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  1. #1
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    [More columns]By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/21/2009

    All in all, it was a pretty good week for Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, who had to deal with the usual business at Rams Park, the NFL house of horrors located on the road to nowhere out in scorched-Earth City.

    Spagnuolo's squad was hit with an outbreak of the swine flu, forcing the cancellation of Thursday's practice. The rookie coach cut his incorrigible goon guard, Richie Incognito. Another starting guard, Jacob Bell, became the 11th Ram to go on injured reserve. And that casualty count doesn't include the No. 2 overall draft pick, offensive tackle Jason Smith, who can't shake the effects of a serious concussion.

    The offensive line had to be rearranged again. Defensive end Leonard Little was scratched from Sunday's game with a knee injury. And with the Rams' supply of quarterbacks turning as thin as a Christmas tree parking lot, rookie QB Keith Null was shoved into the starting lineup for the second consecutive week.

    Whatever can go wrong for the Rams already has in this season of unnecessary roughness.

    On Sunday at the half-empty Edward Jones Dome, the Rams did a lot of things right, only to have the day go wrong, and they fell 16-13 to the Houston Texans.

    If you want to update your misery index, the Rams are 1-13 on the season, 1-23 in their last 24 games, 3-27 over the last two seasons, and 6-40 over the last three seasons.

    That's a lot of poison to ingest, but for some reason the players stubbornly continue to fight. They limp out of the game and then limp back in. They endure humiliation and frustration and volunteer to take on more.

    On Sunday we saw Steven Jackson he of the herniated disc, 1,352 yards rushing and at least that many bruises get the helmet ripped from his head by Texans safety Bernard Pollard.

    Pollard threw a forearm across Jackson's chin for good measure. With the blood filling Jackson's mouth and covering his lips, SJ39 went Pacquiao and threw a right-hand cross. Then he grabbed hold of Pollard and wrestled him to the ground.

    That scene may have been a keeper from an otherwise hideous 2009 season: the bloodied Jackson, refusing to back down, skirmishing for a lost cause.

    "I love this group," Spagnuolo said.

    The talented Texans obviously walked into The Ed thinking that the doggy-dog Rams would shake the fleas off and obediently curl into a lazy winter nap. The visitors were in for more of a tussle than they imagined.

    The Texans won for two simple reasons: (1) they have wide receiver Andre Johnson; (2) the Rams do not have wide receiver Andre Johnson.

    "We came out here and played hard," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "That's our job, but we have to win, too. We have to stick together. Nobody is going to pack it in. That is not what this team is about."

    Back in Houston, I'm sure they're wondering why their stronger, deeper and more talented roster nearly lost to the bug-infected, woebegone Rams. The Houston fans may be wondering why Texans coach Gary Kubiak can't get his guys to play as hard as Spagnuolo's hopelessly undermanned scruffs.

    This is crazy. The Rams are competing as if any of this still matters. They're under the impression that they're playing for something important. Don't they know they're supposed to lose out so the franchise can gain the rights to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft?

    By losing to the Texans, the Rams moved a step closer to that No. 1 overall pick. And they nearly blew it by winning. Losing can be beneficial. At least in this instance. But don't suggest that to the coach.

    "That's not in my vocabulary," Spagnuolo said.

    I've mocked the idea that playing hard is enough. There are no moral victories. They don't count. We get it.

    I also believe a reasonably intelligent person can look at this barren Rams roster and the unfair nature of the conflict what hope, really does this coach have to win a game? and appreciate the integrity of the effort.

    And appreciate a coach who holds on to the nave notion that he can persuade his players to go hard no matter how bad it gets, no matter how hopeless or thankless it may seem. And it makes you think about how good Spagnuolo can be when he has a more talented roster.

    I've seen Spagnuolo really demoralized only once this season, after the loss in Tennessee, when he probably realized he'd failed in the attempt to rehabilitate his wayward son, Richie. Incognito had three penalties for 30 yards in his debut with Buffalo, another bout of silliness that immediately validated Spagnuolo's decision.

    Spagnuolo doesn't stay down for long. His optimism could probably cure the flu.

    Even though he's coaching an ill team with an even sicker record, Spagnuolo found the time to e-mail New York Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. After Sheridan replaced the popular Spagnuolo this season, the Giants defense collapsed. Giants players haven't bonded with Sheridan the way they did with Spags, and Sheridan is under fire from the fans and media.

    But Pope Spagnuolo sent Sheridan a note of encouragement, telling him to hang in there and to stay positive and things would get better.

    This, coming from a coach of a 1-13 team.

    "It's just good for morale," Sheridan said after receiving Spags' e-mail.

    I think the story tells us a little something. I think it tells us why the Rams continue to play harder than most teams would if similarly trapped in a 1-13 season. I think Rams players do it out of respect for Spagnuolo. They don't want to let a good man down.

    :ramlogo:

  2. #2
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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    If we can improve slightly from yesterday's game i see us winning some decent games next season. Remember Miami dolphins???

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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    Dolphine went from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 in 2008. We need to do the same and there is no reason why we shouldn't, even if it takes 2-3 yrs.

  4. #4
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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    Quote Originally Posted by rob6465 View Post
    Dolphine went from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 in 2008. We need to do the same and there is no reason why we shouldn't, even if it takes 2-3 yrs.
    Err, we wouldn't be doing the same if it took 3 years would we?

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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    The effort is there. We just don't have the talent all around the team. I kinda expected Andre Johnson to have a huge day. But what do you expect? We're missing our best pass rusher and we have the lousiest group of DB's in the league right now due to injuries.

    The team needs to focus on staying healthy. We know that due to this sport, its hard for them to do that, but if our team was healthy, I think we'd have a different season.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    jdh008 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    The effort is certainly there and that's saying quite a bit. Considering how difficult this season has been, it would be really easy for the effort to lag at times.

    Credit to Coach. He is getting the guys ready to play every week even though the task in front of them is always daunting considering their record and the huge IR list that continues to pile up. This is the time of year when some teams start to quit and we haven't seen it from the Rams one bit.

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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    There is fire and fight in the Rams, that much is certain. Many of the blowouts where do to mistakes (fumbles/ints)-costly penalties killed drives.

    Yet despite all the pratfalls, the Defense was swarming to the ball, though I would have liked to seen more pressure placed on the opposition and penitration into their back field.

    There is hope, just will take time to acquire a few more pieces and putting together the puzzle

  8. #8
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    Re: Can't help but like how hard Rams play

    I also liked how Jackson wouldn't take the BS from Pollard. Jackson's tuffle with Pollard shows just how tough this team really is.

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