I didn't know what to expect in the media this morning. Details? Excuses? The old blame game? The one thing I wanted to see was some accountability for the Rams massacre in Philly.
No one unit of the offense or defense or special teams caused this. It was a team effort at failure. For that reason, hearing Scott Linehan acknowledge a huge mistake and an explanation to the loyal fans, who came back after a 3 win season, of just what happened.
There was some chatter in the comments fingering Haslett and Saunders' role in the mess, and they certainly bear some of the responsibility. But the head coach is the one that makes all the disparate parts of the machine work. Like the director of a film makes sure his work is acted and lit and shot and edited according to his vision. Clearly, though, there was no vision, no game plan for yesterday, and fans deserve to know why.
It's another slow start in head coaching career that can be summed up as much by Scott Linehan. Accountability will come for the Rams head coach one way or another; my advice would be to seek it out before someone else does.
A couple of other thoughts about yesterday's "game."
- The dump off to Randy McMichael, the Rams leading receiver on the day, looks to be a good play for the Rams going forward. However, I think there's a tendency to give the Rams too much credit on the success of that play yesterday. The Eagles had no reason to break up those plays. Knowing that the short toss to the TE represented the sum total of the Rams passing game, all they had to do was create pressure at the line and let the back seven wait for McMichael to catch the pass, then tackle him. Sure, they were giving the Rams the opportunity to eak out a first down or two, but they suffocated the deeper passing game by allowing a no-win play for the offense.
- OJ Atogwe isn't that bad of a player. He's proven otherwise, and that's what makes yesterday's disaster that much harder to accept.
- Not once did the offensive line control the line of scrimmage, something they showed flashes of in the preseason games. This time around, confusion controlled them at the line of scrimmage. When the Eagles pressured or sent men, the Rams front appeared lost in a fire drill, no, they looked more like people milling around in shock after an air raid...gotta stick with this disaster theme.
- In the lone piece of good news, Leonard Little is not seriously injured.
- I just can't muster good feelings about someone being hurt; it's just not in my nature. So I wish Drew Bennett the best. That said, the Rams have an opportunity to start a new chapter, and turn his role over to WR Keenan Burton. Burton's speed alone makes him a better asset on the field than Bennett. I can't imagine Bennett on the roster next season, just eat the cost.
- Speaking of starting that new chapter, ditto for Dante Hall. The guy's had a great career, but he had definitely lost a step yesterday. I don't know if that's because of the injury he dealt with toward the end of the preseason or what, but I want to see Donnie Avery taking his place as the #3 WR and in the return game, at least on kicks.
- Because mustering just over 16 yards per return, and the Rams had plenty of opportunities to return kicks yesterday, just isn't up to sniff. Not by a long shot. How many years of poor Rams special teams will this make? Four, five?
So what will it take to get the Rams back on track? First and foremost, some leadership, real leadership. Remember when the wheels were coming off in the middle of the 2006 season and Marc Bulger, in part tired of being sacked, stood up and let his team have it? He called out everyone on their poor performance, giving the slackers in particular a venomous tounge lashing. Things improved, drastically, as the Rams played beyond their ability, even without LT Orlando Pace, down the stretch, clawing their way to 8-8 and narrowly missing the playoffs.
That's what it's going to take right now. And not just from Bulger, from other leaders and most of all from the coaches. If it's possible to salvage at least something from this season, it starts there.