St. Louis Rams Roundup: A Recipe for Disaster. How the Rams Got so Bad, so Fast.
The St. Louis Rams managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday at Arizona. No fan likes to see their team get beat, but the Rams have turned losing into such an art form that you almost have to appreciate their incompetence.
I think that I speak for all Rams' fans when I say, "I can't wait to see how they blow the next one."
How do you lose when your defense allows only two field goals through three-and-a-half quarters? How is it that Steven Jackson ran for over 100 yards, and the defense recorded two safeties, and you still managed to lose to a 1-6 team that was playing their backup quarterback?
I mean, that level of ineptitude deserves to be analyzed, doesn't it?
That's what I'm here to do today. I asked my fellow Rams' Featured Columnists "Who deserves the most blame for this mess the Rams are in?"
Here is what they had to say.
Step 1: Make a Ton of Bad Personnel Decisions
Fellow Ram's Featured Columnist Doug Zerjal said, "I think the Rams are in their current situation due to a combination of the schedule and poor front office moves."
He added, "The Rams have drafted poorly, especially in the mid rounds. I can’t knock Chris Long and Bradford. They both seem like solid picks. Both players have shown up and played well at times. I think the Rams rarely, over the last few drafts, have “stolen” a player in rounds 3-6. That needs to happen in order to be a good all around team.
The schedule has been absolutely brutal. This is a team that needs confidence. An easier schedule might have allowed the team to player better as the season went along rather than finding themselves in a huge hole (1-7) right now."
It's hard to argue with Doug's assessment of the Rams' situation. I actually wrote a piece this week talking about some poor personnel decisions the Rams have made recently.
Step 2: Add a Dash of Poor Coaching
Rams' Featured Columnist, Steven Gerwel, had a different take.
He said, "The team’s win against the Saints proves the the Rams are talented enough to win games. The problem is not with Billy Devaney, who is actually bringing in talent at a rate that is sufficient for just about any NFL team."
"The problem clearly lies within the scheme, the lack of discipline, and poor play-calling, which is on the coaching staff. Early injuries and tough opponents have played a role, but the coaches have not been able to get the players ready for game day."
It's hard to argue with Steven's opinion. I mean, have you watched the Rams play? The Rams have made such a habit of shooting themselves in the foot that my five year old son knows what a false start is already.
Step 3: Mix Contents and Stir
So we have two different opinions. Zerjal says we need better players. Gerwel says we have talent, but we need some major adjustments from our coaches. Both agree that the Rams early schedule provided a hurdle this team could not overcome.
When your team is this bad, there is plenty of blame to go around.
I think Devaney has done a terrible job drafting. He wasted a first round pick (Jason Smith) and a second round pick (Donnie Avery). He has completely whiffed on several "mid round picks," guys like John Greco (third round), Kennean Burton (fourth round), and Mardy Gilyard (fourth round) just to name a few.
He reached for Mike Sims-Walker in free agency, and it appears he had no contingency plan in the event that Mark Clayton wasn't eligible this year.
He signed linebackers Brady Poppinga, Ben Leber, and Zach Diles during the offseason. Diles was cut, and the Poppinga/Leber combo has been a key cog in the worst run defense in the NFL.
Reading that list is like watching a Freddie Kruger movie–there are dead bodies everywhere.
Billy Devaney has to go. He deserves the lion's share of blame, in my own opinion. Maybe these guys didn't get "coached up" enough. Who knows?
You can't argue the fact that none of these players made a difference in a Rams uniform. Devaney picked these players. He deserves the blame.
Step 4: Throw It All into a 17 Week Pressure Cooker
Steve Spagnulo also deserves some of the blame, mostly because this has been an undisciplined football team from the opening snap of the season. I will give Spags a slight pass because all of the rules changed this year.
There are no more two-a-days, you can't put guys in pads as much as you could in the past, and this had a negative impact on tackling league wide. The Rams, like the rest of the league, have improved defensively every week.
Offensively, well, that is a different story.
Part of the problem is we drafted bad players (Greco, Gilyard, Avery, Burton, Smith, etc). Part of the problem is injuries. All of that aside, there is no denying that Josh McDaniels' offense hasn't taken off in St. Louis.
When your defense is behind (because of major rules changes), and your offense sucks (because of awful personnel decisions and poor coaching), it really doesn't help when you have the toughest early season schedule in the NFL
Throwing a team this bad into that kind of pressure cooker...
Step 5: Take a Giant Step Back and Start Over
Well, what did you expect? Maybe the Rams could have started 2-6? Or, best case scenario, 3-5?
I mean, let's be honest here–this team was 7-9 last year with losses to the Raiders (didn't make the playoffs), the Bucs (a game any good team would have won), the Seahawks (who won the division at 7-9), and to the Niners (not a good football team last year).
Basically, if this roster had "playoff talent," we would have been at least 9-7 last year.
The Rams are going to clean house. I hate it for Spags. I think he is a good football coach. I think he is going to get another chance, with a competent GM, and he is going to be successful.
And poor Sam Bradford...
He is about to get his third offensive coordinator in three years. That can't be good for any young quarterback. Ask Jason Campbell how that worked out for him.
But there is no way Rams' owner Stan Kroenke lets this continue. Sam Bradford is getting beat to a pulp, and the bad habits are starting to show. There is no way Kroenke is going to allow Bradford to become the next David Carr.
So at the end of the day, it doesn't matter whose fault this is–Devaney, Spags, or just bad luck. Everybody is going to get fired, and the Rams will just start rebuilding, again.