By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Dec. 05 2005

With a quarter of the season still to be played, the challenge facing the Rams
is painfully obvious.

At 5-7, they are not going to make the playoffs - only five teams in the NFC
have worse records.

In addition, all signs point to a coaching change following the season, meaning
most - perhaps all members - of the current coaching staff won't be with the
Rams next season. Many players will be in limbo, too, because new head coaches
like to put their own stamp on the roster.

Interim head coach Joe Vitt has done an admirable job under adverse conditions
in his role as substitute teacher. But with four games remaining, starting
Sunday in Minnesota against the streaking Vikings, how will Vitt and the Rams
keep it together?

Will they stay motivated? Or will they tank it?

"I think a lot of guys in here - if not all - are going to stand together and
finish off this thing the way it should be finished," offensive guard Adam
Timmerman said.

Vitt is doing everything in his power to make sure that's the case. When asked
if the players will take the right approach about the final four games, Vitt
bristled.

"They don't have a choice," he said. "This is not a democracy now. There's only
one way to play this game. There's only one way to practice this game. If they
don't want to do that - if anyone doesn't want to do that - we'll put the next
guy in.

"We're two games under .500, with four games to go. We're all being evaluated.
Coaches, players, administrators. All being evaluated. I think the true
character is going to be exposed in tough times."

But do enough Rams players feel this way?

"I didn't put it up to a vote today," Vitt said Monday. "Maybe they ought to
start wondering how I feel. My feelings are hurt."

When a season goes south, it's easy to start pointing fingers and blame
everyone but yourself.

"Players and coaches are notorious," Vitt said. "They can smell the house
burning before the match is ever lit. Believe me."