Besides the coming changes in the Rams front office, which ought to help with the personnel mistake and mismanagement still plaguing this franchise, some players must be called out for their play. Something has to be done; how else can Haslett get these guys to do anything for the last seven games of the season? (I know what you're thinking, "ugh. seven more games of this?") Obviously, there's no simple answer here. Benching a player here or a player there will not save the Rams. Too bad. After watching the team quit yesterday, fan temperament calls for a massive, bloody purge, guillotines and all.
I understand the point that Haslett and the coaches are obliged to play the best players in a Rams uniform, but when some of those so-called best players can't or won't live up to that description the head coach needs to find someone who at least wants to play. Right now, of course, those players have to come from the Rams roster, and that's an even bigger problem.
Some suggestions, starting with the obvious.
QB Marc Bulger - I'll say this in Bulger's defense: he hasn't had a decent line in a long, long time. The last time play in front of him offered him a reasonable chance to make things happen was 2006, even then he got sacked more than his fare share. Now, he's got to be benched.
Let me justify benching him in one of two ways; pick your rationale. First, bench him with the understanding that it's as much about giving him a chance to recoup as anything, as DiscoJer said in the post-game thread comments.
Remember when Bulger called out slackers in 2006? It worked, sort of. The o-line might as well stay home; that's how much protection they offer. I'm not seeing much in the way of leadership from Bulger this season. I know he's not a vocal guy like some and I'm not inclined to believe that only type A personalities can provide the occasional dose of good leadership. Bulger doubtlessly asks himself "why bother to be a leader for these no talent ass clowns" and makes that part of his rationale for not taking the vocal helm. I understand. We've all been in situations where the best policy was to shut it down and ride it out quietly. Of course, we hadn't just recevied a contract, slightly more than a year ago, to be the team's offensive leader. For what Bulger makes, he has to lend his voice to the cause.
I have the feeling that Bulger won't be a Ram next year, without advocating for him to stay or go. I just don't get the sense that he wants to play here anymore. Do you?
C Nick Leckey - This guy has to be on the bench next week. He's just too small to play in this league, and the 3-4 eats him up every time. Is Romberg better? Not much, but something has to be done. How can you keep sending the same problem out there after games this and expect anything to happen...or a QB to play well. What about Incognito at C and bringing in Greco at G? Incognito's play at G is nothing to be proud of this season - but I think he's generally a better run blocker than Leckey. As for his long snapping, what does it matter? The Rams can't pass anyway right now. Besides, the Rams don't have enough depth to bench all the linemen who shouldn't be playing.
TE Joel Klopfenstein - There's no way he's on the roster for '09. What's the point? And why wait? Poor blocking, terrible offense. What round did we pick him? With the middle of the line struggling, the outside lanews become even more important, and the Rams have had success running that way, particularly on the right side, in their few bright moments this season. With poor blocking from the TE, FB and WR, though, those lanes are no better than the middle of the field being tended to by Nick Leckey.
Speaking of the second round...why not give Brian Leonard one more chance by converting him to a TE for next season?
FB Dan Kreider - Linehan jettisoned FB Madison Hedgecock because the smarter than himself coach thought the Rams offense could do without a true bulldozer type guy. Hedgecock now plows open lanes for the Giants and their league-best rushing offense. Our backup runners might have had a much better shot with a bruiser like that clearing the lanes. Also, Steven Jackson's injury situation might be a little better too if he were able to focus more on running when he's got the ball than avoiding guys who should have been blocked. But I digress. Seeing the error of their ways in last season's blocking debacle, the Rams brought in the veteran Dan Kreider, last seen making Willie Parker the centerpiece of the Steelers offense. Kreider, who tore his ACL ten games into last season, isn't the same player anymore. Last week he missed a key block that led to a sack, and the Rams try to work him into a play or two in games lately to no avail. He doesn't strike me as the quitter type, but his play just doesn't make him an asset.
We haven't even touched the defense yet. So let's hear your thoughts...
I'm going to let the steam from my neck clear out a little bit, and be back with lots more later.