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If I'm being perfectly honest and I usually am on these boards, I would have to say that our current struggles have me feeling more 'down' about the Rams than I've felt for quite sometime. I'm ordinarily quite positive about the team and prefer to concentrate on larger concerns than merely the win/loss column, believing that if you have a coherent vision and a comprehensive approach to preparation then the amount of games you'll win will take care of itself.
The 90's were fairly difficult. Saddled with less than inspiring talent as a result of the same draft-day failings we're still seeing now (Bill Hawkins, Cleveland Gary, Bern Brostek anyone?) the Rams plummeted from consensus second best team in football in '89 to sad-sack (maybe even no-sack) no-hopers by '98. The halcyon days of the late 80's with constant playoff football were a distant memory and as the fans in Anaheim dwindled and the team considered St Louis, it was a tough time being a Rams Fan.
Feels tougher now. Maybe its because its more immediate, more raw, that it feels like this but I prefer to think that its because of the complete absence of any kind of competitve spark from the team these days.
I get to see games on ESPN via ASN ordinarily and so I rarely get to see the Rams live, or if I do I rarely get to see the whole game, starting as it does just as I have to leave to go to work but the nature of defeat and what I subsequently see, along with the accompanying reaction, makes for difficult viewing. Its particularly difficult because what you see lends itself to a feeling that the fortune of your team is entirely divorced from hope. It isn't of course, there's always hope but it certainly doesn't feel that way.
And so there have been times when as a fan, the slipway to rage is entirely too convenient. Its absolutely understandable to start ranting and venting in view of such dismal performance and in the privacy of my own study, with the door securely closed, Mrs Pang may detect the rumblings of discontent that 260lbs provides when suitably motivated. I've even succumbed on these boards and railed against what I've seen as sub-par performances on behalf of the players and the continual mediocrity of our front office.
These are passing moments however, I remain as committed and interested in the team and its fortunes as I ever was from the moment I first saw the team as an adolsecent in '80-81 when I spied my first, luridly coloured, slightly blurred football broadcast on British TV. When it comes to sport I'm fairly all or nothing, I either love it (football) or feel complete apathy towards it (basketball) and there's nothing that would ever motivate me to sell a season ticket should ever I be fortunate enough to actually have one or even transfer allegiance to another team.
What helps and this comes back to hope, is that, like all fans, I'm fairly convinced that I know whats wrong. I don't of course, the sheer physical distance, lack of live game attendance and comeplete ignorance of anyone and everyone associated with turning the Rams 'product' (hate that phrase but can't think of a better one at the moment) out on to the field means that my thoughts belong firmly to the category reserved for the well-meaning fan. My impressions are gained from distance and my recommendations adopt a similarly remote position. Quite simply theres nothing that me or anyone who frequents these boards can now or ever will do that will obviate the pain they feel at the Rams current state.
This is why these boards are perhaps the very best out there for all of us who love to debate at length all things Ram. They give us the ability to resolve the tension between feeling passionately enough about something to devote much thought and many words to resolving it and the inability to actually do anything about it.
The ClanRam, panacea for frustrated rage.
I certainly find it cathartic, if only to sound off on occasions and in threads where I feel I have something to add. Recently that hasn't been often as its too easy to succumb to the temptation to just rant but 3 years on the boards has taught me that I can't stay away, not even when hit with polarised opinion, infractions or even the ban-stick. (Not Fat!, I hear you cry, yes my brethren I have tasted the big red button) And equally I can't stay away from the Rams either, its not something I have much choice about but then they always say that your teams chose you rather than you choosing a team.
I find these article things quite therapeutic too, helping to crystallise some of the thoughts, hopes and fears I have for a team that occupies an unreasonably large portion of my waking thought. I won't pretend that I have any journalistic talent as per Barry or even Bernie but as Dez has given us all a voice and a forum, its a shame not to use it. Besides, the internet provides me with sufficient anonymity, not to mention a pseudonym so I can hold any offensive contributions at arms length. Equally any visit to the ED will be entirely covert in nature so there's no chance of anyone holding me responsible for anything I say now, said in the past or will say in the future.
The merits of Scott Linehan?
Not guilty your honour, I was merely a internet forum denizen at the time.
I stand by the principle that the better organisations recruit, organise, appraise and prepare to a plan and that patience is needed to truly assess the efficacy of any such plan. Short-term, reflexive action rarely offers the depth that problems of the kind we're facing now require. It may appear to offer immediate relief but it will never provide the substantive remedy that's needed.
This presents a problem for me in the sense that I like the idea of radical, complete change and what it will mean for the Rams. I instinctively shrink from the term 'continuity' as highlighted by AV in his recent post concerning what the Rams DON'T need. My feeling is still that the emphasis of any such change should be front office more than anything else but I'm starting to consider the playing staff more and more and feel increasingly ready to offer an opinion on what should be done. Simply, what we've been doing to this point hasn't worked bar a fortunate bounce in picking up a shelf-stacker from Norther Iowa some nine years and a different century away. So, and this isn't a first, I agree with AV that continuity isn't what we need.
This liking for radical change does impinge on the sentiment that Haslett deserves another shot at the job come seasons end. Its a contradiction that I resolve by looking at the defensive performance over the last three years and our current slump over the last four games, along with the manner of that slump. Total capitulation would be a phrase that could accurately be used to describe the performance of the Rams under Haslett recently. I'm aware of the dearth of talent at his disposal but believe that more could be done with what we do have.
So I'm coming round to the notion that we need to make a bold move regarding our coaching position in the off-season. Cowher won't come here I believe, its not quite the right fit for him and I think that the Rams will have to adopt a progressively younger identity that the coaching staff should be a part of. In the same vein I'm not sure that Schottenheimer would be any better a candidate. The Rams need a young, energetic, defensively minded coach to work in tandem with the respected Devaney to provide fresh impetus to a flat franchise.
In keeping with this, I'm also of the belief that the Rams need to consider the positions of Orlando Pace, Torry Holt, Leonard Little, Corey Chavous, Trent Green and La-roi Glover with a view to moving them on. Veteran leadership is one thing but recent performances suggest its in rather short supply and that there remains a rather jaded atmosphere at Rams Park these days. Moving Bulger frankly isn't an option and not just for conctractual reasons. Unless and until we have definitive evidence of terminal decline, Bulger has to remain an important transition piece for a resurgent franchise. The offensive line has to become markedly less offensive and its become very clear that we need a new centre. THis will be an area of comprehensive change. Jackson, health permitting, should be at the heart of the offensive re-building effort much as Atogwe will be at the heart of any defensive effort.
Speaking of defense, I'm beginning to move towards moving Carriker back to end in an aggressive 3-4 scheme to pair with Long, moving Witherspoon back to OLB to pair with Tinoisamoa (who's drinking in the last chance saloon) and drafting a real hitter to play MLB along with another serviceable free agent pick-up.
As I said, its all pipe dreams but dreams of the future are what keep us all from the painful contemplation of the present and what keep us coming back to the boards that serve as a repository (not suppository I hope ) of our hopes and aspirations.
Lets keep our heads down, pray for better days and hope that the teams performances to come turn all of our empassioned comment to wholly redudant, overly emotional guff.
This was a Threadnaught.