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Thread: St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

  1. #1
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    St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

    David Heeb

    St. Louis Rams' fans, turn out the lights. Because the party is over. The 2011 NFL season has been a disaster for the Rams' and head coach Steve Spagnuolo. The Rams are probably the worst team in the NFL, and the Rams are playing for pride now.

    Well, pride and a draft pick, a really high draft pick.

    How did it fall apart so quickly? Didn't the Rams go 7-9 last year, with a rookie QB? Didn't they have a nice draft, address some team needs and sign some free agents that could help?

    Didn't they hire Josh McDaniels, the offensive guru who was the architect of the New England video game offense? Wasn't Josh McD supposed to take Sam Bradford to the next level as a passer? Didn't the team go 4-0 in the preseason and look like a no-brainer choice to win the NFC West?

    What the hell happened to this team?

    It felt like the Rams were out of it before they were ever in it. When you are this bad, guys lose their job. There's no doubt several players, coaches and executives heads' will roll.

    But that is a discussion for another day. Today, we're going to talk about how the Rams self destructed in 2011.

    There are five areas that make or break every NFL team. I'm going to call these "The Nuts and Bolts" of a successful NFL Season.

    Talent - Has the front office put together a roster that can compete? Did the GM draft well? Did he sign the right free agents? As the old saying goes, "you can win the Kentucky Derby with a mule." If a team drafts poorly year after year, it is going to really show in the win-loss column.

    Coaching - Does the coach develop the talent that's drafted? Does he put his team in a position to be successful? Does he make adjustments from game to game, quarter to quarter, series to series that allows the players to make plays?
    Health - Does the team stay healthy, especially at key positions? It doesn't matter how much talent a team has or if Vince Lombardi is coaching them if they sustain injuries to key players.
    Depth - Injuries are a part of football, so when guys get hurt, does the team have depth to overcome those injuries? This goes back to the front office, and the GM's ability to get the right mix of players on the roster.
    Scheduling - If the team plays in a weak division, or they draw a relatively weak non-division schedule, it can add a few wins to the overall record.

    The Rams had a decent amount of talent in their starting units. Sam Bradford, when healthy and protected, is a good QB. Steven Jackson, when running behind an average offensive line, is one of the top five running backs in the NFL.

    The Rams' O-line, when healthy, did a decent job in the running game. They did get Sam Bradford killed, but part of that is because of the offensive scheme, which required receivers to run deeper routes.

    The Rams' receivers and tight ends were the weakest part of the roster. Even before injuries decimated this group, they were below average compared to their NFL counterparts.

    The Rams' D-line produced a great pass rush. Chris Long and Robert Quinn look like a great pair of bookend defensive ends for the future. The Rams' defensive tackles did not play well this year, and I expect big changes to that part of the roster.

    The Rams' linebackers were below average all season long. With the exception of MLB James Lauranaitis, this entire group was a major disappointment.

    The Rams' secondary has a lot of talent, but injuries forced the team to sign street free agents before they could even get to their Bye Week.

    Overall, the Rams had enough talent to put a competitive team on the field.

    The Josh McDaniels' offense never took off in St. Louis. Blame it on injuries, blame it on a bad offensive line or just blame it on the rain...

    The Rams didn't score early in the season when they were healthy, and they didn't score later in the year when they were banged up. They didn't score a lot of points before they picked up WR Brandon Lloyd, and they didn't score a lot of points after acquiring Lloyd.

    For the third year in a row with Steve Spagnuolo in charge, the Rams' looked timid, passive and afraid to make mistakes on offense.

    Defensively, the Rams also regressed. I thought the Rams had a chance to be a top-10 defense before the season started. I know injuries played a major role in the Rams' struggles on D, but when you are last in the league against the run, you can't blame that on injuries to your defensive backs.

    The Rams' coaches didn't make the proper adjustments. They didn't give the ball to Steven Jackson enough. They never found a way to involve rookie TE Lance Kendricks in the offense. They still don't play rookie DE Robert Quinn enough.

    They never learned to not kick the ball to Patrick Peterson.

    Overall, I thought the Rams were a very poorly coached football team.

    Steven Jackson was injured on his first carry of the season and missed a couple of games. Danny Amendola, the team's most reliable wide receiver, got hurt in the first half of the first game and was done for the year.

    Ron Bartell fractured his neck and was also lost in Week 1. He joined the Rams' other top DB's on the IR, Jerome Murphy and Bradley Fletcher. The Rams played the entire 2011 season with the backups to the backups at cornerback.

    The receiver corps lost Amendola, rookie Greg Salas and tight end Illinois Mike Hoomanawanui. Mark Clayton, who missed almost all of last season, could never get healthy and wound up on the IR.

    The offensive line lost both starting tackles, Roger Saffold (LT) and Jason Smith (RT). They also lost starting LG Jacob Bell.

    With so many injuries to the offensive line, Sam Bradford just had the hell beat out of him this season. Poor Sam just got beat to a pulp. I think Bradford actually got worse this year because (a) he developed bad habits from such poor pass protection, and (b) the coaching staff never adjusted to the poor line play or lack of separation by the receivers (take your pick) and allowed the abuse of Bradford to continue.

    When we look back at the 2011 St. Louis Rams, injuries are going to be the straw that broke the Rams' back.

    The Rams' starting offensive and defensive units were good enough to compete in the NFL...

    Barely, but they were good enough.

    What killed the Rams was there was nobody to fill in when guys got injured, and as we all know, injuries are a part of football. When one guy goes down, it's "next man up."

    For the Rams, the next man wasn't up to the task. The Rams have just been awful in the NFL draft since Devaney took over as the general manager. As a result, this roster is full of holes.

    The depth at linebacker is terrible. The team featured one player good enough to be a starting NFL linebacker. The same could be said for defensive tackle, where the Rams got run over all season long.

    The Rams were also thin at wide receiver. When Amendola went down, and Clayton couldn't come back, the Rams were screwed. Imagine where this team would be if Denver hadn't just handed us Brandon Lloyd?

    The Rams have been just as bad in acquiring guys via free agency or trade.

    Coaches and GM's in the NFL are always fond of guys they are familiar with. The Rams roster is full of players who used to be with the Falcons, Giants and Eagles.

    Rams' GM Billy Devaney used to work for the Falcons. Rams' head coach Steve Spagnuolo was a former assistant coach with the Giants and Eagles. Just take a look at this list...

    Quintin Mickell (free agent picked up from the Eagles), Danny Amendola (Eagles' practice squad), Brandon Gibson (Eagles' practice squad, part of the Will Witherspoon trade), James Butler (free agent picked up from the Giants), Fred Robbins (free agent picked up from the Giants), Harvey Dahl (free agent pickup from the Falcons), Jerious Norwood (free agent picked up from the Falcons)...

    That's seven players the Rams acquired because Devaney and Spags knew them. The only two players on that list who were capable of helping a winning football team in 2011 were Mickell and Amendola. Mickell has had a decent year, and as we discussed, Amendola has virtually missed the entire 2011 season.

    Billy Devaney has not only made it impossible for the Rams to compete in 2011, but he has also set this franchise back two or three years with his poor personnel decisions. I think Devaney will be the first to go when owner Stan Kroenke starts cleaning house.

    The way an NFL schedule works is like this:

    You play the three teams in your division twice. Those six games are on your schedule every season.

    Then you are matched up with two other divisions (four games each), and that makes up eight more games on a team's schedule.

    Finally, you get two teams added randomly, maybe because it's a matchup everybody wants to see (a rematch of last year's Super Bowl, Brady vs. Manning, the Manning Bowl, the Harbaugh Bowl, etc).

    Add that up and you get 16 games.

    Here's how the Rams' schedule breaks down:

    NFC West: Two games against the Niners—the second-best team in the NFC. That's two guaranteed losses when you factor in the Rams' injuries. Two games against the Cardinals, which were both winnable. Two games against the Seahawks, with one of those being in Seattle, where the Rams never play well. Best case scenario: 3-3.

    NFC East: The Rams had the Eagles at home, the Giants on the road, the Redskins at home and the Cowboys on the road. Let's be honest here, the Rams could have won three of those games, but they probably should have only picked up one win against the NFC East. Best case scenario: 1-3

    AFC North: The Rams had the Ravens at home, the Browns on the road, the Bengals at home and the Steelers on the road. With the Bengals being a playoff-caliber team, the Rams were screwed playing such a tough division. Best case scenario: 1-3

    Extra Two Games: Get ready for this... at Green Bay and home against the Saints! Are you serious? Who did the Rams tick off in the league office? I know the Rams beat the Saints, but seriously, when you looked at this, you thought best case scenario: 0-2.

    Add it up and the Rams played 10 games against playoff-caliber teams (Niners twice, Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Ravens, Bengals, Steelers, Packers and Saints). They only had six "winnable" games (Seahawks twice, Cardinals twice, Browns and Redskins), and three of those six games were on the road.

    When you look at it that way, if the Rams were completely healthy and extremely well coached, they might have won five or six games against such a brutal schedule.

    And as we've discussed, the Rams were not well coached, and they were definitely not healthy! With no quality depth against such a tough slate of games, the Rams were always going to be a 2-14 football team, which is exactly where we're headed.

    The good news for Rams' fans is that next year's schedule will be much more forgiving, allowing the Rams a much better chance at a good start. The Rams are also going to be picking high in the draft, and you have to assume somebody other than Billy Devaney is going to be making those choices.

    That's a great thing for Rams' fans.

    I think there's a very good chance the Rams could have a coaching change but only if there's a proven head coach available. If Spags is back, that will be good for Bradford from the standpoint he will have another year to work under the same offensive coordinator.

    If the Rams can get healthy, there's a foundation for a very good defense in St. Louis. If they can add one legit "No. 1" receiver, re-sign Brandon Lloyd and get the production from Lance Kendricks that the team needs, then the offense could be very respectable.
    RockinRam likes this.

  2. #2
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

    You've hit upon a lot of good points here and pretty much summed up the myriad reasons for the Rams' futility. It still is hard for me to believe that at roughly this time last year, I was cautiously optimistic about the Rams' fortunes turning for the better following a 7-9 year in which major improvement was shown. Even with the weak schedule, I felt the team was poised to take advantage of a sub-par division and hover around the 8-8 or 9-7 mark. Boy, was I ever wrong.

    I do take issue with your list of guys you felt were obtained because Billy and/or Spags knew them from previous jobs. Amendola, Mickell, Butler, Dahl, and Robbins all were decent acquisitions and each had their moments, with Amendola especially giving us a needed boost last year. These guys weren't the primary problem, in my view. The disappointment of the offensive line, and the lack of production and/or inability of our receivers and D-backs to stay healthy were the two biggest culprits. I also think Josh McDaniels did a poor job of devising good offensive schemes befitting our talent (or lack thereof, depending how you look at it) on the field. By extension, Spags continued to confound us with questionable in-game decision making, poor adjustments and an inability (or unwillingness) to correct past mistakes (ex. punting to Patrick Peterson).

    I do agree that while we have a number of issues to address to become better, the cupboard is not bare. There is hope in 2012, but it will take some sound decisions by ownership and an intelligent, successful draft to see it through.

  3. #3
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    Re: St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

    How about the Owner making his presences known. What he will and will not stand for. It starts at the top. Seems like all the errors from the GM, the HC, the OC and the players are a reflection of the owner's lead. Rams can't get rid of Stan, but his watch already needs to be rewound and he may want to try and wipe the mess off the face.

  4. #4
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    Re: St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

    The number 1 reason why this season fell apart was the loss of Pat Shurmur. Josh McD is over-rated.
    The second reason is Billy D has absolutely horrible draft's and its about time people take notice. I've wanted his head for years now, 'bout time people are coming around.
    I def would like Norv Turner to run this offense if he becomes available, and I also wouldn't mind Pat Hill being in charge of the offensive line. I don't think this was entirely Spags is fault given the horrible talent this team calls talent, but more should be expected, and so if he goes, so be it. Bradford is turning into what I feared when we drafted him and I wanted Suh. I believe in Bradford, but the WR's are bums and with that crap fest offensive he might soon have his name mentioned in the same sentence of David Carr. Its just horrible, absolutely horrible. It can be turned around though in 1 year though, as long as whoever is bought in, doesn't have their head up their butt. Justin Blackmon 1st pick, now is not the time to get cute and trade down, CB round 2. Marcus Lattimore to replace Jackson next yr, god this front office needs someone with foresight.
    dgr828 likes this.

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    Re: St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

    5 reasons the Rams fell apart:


    We have a good foundation of players to work with when healthy.

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    Re: St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons the Rams' Season Fell Apart

    We haven't had injuries at DT or OLB. That was bad coaching? The DEs and MLB were coached up good but the rest weren't? Doesn't make sense.

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