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  • Battered Rams

    Battered Rams
    New coach, but the same old story

    By Gerry Fraley
    SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

    EARTH CITY, Mo. | At a team meeting Monday, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo invoked the "2009 rule."

    From now on, the first-year coach told his team, the only subjects on the table would be the current season and the next game: Sunday at the Redskins.

    "The 2009 Rams stand on their own," he said. "It has nothing to do with teams coming forward or any teams going backward."

    If only it were that easy.

    Try as he might, Spagnuolo cannot separate the Rams from their recent dreary history. The problems resurfaced in an error-filled 28-0 loss at Seattle on Sunday in their season opener.

    "We definitely can't go, 'Here we go again,' " safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. "If you do that, you have a defeatist mindset, and you won't have the capability of winning anyway."

    The Rams committed 10 penalties and suffered the NFL's first Week 1 shutout since 2006. It offered more evidence that the sad-sack Rams have deteriorated into the NFL's worst team.

    At 5-28, the Rams have the NFL's worst record since 2007. One of the victories was a 19-17 win at FedEx Field last season.

    The Rams have defied the NFL's system of parity by failing to be competitive. Since the start of 2007, they have a league-high 12 losses by 20-plus points. Lowly Detroit is the only other team in double figures.

    The loss at Seattle fit the Rams' profile. In 2007 and 2008, the Rams were outscored by 408 points. The last nonexpansion team to be outscored by 400-plus points in back-to-back seasons was Houston in 1972-73. The Oilers were outscored by 464 points while going 2-26.

    One week into the season, Spagnuolo faces a creeping crisis of confidence.

    "I'm just worried about the 2009 Rams," he said. "It's what I believe you do. You put things behind you and move on."

    The Redskins considered Spagnuolo for their coaching opening after the 2007 season. Spagnuolo withdrew from the process, saying he was not ready to become a head coach for the first time at any level.

    A year later, Spagnuolo debuted with the worst loss by a coach in his first game since the expansion Cleveland franchise opened the Chris Palmer era with a 43-0 loss to Pittsburgh in 1999. Palmer lasted two seasons, going 5-27.

    Like the Redskins, the Rams were attracted to Spagnuolo because of his work as the New York Giants' blitz-happy defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008. The Giants went 3-1 against the Redskins in that span, holding them to fewer than 300 total yards twice.

    Spagnuolo had more talent to work with on those defenses. Under Spagnuolo, the Giants finished in the NFL's top six for sacks in each season. The Rams have been in the bottom half of the league in sacks the past two seasons.

    The Rams had 61 sacks in 2007 and 2008. That's as many as the Giants had in the 2007 regular season and playoffs, which ended with a Super Bowl XLII upset of New England.

    To improve their pass rush, the Rams took Virginia defensive end Chris Long with the second pick in the 2008 draft. Long had only four sacks as a rookie. Creaky end Leonard Little, at age 34, remains the Rams' top pass-rusher.

    Nothing changed in the opener. Neither Long nor any teammate came close to Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck. He went 25-for-36 for 279 yards and three touchdowns without being sacked.

    After opening with four scoreless possessions, Seattle went to an up-tempo offense, and the Rams were lost. The Seahawks scored on four of their next five possessions.

    "It's a process, and we have to stay with it," said safety James Butler, who followed Spagnuolo to the Rams as a free agent. "We have to keep the faith. We can't dwell on the past and worry about what's gone on here before."

    A history lesson could be helpful. In Spagnuolo's first game as the Giants' defensive coordinator, Dallas rolled up 45 points. In the last game of that season, the Giants won the Super Bowl.

  • #2
    Re: Battered Rams

    Wow, so much bulletin board material in that article for the Rams. This dude is just bitter for two reasons, one we beat the snot out of his precious Redskins last year, and two Spags snubbed the 'Skins and chose us the following year. While his statistical facts may be true, and sad...very very depressingly sad...the reality is the Rams have a much better chance at beating the Skins sunday than the spread shows. Last year proved that, and I won't be surprised to see it happen again.

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    • #3
      Re: Battered Rams

      You know why the Rams are having a hard time putting the past years performances behind us? Because the media keeps bringing it up.

      We get it...we know...the Rams are a bad team. Why do we have to keep hearing about it day after day after day? You "journalists" sound like a broken record.

      And the only reason this guy is bagging on Steve Spagnulo is he's upset that Spags chose to become the HC of the Rams instead of the Redskins. Sour grapes. You can talk trash about the Rams all you want, but your Redskins aren't making the playoffs either.

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      • #4
        Re: Battered Rams

        Sunday at the Skins is crucial. If we lose it could mean, unfortunatly, another 2-14 / 3-13 season. With that being said, players like Steven Jackson and OJ Atogwe may want to leave the team to move on to bigger and better things. Who says they don't deserve it?

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        • #5
          Re: Battered Rams

          Originally posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
          Battered Rams
          New coach, but the same old story

          By Gerry Fraley
          SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

          EARTH CITY, Mo. |A history lesson could be helpful. In Spagnuolo's first game as the Giants' defensive coordinator, Dallas rolled up 45 points. In the last game of that season, the Giants won the Super Bowl.
          Lets hope Spags fellow the same path of us.
          :ramlogo:

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Battered Rams

            Winning at Washington (or anywhere) would be a positive for the team just to break the slide. As with any NFL team, there is plenty of talent. The trick is to coordinate it into a sharp focus.

            Let's start small. Let's get through a game without needless Personal Fouls, or having too many players on the field. Further, let's focus on making the opposition defenses spread out. Steven Jackson is a "truck" after he catches the ball...and he is one terrific blocker when called upon. In other words, deversify the offense enough to prevent Mark from having un-friendly saftey and LB's visit him in the pocket. Some of this should be, or better be, immediatly cureable.

            I realize that it's just one game under the season, but the defense does look better than last year. Good hard hitting and the turnovers opportunities will be there. It's too bad that we had to start with a road conference game. I hope that we can pull out a win at DC, but I'll be OK with just seeing some steady improvement.

            GO RAMS!

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            • #7
              Re: Battered Rams

              I still think we are going to Surprise a lot of people. We had a rough start so what, this is the NFL when you have a brand new team almost rebuilt to the core. your going to have a hard time against teams who have experienced veterans against you. But those experienced veterans turned the ball over 3 times.

              If our offense can put it together like we did against the skins last year, this year i think is going to be a whole different story.

              What the rams are doing right now is trying to stay positive trying to know that they can win the next game. That the last game is in the past.

              I really want to see spags succeed but the Offensive line has to play with more cohesivness. The defense did their job in the first half. Which to me is a humongous step in the right direction.

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              • #8
                Re: Battered Rams

                Try as he might, Spagnuolo cannot separate the Rams from their recent dreary history. The problems resurfaced in an error-filled 28-0 loss at Seattle on Sunday in their season opener.
                One game is not a trend make.

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                • #9
                  Re: Battered Rams

                  As stated, Spags first game was terrible, throughout the year, they worked hard and won the Superbowl. I know we won't win the Superbowl, but hey, if we improve week after week, whats to complain about?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Battered Rams

                    If it doesn't go well this year it's time to explode the team! Get rid of all the players (minus SJ of course) who have this loosing mentality! I think that includes Bulger since to me he thinks like he has lost all confidence in his o-line and team in general. I would do the "love us or leave us" approach to every player on that team until you are left with nothing but people that want to be there and believe in the system. I think this is well under way with releasing Draft and promoting Vobora (sp?) I would drop "Cogs" yesterday and would put little on the trading block. Depending on whos' calling the shots and how they draft, I would consider a 2nd ar 3rd DP for little and I would also add a FA Vet WR to help out the young WR's. Just my opinion.

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