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Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

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  • Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

    Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    [More columns]Bryan Burwell

    A week ago down in the sun-splashed isolation of Jacksonville — where apparently NFL franchises go to suffer in wretched exile before half-empty stadiums and a dispirited fan base — the winless Rams stood on their tippy-toes like a baby brother trying to inch his way up a kitchen-door growth chart.

    Last weekend, the Rams thought that at long last they were starting to measure up. They stiffened their backs, stretched their necks, then glanced over their shoulders and convinced themselves that after 16 consecutive losses, they were finally poking their heads even with the rest of the NFL. For one oh-so-brief moment, the Rams actually flirted with victory and dared to believe that prosperity — and the end of one year of uninterrupted losing — was near.

    That overtime loss in the Florida sun had them fooled — and some of us too — into believing that this was real progress.

    Of course, now we know that wasn't progress.

    That was just the Jaguars.

    What we need to remember — and what the undefeated Indianapolis Colts reminded us of quite emphatically on Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome — is what the real standard of measure should be as the Rams continue on their path to reconstruction.

    The goal can't be about just creeping up from the bottom of the NFL barrel. It has to be about leaping out of the gutter, rising above the mediocre masses and returning to prominence. And this 42-6 beatdown by the Colts was just the sort of shock-and-awe reminder of just how far the Rams have to go to accomplish that.

    And let me be the first one to get the buildup started for next Sunday's Debacle in Detroit between your hopeless 0-7 Rams and the pathetic 1-5 Lions. One simple victory won't heal the deep and ugly scab that develops over the course of a losing streak that hit a staggering 17 games on Sunday afternoon.

    Ask the folks in Motown how long their uplifted spirits lasted when the sad-sack Lions ended their 19-game losing streak with a victory over Washington four weeks ago. I believe it lasted all of six days before the Lions started on another losing streak.

    This is not about short-term pleasure. It has to be about climbing all the way back up the pro football summit, where the Rams used to dwell and these powerful Colts seem to be holding permanent residence. Who cares how close the Rams are to bad teams like Jacksonville or Washington, or even ordinary ones like Seattle and San Francisco. Who cares if at the end of this season all they have to show for their efforts is one measly victory against a miserable team like Detroit or Tennessee? MORE BURWELL
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    The rebuilding process won't be a success until the Rams return to equal footing with teams like the Colts, Vikings and Packers.

    "We have some work to do," coach Steve Spagnuolo said when someone asked him how far removed the Rams are from a franchise like the Colts.

    "(First of all), we have to stay healthy."

    And if you are healthy, how long will it take?

    "Ah that's a guess," he said. "But I feel what we have here and what we're doing, I believe that (the way the Rams are doing it) is how you build it. But when we do build it and we get over the hump and we get that one win, we're looking for consistent winning, we're not looking for that one win. We don't want to do this (he motions his hand to go up and down like a roller coaster)."

    Right now, the Rams aren't even on that roller coaster. They haven't won a game, and from the looks of their remaining schedule, the only realistic shots appear to be next week in Detroit or a Dec. 13 date in Nashville against the winless Titans.

    Lining up across the line from a team as good as Indianapolis, with its all-world quarterback Peyton Manning and its talent-rich defense, you can see that the only way the Rams had a chance at winning this game was playing the game of their lives.

    There was only one glimmer of hope when it felt like the Rams were trying to make a game of it. As the second half began, the Colts only led 21-3, when midway through the third quarter, the Rams rediscovered the single-most effective player on their roster, running back Steven Jackson. But by the end of that St. Louis possession, the only thing you remembered was how far away from perfection these Rams truly are.

    On three consecutive plays, Jackson went galloping through the Colts' defense like a powerful Clydesdale, dreadlocks flying, arms, feet and knees pumping high as one of those brawny workhorses. Jackson slammed into the heart of the line of scrimmage and kept on slamming, dragging linemen and linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties like they were Dalmations on the beer wagon joyride.

    Foooompf. Off tackle right for 12 yards.

    Thooompf. Off tackle right for 11 yards.

    Wooompf. Off tackle right for 13 yards.

    The Rams offense suddenly looked like it was capable of actually getting into the end zone, as Jackson ate up yardage and advanced the ball to the Indy 24-yard line. But after those three brutish runs, Jackson slowly climbed up off the turf and jogged to the sidelines, motioning to backup tailback Samkon Gado to give him a breather.

    Uggggggh. Next play, Gado stuffed for a loss of 1 yard.

    Argggggh. Next play after that, quarterback Marc Bulger sacked for a loss of 10 yards.

    By the time Jackson came back in, it was third and 21 from the Indy 35, and the best he could do was burst out for another 8 yards to put the Rams in field-goal range. And just like that, the whole thing disintegrated, the Rams settling for a meaningless field goal.

    This is a team that can hardly survive with Jackson on the field at all times. Even with Jackson gaining 95 of his game-high 134 yards in the third quarter, this game was all over. Without him for even one or two plays, they go into a death spiral. After the game, Jackson tried to choose his words carefully. He didn't want to come off like a bad teammate. In the past, Jackson has gotten injured when he stayed in the game when he needed a breather. Now, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place every time he takes a play off to catch his breath. "Now I realize that it's one of those 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' kind of situations," he said.

    Actually, it's even worse than that. There's a good reason the Rams are on the NFL's longest current losing streak.

    "I believe there are some pieces there," Spagnuolo said. "But when you go up against a team like (the Colts), you're going to need more pieces."

    A lot more pieces.

  • #2
    Re: Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

    Good lord.

    Yes, we all know the team is bad. Did he really need to spend 95% of his article saying it? I Kept looking for the part where he talks about the team's plans moving forward for rebuilding or what they might do with the draft and FA next year. Instead he basically said:

    "This team sucks this team sucks this team sucks this team sucks this team sucks this team sucks steven jackson, this team sucks."
    "I've been saving the Universe for over a thousand years. I figure it owes me just this once."


    • #3
      Re: Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

      Originally posted by BrokenWing View Post
      Good lord.

      Yes, we all know the team is bad. Did he really need to spend 95% of his article saying it? I Kept looking for the part where he talks about the team's plans moving forward for rebuilding or what they might do with the draft and FA next year. Instead he basically said:

      "This team sucks this team sucks this team sucks this team sucks this team sucks this team sucks steven jackson, this team sucks."
      LOL Agreed!!!!


      • #4
        The problem is if you write about anything else than the team sucks then you are in fantasy land. The team has been abysmal this year, and somehow creating positive things to say won't change that. It scores fewer points and gives up more points than anyone else.... it sucks and stinks. The writer is doing his job reporting what he sees; I didn't see us complain when the Rams were great and all the articles were on how great the GSOT was (darn - we know the team is great, why can't they write about some of the weaknesses!).


        • #5
          Re: Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

          How's Brian Leonard doing over in Cincy? Would he have been the all world back-up for Jackson? NO! But at least he would have been a better option than the 2 clowns we have behind Jax now. At least Leonard would have given our QB the option of a short pass or a run. One thing for sure about Leonard when we had him, he was a grinder and had hands.

          What did we get for Leonard again?...SQUAT!
          sigpic :ram::helmet:


          • #6
            Re: Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

            Burwell is reminding us that the goal is to be competitive against anyone we play and eventually earn our fair share of wins. Being satisfied that we are "hanging with the Jacksonvilles, the Detroits or the Washingtons of the league shows you how low we've set the bar for a franchise that's lost 17 games in a row. His points are fair ones.

            Trouble is, you must be able to walk before you can run. And the Rams are so far removed from the better teams in this league it's scary. At this point, just hoping we play competitively and being in a position to win a game late is what we've been reduced to.


            • #7
              Re: Rams have a high mountain to climb in the rebuilding process

              I don't understand Spags sometimes, he thought they were hanging with the Colts, we had 2 field goals the entire game,that will never keep you in a game with Manning and company, are we going to see any sort of improvement soon or are we going to have to hear the same crap after every loss as they continue to mount.


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                Rams rise to challenge ..
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                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                DETROIT — Our local nightmare was at long last about to come to an end, only we didn't know it yet, and quite frankly, neither did Steven Jackson.

                He'd already endured 378 agonizing, disgusting, frustrating days and nights of winless football. And with less than 2 minutes to go Sunday afternoon in half-empty Ford Field, the rambunctious audience of 40,857 raw-lunged Lions fans were cranking up the noise and sensing that somehow, some way Jackson's woebegone Rams would figure out another excruciating way to extend a 17-game losing streak to one more luckless game.

                These Lions fans — connoisseurs of the unflattering art of NFL futility — thought they knew what a truly bad team looks like when it is on the verge of going paws up. So they had all eyes zeroed in on your luckless Rams, counting on St. Louis to help replace Detroit as the punch line to every bad pro football joke there is.

                But Jackson was looking for something entirely different. The big, bruising tailback was sick and tired of being sick and tired. "Enough is enough," he kept saying over and over inside his head. "Let's end this NOW!"

                So he did a rather curious thing as he walked into that huddle to start this critical, do-or-die drive. Jackson walked up one end of the huddle and down the other, peering into the faces of his teammates. He stared at the linemen, glared at the tight ends and receivers, and went facemask to facemask with his fullback with one specific purpose in mind.

                "I told them, 'I just want to see if you're afraid,'" he said.

                Afraid of what?

                Afraid to win or scared to lose.

                It sure did seem like a legitimate question considering the circumstances. When you've suffered through as much losing as the Rams have, you can't take too much for granted.

                So what did they say, and what did Jackson see?

                "They didn't say anything, but then again, they didn't have to," Jackson said, that wide grin spreading across his face inside the noisy and victorious (did I really say 'victorious'?) Rams' locker room.

                "What did I see?" he said. "I didn't see any fear. I saw that they responded."

                Rams 17, Lions 10.

                The losing streak is over, and now all the Rams have to do is concern themselves with a far more daunting objective, which is to become a consistent winning team (which is going to be a lot harder than knocking off the feckless Lions). In the meantime, though, please don't tell me anything about how ugly it was or minimize the victory with other trivial bits of nonsense that today don't matter at all.

                The Rams won a football game that counted for the first time in more than a year, and I don't care if they did it going...
                -11-02-2009, 08:05 AM
              • Nick
                Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time
                by Nick
                Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time
                BY BRYAN BURWELL | Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 2:00 am

                At the end of the game, the paying customers were still on their feet, still lingering at their seats as the Rams raced off the field. And for a change, this was no bile-spitting, expletive-blurting, crazed, depressed or hostile mob of unsatisfied customers who bothered to hang around until the bitter end only to empty their spleens with a barrage of vulgarity that would make a sailor blush.

                Yes, the green but growing young Rams had lost the season opener to the visiting Arizona Cardinals, but since they had actually given these folks — more than 52,000 of them — something entertaining to talk about, the spectators lingered to cheer, not to curse. No one should have left the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday giddy about the ultimate result of the day — Cardinals 17, Rams 13 — but the paying customers could leave the premises satisfied that they had seen a good and entertaining show.

                We're not passing out "atta boys" or gold stars for effort like this was some Little League frivolity. This is still the NFL, where they are paid to play, and winning is the ultimate measure of satisfaction. But when you have been as bad as the Rams have been for such a long time, satisfaction is a relative thing. Satisfaction comes in small steps, not giant leaps. So on this Sunday in the Dome, that satisfaction was measured by an honest to goodness sense that even in defeat, people could walk away without that same old sick and depressing feeling in their guts that their favorite team was an incompetent and hopeless mess.

                Come on, admit it. The Rams didn't look half bad, did they?

                Having been up close and personal for far too many of these hideous, gawdawful nightmares of the past when the Rams always looked outgunned and outmanned, it was a treat to see that this 2010 team doesn't look like a welcome mat anymore.

                I don't know how many football games the Rams will win this season, but they do look capable of winning football games in the National Football League again, and when was the last time you could say that?

                They played the Arizona Cardinals, defending NFC West champs, on even terms right down to the last seconds. And it won't be the last game they play this close. That is the way you mark the improvement of the Rams at this stage. You mark it by noticing signs that they have upgraded, lifted themselves up from the status of NFL laughingstock to a team that has a decent chance on any particular Sunday to find a way to football games again.

                This looks like something positive is happening.

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                -09-13-2010, 06:33 AM
              • MauiRam
                Rams show no signs of hope in this mess ..
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                They are playing winning football in old football ghost towns like Detroit and Buffalo and Oakland again. In San Francisco and Seattle and Arizona, too, their teams seem to be showing at least some faint glimmers of a football renaissance. The out-of-town scoreboards offer weekly evidence that even in such traditionally dismal outposts like Cleveland, Carolina, Tennessee and Cincinnati there are revivals in progress.

                But here in St. Louis — where football dreams go to die — this is what we get.

                No renaissance. No revival. Nothing but a miserable recurrence of the same football nightmare that has haunted this NFL franchise for the last decade.

                On Sunday afternoon the half-empty Edward Jones Dome echoed with the disgruntled voices of a frustrated fan base whose only weapons are boos and sarcasm. While they spent most of the day booing the mistake-riddled performance in this 17-10 loss to the visiting Washington Redskins, the defining moment of the game and this 0-4 season was the rousing sarcastic ovation for the proper execution of ... a fair catch.

                The Rams are heading into the bye week a dispirited and dysfunctional lot. They are a bad team that seems to regress with each week that goes by. This was supposed to be a turnaround year for the franchise, a team that was ready to take the next step to contention for the NFC West title and a playoff berth. This was supposed to be the season where the Rams returned to prominence in this city's sports conversation. Instead, they are in shambles. They beat themselves with penalties and missed assignments.

                And if things don't change dramatically, the only danger the Rams will present this season is to the long-term health of their franchise quarterback and the job security of their head coach and general manager.

                "It's very disappointing, very disappointing," said running back Steven Jackson, who measured his words carefully when someone asked him if he understood why the fans were booing, and basically said he was right there with them. "I definitely understand our fans' frustrations. There were a lot of high expectations around here. I don't think the season is written off quite yet, but ..."

                Jackson is a veteran of this mess now. His hide has gotten thick enduring all the losing. But just like the rest of us, he thought this year would be different. Which is why he took a slow, dramatic pause, then bit down on his lip before finishing his thought.

                "Hell, I'm disappointed too," he said before turning his back to the TV cameras and microphones.

                The Rams have to be better than this. There's no way they should be 0-4. There's no way they should be committing the same dumb mental mistakes week in and week out.

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              • r8rh8rmike
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                Rams Team Report
                Yahoo! Sports - Oct 27, 1:50 am EDT

                INSIDE SLANT

                After the Rams lost to the Colts 42-6 Sunday, coach Steve Spagnuolo was most disappointed by what he believed was the team disintegrating in the fourth quarter, especially the defense. Late in the third quarter, the Rams trailed 21-6, but an interception return for a touchdown made the score 28-6, and the Colts added two fourth-quarter scores for the final count.

                Said Spagnuolo, "The first three quarters I thought we battled really hard against a good football team. That team over there is good. We all know that. They've got skill everywhere. They've been doing it for a long time. But (for) three quarters I think we all felt and believed we could possibly pull that thing off and win the game.

                "Now the fourth quarter was different. It was disappointing. They made some plays. Things kind of fell apart. That's not us. We haven't seen that before. We've got to get back to what we're doing, which is just battling and playing hard."

                Monday, however, Spagnuolo amended his thoughts somewhat. "After the game, I thought it was the whole quarter. Really, it was about three minutes that we played with not quite the intensity we had had. That has not been this team."

                Spagnuolo knows he has a task ahead, keeping his team's head up, as the record has hit 0-7.

                The Rams have lost 17 consecutive games, and this season they have had four games where they have scored fewer than 10 points, and been outscored overall 211-60, including 117-23 after halftime. In their home games, against Green Bay, Minnesota and Indianapolis, the count overall is 116-33.

                Of the 53 players on the roster Sunday, 26 joined the team this year. With Detroit the next opponent on the road, Spagnuolo was asked how far away the Rams are from beating a team like Indianapolis.

                Said Spagnuolo, "Well, we got some work to do there. That's a guess, (but) I feel like what we've got here and what we're doing, the attitude of the guys, I mean I believe that's how you build it. And I believe when you get over the hump and you get that win, we're looking for consistent winning. We're not looking to just get one win, we don't want to do this (motions up and down). So we keep trying to build it the way we build it and I do think there's some pieces there. When you go up against a team like this you need a few more pieces."

                NOTES & QUOTES

                —Rams players didn't disagree with coach Steve Spagnuolo's comments about the fourth-quarter problems.

                Said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "We just didn't fight as hard in the fourth quarter as we had in the previous three, which is a little disappointing."

                Added cornerback Ron Bartell, "You're getting paid to play. You have a responsibility to one another...
                -10-27-2009, 04:38 PM
              • RamWraith
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                By Bryan Burwell
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
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                In so many ways, watching the first game of the NFL preseason is a lot like
                flipping through the first few chapters of a tantalizing mystery novel. No
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                likely to spill all its juicy details so early in the flow. Yet as we quickly
                flipped through the first attention-grabbing pages of the 2006 Rams whodunnit,
                more than a few compelling clues have already been cleverly scattered here and

                So what subtleties could you possibly glean from the half-empty Edward Jones
                Dome on Thursday night, when the new-look Rams defeated the visiting
                Indianapolis Colts 19-17? What definitive patterns could possibly be exposed
                when the starting units from both the Rams and Colts stayed on the field for
                less than 10 minutes?

                Though it's still way too early to know whether this story will ultimately end
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                playoff climax, Scott Linehan's Rams have already shown enough signs to make me
                believe the regular season could develop into a rather intriguing page turner.

                On a night when a national football audience got its first glimpse at Linehan's
                coaching debut, what everyone had to notice was that these are not going to be
                the same old pass-happy offensive, and unimaginative defensive Rams of recent
                past. Like I said, the clues are there if you're willing to observe.

                Let's begin with the offense, since this still is St. Louis. If you thought for
                a minute that Linehan was merely paying lip service to the public with all his
                off-season promises to turn the Rams into a balanced offense that relies
                heavily on Steven Jackson as a running workhorse, we know better now.

                Jackson is going to have every opportunity to prove he's as good as he thinks
                he is, because this offense is made to turn him into a rushing beast. On his
                first carry of the night, Jackson lined up in the I-formation behind his new
                bull of a fullback Paul Smith, swallowed a handoff from Marc Bulger and slashed
                through a gaping hole carved out through the left side of the line by
                tremendous blocks from Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace, his new tag-team partner
                guard Richie Incognito and a devastating block by Smith.

                One carry. Sixteen yards.

                After two lackluster carries to the right side and without Smith in the
                backfield, Jackson took his fourth carry and again burst through the line of
                scrimmage with urgency (and again from the left side) for a 23-yard run that
                had folks in the Dome buzzing.

                By the time the first unit offense had left the...
                -08-11-2006, 05:11 AM