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Thread: 'Are the Rams that bad?'
'Are the Rams that bad?'
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
"It's time to get a win," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "It's time to play four solid quarters of football. It's time for our playmakers to show up. It's time for all of that stuff to happen."
There's no time like the present. Few expected the Rams to win their season opener last week in Philadelphia. But no one expected such an inept performance — least of all the players.
"Not in a million years," offensive guard Jacob Bell said. "I honestly thought it'd be the other way around."
"If you told me this was going to be the score, and what would happen in the game, I would've bet a million dollars on it (not happening)," cornerback Tye Hill said. "I didn't think it was possible with the team that we had assembled here."
But it happened. The Rams' franchise has played 219 regular season and postseason games since the move to St. Louis in 1995. But if not THE worst, last week's 38-3 loss to the Eagles was among the worst five or six showings for the "St. Louis" Rams.
All the more alarming is the fact that seven months of preparation and practice went into what happened last Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
"Guys have worked hard to get to this point," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "We felt good early on in training camp. Preseason, there were some things that we needed to shore up; we felt we did that. And then to go up there and not to play well was shocking."
The fans felt the same way. Overreaction — to defeat or victory — is part of life in NFL for fans and the media. But rarely has a Rams defeat created such a negative reaction from a fan base not only numbed by last season's 3-13 record, but also concerned about the possible sale (and departure) of their hometown team.
"I hope the fans don't read too much into some of the articles being written about our lack of enthusiasm," wide receiver Dane Looker said. "That's just commentators on the sideline making comments; that's writers making comments. To me it's a little presumptive for them to say that, because they don't really know exactly how we feel. You look at the tape, we went out there and fought as hard as we could."
The tape bears out Looker's opinion, at least on offense. But there were some disturbing sights on defense and special teams. Rams defenders didn't always rally to the ball. A couple of the blitzing attempts seemed almost half-hearted. On special teams the Rams lost maybe 50 yards of field position on three Philadelphia punts because their blockers barely touched the Eagles' outside "gunners."
Philadelphia receivers ran free all afternoon. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett didn't agree with the suggestion that there was confusion in the back seven, but it sure looked that way on several plays. The Rams were horrific in zone coverage. In man coverage, it looked as if Rams defensive backs had never seen a double move before.
All that against a Philadelphia offense that was missing its top two receivers.
"When you consider that, and then you look at what they gave up — 520-some yards of offense and over 400 yards passing — that is a major concern," said Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame quarterback and current Fox television analyst.
Aikman, Joe Buck, and Pam Oliver — Fox's No. 1 team — will broadcast Sunday's Rams-New York Giants game to 30 percent of the nation.
"Are the Rams that bad?" Aikman said. "No, it's the National Football League. The discrepancy in teams is not that great. But the Eagles played awfully well and the Rams did not."
WHAT COMES NEXT?
The challenge for St. Louis — and it's a huge challenge — is to show that the Eagles game was a fluke. They must do so against a tough, confident, resilient Giants team that has won its last 11 games away from home.
"We took one on the chin, now it's going to be important to see how we respond to it," Glover said. "Do you fold up the tent after the first game of the season? Or do you come back out and do you fight?''
There's no such thing as a must-win game in Week 2. The Giants won the Super Bowl last season after an 0-2 start in which they gave up a combined 80 points. Aikman's Dallas Cowboys did the same thing in 1993, although their 0-2 start came with star running back Emmitt Smith not around because of a contract holdout.
No one is thinking Super Bowl in St. Louis. Merely returning to respectability will do for now. But the danger if the team loses to the Giants is seeing 0-2 spiral into another 0-8 nightmare like last season. This isn't a Rams team brimming with confidence, so another demoralizing loss could be difficult to overcome.
"This is a game about confidence," said Aikman, whose first Dallas team started 0-8 en route to a 1-15 finish in 1989. "Somehow you've got to find a way to win a football game — even if it's not a great performance."
Embattled Rams coach Scott Linehan has talked about the need to have someone, somehow make a play to provide a spark, or a little magic, to get the team going. Aikman said sometimes that's all it takes.
"I've been on teams where we've been struggling and haven't been doing much on the offensive side of the ball," Aikman said. "And all of a sudden you make one key third-down play, and it's amazing what that does in the rest of that game. And then it carries over into the next game. Confidence is a funny thing."
But sometimes it works the other way.
"You go through an offseason and you talk about all the reasons why you're going to be better, and the team's going to be healthier," Aikman said. "And 32 teams feel like they were better than they were the year before.
"And then you lose a game the way that (the Rams) lost it, and there's no question there will be some doubt going into this game. Whether anybody voices that or not, people start looking at each other and saying, 'Gosh, is this going to be like it was last season? Are we as good as we thought we were going to be, 'cause we sure didn't show it.' "
Which seems to be precisely where the Rams are entering Sunday's contest. This should be a special day in franchise history. Longtime owner Georgia Frontiere, who died Jan. 18 of breast cancer, will have her name placed in the ring of honor Sunday during halftime ceremonies at the Edward Jones Dome. It's just one of several activities planned for this weekend and this season to honor Frontiere.
But what happens if the Rams play like they did in Philadelphia? Or Steven Jackson fumbles? Or Marc Bulger throws a couple of interceptions? Things could get ugly in the dome.
"I wish I had time to worry about things like that," Bulger said. "I want our fans behind us. I've been here and I know they're great fans, so certainly I want them behind us. But we have to play better for them to be behind us. If we come out and play flat, then it's a fan's right (to boo)."
It's a right that could be liberally exercised if there's a Philly repeat Sunday in the dome.
Re: 'Are the Rams that bad?'
I just saw Marshall on NFL Game Day and he went off on Pace, Holt and some of the veteran players for not stepping up. He also questioned Haseltt's defense stating that when he was in NO they always played the Rams well.
The wheels seem to be falling off in a hurry; and I don't have a good feeling about this game.JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
"HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"Adm. William "Bull" Halsey
Re: 'Are the Rams that bad?'
All that being said, winning cures all evils.That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!
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