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Only question now is how far Rams will fall into abyss
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
I wanted to believe, I truly did. I wanted to pull out all the hopeful statistics, point to all the pitiful suckers on the Rams' remaining schedule who looked like so many sorry, no-account homecoming opponents, then ignore something even more obvious that's been staring me square in the face for weeks.
I admit it, I was seduced by the big tease. I disregarded all this screaming evidence that this frustrating, disappointing season has produced and convinced myself that the Rams really weren't mediocre pretenders. I surveyed their late-November, early-December schedule full of NFL lightweights and surmised that prosperity - and a dizzy surge to the postseason - were just around the corner.
Isn't it funny how if you squint just right that an unsuspecting beat-down sure does look a lot like oncoming success?
Say hello to the termination of the Rams' fraudulent playoff push, ended unceremoniously by a thorough 38-28 spanking by the pitiful Arizona Cardinals. What happened Sunday inside the Edward Jones Dome was a stunning, defining moment for this incredibly underachieving, poorly coached and chaotically run franchise. The way things are going now, the Rams need to forget about playoff pipe dreams and just concentrate on preventing this 4-6 season from sliding into a season-ending free fall.
A week ago, there appeared to be all sorts of very winnable games on the Rams' remaining schedule. Today, all I see are landmines, potholes and a potential late-season slump that will put this team in contention for the rights to draft Reggie Bush.
I know this because good teams with legitimate postseason aspirations don't allow a team like the struggling 3-7 Cardinals to invade their building and dole out a stunning 38-28 spanking. I know this because quality NFL football teams rarely turn so many rich offensive possibilities into so many episodes of self-destructive, undisciplined friendly fire. Untimely penalties, drive-killing fumbles, mind-numbing, unimaginative play calling. Poor tackling, soft coverage, uninspired, nonaggressive defensive play calling.
Did I miss any ingredient in this unsightly brew?
The Rams are descending into potentially dark places now, and only a mathematician - or an absurdly optimistic fanatic - would still believe they are officially in the playoff business.
"We cannot win football games with the penalties that we are having, the turnovers that we are committing, and the lack of turnovers that we are not getting," interim head coach Joe Vitt said. "We can't do that stuff. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We are self-destructing. If you ask me, that is coaching. I have to do a better job."
Vitt did what head coaches are supposed to do after games like this - take the blame for a sad performance that was fraught with bad coaching decisions. But, hey, let's not stop with him. The list of culprits responsible for one of the most hideous coaching mismatches ever witnessed inside this building are so plentiful, a blind man in a wind storm could see what went wrong and who's to blame.
Shall we begin with one of the most unimaginative offensive game plans I've ever seen? I'm just wondering if offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild has figured out yet that the Cardinals were dropping their safeties into the box like a zillion times.
I'm still trying to figure out why no one upstairs in the Rams' coaches booth could figure out what Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson was doing all game to shut down the run. Wilson couldn't have been more obvious if he wore a flashing neon sign and had flares shooting out his rear end, yet he came flying in on blitzes all day, disrupting the Rams' offense and nearly getting quarterback Marc Bulger killed.
Fairchild's unimaginative, one-dimensional play-calling against the 27th-worst run defense in the NFL produced this stat line that was so glaringly pathetic it looked like a misprint:
Steven Jackson: 12 carries, 6 yards, 0.5-yard average.
I dunno, I guess when you stack a jillion defenders at the line of scrimmage as the Cardinals were doing all day, it does tend to make for a difficult time for the running game. But what they were doing wasn't exactly some shocking breakthrough in defensive schemes. So why couldn't the "genius" the Rams' front office is trying to foist on us as the second coming of Bill Walsh make an adjustment?
"I'm not the guy who calls the plays who figure out what that (adjustment) is," said the rather politic, but vividly honest veteran guard Adam Timmerman. "But it did seem like the safety was up in the box and was making a lot of tackles, making a lot of plays today. There is something we have to adjust to that, and I'm not exactly sure what that is. But bringing a safety in the box isn't a new thing to us."
After watching the last two weeks of unfettered Steve Fairchild, I'm beginning to understand why it was that current enemy of the state/exiled head coach Mike Martz clung so desperately to calling his own plays.
Re: Only question now is how far Rams will fall into abyss
Of course, this is partially a circular argument. The worse it looks, the less likely guys are to want to either stay or come to st louis to play. Part of that is the coaching uncertainty, which will be resolved one way or another shortly after the season ends, but if some of the better players we have decide that they want out, ie if they perceive this is a long haul rebuilding process, this could spiral out of control.
We have way way too much talent to be this bad, however, i do think that the defense needs an exorcism.
ramming speed to all
Re: Only question now is how far Rams will fall into abyssI admit it, I was seduced by the big tease.
Why don't you get back to what you know...........the battle between the messiah Barry Bonds and the evil Mark McGwire."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod