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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Vitt takes blame for Rams' slide

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/26/2005



    One week after ripping into the Rams' offensive line, interim head coach Joe Vitt took a different approach this Monday. He fell on the sword, blaming himself for the team's free fall to 5-10.

    "The thing that I feel worst about is that I have not been able to do anything to create anything for our football team to try to get over the edge, get over the top," Vitt said. "We have been in almost the exact same situation two weeks in a row, where we miss a fourth down, and we're involved in a two-minute drill and there is an interception."

    On Christmas Eve against San Francisco, Vitt went for it on fourth and 1 from the San Francisco 22 with 9 minutes 16 seconds to play and a 20-17 Rams lead. The play failed, San Francisco scored the go-ahead touchdown, and quarterback Jamie Martin then threw an interception with a minute left to play.

    A week earlier against Philadelphia, the Rams trailed 17-16 with 3:17 to play when Marshall Faulk was thrown for a loss on fourth and 1 from the Philadelphia 37. As in the San Francisco game, the Rams had another opportunity to win the game in the final two minutes. But there was no rally- killing interception. Instead the Rams turned over the ball over on downs when Martin threw incomplete to Shaun McDonald on fourth and 7 from the St. Louis 44 with 57 seconds remaining.

    "It goes all the way back, really, to three weeks ago in Minnesota, where in the red zone we go for a first down on fourth and (2), and don't get that," Vitt said.

    Overall, in going for it three times in three weeks in critical situations on fourth down, Vitt said: "I'm probably trying to shove the situation down the players' throats instead of taking what they give us and getting points. And I feel bad about that."

    In his news conference following the Rams' 24-20 loss to the *****, Vitt said he went for it on fourth and 1 as a show of confidence in the offensive line.

    "Absolutely," Vitt said. "If I'm going to challenge people like we did last week, then I'm going to put the challenge out there for them to succeed. And we didn't succeed on the play."

    Vitt is a firm believer that there are defining plays in every game and every season, and most of those plays and moments have gone against the Rams in the past month.

    "I really thought that we may have had a defining moment at Houston," Vitt said referring to the Rams' miracle comeback against the Texans on Nov. 27. "I thought that second-half comeback, it was a wake-up call. We had to do it with a lot of guys banged up."

    But the momentum didn't carry over. The following week, the 5-6 Rams met the 5-6 Washington Redskins in the Edward Jones Dome, with the Rams losing 24-9. That victory catapulted the Redskins back into the playoff race. Now 9-6, Washington would earn a wild-card playoff berth with a victory this Sunday in Philadelphia. The Redskins would win the NFC East with a victory and a New York Giants loss Saturday in Oakland.

    "They got over the hump," Vitt said. "It was a hump game for them."

    Meanwhile, the Rams haven't won since Houston. They never gave themselves a chance to get back in the playoff race. But despite all the problems, miscues, and disappointments, Vitt has been satisfied with the Rams' professionalism.

    "I'm going to tell you exactly what I told the football team before the (San Francisco) game," Vitt said Monday. "There is no place, or no team, that I would rather be than right here and right now with these people. Our players have fought. They have worked hard. They haven't always been right; I haven't always been right.

    "But the respect they have for the game, the competitiveness, their work habits on a daily basis, their accountability, have been outstanding. I wish that I had done a better job of trying to get our football team over the top, by either making a big call or making the right judgment. But I feel the same way about this team right now as I did when I took this thing over. It has been an honor; it has been fun."

    Vitt, an assistant coach throughout his 27 seasons in the NFL, is 3-7 since stepping in for ailing Mike Martz on Oct. 10. He has one game remaining to complete the task -the season finale Sunday in Dallas.

    "I think this has been an experience for all of us," said Vitt, more expansive and philosophical than usual. "It hasn't been easy. But it is what it is. I hope at the end of the day, the one thing that these players and our coaches will take with them, is there just are no excuses in the National Football League. You've got to play the hand you are dealt.

    "You can take a look at our injured reserve list. You can take a look at the amount of time our quarterback (Marc Bulger) missed. You can take a look at the amount of time we've had starters on the shelf. None of that matters. If I had done a better job of preparing our football team, we might be better right now. It's on me. This is my fault."

    That being said, Vitt said he has enjoyed the opportunity to see what being a head coach in the NFL is all about.

    "I've had a ball," he said. "The biggest fear I had was having to talk to (the media) every day. It really was. As far as the practice goes, as far as the interaction with the players, as far as game preparation - we were all kind of thrown into this thing.

    "The staff has given me wonderful support. I've had wonderful support in this building. ... It has been everything that I thought it would be."

    Everything except enough victories.


  2. #2
    adarian_too's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt takes blame for Rams' slide

    I feel for this man. If any one reminds me of Sisyphus, it's him. For the Camus-challenged, as a punishment from the gods in the underworld, Sisyphus was compelled to roll a big stone up a steep hill; but before it reached the top of the hill the stone always rolled down, and Sisyphus had to begin all over again. This cycle continued on for eternity. That's Vittless. Destined to have that ball of assistant-to-the-assistant coach roll back on top of him till the end of football time ...

  3. #3
    Tony Soprano's Avatar
    Tony Soprano is offline Registered User
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    Re: Vitt takes blame for Rams' slide

    I thought we started out the Season losing to the NFL worst (2-14) SanFranNINNERS?

    We were bad before Vitt came along.

  4. #4
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Vitt takes blame for Rams' slide

    I can see Vitt taking the blame because he appears to have that "Buck Stops Here" personality. However, anyone paying attention can tell there is a whole laundry list of issues with this team.

    No one problem caused this season.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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