Quarterback Jim Everett showed he can stand firm in the pocket on a given Sunday, but for the second consecutive Monday he couldn’t handle the question: “So are you going to be the starting quarterback Sunday?”
A week ago, Everett responded with an expletive, and although he made the question rhetorical Sunday with a winning performance against Houston, he was in no joking mood Monday.
“Thanks, guys,” replied Everett, who then walked off, abruptly ending a post-practice interview with several reporters.
On a day of good cheer for Coach Chuck Knox, his staff and players after Sunday’s 28-13 victory over the Oilers, Everett was almost unapproachable.
After spitting at the feet of reporters and being advised by rookie wide receiver Sean LaChapelle to boycott the media, Everett declined to take credit for his play.
“I just expect to try and play as hard as I possibly can every week,” Everett said. “That’s all I try to expect.”
Asked what he was most proud of Sunday, he said, “I take the most pride in winning. That’s A-No. 1. I also take a lot of pride in my teammates. . . . You know, as far as standing up, playing confident, being very professional and improving.”
And how did he feel on this Monday, after playing so well, as opposed to last Monday, when he was heavily criticized?
“Of course it feels better after a win,” he said, all business. No smiles, no banter.
But knowing the criticism he took last week, had he now received congratulations?
“If so, they’re just congratulating me on being part of a good win as far as what this team needed,” he said.
Everett has said he does not read the newspapers, pays no attention to radio talk shows and remains unaffected by criticism. But then came that question, and Everett was gone.
A smiling Knox, meanwhile, had ended his weekly news conference moments earlier and had stopped and offered a parting shot to reporters as he left the room.
“This is the first time no one has asked me who our starting quarterback is going to be.”
A week ago, there had been plenty of debate, with HBO’s Gary Myers going so far as announcing on the air that the Rams had made the decision to switch to T.J. Rubley should Everett, as most observers expected would happen, falter in Houston.
Everett, however, turned in one of the week’s most impressive offensive performances. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns and was the opposite of all he had been in two previous defeats.
“It was very encouraging to see the plays he made,” Knox said. “I think this: I think you’re going to see more of the quarterback you saw (Sunday). More of that.”
Knox, speaking before Everett’s quick exit, also had high marks for the way he dealt with criticism and postgame questions regarding his play.
“I like the way he handled everything,” Knox said. “I don’t think he overreacted, at least I didn’t hear of him overreacting or getting in a contest or getting abrasive or abusive with anybody.
“You can say you don’t read the paper or whatever, but certainly he’s aware of what’s been said. I thought he handled it very well. The only thing you can do is go out and do it. I was very proud of the way he handled it and responded.
“The quarterback draw, you know, he looked pretty good.”
Did the Rams include the quarterback draw in their game plan, which resulted in a 14-yard gain, to allow Everett the chance to display his toughness?
“No . . . ,” Knox said. “But when he ran that quarterback draw, I think he fired up some people.”
Did the criticism spur Everett on and prompt such play?
“I don’t think motivation is a question, it’s a question of getting the skill, making the right decisions and doing all those things. Why it doesn’t happen every week, I don’t know.”
Everett received a game ball for his performance, as did wide receiver Henry Ellard, offensive guard Tom Newberry, defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, defensive end Robert Young, cornerbacks’ Todd Lyght, Robert Bailey and Darryl Henley and safety Pat Terrell.
And why can’t there be such joy at Rams Park each Monday?
“I think you always ask yourself that,” Knox said. “The game is not like a faucet where you can turn it on and off. I think we’re just learning how to win, and how to get some things done. I don’t have an answer for it, but I know the harder you work, the luckier you get.”