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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
    Monday, November 28, 2011

    If it's Monday, it is time for another edition of Necessary Roughness.

    By now everyone who paid even scant attention knows that Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams' coaches had a brutal day on the sidelines during the 23-20 giveaway to the Arizona Cardinals. So if you'll excuse me, you won't find a lot of play-by-play in this here blog. I'll try to offer some stats to back up some points and expand on what we already know.

    Let's begin ...

    * Big changes at Rams Park are inevitable. I don't need to write a grandstanding column demanding a regime change; the team's chronic losing makes it unavoidable. This sad, sorry state of affairs will lead to dismissals. That's life in the big leagues. Coaches and GMs simply don't last beyond a certain period of time when their record is bad and getting worse.Stan Kroenke knows that. He doesn't need me or anyone else to tell him that. Unless, of course, he wants to kill off fan interest.

    * The sad thing about watching Spagnuolo coachis his obvious loss of confidence in the offense. Pardon the cliche, but Spagnuolo is playing not to lose instead of playing to win. With a 2-8 mark before Sunday's debacle, and with a 10-32 overall record as HC, why be timid against Arizona? The situation demands boldness and aggressiveness. As a coach, if you're headed to an almost certain termination, why not take your best shot and go down fighting? Spagnuolo, of course, declined to go for a first down on a couple of fourth-down, short-yardage plays. The second decision, late in the game, was indefensible. The Rams punted and never got the ball back.

    * The decision made no sense for two reasons1) the defense hadn't stopped AZ on the ground all day; and (2) among the few things the Rams have done reasonably well under Spagnuolo over the last couple of years is convert on fourth-down gambles. This season the Rams are 3 for 5 in converting on 4th and 1; over the last two seasons combined they're an outstanding 9 for 11 in picking up the 1st down on 4th and 1. That includes going 7 for 9 when running the ball in 4th and 1.

    And this isn't a matter of simply handing off to Steven Jackson every time; the Rams have utilized other backs, with success, in gaining the necessary ground on these third/fourth and shorts. Jackson's short-yardage numbers are decent but nothing special. But that's why coaches get paid to be creative. You can still run the ball in these situations without being entirely predictable. Anyway ... with the game on the line, Spagnuolo ignored the positive history. He backed off. He surrendered the football. The HC made a powerful -- if unintended -- statement about his lack of faith in this offense. And by coaching so nervously, Spagnuolo dropped to 2-9 this season and 10-33 in his career, moving even closer to the firing line.

    * Spagnuolo's game management has never been a strong point, but I'm truly surprised that he hasn't gotten better at it, given that he's deep into this third season.

    * I guess what we learned yesterday is that Jason Brown isn't a very good offensive lineman, no matter where you play him up front.

    * Former Rams fullback Mike Karney ripped OTAdam Goldberg on Twitter during Sunday's loss, writing "Adam Goldberg getting #8 killed as usual." Wow.

    * It's painful to watch the Rams try to move the ball on first-and-goal situations. They've scored TDs only five 5 in 11 chances, and that percentage (45.5 pct) ranks 31st in the league. Last season with Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator the Rams were hardly great when lining up close to the goal line, but they did convert 14 of 25 of their 1st and goal chances.

    * The Rams are dead last (32nd) in red-zone conversions, scoring TDs in only 9 times in 24 chances (37.5 pct.) That's a little better than last season; the Rams scored TDs on 35.7 pct of their RZ opportunities. But the difference? The Rams got to the red zone -- a lot. They were No. 6 in the league for most red-zone possessions. This season they're tied for 28th for most red-zone possessions. At least last season they were able to move down there and put themselves in position to kick a lot of field goals.

    * Rams QB Sam Bradford has completed only 8 of 27 passes in the red zone this season. That completion percentage (29.6 percent) ranks last among all NFL quarterbacks. No other QB is below 37 percent completions. As a rookie in 2010, Bradford connected on 48.3 percent of his red-zone throws.

    * The regression is glaring. But is it the QB? Or is it the plays being called by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels? It's fair to ask, only because the entire offense has stalled and sputtered so many times this season, compared to the reasonable efficiency and ball-control tendencies displayed by the 2010 Rams offense.

    * I don't mean to make you cry, but I went back and looked at the Rams' red-zone scoring percentages during the zenith of the "Greatest Show" days, covering 1999, 2000 and 2001 .... those boys were crazy. Over a three-season period the Rams had 200 red zone possessions and scored TDs 128 times, for an astounding three-year success rate of 64 percent. That's just nuts. The 1999 Super Bowl champeen Rams scored 37 TDs in 56 red-zone series, or 66.1 percent. This current group wouldn't score 37 red-zone TDs if you gave them a 50-game schedule.

    * Since we made a brief detour down memory lane ... Mike Martz was 53-32 (.624 win pct.) as Rams head coach. With Martz as the offensive coordinator (1999) or the HC (2000 through the first five games of 2005), the Rams averaged 26 points per game. I remember the days when the biggest and loudest complaints over the Rams came from people going absolutely berserk over Martz's use of timeouts and/or challenges. The Rams would win a game, and win easily, and folks would call the post-game radio shows and try to emasculate Martz because he wasted a timeout in the second quarter, or something. Looking back at it --and considering the futility we're seeing now -- that's really funny. With Martz as the OC or the HC, the Rams went 66-35 in the regular season. Since he left the sideline on Oct. 9 of 2005, the Rams are 27-75. The adventures of Mad Mike weren't so awful after all, eh?

    * According to research done by Randy Karraker of 101 ESPN, Spagnuolo has the second-worst winning percentage (.233) of an NFL head coach since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. That's based on a minimum of 40 games. The only guy who won less frequently was Rod Marinelli (Detroit) who went 10-38 (.208) from 2006-2008.

    * The Arizona Cardinals are 7-0 in games played in St. Louis since 2005; they are 11-37 in their other road games.

    * It's good to see the team utilizing rookie tight end Lance Kendricks in the receiving game again. The Rams targeted Kendricks five times against the Cardinals after virtually ignoring him for weeks. I don't care if he dropped passes earlier in the season. I don't care if he loses a fumble. Kendricks has skill. He can be a weapon in the receiving game. But you have to keep going to Kendricks to build experience and confidence.

    * The Rams are allowing opponents to rush for an average of 5.1 yards per carry this season. If that holds up, this would be the worst yards per carry given up by a Rams defense since the team moved to STL in 1995. And injuries are no excuse; the front seven of this defense has remained healthy for the most part. And the Rams spent a bunch of money to sign free-agent safety Quintin Mikell, a run enforcer. They also signed two free-agent LBs, Brady Poppinga and Ben Leber. It hasn't worked. It isn't working. The Rams have gotten smashed for 159 yards rushing per game to rank last in the NFL in run defense. That's really inexcusable. The current regime can't defend this performance.

    That's it for now.

    Thanks for reading ...

    -Bernie


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    He thought it was 4th and 2? Tick ....tick....tick......

  3. #3
    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    I certainly was among the group that believed that no one would every appreciate Martz until he was gone.
    Although i would rate the odds near zero, i would have no problem with him returning as head coach.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  4. #4
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    It is real easy in light of the current pathetic state of the Rams to wax poetic about Mike Martz as a head coach, but truth be told, he had glaring deficiencies. One, his aforementioned frivolous use of time outs and challenges were maddening- which is all good and well when you're kicking someone's ass, but in closely contested games this comes back to haunt you. Two, his attention to the play of special teams was horrendous. Three, for all of his mad scientist offensive tendencies, he would inexplicably get conservative at times at critical junctures of ballgames. He also would gamble needlessly with a game in hand or a score inevitable. I'll never forget losing to the Redskins in the waning minute of the game with Kurt Warner fumbling and losing the football on a sack inside the 10- when a field goal would have won the game. And four, Martz' teams were not real disciplined- I recall more than our fair share of penalties. He also had health issues and strife with some players and front office people- never a good sign. And while his won-loss record is good, it is more reflective of the talent he had on those teams than a lot of brilliant head coaching strategies.

    Compared to Spags, Mike Martz is Vince Lombardi, but let's not engage in revisionist history here.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    According to research done by Randy Karraker of 101 ESPN, Spagnuolo has the second-worst winning percentage (.233) of an NFL head coach since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
    Wow. A change is all but inevitable at this point.

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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by Fettmaster View Post
    Wow. A change is all but inevitable at this point.
    Heh..and after Spags loses out the rest of the schedule he will be tied with Marinelli as the all time, absolute worse HC since the merger.

    Well at least he can say that he accomplished something in his time in St. Louis...

  7. #7
    md8
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    The running defense is because of personnel, IMO. I was pissed we didn't go after any of the bigger name LBs, or DTs available this year. Instead we decided to spread the money out through journey men. We signed a below avg DT and 2 below avg LBs. Those are ingredients for a bad defense against the run.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMarkable View Post
    Heh..and after Spags loses out the rest of the schedule he will be tied with Marinelli as the all time, absolute worse HC since the merger.

    Well at least he can say that he accomplished something in his time in St. Louis...
    I can't fathom people believe we should stick with him

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    if this does not convince fans, then I would just give up.

    What a sad set of stats


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