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Have the Rams bottomed out?

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  • Have the Rams bottomed out?

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    [More columns]By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/14/2009

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó In terms of the depth of their futility and their absolute inability to win, the Rams are ranking right down there with some of history's more recognized losers.

    We're talking about the 1962 expansion New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs since 1908, the old St. Louis Browns, the Jamaican bobsled team, Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn, George McGovern in 1972, the patsy Washington Generals hooping against the Harlem Globetrotters.

    After being demolished 47-7 by the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at LP Field, the Rams slid deeper into the sinkhole of professional sports. They're 1-12 on the season, 1-22 in their last 23 games, 3-26 since the beginning of 2008, and 6-39 over the past three seasons.

    And at this point, what's the use in kicking them when they're as broken, bleeding and demoralized as any pro team in St. Louis sports history? Besides, that's a job for Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. Ten years later, Fisher is still trying to get that extra yard he needed in Super Bowl XXXIV.

    With undeveloped Rams rookie quarterback Keth Null starting and appearing in a regular-season NFL game for the first time, the Titans ripped into the Rams faster than it takes baseball agent Scott Boras to reject a home-team discount for Matt Holliday. Titans running back Chris Johnson made a couple of video-game moves, and even before Alex Barron could draw his first false start penalty the Rams were down 14-0.

    With starting quarterback Kyle Boller (thigh) unable to go, Null did about as well as he could under the circumstances. He was intercepted five times, with one theft returned for a pick six. Whoa, Nullie, you aren't at West Texas A&M anymore.

    This was a concussion waiting to happen. Null was the raw red meat tossed into the lion's den. But at least Null managed to walk off the field with his brain and body intact. And actually the rookie remained quite composed over the three-hour lesson. Null made plenty of mistakes, but not because he lost his cool. Null was surprisingly calm and under control.

    Which is saying something, because the beating that took place in Nashville was fierce, ugly and cruel. Fisher ran up the score by ordering a fourth-down pass (for a touchdown) with under eight minutes remaining and his team up 33-7. The TD made it 40-7, and by then the Rams were pretty much down to their last layer of dignity.

    After the smackdown, Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo spoke in quiet, barely audible tones. Frankly, I'd never seen him so down, so bummed.

    "It's hard. It's hard. It's hard," Spagnuolo said. "But I'll bounce back. And I don't worry about that question because I know the guys in the locker room will do the same."

    Bounce back from what?

    And to what?

    As a coach who preaches the Dick Vermeil philosophy of positive thinking, Spags seemed to be drained of all optimism. The Titans outgained the Rams 446-240, but in reality it was worse than that; 51 of the visitors' yards came on a fake punt. What, is clever special teams coach Tom McMahon trying to take over coordinator Pat Shurmur's Murmur offense?

    On top of this humiliating loss, Spagnuolo had to do something he hated: bench bad-boy right guard Richie Incognito, the unredeemable knucklehead who was flagged for two personal foul penalties in the first half.

    Both infractions came with Null moving the offense and getting into a rhythm; Incognito's penalties put the rookie in desperate passing situations. It was an incredibly selfish and dumb thing to do to a rookie quarterback. Incognito should know better, of course, but maybe he's confused. After all, the Rams continue to accommodate this clown show.

    Any self-respecting organization with high standards and a code of conduct would boot Incognito out of Rams Park. Heck, even Vermeil knew when it was time to drop the sympathetic Father Flanagan routine with Lawrence Phillips.

    Will Spags and GM Billy Devaney ever learn? If you're going to lose, why do it with this guy? I'm sorry, but where does Incognito fit among Spagnuolo's "Four Pillars" of virtue?

    Then again, we're talking about the Rams here. Horrible judgment in evaluating a player's talent and character is the reason they're in such wretched shape in the first place.

    How much lower can the Rams go?

    Is this finally the bottom?

    Or are the Rams still spiraling?

    I'd like to read Steven Jackson's mind. The Rams running back ó mauled every step of the way for his 47 yards on 19 carries ó paused and took nine seconds to answer one question when he stood before reporters after the 40-point loss. SJ39 wanted to snap but restrained himself.

    "Instead of me embarrassing myself and my family, I'm just going to say I'm tired," Jackson said. "I'm just tired."

    Tired of the losing?

    Tired of playing with a stiff, sore back for a lost cause?

    Tired of getting beaten up every week?

    "I'm tired. You fill in the blanks," Jackson said. "However you want to write the article, however you want to say it, I'm just tired."

    Aren't we all, Steven.

    Aren't we all.
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: Have the Rams bottomed out?

    Originally posted by eldfan View Post
    the Chicago Cubs since 1908, Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn,
    I stopped reading when he compared the cubs to the battle of little big horn.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Have the Rams bottomed out?

      Another harsh, but true article...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Have the Rams bottomed out?

        Rams are bottomed out. That 2010 roster compilation by Infinity shows there is only one way to go, up. Really this was Spags first year and in the draft we will get what we need defensively. As for offense, as ugly as it looked this year more time together and a few key trades we will be decent. As I observed our offensive line and its protection of Null, Bulger will be fine for now. Our run blocking has to get better if we're are going to have success with SJax. He has to get some movement on the line to pose a half decent threat to open up our passing game. HEADS UP THE WORST IS BEHIND US.
        LA RAMMER

        It's Jim not Chris
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Have the Rams bottomed out?

          Steven Jackson = Earl Cambell , poor guy, its almost sad to see such a talant being forced to carry an entire team. We should trade him for his sake and the draft picks will help us more in the long run than his SHORT career will.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Have the Rams bottomed out?

            Where is there left to go? We have 1 victory this year and that was aided greatly by a fake punt. So, we are one trick play away from being 0-12. Not much further to go.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Have the Rams bottomed out?

              Actually....NO, the RAMS have not bottomed out.

              3-13 = been there done that (2007)
              2-14 = been there done that (2008)
              1-?? = almost there but remains to be seen. (2009)
              0-16 = this is the bottom

              C'mon RAMS!!!!!!!
              sigpic :ram::helmet:

              Comment

              Related Topics

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              • BM_Face
                Null not discouraged
                by BM_Face
                BY JIM THOMAS
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                12/15/2009

                Five interceptions or not, Keith Null wants to get back on the horse.

                "Yeah, I would love to get out and play again," Null said Monday in his west Texas drawl. "The more experience I get, the better."

                He just might get another chance. For the final three games of this season, it's either Kyle Boller or Null at quarterback. That's because Marc Bulger is still on crutches three weeks after he was diagnosed with a fractured shin bone.

                Bulger underwent a followup MRI exam Friday. According to Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, the exam "showed that (the fracture) was healing, that the swelling was down. It's not completely healed. He still has a little pain there, so (doctors) want him to stay on the crutches."

                Bulger did not accompany the team to Nashville, Tenn., or Chicago because medical officials want him to stay off his feet as much as possible and avoid putting weight on the leg. So it's all but certain that Bulger is finished for the season. It's just a matter of whether the team wants to put him on the injured reserve list.

                As for Boller, a last-minute scratch against the Tennessee Titans because of a thigh injury, there's no guarantee at this point he will be healthy enough to play Sunday against Houston.

                Does Boller start if he is?

                "I would tend to lean that way," Spagnuolo said. "But I'm not going to commit to that 100 percent. Kyle's been a competitor for us. If he's healthy, I think he can help us win a football game."

                The Rams have won only one of their past 23 football games dating back to October 2008. Sunday's 47-7 shellacking at LP Field in Nashville was among the most lopsided losses in franchise history ó the fourth-worst margin of defeat.

                Null had a rhythm going early against Tennessee. But four early penalties by the offensive line, including two personal fouls against right guard Richie Incognito, made a tough situation worse for a rookie quarterback playing in his first NFL regular-season game.

                At least Null could joke Monday about his debut. After reviewing game film, he was asked what he did well.

                "Got in and out of the huddle," he said. "Called the plays right. Directed traffic. Those things that you could easily mess up on in your first start, I did well. I made some good throws. Good reads. I threw the ball to the right read most of the time. I had a lot of completions."

                Then came the punch line.

                "If you count the interceptions, even more completions," Null said, drawing laughter from the media at Rams Park.

                Spagnuolo is a firm believer in silver linings, and one of them Sunday was Null's poise and composure. Null didn't get dispirited. He didn't panic. And he kept...
                -12-15-2009, 09:52 AM
              • eldfan
                How do you judge a Ram?
                by eldfan
                How do you judge a Ram?
                By Andy Dapron

                Well, Keith Nullís debut as a starting quarterback certainly went well. Now that weíve all watched Null humiliate himself and the Rams with his one-touchdown, five-interception performance in a 47-7 drubbing at the hands of the Tennessee Titans Sunday, I hope everybody can stop clamoring to see him and realize that he justÖ

                Just kidding. Iím just trying to stir people up (because, after all, I donít think people are riled up enough about the state of the Rams these days). Truth be told, I thought Null acquitted himself pretty well Sunday. No, his numbers (27 of 43 passing, 157 yards, 1 TD, 5 INT, 37.8 QB rating) arenít going to cause anyone to hail him as ďThe AnswerĒ to the Ramsí lingering question at quarterback. However, his mentality seemed right. He stayed calm in the pocket. He wasnít afraid to take shots deep when they were called for (which still wasnít that often, but given the circumstances yesterday, thatís understandable). He never looked rattled or overwhelmed, and despite getting knocked down repeatedly, he kept getting back up. He kept fighting. Thatís about as much as you could ask from the guy.

                Besides, Null had the deck stacked against him in just about every conceivable way against the Titans. To begin with, Nullís background hasnít exactly positioned him to make a big rookie splash in the NFL. He comes from the football factory that is West Texas A&M. He ran a spread offense there, which is notorious for being nowhere near a pro-style offense. As if being a rookie third string quarterback from a small school wasnít enough, Null had to go on the shortest of notice. He discovered that he was the starter during pregame warmups, when presumptive starter Kyle Boller declared himself insufficiently healed from a deep thigh bruise to play. He had to match up against a Tennessee defense that stakes its entire reputation on punching people in the mouth, and was desperate to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

                Worst of all for Null, the offense he was asked to lead was the Ramsí offense. This offense was inept by nearly every measure long before Null was asked to try and run it.

                Actually, if anything struck me yesterday, it was how impossible it really is to get a read on Null, or, for that matter, any player or coach on this team. Thereís a reason football is known as the the ultimate team sport. All the best teams (think Colts, Saints, Patriots, or even the Rams of a decade ago) have players who achieve a kind of synergy with each other. Each of them does their jobs well, and they can count on their teammates to do their jobs well, too. Good teams have 11 players in the right place at the right time.

                When one or two players find themselves overmatched, or out of position, wellÖ think of a string of Christmas tree lights: one light goes out, and the whole strand goes out.

                ...
                -12-14-2009, 07:48 PM
              • eldfan
                More pain, small gain
                by eldfan
                More pain, small gain
                By Jim Thomas
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                12/21/2009

                Steve Spagnuolo wasn't going to tip his hand Sunday afternoon, not 20 minutes after loss No. 13 of his rookie head-coaching campaign. But it sure looks like it's Keith Null's football for what remains of this abysmal 2009 Rams season.

                Compared to his five-interception debut last week in Tennessee, Null made significant progress in his second NFL start. Not enough to avoid a 16-13 loss to Houston at the Edward Jones Dome, a loss that was a franchise-record 13th in a row at home.

                But enough to have the Rams flirting with that elusive second victory until the bitter end.

                "It was a lot different," Null said. "It seemed like things slowed down ... a lot more than it did last week."

                Null experienced some center-quarterback exchange problems, one of which led to a lost fumble.

                "I was a little too anxious out there at first, pulling out a little too quickly on the center and not getting the snaps," Null said.

                And there were some throws he'd like to have back, most notably a third-quarter

                interception that set up Houston's lone touchdown. But overall, there was definitely growth shown by the sixth-round draft pick from West Texas A&M.

                "He had some nice throws in there, and stands up big in the pocket and can throw the football," Spagnuolo said. "So I think so."

                Null completed 18 of 27 for 173 yards, throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola late in the second quarter to give the Rams a 10-6 halftime lead. Other than a short-lived 3-0 lead Nov. 22 against Arizona, it marked the Rams' first lead in a game since their one and only victory of the year, seven weeks ago in Detroit.

                If anything, St. Louis had appeared ripe for a pummeling following a tumultuous week at Rams Park. On Tuesday, starting right guard Richie Incognito was cut. On Thursday, the team took the nearly unprecedented act of canceling practice because of confirmed cases of swine flu.

                Nonetheless, the Rams went wire to wire with a Houston team (7-7) battling to stay in the wild-card race in the AFC.

                "After everything we went through this week, and being a little short-handed with injuries and what-not, guys were out there battling," Spagnuolo said. "I just asked them to play each play for each other, and I thought they did that. We fell a little bit short."

                The Rams have been involved in seven "one-possession" contests this season, where one score either wins it or sends the game into overtime. They are now 1-6 in such contests.

                "As a team, we have to learn how to put these close ones away," said running back Steven Jackson, who fought his way through back problems and illness...
                -12-21-2009, 07:12 AM
              • eldfan
                Spags Is Losing Credibility
                by eldfan
                Spags Is Losing Credibility
                By Bernie Miklasz
                Email this Share this Print this Digg Yahoo! Del.icio.us Facebook Reddit Drudge Google Fark Stumble It!
                Hope you had a good weekend.

                1. Incognito is Hurting Spagnuoloís Cred: I like Steve Spagnuolo. I want to see him succeed as the Rams head coach. Rookie coaches arenít going to be finished products and I understand that. I also have to remind myself (and others) that Spagnuolo walked into the worst situation in the NFL. He walked into the ruins of the previous regime. Again, I factor all of this in. I try to be fair. But Spagnuolo loses me on this Richie Incognito business.

                Yes, Spags did bench Incognito yesterday after the hothead RG drew a second 15-yard penalty for head-butting a Titans player. And thatís good. He also barked at #68 on the sideline. Thatís good. But it isnít enough. And how many chances will Spagnuolo give Incognito? Hereís the deal: Spagnuolo stood by Incognito early this season when Incognito pulled the same kind of stuff at Seattle. Spagnuolo took the hit from fans and media by giving Incognito another chance and by, in so many words, defending him. And how did Incognito repay Spags for that? Well, he basically head-butted Spagnuolo in Nashville. Incognito not only disrespected the game and embarrassed the franchise, he not only put a rookie quarterback in a bad position (with the penalties), but he disrespected a coach who had sided with him, a coach who faithfully stood by him earlier when the town was in an uproar.

                If Incognito canít show more loyalty to Spagnuolo than that, then what does this say about his character? Why would Spagnuolo (and GM Billy Devaney) believe they can win with with this guy? And doesnít the coach have a responsibility to the other players? Incognitoís penalties have a negative impact on the offense ó and thatís especially true of Sundayís game, when the Rams had a rookie QB at the helm.

                Because of Incognito, Spagnuolo comes across as a weak guy who can be taken advantage of by players. Spagnuolo wouldnít even address the situation after the game yesterday. He refused to explain himself on Incognito. Itís as if the coach didnít want to hurt Richieís feelings or embarrass him. Spagnuolo also said ó twice ó that he wanted to talk about the team instead of Incognito. Yo, coach! Incognito is part of the team. Heís a starting player. A benching is team business. Itís a public move. It isnít a secret. It isnít an internal affair. So I think the fans deserve some sort of explanation. I know Spagnuolo is a playersí coach. But at some point he needs to let the customers know that certain conduct is unacceptable. And there is nothing wrong with coming out after a game and stating that publicly: ďWhat Incognito did today was unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it. Period.Ē Thatís all the coach had to say. Instead, he mumbled something about wanting to help Incognito....
                -12-14-2009, 07:38 PM
              • r8rh8rmike
                A Rams Game Worth Seeing
                by r8rh8rmike
                12.22.2009 3:42 pm
                A Rams game worth seeing
                By Andy Dapron


                Once again, I joined the vast majority of Rams Nation on Sunday that was unable to make it to the Edward Jones Dome to watch the Rams take on the Houston Texans, and that couldnít follow them on TV either, thanks to the local television blackout. Just like three weeks ago, when the Seattle Seahawks swooped in to massacre the Rams in St. Louis, my only practical option for following the Rams was my radio.

                Unlike three weeks ago, I was actually disappointed that I wasnít able to witness this game with my eyes.

                Before I go any further, let me say that I realize that continually saying ďAlmost!Ē like itís something to be proud of can get tiresome, especially when the Rams have ďalmostĒ won about half a dozen times, compared to only one actual win. No amount of almosts can substitute for actual wins, but hey, when youíre starving, that half-eaten, week-old bagel can start looking pretty tasty.

                So, even though the Rams ultimately fell to Houston 16-13, losing for what feels like the zillionth time in a-zillion-and-one tries, this game did get me excited, and not just because the Rams *almost* pulled it out. Among the things I would have enjoyed seeing:

                ēSteven Jackson turn in another gritty performance. Okay, so it actually is making me nuts seeing our hands-down, undisputed best player continue to be exposed when I know heís battling something as serious as a back injury, and the Rams arenít playing for anything more than personal satisfaction. At the same time, those dismal circumstances are what make his gutsy (and still usually productive) performances over the past few weeks downright inspiring. His 82 yards rushing and 41 yards receiving led the team in both categories.

                Iím reluctant to highlight anything other than Jacksonís work ethic and dedication to the Rams, since thatís whatís really setting him apart as a leader on this team, but I canít overlook the way he stood his ground to Texans safety Bernard Pollard. In the fourth quarter, Jackson was blocking a blitzing Pollard on a pass play. Pollard threw a punch. Jackson lost his helmet, and apparently sustained a bloody lip and a bruised face, but he didnít back down. I point that out, not because I want to see players fighting (Richie Incognito doesnít work here anymore), but because I think itís indicative of the fire in Jacksonís heart ó a fire that hopefully will spread among the Rams as Jacksonís time here progresses. In a season where Jackson has every reason and excuse to pack it in, he obviously hasnít.

                ēA stellar performance by WR/KR Danny Amendola. The former Texas Tech standout nabbed his first touchdown in the big leagues Sunday, all the more notable because it was the Ramsí only touchdown on the day. However, it was as a return man that Amendola really made his mark. He amassed 159 yards on five kick...
                -12-22-2009, 07:20 PM
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