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It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

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  • It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

    It ain't pretty, but there are reasons to keep watching Rams
    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    10/14/2009



    The Rams have been outscored 146-34 this season. They have lost 32 of 37 games and 15 in a row.

    These are mind-blowing numbers. We are witnessing sustained failure of historic proportions.

    It is difficult to be THIS BAD in a league dedicated to maintaining parity, but the Rams have become exceptional losers. Week after week, they discover new ways to succumb.

    Believe it or not, though, the football operation appears to be adding potential building blocks, one by one.

    Second-round draft pick James Laurinaitis appears to be a worthy foundation on which to rebuild the defense. He is piling up tackles week after week and his pass coverage is improving, as he proved Sunday by picking off Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.

    Just five weeks into his NFL career, Laurinaitis is emerging as a leader too.

    “As long as the guys keep the heart that they have, we’re going to be all right,” he told reporters after the Rams lost to the Vikings 38-10 Sunday. “When we’re out there on the goal line stand, you have a lot of guys out there with a lot of heart, who just truly love playing this game and really want to get things corrected and win.”

    General manager Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo keep milling the practice squad and the bottom half of the roster, auditioning new players on a weekly basis.

    Wide receiver/kick returner Danny Amendola appears to be a nice addition. He has produced one home-run return (which, of course, was negated by penalty) and nearly popped several other big gains.

    More impressively, he has emerged as a viable third receiver within a few weeks of his in-season arrival. His quick feet add some life to a generally moribund unit.

    If the pint-sized Amendola can improve his ball security and avoid getting squashed, he will earn a place in this group moving forward.

    The same can be said for tight end Daniel Fells. Sunday’s red zone fumble was a shame, since it overshadowed his emergence as a viable offensive option.

    Fells and Kyle Boller developed a love connection. It will be interesting to see if Marc Bulger bonds with him Sunday at Jacksonville.

    The Rams accumulated some interesting depth on the defensive line, with 25-year-old LaJuan Ramsey making a mark at defensive tackle.

    While it is a shame that journeyman run-stuffer Gary Gibson suffered a season-ending injury, the team was overloaded at that position. Perhaps rookie Darell Scott can step in the breach and build on his solid preseason showing.

    Rookie cornerback Bradley Fletcher has gotten burned here and there, but he is showing some potential to play the “press” coverage favored by this coaching staff. A munchkin he is not.

    If 24-year-old safety Craig Dahl can stay healthy, he could become an asset, too. He has made some standout plays while filling in for the injured James Butler.

    Of course, these free agents and lower-round picks can’t turn the program around alone. Second-year receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton will get all the reps they can handle this season, so this is their chance to establish themselves as consistent offensive threats.

    They need to take full advantage of it. The Rams have no receiver depth, so failure is not an option.

    The Rams also need defensive end Chris Long and tackle Jason Smith to become major impact players ASAP. Pretty good is not good enough for second overall draft picks.

    Long and Smith are earning Pro Bowl money, so they must become Pro Bowl-caliber players -– period.

    Their first step will be to earn and keep starting jobs. Then they must become difference-makers, players for whom other teams must prepare.

    There is still time for that. Fans want to write off the last two drafts as no better than the previous fiascos, but it is too soon for that -– even with the Rams sitting dead last in the NFL at 0-5.

    The next 11 games should be spent finding more players to move forward with. The Rams have lopped off many veterans during the course of this 37-game free fall and further deletions are forthcoming.

    We know what the team's problems are. But which young players can be part of the solution? And how much better can those key young players become?

    That question will keep us watching the Rams this season, no matter how gruesome some of the remaining games may become.

  • #2
    Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

    There's only one really good reason for me to keep watching the Rams.


    They're my team.
    [ATTACH=CONFIG]temp_4324_1458960283388_621[/ATTACH]

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

      Originally posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
      There's only one really good reason for me to keep watching the Rams.


      They're my team.
      AMEN, and enough said!!
      Steve

      What you see is what you get, but what you see depends on where you stand.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

        Those all bring up interesting points, but I watch Rams football because it is Rams football!

        GO RAMS

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

          It's a swift kick in the bean bag to be a fan when your team can't get it going. I personally like the rebuilding process though. I just know that one Sunday soon, everything is going to fall into place, something will click correctly and we will see a turnaround of epic proportions.
          Then we can all say we watched the once lowly Rams blow up into the next NFL Cinderella story. Exciting stuff!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

            The Rams are who I basically grew up loving, so a change is not forthcoming in this lifetime! If memory serves me correctly, the Colts in 1999 started out 0-3, and once they got the first win, they didn't look back and won 13 in a row. It CAN happen, they proved it can happen. Once the Rams get a taste of it, anything is possible. LET'S GO GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
            Last edited by MOM; -10-14-2009, 05:11 PM.
            sigpicThis is for Randy! GO BRM!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

              We may be watching some of our future players that will bring us up from the abyss but I agree with you all # 1 reason I'm a fan.
              :ramlogo:

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: It Ain't Pretty, But There Are Reasons To Keep Watching Rams

                We know what the team's problems are. But which young players can be part of the solution? And how much better can those key young players become?

                That question will keep us watching the Rams this season, no matter how gruesome some of the remaining games may become.
                They don't make a Rams game so gruesome I won't watch. Guess I'm a glutton for punishment.

                Comment

                Related Topics

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                • r8rh8rmike
                  How Did The Rams Get This Bad?
                  by r8rh8rmike
                  How did the Rams get this bad?

                  Columnist Jeff Gordon
                  By Jeff Gordon
                  STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
                  11/30/2009

                  The Rams are 1-10 and racing toward 1-15, with little hope of actually winning another football game.

                  If this team couldn’t beat the reeling Seahawks at home, then you can't expect it to beat anybody left on its schedule.

                  The thoroughness of their futility is stunning. How did the Rams get THIS bad?

                  Four predominant factors are to blame:

                  1. To speed up the rebuilding process, the Rams football operation unloaded much of the remaining big-money veteran talent.

                  From the end of last season into the middle of this season, the Rams cashiered tackle Orlando Pace, receiver Torry Holt, receiver Dane Looker, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, defensive tackle La’Roi Glover, linebacker Chris Draft, cornerback Tye Hill, safety Corey Chavous, linebacker Will Witherspoon and others.

                  True, many of those guys played their way off the team. But that is a LOT of veteran talent to lose in such a short period of time.

                  2. Once again, the Rams suffered an inordinate number of costly injuries.

                  The offensive line was coming together nicely this season, but tackle Jason Smith, guard Richie Incognito and center Jason Brown all went down. Once again, the Rams are forced to use a patchwork approach up front.

                  Rookie cornerback Fletcher Bradley was emerging as a solid “press” coverage player, but he suffered a catastrophic knee injury. Quarterback Marc Bulger, receiver Keenan Burton, receiver Laurent Robinson, defensive tackle Adam Carriker, receiver Brooks Foster, defensive end C.J. Ah You . . . the list of casualties goes on and on, with new victims appearing on the injured list every week.

                  3. The Rams lacked the depth to withstand all these losses.

                  For a variety of reasons, this franchise failed to build and maintain a critical mass of talent in recent years. As the Greatest Show on Turf aged, the Rams failed to develop viable replacements.

                  The Rams became stunningly deficient in almost every area. They didn’t have worthy prospects ready to replace all the departing veterans. And when injuries hit, general manager Billy Devaney was forced to fetch fill-ins off practice squads and off the street.

                  As a result, this season has turned into an extended training camp with youngsters and fringe veterans coming and going at a dizzying rate.

                  4. The Rams embarked on this massive rebuilding project with inexperienced leadership.

                  From the top of the organization on down, the key leaders are learning on the job. Devaney, president Kevin Demoff, head coach Steve Spagnulo, offensive coordinator Pat Shumur and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole all possess more responsibility than they have ever had before.
                  ...
                  -12-01-2009, 11:45 PM
                • eldfan
                  Rams cope by preparing for 2010
                  by eldfan
                  Rams cope by preparing for 2010

                  Columnist Jeff Gordon
                  By Jeff Gordon
                  STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
                  12/28/2009

                  There is no need for Rams fans to lament Sunday’s loss at Arizona. That was just an exhibition, a pre-preseason game if you will.

                  Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo used the game to get a head start on his 2010 retooling. This was a full-scale audition for players hoping to compete for jobs next season.

                  Spags used a no-name lineup in the 31-10 loss. You could see as many as 30 to 35 different faces when the Rams open next season for real.

                  That is not an exaggeration. Look at the breakdown:

                  The Rams were missing 13 players from injured reserve, including safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, quarterback Marc Bulger, guard Jacob Bell, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive tackle Adam Carriker, long snapper Chris Massey, defensive end C.J. Ah You, tight end Daniel Fells and receivers Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton and Brooks Foster.

                  Running back Steven Jackson, defensive end Leonard Little, tackle Jason Smith, defensive end James Hall and cornerback Quincy Butler were among the players not active for the game.

                  Of those 16 injured or otherwise absent players, you could see 11 to 14 of them dress for the Rams in Week 1 of next season. That is where the turnaround must begin.

                  The Rams need to get all their wounded warriors back on the field and playing up to full potential.

                  This franchise must add another 10 first-year players through the draft and rookie free agency. The 2009 draft was solid (but injury-prone) and this next class has to be even better.

                  General manager Billy Devaney must add four or five impact players via free agency, using the money saved by the franchise’s massive salary dump during this calendar year.

                  He must also fill another four or five roster holes with lesser free agents -– like many of those populating the Week 16 lineup -– or via trades.

                  So the 2010 Rams should look a lot different than the overmatched group which fell well short in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday afternoon.

                  Flip over the equation and answer this question: How many Rams who played this game are sure bets to play for the Rams next season?

                  On the offensive line, Jason Brown and Adam Goldberg appear to be locks. Defensive end Chris Long is a cornerstone, as is middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. Safeties James Butler and Craig Dahl seem like good bets to stick in some capacity, as do cornerback Ron Bartell and defensive tackle Clifton Ryan.

                  We assume the team will stay with kicker Josh Brown and Donnie Jones, since both are high-end performers. (On the other hand, kicking is one area where a rebuilding team can cut costs.)

                  Receiver Brandon Gibson is in the process of winning a job and the Rams aren’t likely...
                  -12-28-2009, 11:50 AM
                • eldfan
                  Improving vision in Rams’ eye for talent
                  by eldfan
                  12.31.2009 7:45 am
                  Improving vision in Rams’ eye for talent
                  By Andy Dapron

                  Hello again to everyone out there in Rams Nation! I hope everyone is finding time and opportunity to enjoy this holiday season.

                  The world can now join the Rams, as we are all now setting our sights on 2010. I don’t want to get too down on the Rams. We all know that General Manager Billy Devaney, Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo, and all the players and staffers on this Rams team are in the midst of a daunting climb from the bowels of the NFL. It was always going to take time and a massive infusion of talent to return the Rams to respectability, and eventually, glory.

                  We just hoped it wouldn’t take this long, and that the Rams didn’t have this far to go, but they do. So, I am more than willing to be patient with Devaney, Spagnuolo, and the Rams braintrust as they try to rebuild the Rams’ engine one agonizing part at a time.

                  But, that doesn’t make these games any easier to watch. I view these Rams with a “no pain, no gain” sort of outlook — I believe there is a lot to be gained from all the hardships the Rams are enduring now, but if ever there was a “pain” part of a rebuilding process, the Rams are mired in it. Make no mistake, it is painful to watch week after week as the Rams are buried beneath a mountain of injuries, a glaringly shallow depth chart, and poor execution.

                  And, it’s difficult to even know who exactly to fault for the short-circuited play, or whether anybody should really be faulted at all (aside from the previous regime that dug the whole from which the Rams must now dig themselves out). After all, the Rams are playing the biggest bunch of newbies I’ve ever seen assembled on one field at the same time. I lost count of the number of times Sunday that one of the announcers used the word “rookie” in reference to a Rams player that was seeing significant action — a quarterback, a running back, a wide receiver, a corner… the list goes on. That’s without counting guys like WR/KR Danny Amendola and DE James Wyche who, even though they aren’t true rookies, are getting their first true taste of the NFL. With so many fresh faces, mistakes are bound to happen.

                  But therein lies the beauty of this season for the Rams, and the thing that keeps us watching, even as the IR list, and the loss column, become more and more crowded. We are getting a good, long look at the young guys, and we’re seeing them in the context of the “real” NFL, too, not against another team’s third string running a watered-down, scaled-back playbook. That’s intriguing. Sure, we’re always hoping that we’ll be witness to that rare and long-awaited victory (I think… The whole “race for the top pick” thing sort of tempers the desire for the team to win…), but the most exciting aspect of Rams games these days is getting an extended look on some of the men on whose shoulders the franchise’s long-term future ultimately...
                  -01-07-2010, 06:03 AM
                • eldfan
                  Are the Rams really making progress?
                  by eldfan
                  Are the Rams really making progress?

                  Columnist Jeff Gordon

                  STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
                  11/04/2009

                  Steve Spagnuolo stood on the Rams practice field on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, two days removed from his first NFL head coaching victory.

                  He allowed himself to reflect -– for just a brief moment -– on the first half of this 1-7 season and see progress.

                  “There were some struggles, there were some good things, but we have built something,” Spagnuolo told reporters. “We talked this morning on the foundation we wanted to build. There is some trust, there is mutual respect, there is unity in the team. I think more than anything, we take that away.

                  “It was a rough road, let’s face it, we had seven losses. But to see what the guys did -– I’m not talking about on the field -– what they did as people and what they did together, that probably sticks in my head more than anything.”

                  Fans can’t see this sort of progress. Neither can prospective buyers of the franchise, analyzing the situation from afar.

                  The players can feel it and insist that it is real. They can point to their collective effort and their unity.

                  They can cite the team spirit that spilled out after the team FINALLY won a game, outlasting the Lions on Sunday in Detroit.

                  The Rams note that they don’t feature the locker room drama seen in other struggling teams, like the cross-state Chiefs. Their star player, Steven Jackson, has matured into the ultimate team player when the franchise needed him the most.

                  But those of us on the outside can only accept this premise of progress on faith, if at all.

                  Is this team really making progress? Are Spagnuolo, his assistant coaches, general manager Billy Devaney and the rest of the football operatives really setting the foundation for future success?

                  Are these the right men to lead the attempted turnaround? Are they really up to this enormous task?

                  This is the great mystery as the Rams scatter to enjoy their bye weekend. We can’t answer these questions until much later, after the football operation fills in the new framework with more playmakers and sturdier depth.

                  This team has lost a lot of talent since the end of last season, including Torry Holt, Orlando Pace, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Will Witherspoon -– leaders who went on to play big roles on other teams.

                  This team has run off a bunch of mid- and low-level players, too, like Drew Bennett, Trent Green, Corey Chavous, La’Roi Glover, Tye Hill, Chris Draft, Quinton Culberson, Nick Leckey, Claude Wroten, Todd Johnson, Antonio Pittman, Joe Klopfenstein, Dominique Byrd, Brian Leonard, Derek Stanley, Dane Looker, Anthony Becht, Jason Craft, Fakhir Brown . . . the roll call goes on and on.

                  This team has taken some serious injuries hits, losing potential building...
                  -11-04-2009, 07:59 PM
                • r8rh8rmike
                  Veterans Need Not Apply At Rams Park
                  by r8rh8rmike
                  Veterans need not apply at Rams Park

                  Columnist Jeff Gordon
                  09/23/2009


                  The Derek Stanley Project was well into its third year at Rams Park, offering great promise but generally thin results.

                  That ended abruptly Tuesday. First-year coach Steve Spagnuolo’s patience with the Division III speedster officially expired.

                  The 0-2 Rams have gotten nothing from their return game. Their depth at wide receiver is underwhelming, too.

                  So Stanley got clipped and former Texas Tech star Danny Amendola came aboard, arriving from the Eagles practice squad. During his days with the Red Raiders, he earned All-Big 12 honors as a return specialist and had a 103-catch season.

                  Starting Sunday, Amendola, 23, will get an opportunity to earn the kickoff and punt return job here.

                  Such is life in a rebuilding program. The Rams have lost 29 of their last 34 games, so change will remain constant and thorough until the losing stops and the winning begins.

                  Stanley did nothing with his opportunity to return kicks. Samkon Gado and Kenneth Darby weren’t great on kickoff returns. Poor offensive field position has been just one more problem keeping the Rams down this season.

                  Fans see these shortcomings and clamor for veteran additions. For instance, one persistent participant in the STLtoday.com chats practically begged the Rams to trade for Bills receiver/return specialist Roscoe Parrish.

                  Others have campaigned for Marvin Harrison. (So far, anyway, your cyber-correspondent hasn’t heard from anybody backing yesteryear NFL quarterback Jeff George. But that could come.)

                  Hiring stopgap veterans does not fit the M.O. that Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney are using to mill the lower half of the Rams roster. They are looking for young, hungry and talented players capable of adding new life and the ability to grow with the organization.

                  Defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey is a classic candidate. The newcomer didn’t play a whole lot at Washington, but blew up a couple of Redskins plays and got himself noticed on the game video.

                  He recorded a tackle and an assist. In his previous 19 NFL games, he had 10 tackles and two assists. The Rams are offering Ramsey a chance to play his way off the fringe.

                  If he keeps progressing, he will keep playing. If not . . .

                  Meanwhile, young veteran Victor Adeyanju has been inactive for the first two games. He is battling to get back into the defensive line rotation -– and, realistically, to keep his spot on this team.

                  Adeyanju has been a hard worker since coming to the Rams, but now he has to become a difference-maker -– or he will join the alumni club.

                  Like we said, change is constant. Everybody currently employed at Rams Park must be dedicated to turning this football team around. Everybody...
                  -09-23-2009, 02:55 PM
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