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  • Why A Complete Overhaul is Needed

    The soul-crushing slog of playing on a bad NFL team

    7:10 AM CT​​​​​​​
    Matt Bowen
    ESPN Staff Writer


    When a season starts to slip away, as it is for many teams around the league right now, it breaks your soul as a player. The energy level in the building dips, the attention to detail falls off, the game prep starts to feel like homework. You start looking toward the offseason, just trying to make it through the rest of the games healthy.

    I experienced it firsthand back in 2003 as a member of Steve Spurrier's Washington Redskins. After a 3-1 start that included a win over Tom Brady and the Patriots, we were talking big at the beginning of October: playoffs, Super Bowl, Pro Bowls. Hey, everyone wanted in on this thing. Jump on the train.

    But success in the NFL can be so fleeting. We lost the next four games and never recovered. From 3-1 to 5-11. Brutal.

    There's a reason coach Hue Jackson got visibly emotional while trying to describe how the Browns still haven't won a game this season. Remember, these dudes on bad football teams -- coaches, players, executives -- they're all human. And when the wheels start to loosen on a season and eventually fall off, there's nowhere to hide. The Browns are one of many teams counting down the days until the season ends. Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports
    I still remember a Sunday night game down in Miami when we blew a big lead. It was our sixth loss in seven games. The winning touchdown? The Dolphins caught us in a blitz, and I was left to make the tackle on Ricky Williams. But that didn't happen. Nope. Instead, I took a stiff-arm to the face as Williams walked in for the score. Good-bye.

    I still remember traveling to Chicago in Week 16, with Spurrier promising us an extended "Victory Monday" if we won that game -- three days off heading into the final week of the season. He threw a carrot out there for us, doing anything to buy a win. Didn't work. Paul Edinger kicked a game-winning field goal with five seconds left to beat us.

    I still remember Week 17, when we got shredded in our final home game by the Eagles. 31-7. In my opinion, Andy Reid called off the dogs in that one. He took it easy on us. Philly could've scored 40 or maybe even 50 if they wanted to.

    That Eagles team went to the NFC Championship Game. Our squad? We went home.

    Yeah, we had some injuries. But so did everyone else. That's life in the league. Talent? There was enough in our locker room to win.

    Coaching? I loved the defensive staff. And while Spurrier's stock as an NFL coach never recovered, I'm not going to blame him. No way. Sure, I didn't agree with some of the structure of his program or the style of practices we had late in the season, but Spurrier didn't get stiff-armed by Ricky or smoked by Keyshawn Johnson on a post route in a blowout loss to the Bucs. Nope. That was me.
    "Remember, these dudes on bad football teams -- coaches, players, execs -- they're all human. And when the wheels start to loosen on a season and eventually fall off, there's nowhere to hide."
    A lot of us had an idea that Spurrier wouldn't be back the next season when the calendar flipped over to December. And a lot of us were right. Owner Dan Snyder replaced Spurrier with Joe Gibbs in the offseason. And I would say uncertainty surrounding the head coach had an impact on the locker room, practice and our overall game prep as we finished out the year.

    Things just started to drag a bit. The pace of practice slowed down, the film study slipped and the game plans got lighter. We became that team sleepwalking through the daily routine. It was now "work" at the facility. That excitement of getting a fresh game plan? That's for the playoff teams, the contenders. I've experienced that excitement. And it's great.

    But we didn't have that anymore. It was gone. Just like the energy in the building. That stuff quickly evaporated over the last month and a half of the season. Now we were just football zombies throughout the week. Clock in and clock out. Take some notes, and head home.
    Game day? Yeah, we still played hard because you have to in order to survive an NFL Sunday. You go out there soft, and you'll probably end up on the cart with an injury. This game is too fast and too physical to walk around on that field like you don't care. Plus, we all knew we were basically auditioning for next season and the next head coach in Washington. Better put something good on tape, right?

    I often say that NFL seasons are fragile. And when the team breaks -- or shatters into a thousand little pieces like it did in 2003 -- you don't recover as a player. You just try to survive.


    ESPN.com NFL analyst Matt Bowen played seven seasons as a defensive back in the NFL.
    I think this article is an interesting read and really helps to hit home how a continued streak of losing starts to get ingrained into the culture of a franchise, especially from the top down. I believe that as long as Demoff, Snead and Fisher are here, nothing will change. Sure, we can bring in a new coordinator but that guy will not have enough influence or tenure to drastically turn around a franchise.

    The house needs to be turned upside down and Demoff, Snead and Fisher's toxicity need to be kicked to the curb. As long as those three are in the building, there will always be a toxic culture of losing and negativity that surrounds our Rams.

  • #2
    It is indeed a good article. It reminds us that it is easy to sit in judgment of others. The reality is that it is VERY difficult to sustain a high level of intensity and effort when things start to go sour. While one would hope professionalism would prevent anyone from completely tanking, it is human nature to let your focus slip when your season is lost. As a lifelong athlete and high school coach, I've been on both sides. It's easy to be happy when things are going well. It's when things have gone astray that your true character is revealed. The Rams are at a crossroads- make no mistake about it.

    The team has stunk for years through multiple administrations. We could cite chapter and verse as to why, but the bottom line is that this organization is lost. I think it starts with an owner that is spread so thin with his multitude of business interests that the single-minded commitment required to be consistently successful just isn't there. I'm not suggesting Stan doesn't care; I AM suggesting he needs to be A LOT MORE vested in the product that takes the field each Sunday- A product that has been substandard during his tenure as owner. You can't buy wins.

    When there is a long time pattern of failure, very element of your organization's philosophy must be examined- from ownership to front office to coaching staff to scouting. A major exercise in self-reflection must occur or you'll simply duplicate the pattern.

    Jeff Fisher and the front office have had five years- an eternity in professional football- to take the next step. It hasn't happened. They continue to spin their wheels, trip over themselves, commit foolish penalties and underachieve. The offense is as bad as its ever been. The line is still poor. We have poor wide receivers. We've had an unsettled QB situation for years. It's time for a change.

    The Dickerson nonsense is something that simply doesn't happen on the sideline of winning football teams. That it happened at all is embarrassing; that Jeff Fisher chose to be deceptive when addressing it made it worse. His excuses, his press conferences, his Hard Knocks proclamations, etc. have grown old. He's being revealed as a guy who isn't the right person to lead this franchise anymore.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well put NJ. I think you fingered the incident that is the red flag of every team that is on the verge of collapse. Throwing ice water on ED, despite his difficult nature (holding out) when he was with the team won't hide the fact that he is a HOF'er with a Ram pedigree. Jeff Fisher forgets that this team has a history in LA and older fans don't forget. Sad as it is the team needs an overhaul as the article states, ironically written by a former Ram of the Mike Martz era.

      We can go on and on how this came about, but it is here and the FO will have to deal with it. I do hope enough spirit exists in the locker room that will keep our better players from bailing out. The bad aprt is we have to deal with it as fans and we've throught this too much.

      Go Rams!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mde8352gorams View Post
        We can go on and on how this came about, but it is here and the FO will have to deal with it. I do hope enough spirit exists in the locker room that will keep our better players from bailing out. The bad aprt is we have to deal with it as fans and we've throught this too much.
        Go Rams!
        The bad thing is that if you watch the interviews with players, everyone just seems bummed/resigned. Gurley shows no energy, and a few others are visibly frustrated but have the invisible Fisher noose around their necks making them unable to speak negatively about the current affairs of the team.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
          The bad thing is that if you watch the interviews with players, everyone just seems bummed/resigned. Gurley shows no energy, and a few others are visibly frustrated but have the invisible Fisher noose around their necks making them unable to speak negatively about the current affairs of the team.
          I wonder if they can even speak negatively / air their frustrations behind the locker room doors. If they can't even do that, then their is truly no hope for the current organization.
          “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
            The bad thing is that if you watch the interviews with players, everyone just seems bummed/resigned. Gurley shows no energy, and a few others are visibly frustrated but have the invisible Fisher noose around their necks making them unable to speak negatively about the current affairs of the team.
            I'm not seeing that but I'm sure you're right. The best we can hope for is a swift changeover after the season so the attitude reverts to a positive one. We have some really good players who deserve to have their skills demonstrated on the field. If we can find the right coach to instill confidence then maybe next season won't be a dress rehearsal, but rather a playoff run. Let's hope.

            Go Rams!

            Comment


            • #7
              The whole Dickerson thing reminds me of when spags, was having them tear down pics in the hallways, firing the equipment guy...don't these guys have more important things to worry about..good coaches don't worry about that crap

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mde8352gorams View Post
                Throwing ice water on ED, despite his difficult nature (holding out) when he was with the team won't hide the fact that he is a HOF'er with a Ram pedigree.



                Go Rams!
                IMO, The Rams demise actually started with the ED situation. Prior to ED issue, this was a proud franchise well respected and with a history of winning. Since 1990, the Rams have had 23 losing season and 4 winning seasons. Even when we had the GSOT, the Rams screwed that up by breaking it up I was very excited to see new owner come in after the lady and put a winning tradition back in place. I was quite happy to get Fish. We had all of the draft picks. The future was right. But, this is the Rams. Managed to screw up that as well. The losing is as suggested by others pervasive through multiple regimes. It is in the very fabric of this organization. The only person that can truly effect change here is the owner. And his motivation seems to elsewhere.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by macrammer View Post

                  IMO, The Rams demise actually started with the ED situation. Prior to ED issue, this was a proud franchise well respected and with a history of winning. Since 1990, the Rams have had 23 losing season and 4 winning seasons. Even when we had the GSOT, the Rams screwed that up by breaking it up I was very excited to see new owner come in after the lady and put a winning tradition back in place. I was quite happy to get Fish. We had all of the draft picks. The future was right. But, this is the Rams. Managed to screw up that as well. The losing is as suggested by others pervasive through multiple regimes. It is in the very fabric of this organization. The only person that can truly effect change here is the owner. And his motivation seems to elsewhere.
                  macrammer, you are exactly right. The ED situation was the trigger for the unraveling. I became a fan in the mid-late '60's during the heyday of the Fearsome Foursome. From then through the '80's we were always in the conversation until the famous Jim Everett collapse v the ***** in a playoff game. Now we are an afterthought, which I hope will change once we make the necessary changes. We have some great players and are likely to have a pick of the litter for a coach and staff. Being in a major market doesn't hurt either as players will want to come here, assuming we hire a good coach. I almost wish the season was over so we don't have to endure more pathetic losses. But, here's to looking ahead.

                  Go Rams!

                  Comment

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                  • Rambos
                    St. Louis Rams: ...On Winning
                    by Rambos
                    By Joe Stanfill

                    typical baseball season is 162 games. Basketball runs 82 contests. Professional football teams only get 16 chances to be great. Winning in the NFL is of the utmost importance. Winning... is everything.


                    Winning is everything. Despite what our pop-culture may preach today, with the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality, no one, and I mean no one wants to be a loser. But losing is like a disease. (insert pause to recall- "The Natural") First losing happens occasionally, something we just shrug off as an inevitable part of competition; like a small cough. Slowly that cough seeps further into our lungs, becoming entrenched into our system, looking something like a three or four game losing streak. Before we know it, we are lying in bed, with our "better half-s" feeding us soup, in between our leaning over a bucket. This is the equivalent of a 2-14 season. The only cure for the disease of losing, is to reshape the way we think about winning, and to encourage a culture of winning. There are many reasons why teams end up in the toilet year after year, but none greater than the poor culture of the organization. The patron saint of football, Vince Lombardi said it best:

                    Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

                    What happened at Rams Park over the 2012 off season, and so far during this regular season, has been a changing of the guard; a shift in philosophy. Gone are the days of pats on the back, and clapping to reward mediocrity. What Jeff Fisher and his staff have brought to this team is undeniably the greatest thing to happen around the Rams organization since Rodney Harrison took out Trent Green's knee. Sure, the Rams have only won one game going into week four against the Seattle Seahawks. What this team lacks in wins so far, they make up in fight. Play back a game from this season, and then compare that tape to years past. Jeff Fisher has brought a spark to this team and an attitude that demands tough play; that demands 100% effort on every down, and it brings out the desire to win in everyone. Fisher has a handful of backup offensive and defensive linemen playing their butts off down after down, which doesn't come easy in this league. In reference to the win against the Washington Redskins week two Fisher said:

                    When youíre here, you expect to win. But these guys, they all had it deep down inside of them. We just had to bring it out of them.

                    Jeff Fisher's long time cornerback, Cortland Finnegan, who followed him from Tennessee said:

                    You know what, I think thatís just the attitude of our head coach and everything that weíre about. We want to be a physical defense, we donít want to back down or take anything from anybody....
                    -09-30-2012, 08:20 PM
                  • Guest's Avatar
                    Don't get pissed off now. You created this monster
                    by Guest
                    Carolina could have sat down in straight jackets and the rams would have done their best to score points for them. When Dr. Frankenstein created his monster he later found it revolting. We should consider ourselves Dr. Frankenstein. And the Monster we created? Mike Martz of course. The praise and accolades along with the covering up of his flaws over the past 5 years were the electricity needed to keep the monster alive. Now we are smack dab in the middle of a playoff race and like cadavers we want the monster to die. It was the talent over the past 5 years that gave us the illusion that our monster was good. Conversely the lack of talent is now the reason why we find the monster revolting. So we have failed to realize the monsters shortcomings in the past and now are blaming the lack of talent on the monster. Hopefully most will see the absurdity in this. As I have stated in the recent past, itís time we stand by our creation because if we drive a stake through him now when we still have a shot at the playoffs then we will be left with a bad monster and a bad team. Sure when the season ends we should consider doing what should have been done years ago and rid the village of the monster. Right now this monster is all we have so lets just get this thing into the playoffs....
                    -12-12-2004, 05:37 PM
                  • fearsome foursome
                    The culture of losing
                    by fearsome foursome
                    A few years ago I saw a clip of Belicheck telling his players that it was OK to celebrate after a score. That it was OK to be excited with their teammates. On the other hand you had Fisher telling his players to not get too low when they lose or too high when they win. The Rams need a culture change badly. I don't know who the best head coach candidate would be but we need someone like a Parcells that will instill a desire to win and some discipline in these players. The Rams also need to start drafting football players instead of physical talent. Look at Jason Smith, Greg Robinson, Brian Quick and others and compare them to say, a Danny Amendola. I am as low as I can get regarding the Rams. I don't think this mess can be turned around in a year. I hope I'm wrong.
                    -12-25-2016, 08:18 AM
                  • badmoforamfan
                    Fight, then fight some more.
                    by badmoforamfan
                    There just isn't any passion. I understand that the season appears to have been sabotaged, but there is the Rams leader on TV gently shaking his head.

                    Have we seen anything out of these Rams players that show us that they want to turn it around? It's like they are listening to the media's sympathetic slant on the Rams injuries and using it as their justification for giving up. Going through the motions.....Lights are on, but no one is home.

                    I never played a down in the NFL or College for that matter, but I did play in HS. I played on a team that suffered much like these Rams. We were undersized, under coached, didn't have any talent and overwhelmed most of the time. We didn't give up though. In fact we would rededicate ourselves every week in practice. We switched QB's 3 times due to injury, we started 4 different RB's and our offensive line was a joke (I was playing JV and was brought up to varsity due to injury and poor play). We didn't give up... We fought and fought. We fought with each other when we thought the other wasn't coming full speed. Eventually, we won. Not because we were the better team, but because we imposed our will and played with passion. Nothing is more gratifying than snatching victory from the jaws of adversity.

                    I know that I am making a huge leap when comparing NFL players to High School players, but when youíre talking about passion, the love of the game, there is no degree of separation.

                    Losing pisses me off. I want to see these Rams pissed. I donít want them to accept the nice little package of excuses being presented by the prognosticators.

                    Nobody wants to be associated with losing and nobody that considers themselves a competitor wants to be branded as a quitter. So, donít put your head down, donít shake your head gently. Scream into the face of the opposition!

                    My Dad used to tell me when I was a kid that if cornered into a fight that I could not win, fight, fight with everything I have and though they may beat me, they will know that I was there and went down fighting.
                    -10-02-2007, 09:43 AM
                  • RockinRam
                    Jeff Fisher Press Conference Transcript 9.13.2016
                    by RockinRam
                    And again...more wishy washy diversion tactics from Fisher. He BS's better than our current two presidential candidates. There are some golden quotes that can be found in this transcript.

                    For example:

                    Seriously...? So your opponent is set-up to specifically stop the run, which means that they're daring you to pass the ball...yet you still try to force the run game? On a defense that's LETTING you throw it? Fisher and Boras are the most inept coaches I have ever seen.



                    Full transcript below.






                    Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher


                    (Opening remarks)

                    ďYouíve heard of the 24-hour rule. If you havenít, and youíre new to this, Iíll explain to you what it is. We basically have this philosophy, and everybody does, that you get 24 hours to get this thing over with, and corrected, and done. In this case, I gave them a 22-hour rule, because we got a short week. Weíre just wrapping up with the players now at 5:00 p.m. Weíre correcting things and looking at tape, and see what happens, and then we go on; we have to move on. Everybody is sleep deprived, but thatís a part of theMonday Night game. So, the coaches have already got a good start on our next opponent. I did ask the players, just to take an extra half hourÖso maybe itís an 22.5-hour (rule), and go back and reflect; make sure that we did everything possible that we possibly could do last week. Thatís about preparation, and everything. Players are resilient, they bounce back. Theyíre excited about this challenge this coming weekend.

                    ďAs far as the game is concerned, you donít win games converting 3-of-15 on third down, You donít win games with 10 penalties, seven on defense. Not rushing the football, not scoring points, giving up too many big plays. There were some really good things in the game. Great, tremendous efforts, tremendous plays, in all three phases. Let me remind you, this is not a preseason game. This is a regular season game, and we didnít do enough to win the game. So, you learn from it and you move on. From an injury standpoint, we came through it healthy, which is encouraging. Everybody is in good shape.

                    (On what disappointed him the most about last nightís game)

                    ďIt was the constant inability to get back into the game. We had opportunities. When we were third-and-3, we called a timeout, avoided the delay of game, got the first down, and then we get the penalty. We get (RB) Todd (Gurley) has the penalty. So now, weíre back out 15 yards, and we throw the interception. We had opportunities to get back in the game; we just never capitalized on it.Ē

                    (On his thoughts regarding last night not looking like a Jeff Fisher coached team)

                    ďWe didnít. We expected to go in there and compete, and win the football game. I didnít expect to go in there and get beat 28-0. Yes, you have to go back and look at it. Offensively,...
                    -09-14-2016, 07:24 AM
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