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Bernie Bytes: No Free Passes For The Rams
Bernie Bytes: No free passes for the Rams
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 9:40 am
There's an interesting debate and discussion going on among Rams fans and media. What should we realistically expect from the Rams? Given that many observers thought that 2010 would be the continuation of a rebuilding project, and that we'd see them go 4-12 or 5-11 with a rookie QB, should we be pleased that they're exceeding expectations? Are we being greedy, to look at their current 4-5 record and believe that they should be 6-3? Is it unrealistic or unfair to suggest that they should have won the road games at Tampa Bay or San Francisco?
As is usually the case, the correct answer is somewhere in the middle.
-- No. 1, I think, from a big-picture standpoint, the Rams have done well. We have to be pleased with the progress that they've made. You can see building blocks settle into place. That bodes well for the future. You can also see a team that works to get better, a team that cares, a team that sticks together, a team that wants to do things the right way. It's also a team that's limited by the number of roster holes. The Rams lack an elite wide receiver to stretch the field. They don't have a speed back to provide a change of pace for Steven Jackson. They're mediocre at outside linebacker. They don't have an intimidating pass rushers. (That's not a knock on James Hall or Chris Long; those guys are playing very well. But imagine how much better the defense would be if the Rams had a locomotive zeroing in on a QB all of the time, the kind of pass-rush force that keeps offensive tackles awake at night.) There are too many "box" safeties who lack refined coverage skills. That's just a partial listing. The Rams' roster isn't there yet. Not even close. And head coach Steve Spagnuolo has many terrific qualities, but game-day coaching remains an area that requires improvement. So yes, from a overview standpoint it's reasonable to conclude that we can only expect so much from a young and incomplete roster at this point in time.
--No. 2, even with the roster imperfections and youth, do we really give the team a free pass for blowing a 14-point lead at Tampa Bay after thoroughly dominating the Bucs for the first half? If the roster is so flawed that we can't expect the Rams to win on the road, then why was the same roster able to go into Tampa Bay and take firm control of that game, outgaining the home team 189-87 in the first half? If the Rams' roster is so incapable of winning on the road, then how did they score 20 points at San Francisco -- something that only four of the other 12 visiting-team offenses have done since the start of last season? If the Rams defense was good enough to make the ***** go 0 for 11 on third-down conversions, then why would we hand them a "They're Young and Not Ready to Win on the Road" card after they gave up a first down on 4th and 18? And should the coaches not be held accountable in instances where they've been slow to make adjustments in games?
Like I said, it's an interesting discussion. I like where the Rams are heading. Very much so. I like the fact that they are playing meaningful football games in November -- perhaps a year ahead of schedule. The impact that Sam Bradford has made on this franchise is profound. I like the head coach and am more convinced than ever that he's the right guy to lead this team. But that only goes so far. When you have a chance to win the game, when a victory is basically in your hands, you have to take advantage of the opportunity and put it away. And yes, they are capable of doing it. Are we seriously supposed to believe that on that 4th and 18 at Candlestick, all of a sudden the 11 players in the defensive huddle looked around and thought, "Oh, we're young, we're not ready to win on the road, we're not mature enough to make a stop here."
The Rams aren't a charity case.
And I won't insult them by treating them as if they are a charity case. I respect these players and coaches more than that.
* There's been another good debate coming out of the loss at San Francisco. The Rams had a chance to try a 52-yard field goal that, if made, would have given them a 20-10 lead. I like these kinds of discussions because there are legitimate cases to be made on both sides. Rams kicker Josh Brown is one of the better long-distance FG guys in the league. Since becoming a Ram in 2008, Brown has made 12 of 16 field goals from 50 yards or longer. That 75-percent rate ties Brown for 5th-best among NFL kickers since '08. And he's made 4 of 5 field goals on the road from 50+ as a Ram. However .... Brown in his entire career (including his Seattle days) is 0 for 2 at Candlestick from 50+ yards. And visiting kickers, for whatever reason -- is it the wind, or threat of wind? -- haven't been very good on long-range FG attempts at Candlestick. According to STATS LLC, visiting-team kickers have made only 5 of 18 field goals there from 50+ yards since the start of the 1980 season. I doubt that Spags had those numbers available to him when he made his decision. Perhaps he did. But after looking at the numbers, I'd have to say that having Brown try a 52-yarder would have been a low-percentage move. The chance for success wasn't very good.
Thanks for reading...
Re: Bernie Bytes: No Free Passes For The Rams
I agree. Its just no excuse for losing like we have. If you are able to get in a position to win a game, then you are more than capable to win it, so if you lose, then there are no excuses.
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