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  1. #1
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Rams regress to 2009 levels

    Rams regress to 2009 levels
    BY JIM THOMAS • Sunday, October 30, 2011 12:10 am |

    Consider these two sets of numbers from late October and try to figure out which belongs to the 2009 Rams and which belongs to the 2011 Rams.

    Set No. 1 • 27th in total offense; 30th in total defense; 30th in red-zone offense; 31st in third-down defense. Points scored 54; points allowed 169. Won-loss record 0-6.

    Set No. 2 • 28th in total offense; 29th in total defense; 32nd in red-zone offense; 25th in third-down defense. Points scored 56, points allowed 171. Won-loss record 0-6.

    Pretty much a dead heat isn't it?

    For the record, the first set of numbers belongs to the 2009 Rams under rookie coach Steve Spagnuolo, who stepped into the considerable mess left by predecessor Scott Linehan and a front office that had been dysfunctional in prior years.

    The second set belongs to the 2011 Rams under third-year NFL head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    The moral to the story? Six games into the 2011 season, this Rams team appears no better, no farther along, than the '09 outfit that finished 1-15, the worst record in franchise history. Only 10 players on the current 53-man roster pre-date Spagnuolo; it's 11 if you include cornerback Ron Bartell who's on the injured reserve list because of a fractured neck.

    So for the most part this is Spagnuolo's team. They're his players, picked in conjunction with general manager Billy Devaney.

    And that's the disheartening thing for Rams fans, Rams players, and of course, Spagnuolo and Devaney.

    The progress of 2010, when the Rams finished 7-9 and came within a season-ending victory against Seattle of winning the NFC West title, has been replaced by the regression of 2011. Much like their brethren of 2009, the 2011 Rams can't score, can't stop the run — and can't win.

    This year's squad has had more than its share of injuries, and the timing for them couldn't be worse. On the first offensive play of 2011, running back Steven Jackson suffered a quad muscle injury that sidelined him for almost all of the season's first three games.

    The Rams also lost their best wide receiver, Danny Amendola, and their best cornerback, Bartell, to season-ending injuries in the opener.

    The body count continued at cornerback, with three of the top four players at that position now on injured reserve, and seven corners all told going on IR since the start of training camp. At quarterback, just when it seemed as if the passing game might have found its identity running the no-huddle almost exclusively in Green Bay, Sam Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain on the Rams' final offensive play of the day at Lambeau Field. He will miss his second consecutive game Sunday, against New Orleans.

    The Rams will also be without starting right tackle Jason Smith and starting strongside linebacker Brady Poppinga against the Saints, among others.

    But the '09 Rams also had their share of injuries (plus a suspension).

    Six games into that campaign, quarterback Marc Bulger, two defensive starters, and Smith (then playing left tackle) had all missed at least two games because of injury. Another defensive starter, linebacker David Vobora, was serving a suspension for violating league policy against performance enhancing substances. (He subsequently won a lawsuit against the supplement company for a tainted supplement.)

    Starting wide receiver Laurent Robinson was on the injured reserve list, and starting corner Bradley Fletcher would go on IR in Game 7. (Fletcher's on IR again this season.)

    And even though he was still playing, Jackson was playing through a back injury that would require surgery following the '09 season.

    So in comparison with 2009, the '11 season looks like the movie "Groundhog Day'' so far — pretty much the same thing. Schedule-wise, the '09 schedule was easier than the '11 version, but not by much. Including the Rams' seventh opponent in '09, Indianapolis, the combined record of the Rams' first seven opponents entering that Colts game was 26-19.

    Including their seventh opponent this season, New Orleans, the combined record of the Rams' seven opponents entering the Saints game is 28-16.

    There's no doubt the 2011 schedule has been daunting. New Orleans is the fourth top-10 offense the Rams will face in their first seven games. They've also faced the league's top-rated defense in Baltimore.

    But the '09 schedule was no cakewalk. Two weeks after facing Indianapolis in Game 7, the Saints came to St. Louis with an 8-0 record.

    It marked the first time in NFL history a team had faced four consecutive unbeaten teams to open its home schedule. (Green Bay in Game 3, Minnesota in Game 5, and Indy in Game 7 had also come to the Edward Jones Dome unbeaten.)

    For the 2011 Rams, the losing streak doesn't figure to end Sunday, barring a massive upset against a Saints team coming off a 62-7 shellacking of Indianapolis. That's the kind of score you see in college football when a BCS power plays a directional school; they just don't happen in the NFL. But after New Orleans, is a chance for redemption. In November, the Rams play Arizona (1-5) twice, Seattle (2-4), and Cleveland (3-3). Any hopes of a second-half surge to win the NFC West appear gone with San Francisco off to a surprising 5-1 start.

    But surely, the Rams must show owner Stan Kroenke something in November —and also December— or there could be coaching staff and front-office changes in January. Several attempts by the Post-Dispatch to reach Kroenke over the past couple of weeks have been unsuccessful.


  2. #2
    AlphaRam Guest

    Re: Rams regress to 2009 levels

    Thanks to Jim Thomas for that uplifting article on game day. Great timing.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams regress to 2009 levels

    If we are playing like its 2009 then we should win this week since it's week 8.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams regress to 2009 levels

    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaRam View Post
    Thanks to Jim Thomas for that uplifting article on game day. Great timing.
    Jim Thomas = Buzz Killington

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams regress to 2009 levels

    Post-Dispatch to reach Kroenke over the past couple of weeks have been unsuccessful.
    Does this bother anyone?

  6. #6
    mh-i's Avatar
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    Re: Rams regress to 2009 levels

    The 2009 team won a game. The 2011 team may not.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams regress to 2009 levels

    The 2011 season thus for has been an eye opener, from 2010s contender to 2011's pretender--YES a major disappointment

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