reason, you stick with it,” Fisher said Monday, via Nick Wagoner of “And we're sticking with this. There's no doubt about that. That allows everybody to get comfortable and have confidence in who is under center as opposed to 'Well, what are we going to do this week?’ There's no doubt that he's our guy and we're going to move forward.”

Based on Fisher’s comments, it’s only fair to ask: What does Hill give the Rams? Even though he hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since the 2012 season, more than a handful of pundits from around the NFL agree that he is better than some of the current starters in the league.

Here’s what Chris Wesseling of tweeted about the veteran signal-caller: “Sorry to hear about Bradford's knee. Shaun Hill can move an offense. I'd take him over 4-5 current NFL starters to enter the 2014 season.”

If Wesseling’s endorsement wasn’t enough; two anonymous general managers in the NFL conveyed the same message to Ian Rapoport of “You know, he's really not bad. Better than a few starters in the NFL.”

All things considered, it sounds like the Rams will be just fine with Hill under center. Shoot, there are even a few people who think St. Louis will be better off now that Hill is the team’s starting quarterback. 

The majority of those notions are based off of Hill’s career numbers being better than Bradford’s, so there is some truth in that statement. For a case in point, look at Hill’s quarterback rating, completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

In 34 career games, Hill has amassed an 85.9 quarterback rating, a 62 percent completion percentage and a 41-to-23 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

As far as Bradford’s numbers go, in 49 career games, he has accumulated a 79.3 quarterback rating, a 58.6 percent completion percentage and a 59-to-38 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

The sample size of those statistics may be small, but it’s clear who possesses the better stat line. However, as we all know, it goes beyond the numbers. It’s about the game tape as well. 

Despite the lack of playing time the last few years, Hill received a ringing endorsement from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report when Miller evaluated Hill’s skill set at the end of the 2012 season for B/R NFL 1000:

A quality No. 2 quarterback, Hill has the skill set to be a plus player when thrown into a starting situation due to injury. With his accuracy and mobility, Hill could be viewed as a potential stopgap solution for a young quarterback if needed.

Notice how Miller says, “Hill has the skill set to be a plus player when thrown into a starting situation due to injury.” Coincidentally enough, that’s the situation Hill is in now. And honestly, that’s probably the reason he decided to sign with the Rams. 

In all likelihood, Hill knew (based on Bradford’s injury history) there would be a good chance for him to start in St. Louis. He never came out and directly said that after he signed with the Rams, but he did say recently that he prepares as a starter would regardless of his role.

Even if there are a lot of unknowns surrounding Hill because he hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2012, we do know one thing: He can still move a first-team offense up and down the field. 

When he started St. Louis’ first preseason game of the year, he completed five passes on seven attempts, scored two touchdowns and tallied 84 yards passing. 

Yes, it was a preseason game, but the New Orleans Saints had all 11 of their starters on defense, which has to count for something. Right? Here are a couple of beautiful throws from that game:

Credit: NFL Preseason Live

Credit: NFL Preseason Live

Hill may not be a long-term option at quarterback for the Rams. But he is a better option than Austin Davis and Garrett Gilbert. I know that doesn’t mean a whole lot right now, but Rams fans will be thankful Hill is the team’s quarterback once September 7 rolls around. 

Think about it: If Kellen Clemens helped St. Louis win seven games last year, there’s no reason Hill can’t help the Rams finish with an 8-8 or 9-7 record this year.