Rams' fall points to front office
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Rams used to be the glitziest headliner on these "Monday Night Football" showcases, but now they've been reduced to pitiable sidekicks, downtrodden bit players and overmatched, out-coached, uninspired disappointments. This is what the Rams do now. This is exactly what they have become. In the last two weeks, they've been spanked by one of the worst teams in the NFL (the Arizona Cardinals), had their work ethic challenged by their own quarterback, then followed it up with a nationally televised 42-27 trouncing by the Chicago Bears that essentially ended their season.
This was the worst sort of public display for all that is still wrong with this once-great franchise. This was the national showcase that let the entire pro football world in on the little secret that everyone in St. Louis has known for quite awhile:
This franchise is still very much a deeply flawed mess.
There are new coaches, new players and new schemes. But the Rams still make the same maddening, self-destructive mistakes. They still can't stop even the most ordinary running back from gashing them. They still turn every punt and kickoff into a heart-swallowing misadventure. And, of course, they still give you just enough provocative offensive production to tempt you into imagining so many positive possibilities, only to crash and burn back to the earth under the weight of so many annoying defensive missteps.
On a night when quarterback Marc Bulger approached nearly 400 yards passing, running back Steven Jackson accumulated nearly 140 yards from scrimmage and the entire team at least showed enough spunk to fight until the bitter end, that should have been more than enough for this team to beat a surprisingly vulnerable team like the 11-2 Bears.
But there's a good reason why the Rams are a 5-8 football team playing out the string of another mediocre season.
It's the maddening cycle of a bad team. One week the defense plays well enough to win, and the offense falters. The next week the offense plays well, and the defense gets gashed.
No, wait a minute. Every week, the defense gets gashed.
There's good reason why this team will continue to churn in this frustrating mediocrity: the amazing consistency of the defense to make every opposing running back who faces the Rams look like a million bucks.
The story line of this game — heck, this entire season — is a repeating loop of big plays by the other guys.
It's never a steady beat-down for this defense. Oh, they can string together 10 or 12 plays in a row of disciplined play. They can put together a body of work for a sustained period that fools you into believing they can shut down any offense.
If you listen to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, it's as if their undoing is just a string of unfortunate events, just a few clusters of "misfortune," five or six explosive plays that ruin the night.
But they happen ALL THE TIME.
Monday night was another sad example of how far this franchise has fallen. Just as when the Kansas City Chiefs came to town last month, the Edward Jones Dome was overtaken by visitors clad in opposing jerseys. This was bad. This was pathetic.
This is the sort of thing that should make guys like John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt question what they're doing wrong, because by the end of the night, the only folks in their building were these cheering mobs of Bears fans who congregated near the visitors' tunnel to chant for their heroes, and the other mob that crowded in front of the ESPN studio show on the Bears' sideline after the game.
This building used to hold a special aura. This building used to be one of the most feared places for visiting teams to venture into. Now it has become a cozy home away from home for everybody, and it doesn't look like much is going to change anytime soon.
But we shouldn't really blame the defense. We shouldn't really blame the coaches. We shouldn't really question the schemes. We should blame the men who hired the coaches, drafted the players and promised us that everything would be different the minute they ran Mike Martz out of town.
Re: Rams' fall points to front office
I've never said this in my life, but.......Bryan Burwell is right!
Why is it that when this entire franchise from top to bottom is falling apart and in the express lane to obscurity, Shawgmunt gets a pass? It's time to sell the team Georgia. The front office is a joke, and either the de facto owner Shaw can't or won't fix it. I still think Zygmunt has naked photos of Georgia and Shaw together. That's the only explanation I can think of.