Can you honestly look at this St. Louis Rams team and say they're getting better?
I don't think you can anymore.
It was the same old story right out of the gate for the Rams, except this one started with a penalty that killed a sweet kick return from Danny Amendola, now lost for untold weeks. Then again, would that return have been possible without the hold?
After that, they came out running Steven Jackson, but then a poor pass that Keenan Burton really should have had followed by an incomplete to Randy McMichael, who clearly reminds us all that his early career success was more of an illusion created by fantasy football than anything else. Three-and-out. If the Rams could change their name - maybe when they go to London - they could be the St. Louis, er, London Three-and-outs. Crickey, guvner!
As usual the defense came out strong, even without SS James Butler...and to a lesser extent SLB David Vobora. The offense looked like it might find its groove on the second possession. They converted a two penalty 2nd-and-20 and were starting to steamroll, or as close as this bunch can get to steamrolling. And then it all came craaaashing down when they brought Gado in for a 3rd-and-1. Josh Brown missed field goal - stop me if you've heard this one before. You could have turned it off, except the defense continued to play well, that the redoubts of optimism you maybe, just maybe, had surviving in some corner of your heart where the sun hasn't been obscured by years of garbage football held out, convincing you to leave it on...
...leave it on just long enough to see a punt return get a fluky fumble touchdown. Advantage 49ers.
It's all downhill from there. The 49ers used another 14 points from turnovers to put hand the Rams their worst loss of the season, a loss that reminded everyone of the Linehan era. This roster isn't totally bereft of talent, though some positions are really hurting, but I think it might be bottom of the barrel for brains.
They've got to make some changes to get through this season with the thinnest scrap of dignity. If they don't do something, they can't legitimately ask people to pay for tickets next year, not even if they bring in a Super Star team of Jesus and Buddha and Jet Li and Herman Zoroaster.
Some changes I'd like to see, and probably won't:
- Alex Barron is done. Keep him as a backup; it might be enough to scare the crap out of him and make him take advantage if he gets an opportunity to play again, knowing that he'll be a free agent. At this point, who would sign him?
- Make Jason Smith the starting LT. Some won't agree with me on this, but he's the best OT the Rams have, and is good enough at pass blocking already to be solid on the left side. Make Adam Goldberg the guy on the right. He's fine to finish out the season with. There's already been some whispers of Jacob Bell getting time at OT; I don't believe it. Greco hasn't played much OT in the NFL, so his penalty isn't as egregious as the others. Not to excuse it. That gives the Rams their best line, and start the future right now.
- Promote Null over Boller. Bulger will be back at starting QB, as soon as he's healed. If you're going to lose, might as well get a guy who can throw a little better than one and isn't as old and banged up as the other. This will not happen. And I'm not even saying this because I think Null is the QB of the future; I just think he might be the best bet for this season.
- He might be able to pass to Donnie Avery deep. Then again...
- The Rams might be really, really bad in the WR department. I honestly think some of the play calling we're complaining about stems from a serious lack of confidence in the talent on this team. Yeah, they ran the hell out of Steven Jackson, but they have no other viable option to turn to. You can't make throws with this QB and even if you can, there's nobody to catch them. I don't see how you pass up the chance to draft a QB this year, unless Bradford has a shoulder that's making the good risk-assessors at Lloyd's of London nervous.
I'm going to go apologize to my family for not spending time with them for the past three hours. We'll have lots more post-mortem in the day ahead.