Sam's Silver Linings - Week One
*This is the first of a series of weekly articles, posted each Wednesday. However, I have job interviews and a doctor's appointment tomorrow, so instead of posting it late, it's one day early. Sue me...
This past Sunday, the St. Louis Rams faced a powerful Detroit Lions team. The Lions have rebuilt during the past few years, and have gone from the worst team in the league to a team with a more than respectable reputation. This game wasn’t just the players facing each other – it was the regular season debut of our new Head Coach, Jeff Fisher. The majority of Rams fans – at least those not wearing rose colored glasses – expected the Rams to be defeated in this game by at least a touchdown, and if the past three years were an indication, they expected the Rams to give up by the half. For the first time in recent memory, Rams fans were treated to a real football game – one that was hard fought until the last few seconds of the 4th quarter. The Rams had a fighting spirit that has been missing for far too long. I heard more than one fan complaining about the game – one comment that really stuck out was pointed at our defense. This fan (and I use that term with apprehension) stated that our defense sucked, and that if it wasn’t for the pure luck of intercepting the ball, we would have been beaten early on in the first half. He then continued complaining about our offense, saying how ineffective it was. I’d like to point out the problems with his argument. The game of football is not just skill, or determination, or talent. Football depends heavily on luck. No matter how talented the player, sheer chance plays a much larger part than it should. Jeff Wilkins was undoubtedly one of the best kickers in history – yet his skill was also dependent on luck. All it would have taken is a small gust of wind to make a chip shot (for him, 45+ yards…) drift outside the uprights. A defender might have slipped and his leg could have gotten in the way of Marshall Faulk, causing him to trip before putting the ball in the end zone. Kurt Warner might have had the sunlight interfere with his vision, making that TD pass to Bruce fall short. Even the officiating depends on luck – the ref might not see a hold, or he might catch a momentary glimpse of a face mask being grabbed. Yes, luck did play a part in the game on Sunday. In fact, it played a role in EVERY game on Sunday. Luck always does – that’s just the way it is. But, luck isn’t all there is to football. The Rams-Lions game proved this fact well – and this is what is going to be remembered from this game. It would take longer to point out all the good points of this game than it did to play the game, so I am going to point out the brightest points of the Rams visit to Detroit.
- Rodger Saffold’s injury: At the time I am writing this, Saffold’s X-Rays have come back negative, indicating that his injury was likely a severe neck strain. I am not knowledgeable about this type of injury, but I do know that we were all worried – it appeared to be a very serious injury at first glance. More intense examinations and tests will be conducted – but as of this moment, it seems like he will recover without permanent problems.
- Team Determination: The entire team – offense and defense – put forth an effort to see the game through to the end. This wasn’t the same, tired play-from-behind-to-look-good attempt, but a good, honest fight to the end. Even with ten seconds left on the clock, down by four, the Rams came on the field and TRIED to win the game.
- Coaching: Wow. I think that one word says a lot more than any other. Fisher has a fire under his butt that hasn’t been seen on the Rams sideline since Martz.
- Courtland Finnegan: This one player has done so much for our defense. Glad to see his skills and attitude in the horns.
- Dunbar and Jenkins: Two more defensive playmakers that have made a huge difference in our defense – and helped make us into a respectable, if not feared, football team.
- The O-line: Yes, it is one of our two big weaknesses – the other being our receivers. However, I have to give props to these guys. After two injuries and being thrown into unfamiliar positions, the entire line, though overpowered by Detroit’s dominant defense (I think they are tougher than the whiner’s D), still found a way to protect Bradford much more consistently than I expected.
- G-Zee, Greg the Leg, the Freak: The Rams have an “unsung hero” in their new kicker. Wilkins was money; this guy is going to be pure gold.
- Sam Bradford: No, he didn’t turn into Kurt Warner overnight. He did come out on the field with the third system in three years and went 17/25 for 198 yards and a TD, with no turnovers, and a 105.1 rating. This is not enough to give the man a ticker tape parade, but it sure as heck beats his performances from last season.
- Scott Linehan: Yes, I said LINEHAN. Why did I put his name on the list of ‘silver linings’? Simple…the man is NOT on our sidelines! He may have a good mind for an offensive coordinator, but he is one of the biggest reasons the Rams have to fight their way out of a losing attitude and back to respectability.
- The fans: Although there are some out there who continue with the unbelievable “SOSAR” attitude, the majority of the fans are excited – excited for the way the team put forth the effort, the way the team was successful with many areas in the game, and the knowledge that this is a new beginning.
There are many other good points that could be taken from this game, even with an “L” on the scoreboard. There are many downsides to the game, too, but this week, the positives outweigh all but that “L”. Look forward to the next game with confidence that win or lose, the Rams are on the road to respectability once again…and that day, when it finally arrives, will be the first of many days where the sight of the spiral horns strikes fear into our adversaries.
Re: Sam's Silver Linings - Week One
I couldn't agree more. At some point the close losses will turn into wins, but if we keep playing the way we are and making every game a meaningful one throughout the entire season, I cant be any more happier with the effort and determination that hasnt been seen around here for years. And I think it's something we've been looking for for years: to know that our team's ship seems to have been righted.
Re: Sam's Silver Linings - Week One
Looking forward to your next one... best of luck on your interviews.