By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Sep. 30 2007

"I guarantee a win this week." ó Isaac Bruce



IRVING, TEXAS ó So how surprising is this?

The Rev. Ike channels Broadway Joe?

Has the most unlikely character in the Rams' locker room ó that public phantom,
ordained minister and ageless pass catching machine named Isaac Bruce ó gone
buck wild on us?

Even on a good day, trying to get a useful quote out of the reclusive wide
receiver is about as easy as picking up a melon seed off a wet plate with a
pair of chopsticks. Most often, Ike prefers to be left alone with his thoughts,
which can be quite fascinating in those moments when he decides to reveal
himself in a voice barely above a whisper. He's that rare reluctant superstar
who sees the spotlight bearing down on him, then deftly veers around it as if
he's avoiding defensive backs converging into the seam of a Cover 2 zone.

So why would the Rev. Ike choose a time like this to go against form and make
such a bold prediction live on a local radio station?

Because that's exactly what his battered, bloodied and winless St. Louis Rams
need. They are venturing into Texas Stadium on Sunday as 13-point underdogs to
the unbeaten Dallas Cowboys, with the odds against them stacked higher than the
Gateway Arch. His quarterback has broken ribs and bad knees. His constantly
reshuffled offensive linemen are almost strangers. His Pro Bowl running back is
out. His future Hall of Fame offensive tackle is done for the season, and his
reputed high-powered offense scores about as often as a fat man in a singles
bar.

Yet Bruce the fearless public motivator promised on live radio that the winless
Rams will roll into Texas Stadium and shock the football world.

"I guarantee a win this week."

Yeah, this is exactly what the Rams need, a touch of boldness, a dash of
daring, an attitude of fearless abandon. The team floundered offensively the
first three weeks of the season, and now Bruce has backed the Rams into a deep
corner. I'm delighted he did it.

The Rams' offense has been too timid, too tentative, too conservative for its
own good, which is due to too many injuries and too much conservative coaching.
But it has also been careless with the ball, losing five fumbles and throwing
three interceptions, which is a product of the players' self-destructive errors.

So the Rams might as well let it all hang out now on national television
against the best team in the NFC, with the entire world doubting them. Bruce's
bold prediction ought to put the Rams in the right frame of mind to shock the
football world.

On Thursday afternoon as reporters began filtering into the locker room at Rams
Park, defensive end Leonard Little playfully pelted us with mock despair. "The
season's OVER!!! We'll NEVER WIN AGAIN!! Call the rest of the season off
because we can't possibly win another game ALL SEASON!!!" he chuckled. "Ohh my
GAWD, what are we gonna do?"

Not all 0-3 records are created equal. The Rams are not as hopeless as the
winless Falcons or Dolphins. They have more talent than the 0-3 Saints and
Bills. It's time they started showing it. Despite the injuries that have
wrecked the offensive line, the Rams have weapons that can generate yardage and
produce points at a higher rate than this pedestrian 10-points-per-game
average.

They have wide receivers such as Bruce and Torry Holt who can run precise dig
routes into the crease of any pass defense. They have a tight end in Randy
McMichael and a 6-foot-5 slot man in Drew Bennett who can run slants and curls
in the soft underbelly inside the hash marks. They have a rookie tailback in
Brian Leonard who may not be a gargantuan ground gobbler like Steven Jackson
but knows how to lower his shoulder pads and get tough yards.

The Rams have no business being 0-3. It won't be easy to get the first victory
on the road against one of the most explosive offenses in football. But it
won't be impossible. In the locker room all week, you could tell this wasn't a
room full of defeated men. They know they ought to be doing better. They know
they're better than this. Now Bruce, with the purposeful prediction, has forced
them to prove it.

"I think it's great," Holt said. "You better be on your game is how I look at
it. He is challenging everybody to come in and be on their games. We want to
win a game, we want to validate that guarantee. We have to make it a reality."