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Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time

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  • Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time

    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.

    "We believe now," defensive end Chris Long said, echoing a comment I heard throughout every corner of the locker room on Sunday. "We believe we can win now. Now, as a ballplayer, you gotta believe anyway. But there's a big difference between blind faith and faith that's backed up with evidence that we can do it."

    Watching the 2010 Rams is noticeably different from the '08 and '09 Rams for a few apparent reasons.

    There are some competitive upgrades out there. They have an offensive line that can open holes and provide competent protection for the quarterback. They have a young franchise quarterback who once again proved that the job is not too overwhelming for him. They have a star running back who can burst through the line for tough yards and a greatly improved defense that is more aggressive and competent than anything we've seen around here in five or six seasons.

    So now they have enough talent on this team to be representative. But they are still a little shy on discovering the consistent ability to win football games like this. The Rams probably should have won, quite frankly. They pounded Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson with so many vicious hits from blitzing linebackers, defensive backs and stunting defensive linemen that it was amazing he was able to finish the game.

    They had interceptions that were dropped, countless receptions that hit wide open receivers in the hands and were dropped, and one sure touchdown by defensive tackle Cliff Ryan that was fumbled just before he crossed into the end zone.

    When the Rams learn to convert those missed opportunities into tangible big plays, that is when the losing stops around here and the road back to playoff contention begins.

    "I told the football team that we battled our butt off, but there are a couple of plays you have to make in a close football game like that," said Steve Spagnuolo, who obviously wasn't satisfied that his team had come close.

    "I think we're headed in the right direction, we're doing the right things," he said.

    In the near-empty locker room more than an hour after the game, Steven Jackson was one of the last men in the room. He was not quite ready to play the role of a satisfied customer either. And maybe that is another sign of why this football team is heading in the right direction. Jackson said it best. Let the fans be satisfied. Let guys like us in the media be satisfied. But he will not let any of his young teammates think that what happened Sunday was a good thing, no matter how much better it looked than the mess we've seen around here in the past.

    "Look, I can't let the rookies in this locker room think what happened was good enough," he said. "Losing is losing. I don't want my young teammates to be satisfied that we did anything today other than lose. I think we competed, but we left a lot of turnovers. We didn't capitalize on a lot of opportunities. To go forward and turn this thing around ... we have to be able to put away a team that's good like that. We have to be able to put them away. We're getting there. There are some things to be proud of in this game, but to be a true leader, I can't be satisfied with a loss."

  • #2
    Re: Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time

    So true and well spoken by everyone. Although I have to say that I dont necessarily like Burwell's tendency to be brutally honest, rubbing it in and being a real Debbie Downer with his hurtful comments, they are honestly true words. The losing WILL NOT STOP until we dont play like this, and FINISH the game.

    END OF STORY. Thats when the losing stops. When we make the plays to win the game. We have the players to do it.


    • #3
      Re: Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time

      I loved the comments Steven Jackson made. They are so true. While some of these veterans that have been around the last couple years may feel like yesterday's game was a "win," you can't have these rookies thinking it's OK to lose as long as you feel you played pretty well.

      That being said, enjoyed Burwell's article and I agree with him. It was a nice change to see a team out there that I thought could actually win the game.


      • #4
        Re: Burwell: Rams didn't look half bad this time

        very good article! thanks for posting it!


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