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  • Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

    Loss is disturbing in many ways

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/30/2009

    From the moment Steve Spagnuolo was hired as the Rams' head coach to partner with new general manager Billy Devaney, I've preached patience. The new leaders were put in charge of cleaning up the NFL equivalent of a toxic spill. And it would take a lot of time, hard work and smart decisions to get it done.

    Those who thought the Rams had a chance to win between seven and nine games this season and contend for the playoffs were more delusional than optimistic.

    I didn't expect much, and I'm not asking for much.

    All I wanted to see, really, were signs of progress in 2009. And shouldn't this team be getting better, even if the gains are incremental and modest? Instead, the Rams are getting worse. Is there any justification for that?

    With Sunday's 27-17 loss to the visiting Seattle Seahawks, the Rams became the first St. Louis NFL team to post a 1-10 record after 11 games in a season. That covers 43 seasons of St. Louis NFL football, 28 with the Cardinals and 15 with the Rams.

    This was a winnable game. It was sitting there at 7-7 in the second quarter, and the Rams were only down by seven late in the third quarter. The Seahawks came into The Ed with a 3-7 record and didn't appear to be highly motivated. But as most opponents do, the Seahawks pounced on the Rams' mistakes and sloppy play and bullied the Rams with a physical rushing attack. Taking over, Seattle opened a 17-point lead before the Rams scored a so-what TD with 44 seconds remaining.

    The Rams had shown improvement by losing in overtime at Jacksonville, winning at Detroit, and taking the undefeated New Orleans Saints down to the wire with a chance to win. But the Rams didn't build on that brief spell of not-so-hideous football.

    Instead, they're regressing.

    And I don't think that's acceptable.

    "This game was a big step backward," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "I think we've got a long way to go, so we can't afford to take these steps backward."

    Agreed. After the game, I asked Spagnuolo if he thought his Rams were slipping and getting worse. After saying he wouldn't cite injuries as an excuse, Spagnuolo sort of did just that.

    "The one thing we've got to remember, and I'm not going to use this as an excuse, so bear with me here," Spagnuolo said. "But we have gelled. Since the first time we played Seattle (in the season opener) until now, I believe it's a different football team.

    "But we're fighting some injuries right now at some key positions. So the dynamics of working together and getting better and better at certain things, maybe it takes a step back. But this is professional football and guys got to go in there and play. So we'll expect the guys that have to go in there and play when guys get hurt to do the same thing as the guys who were in there."

    Look, I realize the Rams are in a tough spot. The bad-luck blitz of injuries continues. The Rams have lost more wide receivers than I can remember. Center Jason Brown left in Sunday's second quarter with a sprained knee. Right offensive tackle Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, didn't play Sunday because of a concussion. There are too many injuries to list. It has affected continuity and cut into the already thin depth. Now the offensive line is getting chopped up.

    I do have some sympathy.

    But I also have a few questions:

    — Why do other bad teams manage to pull off unexpected wins? Kansas City beat Pittsburgh. Oakland took down Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Tampa Bay upset Green Bay. And bad teams have a knack of jumping on falling teams; Detroit and Kansas City took down the dysfunctional Washington Redskins — something the Rams could not do.

    — Didn't Spagnuolo earn his reputation on defense? Shouldn't a defensive personality be forming by now?

    — Is there any acceptable rationalization for the Rams' pitiful run defense? Over the last six games, the Rams have allowed 1,005 yards rushing at an average of 5.3 yards a carry. During that time, they've given up seven rushing touchdowns and 31 runs of 10 yards or more. If you can't control the likes of Tim Hightower and Justin Forsett, you're not doing your job.

    — Spagnuolo continues to defend his team's effort. "I believe in the fight of this team," he said after Sunday's loss. But coach also attributed the collapsing run defense to poor tackling. Isn't the tackling an example of will and determination? If you have a runner in your grasp and let him go, then you aren't physically finishing the tackle. Or you aren't concentrating on executing the proper tackling technique.

    Yes, I know the Rams have talent deficiencies at defensive tackle and outside linebacker. But you can't convince me that lousy tackling is unrelated to effort.

    After another Sunday bloody Sunday the Rams are 3-24 since the start of last season, and 6-37 since the beginning of 2007. For all of our patience and understanding, at some point we want to see evidence of genuine improvement.

    And it's getting tiresome to have Spagnuolo appear after every loss to praise his team for playing hard.

    And I don't know if it's even true, that they're playing hard. Many of them are, yes.

    But I do know that playing hard isn't enough.

    You win games by playing better.

  • #2
    Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

    I am shocked that we can't beat any team in our division. We should know them and be able to play them better than other teams. Our division is not a good one.

    The Steelers threw in a brand new QB and almost won the game last night. Obviously they have the basics down, and a good coaching staff in place.

    I am sure it takes time to get a team running correctly, takes time to get to know the players, and develop a good scheme and get the right play calling done. How long does it take? I have no idea. All these losses are painful. It is hard to be patient.
    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

      I'm not too familiar with this Bernie guy, but alot of the points he brings up are valid. As horrible as the Raiders are every year, Tom Cable had his team prepared enough to beat the likes of Cincy and Philly. KC got a nice upset this season, as did Tampa. Fans in Detroit atleast they know who their QB is gonna be next season..

      I fully expected to win no more than 5 games this season, but its a real possibility that our lone win so far may be our only win this season. I like Spags' personality-he seems like a genuinely nice guy who cares alot for his players, and many of his former players have wished him luck with the Rams. But with that said, there comes a time when a coach needs to be held accountable for not having his teams prepared enough to win. Is it time we, as fans, hold Spags accountable for the mounting losses? Maybe, maybe not. Thats your choice to make as fan. Its just incredibly frustrating to hear the term "Any given Sunday"" everywhere but
      St. Louis.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

        Originally posted by Fettmaster View Post
        I'm not too familiar with this Bernie guy, but alot of the points he brings up are valid. As horrible as the Raiders are every year, Tom Cable had his team prepared enough to beat the likes of Cincy and Philly. KC got a nice upset this season, as did Tampa. Fans in Detroit atleast they know who their QB is gonna be next season..

        I fully expected to win no more than 5 games this season, but its a real possibility that our lone win so far may be our only win this season. I like Spags' personality-he seems like a genuinely nice guy who cares alot for his players, and many of his former players have wished him luck with the Rams. But with that said, there comes a time when a coach needs to be held accountable for not having his teams prepared enough to win. Is it time we, as fans, hold Spags accountable for the mounting losses? Maybe, maybe not. Thats your choice to make as fan. Its just incredibly frustrating to hear the term "Any given Sunday"" everywhere but
        St. Louis.
        Good post, Fett- I agree on all counts about both Bernie and Spags. A lot of people on this forum are critical of Bernie for various reasons and he is not always on target. But I think this was his best article in awhile for the very valid questions he raises. Particularly alarming are the points he makes about Tampa, KC, etc. all being able to pull off an occasional win or even an upset while we muddle along, unable to capitalize on anything. It is discouraging, to say the least.

        Someone made the point on another thread that the time to truly be able to evaluate Spags, Devaney and company will be at the end of next season. I would agree with that. Spags does seem like the right fit personality wise for this group and appears genuine in his efforts at fielding a winner. But sooner or later, effort has to pay off in the form of wins.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

          It's a combination of things: extremely bad luck, cleaning up the mess of other head coaches, players uncanny knack for getting hurt, a QB who has lost all confidence, a bad/patchwork offensive line, a horrible coordinator, no go-to receiver and many, many bad draft choices for starters equals a bad team, and bad teams DON'T get breaks. That's the way it goes, there's always next year .

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

            Originally posted by blood85 View Post
            It's a combination of things: extremely bad luck, cleaning up the mess of other head coaches, players uncanny knack for getting hurt, a QB who has lost all confidence, a bad/patchwork offensive line, a horrible coordinator, no go-to receiver and many, many bad draft choices for starters equals a bad team, and bad teams DON'T get breaks. That's the way it goes, there's always next year .
            not the dreaded "there's always next year" how many more seasons will we have to say that ?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

              Originally posted by blood85 View Post
              It's a combination of things: extremely bad luck, cleaning up the mess of other head coaches, players uncanny knack for getting hurt, a QB who has lost all confidence, a bad/patchwork offensive line, a horrible coordinator, no go-to receiver and many, many bad draft choices for starters equals a bad team, and bad teams DON'T get breaks. That's the way it goes, there's always next year .
              Spot on with your diagnosis, my question is with all that you just listed how do you even begin to start to turn this team around? I sure wouldn't want Devaney's job.
              sigpic

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

                Originally posted by blood85 View Post
                It's a combination of things: extremely bad luck, cleaning up the mess of other head coaches, players uncanny knack for getting hurt, a QB who has lost all confidence, a bad/patchwork offensive line, a horrible coordinator, no go-to receiver and many, many bad draft choices for starters equals a bad team, and bad teams DON'T get breaks. That's the way it goes, there's always next year .
                Agreed in the main.

                In answer to those who object to 'there's always next year'; what choice do you have?

                You may not want to accept it but you have to.

                This team has been a mess on and off the field for 3-4 seasons and arguably longer than that. A one season turn-around was always going to be a long-shot set against that backdrop of failure. People like to point to the Falcons and Dolphins as being recent exceptions but if you look at our own cinderella season, it takes a lot of stars to align to have a one-season wonder.

                Now you may argue, with some justification, that we should have 1-2 more wins at the moment but the fact remains is that our already deficient level of talent has been decimated by injury and our inexperience doesn't enable us to mask it.

                If I had to start levelling criticism, I'd say the following:

                - Our approach to the WR position was bordering on negligent
                - Our offensive co-ordination would look to be sub-par
                - Our game-day decisions haven't always been the best
                - The Witherspoon trade I thought realised questionable value

                None of which takes away from the fact that overall I think Spags and Devaney have started a process which I expect (dearly hope) will produce green shoots next season and tangible results in the third year.

                I don't know what else we could reasonably expect.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

                  Its Spags first year, we cut a lot of veteran players, its obvious all the other teams in our division are better than us, why is it such a surprise we're losing??

                  Id be more than happy to slowly improve, build a solid team, beat the lesser talented teams in years to come and slowly get up to the level of the top teams. Let Spags and Devaney do their work...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

                    Originally posted by Bing69 View Post
                    Its Spags first year, we cut a lot of veteran players, its obvious all the other teams in our division are better than us, why is it such a surprise we're losing??

                    Id be more than happy to slowly improve, build a solid team, beat the lesser talented teams in years to come and slowly get up to the level of the top teams. Let Spags and Devaney do their work...

                    Exactly.....How long does it take to put a totally new system (Offense & Defense) in place? The mess that Linehan left us with was much worse than any of us realized. Spags and Devaney are working on building a roster with their type of players. How long will that take?

                    How long did it take Belicheck to do all of the above????

                    The key in mind is that we need a system in place that is proven and than have the ability to recognize the talent needed to fit that system. Which in turn makes for a consistent and productive team every year.

                    Patience......

                    GO RAMS!!!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

                      Why do other bad teams manage to pull off unexpected wins? Kansas City beat Pittsburgh. Oakland took down Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Tampa Bay upset Green Bay. And bad teams have a knack of jumping on falling teams; Detroit and Kansas City took down the dysfunctional Washington Redskins — something the Rams could not do.
                      Cleveland havent beaten anyone good, and maybe we are just worse than Detroit, Kansas and Oakland?


                      — Is there any acceptable rationalization for the Rams' pitiful run defense? Over the last six games, the Rams have allowed 1,005 yards rushing at an average of 5.3 yards a carry. During that time, they've given up seven rushing touchdowns and 31 runs of 10 yards or more. If you can't control the likes of Tim Hightower and Justin Forsett, you're not doing your job.
                      How about only one defensive lineman who should be playing full time in this league (Chris Long)? Cliff Ryan is good but should be part of a rotation. Little is at an age now where he should be playing in a rotation also. The other guys are scrubs really. Not to mention the fact that we have three defensive lineman on IR who were expected to contribute or were contributing heavily

                      The simple fact is that when Spags and Devaney took over running this team it was in salary cap hell, and had positions all over the roster that needed improving. An improvement was never going to come in the first year, through one period of free agency and one draft.

                      Especially when we come out of the draft without a QB of the future, another top draw defensive end and a top quality WR, simply because we had holes in other areas that needed filling
                      @EssexRam_

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

                        I am shocked that we can't beat any team in our division. We should know them and be able to play them better than other teams. Our division is not a good one.
                        I can't remember our last division win, I agree even if we are not wining many games shouldn't some wins come in our own division.
                        :ramlogo:

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways

                          I didn't expect much, and I'm not asking for much.

                          All I wanted to see, really, were signs of progress in 2009. And shouldn't this team be getting better, even if the gains are incremental and modest? Instead, the Rams are getting worse. Is there any justification for that? .
                          Yes .. injuries.


                          After the game, I asked Spagnuolo if he thought his Rams were slipping and getting worse. After saying he wouldn't cite injuries as an excuse, Spagnuolo sort of did just that. .
                          Hello! What can Spags say at this point. The unwritten rule is coaches aren't supposed to make excuses because of injuries. BUT, when a team is pretty much devoid of talent across the board with it's starters healthy, if that team loses a significant amount of starters on both sides of the ball, would anyone in their right mind bet on that team to win? We are very likely the least talented team in the NFL right now. When Jason Brown left the game, that was the coup de grace from my perspective.


                          — Didn't Spagnuolo earn his reputation on defense? Shouldn't a defensive personality be forming by now?
                          — Is there any acceptable rationalization for the Rams' pitiful run defense? .
                          Possibly, but is it realistic to expect players that no other NFL team wanted to come in and be instrumental in winning games? Think LaJuan Ramsey, Leger Douzable and some others .. I don't think anyone pegged Darell Scott as a candidate for defensive rookie of the year either.

                          I understand the frustration, but when Spags worked his defensive magic with the Giants, he had abundant talent to work with. The 2010 draft and free agency ostensibly will bring in a fresh batch of talent coupled with the return of players currently on IR. Next year if there isn't consistent improvement, then Spags and Billy will be under intense scrutiny ..

                          We need TALENT guys .. Right now the Rams are a "one trick pony" on offense, and a no trick pony on defense .. Sure Laurinaitis is developing nicely, and Long is developing slowly, but that's about it. Who on our defense are other teams afraid of? Little maybe? Sorry Bernie, but "playing hard" may be as good as it gets this year ...

                          Comment

                          Related Topics

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                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie: Spags Sends The Right Message
                            r8rh8rmike
                            Rams Nation MVP
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie: Spags sends the right message

                            BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                            Thursday, November 25, 2010

                            After the Rams lost to the Atlanta Falcons, I wrote about the obvious talent gap between the teams. And noted that the Falcons came to St. Louis and provided a shot of reality. I listed a few of the Rams' roster needs. I talked about a couple of areas of immediate concern, namely the sluggish running game and their tiring defense.

                            The reaction to the column was interesting.

                            Some fans believed I was too hard on the Rams. They're still rebuilding, I was told. They've made good progress. We didn't expect them to win much this season, and they're 4-6 and a game out of first place in the NFC West. So let's not demand too much from them. Let's understand that it's a young team that has to find its way.

                            Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo also had an interesting reaction.

                            Not to the column — but to the loss to the Falcons.

                            Spagnuolo was angry. He wouldn't accept the loss. He didn't attempt to rationalize it.

                            Spags made it clear that he expects more from his team. And that he believes the players have it in them to do it.

                            "I think this team has reached the point where we're capable of beating those teams," Spagnuolo said. "I feel that way, and I know (the players) do too. So the better you become, the more in the thick of it you get. You know the higher the aspirations, I guess the more upset I get when you don't win. Not that I ever accept any loss."

                            I like that. You go, Spags. But take it up a few notches.

                            I believe it's the perfect message for his team. The last thing these players should be hearing is that they're young, a year away, they're rebuilding, they aren't ready to win, they can't do it, etc. The worst thing the Rams can do is listen to enablers.

                            And if you are confused by any of this, you shouldn't be.

                            Yes, it is possible to have it both ways.

                            We can take note of the Rams' progress. We can be cautiously optimistic over the future. We can be appreciative of the new players that they've added who are turning the franchise around. We can agree that it was a dandy surprise to see the Rams at 4-4 and tied for first place two weeks ago. We can also sign off on the premise that the Rams' best days are most likely in the future.

                            That doesn't mean we should wave off losses now. The 2010 season isn't a school project. There are no "A" grades for effort. There are no "attaboys" for losing games that should have been placed safely in the win column. The kind of games that the Rams absolutely gave away at Tampa Bay and San Francisco.

                            I don't want to hear that the Rams weren't ready to win those games. What does that mean, anyway? They dominated Tampa Bay in the first half. They just pushed the Buccaneers...
                            -11-25-2010, 06:42 PM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie: Under Spags, Rams Felt Too Good About Trying
                            r8rh8rmike
                            Rams Nation MVP
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie: Under Spagnuolo, Rams felt too good about trying

                            BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                            Monday, January 2, 2012

                            After the Rams succumbed to San Francisco 34-27 to bring a merciful ending to a dreadful 2-14 season, head coach Steve Spagnuolo went into his finest nice-guy mode.

                            It was a truly remarkable performance by the league's happiest head coach. Spags can make Dick Vermeil seem as icy as Tom Landry, as aloof as Bill Belichick, as grumpy as Bill Parcells.

                            Spags heaped praise on his team and added extra spoonfuls of sugar for good measure.

                            "The will (and) the fight and the character of our football team came out today," Spagnuolo said. "I believe that. I'm very, very proud of our team in that regard, and always will be."

                            That was just his opening comment. After giving a brief rundown of the injuries, Spagnuolo returned to his message of the day.

                            "I'm going to go back to the character and the fight in our football team," he said. "Again, so proud of it. And I know that to build anything that has to be the base at the bottom of what we call a rock-solid foundation. And that's there. I'm glad we have that in this football team. If you don't have that, you're in trouble. So I feel good about that."

                            I thought going 2-14 qualified as trouble, but I digress.

                            Spagnuolo did allow that the season was "disappointing in a lot of ways." And he did say he thought the Rams should have done better than 2-14.

                            OK, now we're getting a somewhere. Perhaps an acknowledgement that losing is unacceptable?

                            Heck, no. Spags caught himself. He quickly added that he was "very proud in a lot of ways."

                            No worries; Spagnuolo wasn't about to snap or show anger or declare that he won't put up with losing football games.

                            "I do think there was tremendous growth," Spagnuolo said.

                            Tremendous growth? The Rams won seven games last season. They won two this season.

                            Tremendous growth?

                            The coach was talking about growing through adversity, growing through losing.

                            "You find out a lot about people in a situation like this," he said. "And when you're going to build something, it's good to have the right people. We've got a lot of the right people and that's important going forward."

                            Well, the Rams certainly have had many opportunities to grow. They went 1-15 in Spags' first season. Including last season's late 1-3 slide that cost them a division title, the Rams are 3-17 in their last 20 games.

                            At 10-38, Spagnuolo has the worst record in Rams franchise history by a coach with at least 20 games on his résumé. Other than that solid 6-4 stretch during the 2010 season, Spagnuolo has gone 4-34.

                            If losing...
                            -01-02-2012, 12:59 PM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie: Rams Give Fans Reason For Hope
                            r8rh8rmike
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                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie: Rams give fans reason for hope

                            BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                            Monday, September 6, 2010


                            For the first time in several years, probably since the last hurrah of the "Greatest Show" era in 2004, the Rams are generating a positive buzz around town.

                            There are no expectations of the Rams making the playoffs in 2010, no hope of competing for a Super Bowl, no delusions about where the Rams are and how far they must go to become an elite franchise. Only a hair-on-fire optimist would predict a winning record for the 2010 Rams.

                            But it's been a while since fans had something to look forward to. It's been a while since the customers were motivated to spend a Sunday afternoon at the dreary Edward Jones Dome. It's been a while since the franchise's loyal band of supporters could rally around the belief that better days are ahead.

                            If nothing else, even among skeptics the curiosity level is up because of the presence of rookie starting quarterback Sam Bradford, the obvious symbol of change.

                            Sunday at 3:15 p.m, the Rams will kick off the 2010 NFL season with a home game against the Arizona Cardinals. And finally, there is something to watch. There's a compelling story. The template is fresh and different. And a probable sellout crowd will file into The Ed for a new reason: The fans really want to be there instead of feeling obligated to be there.

                            "While I was in church Sunday morning, a couple of people there told me, 'Hey, Steve, you have no idea how excited the town is.' And that's when I picked up on it," Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I hope our players feel it. And I hope we give the fans a reason to feel good about what we're doing."

                            One by one, pieces are being put into place. New owner Stan Kroenke. Sam the Ram joins running back Steven Jackson, who ranks No. 2 in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage over the last five seasons. There are two talented young offensive tackles, Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith, to anchor a potentially rugged offensive line. And new prospects at tight end. There's a dedicated young middle linebacker, James Laurinaitis. Third-year defensive end Chris Long should be more disruptive. A physical second-year cornerback, Bradley Fletcher, could develop into something special. And active safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who has 19 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries in 60 NFL starts.

                            There's a sense that the Rams are actually building something rather than throwing a mish-mash of talent together and hoping to get lucky.

                            There is also a long way to go as Spagnuolo and the new regime continue to pay for the hopelessly incompetent personnel mistakes of the recent past.

                            The Rams selected 18 players in the 2006 and 2007 drafts. After final cuts were made Saturday only one of the 18, backup defensive tackle Clifton...
                            -09-06-2010, 07:52 PM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB
                            r8rh8rmike
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                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

                            BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                            Monday, December 27, 2010 1:40 pm

                            Good morning, and happy holidays.

                            I hope everyone is in a good mood.

                            Let's get started ...

                            READING TIME 5 MINUTES (or so):

                            * I'll be honest: I don't think NBC did the Rams any favors by taking Sunday's game and putting it on prime time. It's great that the Rams will get some national exposure, and all. But how will it impact the team's readiness to play? This group of players hasn't had a night-time showcase on the national stage; all of the Rams' games have started at noon, or at 3 p.m. Sitting around the hotel all day is a big change in routine. And the spectacle that comes with being a participant in the biggest TV audience of the NFL week is a new experience for these players. Will they be distracted? Will the moment be too big for them? These are legit questions.

                            But my real concern is how head coach Steve Spagnuolo will react to this. The media attention (from a national standpoint) will intensify this week. The demands will rise. Spags tends to get uptight, and when he's tight, it it isn't good for him or the team. I hope the folks at Rams Park can keep Spags reasonably loose this week. I try to be fair, and I have a feeling that I'm not being entirely fair to Spags here. Look, the guy's been an excellent motivator who has his teams ready to play. That was the case in 2009, when the Rams never stopped competing for the guy and caring about their jobs despite the demoralizing agony of a 1-15 season. We can criticize Spags for being too conservative when the Rams take a lead in games, and we can get on him for some other matters, such as in-game adjustments. But he does have his teams properly wired going into games. So perhaps I'm way off base here. But I just know the guy, and I hope he doesn't get too stressed this week. That's all I'm saying.

                            * The Rams should not be stunned if Seattle comes out strong and starts fast on Sunday night. Even during the the Seahawks' terrible 2-7 stretch they've managed to compete early in games. Let's take a look:

                            -- Sunday, Seattle led Tampa Bay 7-3 after one quarter, eventually losing 38-15.

                            -- Two weeks ago, Seattle led Atlanta 7-0 after one, and were tied 10-10 late in the first half, eventually losing 34-18.

                            -- On Dec. 12 at San Francisco, Seattle lost 40-21 but trailed by only three, 10-7, after one.

                            -- Seattle and Kansas City were tied 7-7 after the 1st Q on Nov. 28; the Chiefs won 42-24.

                            -- Seattle trailed New Orleans by a point (7-6) early in the 2nd Q on Nov. 21 before falling 34-19.

                            -- Seattle was only down by three (3-0) to Oakland after the 1st Q on Oct. 31. The Raiders won 33-3.

                            During the course of these seven losses, only one team, the NY Giants, jumped up early to wipe...
                            -12-27-2010, 03:02 PM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie Bytes: No Free Passes For The Rams
                            r8rh8rmike
                            Rams Nation MVP
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Bernie Bytes: No free passes for the Rams

                            BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                            Tuesday, November 16, 2010 9:40 am

                            There's an interesting debate and discussion going on among Rams fans and media. What should we realistically expect from the Rams? Given that many observers thought that 2010 would be the continuation of a rebuilding project, and that we'd see them go 4-12 or 5-11 with a rookie QB, should we be pleased that they're exceeding expectations? Are we being greedy, to look at their current 4-5 record and believe that they should be 6-3? Is it unrealistic or unfair to suggest that they should have won the road games at Tampa Bay or San Francisco?

                            As is usually the case, the correct answer is somewhere in the middle.

                            -- No. 1, I think, from a big-picture standpoint, the Rams have done well. We have to be pleased with the progress that they've made. You can see building blocks settle into place. That bodes well for the future. You can also see a team that works to get better, a team that cares, a team that sticks together, a team that wants to do things the right way. It's also a team that's limited by the number of roster holes. The Rams lack an elite wide receiver to stretch the field. They don't have a speed back to provide a change of pace for Steven Jackson. They're mediocre at outside linebacker. They don't have an intimidating pass rushers. (That's not a knock on James Hall or Chris Long; those guys are playing very well. But imagine how much better the defense would be if the Rams had a locomotive zeroing in on a QB all of the time, the kind of pass-rush force that keeps offensive tackles awake at night.) There are too many "box" safeties who lack refined coverage skills. That's just a partial listing. The Rams' roster isn't there yet. Not even close. And head coach Steve Spagnuolo has many terrific qualities, but game-day coaching remains an area that requires improvement. So yes, from a overview standpoint it's reasonable to conclude that we can only expect so much from a young and incomplete roster at this point in time.

                            However ...

                            --No. 2, even with the roster imperfections and youth, do we really give the team a free pass for blowing a 14-point lead at Tampa Bay after thoroughly dominating the Bucs for the first half? If the roster is so flawed that we can't expect the Rams to win on the road, then why was the same roster able to go into Tampa Bay and take firm control of that game, outgaining the home team 189-87 in the first half? If the Rams' roster is so incapable of winning on the road, then how did they score 20 points at San Francisco -- something that only four of the other 12 visiting-team offenses have done since the start of last season? If the Rams defense was good enough to make the ***** go 0 for 11 on third-down conversions, then why would we hand them a "They're Young and Not Ready to Win on the Road" card after they...
                            -11-17-2010, 12:28 PM
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