[Bernie Miklasz]: Reading the Rams
Reading the Rams
By Bernie Miklasz
08/25/2007 7:02 pm
I donít care about preseason NFL football. Itís the biggest rip-off in professional sports and largely a waste of time and the fansí good money and loyalty. I wish the U.S. Justice Dept. would intervene and officially designate NFL preseason games a criminal enterprise.
I monitor the Ramsí exhibitions only because I want to try and keep up with the team, and I like to take a look at the new players. But I donít get excited if the Rams go 3-1 or 4-0 in the preseason. I donít get upset if theyíre 1-3 or 0-4. The only emotion I have is when another one of these dreadful games is over, and that really pleases me, because it means weíre closer to the real football of the regular season. Iím also happy if the players get through these mock games without suffering injury.
The Rams looked bad against San Diego last week, and even worse at Oakland on Friday night. Some fans are sounding the alarm over the state of the team; the internet forums are in a tizzy. And thatís fine; having passion is one of the best things about being a fan, or a sports columnist.
But again, I just canít get steamed about this, no matter how poorly the Rams look in key areas. Because of the way coaches deploy personnel and strategy, these games can be terribly misleading. The intensity isnít there. The creativity isn Ďt there. The regular players arenít there ó at least not for four quarters. And even if the starters are on the field, I donít know how hard theyíre playing, or what theyíre working on. Itís a jumbled mess.
Last year Indy went 1-3 in the preseason and won the Super BowlÖ Oakland went 4-1 in the preseason and went 2-14 in the games that countedÖ Carolina went 4-0 in the summer, then failed to make the playoffs with an 8-8 record. New Orleans was 1-3 in the exhibitions, then became the best story of the season with a high-flying 10-6 team that reached the NFC Championship game.
So interpret these games, and the performances, at your own risk.
All of that said, Iím not sure why anyone would be surprised to see the Ramsí defense getting pushed around this summer. Again, Iíll wait until the regular season to have an opinion that matters, but the Rams really didnít do much to upgrade the defense over the offseason. We all have great hopes for rookie DT Adam Carriker, but heís just getting acclimated to the league and a new spot. The Rams really didnít add one veteran defensive player who can disrupt a game and change its flow with big-play ability. The front seven is still questioable, and the corners are inexperienced, and thereís no heavy hitter at safety to bring the hammer down on the run. So again: why would anyone really expect to see immediate and significant improvement? Maybe that will come during the regular season, after some of the kids mature. Weíll see.
Same with the special teams. Iím sure the coverage units will be stocked with better personnel when the season starts, but up to now, is anyone shocked by the problems? The coverage units have been inadequate for a long time, and theyíve been awful in the second and third preseason games. Itís up to head coach Scott Linehan to make this area a priority, and under Linehan the Rams do invest more time in the special teams. But can Al Roberts turn things around? Not sure about him.
The Rams offense has been sluggishÖ but how can we possibly draw any significant meaning from this when RB Steve Jackson isnít playing? And WR Torry Holt didnít dress for the Oakland game. Yeah, Iíd like to see this first-team offense establish some rhythm in these practice games, because I believe the Rams are going to have to score a lot of touchdowns to be a playoff team in 2007. But I wonít lose any sleep over the way the offense is shaping up this summer. Example: QB Marc Bulger looks jumpy, but the same was true of his play last summer, and he went on to have his best NFL season.
Iím looking forward to the start of the regular season.
And weíll have a lot to talk about with the Rams ó and Iím looking forward to having those discussions with you.
Re: [Bernie Miklasz]: Reading the Rams
Wow. Bernie actually wrote something that makes sense.
I'm going to go find my hard hat, the sky must be falling.
Re: [Bernie Miklasz]: Reading the Rams
Odd....I did not know that Bernie could be calm and non-dramatic.