The St. Louis Rams: Is History Being Repeated?
As a fairly new member of the Rams nation, I wanted to study up on the history of the organization. I know there are other new members and maybe they might like to read my observations. After reading several articles on the history of the franchise it struck me that history might just be repeating. You might not agree, but let's see what we have to work with...
In 1995 the brand new Trans World Dome was not ready for the start of the season. So the Rams were forced to play their first home game in St. Louis at Bush Stadium the home of the Cardinals. The games sold out as fans flocked to get a taste of the NFL, some for the very first time. They were excited because the opening game on September 3 in Green Bay left the "Packers" stunned as they fell to defeat 17-14 on their home turf.
The first game at Bush Stadium saw the Rams squeak out a 17-13 knuckle bitter against the New Orleans Saints as the Rams moved to 2-0 for the season. The next game was also a win against Carolina 31-10, followed by 34-28 defeat of Chicago back in St. Louis. The Rams were suddenly 4-0 and things were starting to look really good. Unfortunately just like the 2010 season the Rams would end up 7-9 and third in the NFC West.
1996 proved to be a very bad year for the Rams. Jerome Bettis and Shawn Gilbert were unhappy in St. Louis and were traded. The Rams drafted Lawrence Phillips from Nebraska with high hopes of him replacing Bettis but it didn't turn out very well. The beating of the Bengals in the opening home game 26-16 looked promising but looks can be deceiving. The only saving grace for this season was the Rams managing to pull from a 3-9 record by winning 3 of their last 4 games. They finished 6-10 for the year, the slide down had begun.
1997 in an attempt to right the ship, the entire coaching staff is shown the door. Guess what a group of old pro coaches come to town headed by Dick Vermeil who is returning to coaching after a 15 year lay-off. His first move is to trade up in the draft for Orlando Pace. The foundation of a strong offensive line was in place. The Rams start the first game of the year with a win, but finish the season with a terrible 5-11 record having lost 10 of 11 games in a row.
1998 saw the Rams release Lawrence Phillips because of off and on the field troubles. The Rams finish the year at a dismal 4-12 as the slide continued downward. Now with 9 losing seasons in a Row the franchise looked for answers.
1999 through trades and free agency the Rams add Marshall Faulk in a huge trade with the Colts. Trent Green is hired and the combination looks like it might just be a way to the promise land. The Rams win the first two pre-season games with impressive style but the third game leaves quarterback Green with a season ending blown out knee. Vermeil takes a chance on Kurt Warner making the talking heads predict a 10th losing season, and a coach out of his mind for bringing in Kurt. They soon are eating crow as the Rams score 100 points and winning the first 3 games of the season. The hated SF 49ers planned on showing the masses that the Rams were just lucky and not a "For Real" team.
Surprise the Rams destroy the 49ers after losing to them 9 previous times. The old 49ers get stomped 42-20, and the Rams suddenly look like someone to reckon with for the rest of the season. The Rams would not lose a game until week 7 when the Titans barely beat them by a score of 24-21. The Rams lose again to Detroit 31-17, and everyone is predicting the end of the line for the lucky Rams.
The Rams are not listening and silence the critics by winning their next 7 games in a row, and suddenly hold the best record in the NFC. Kurt Warner wins the MVP with 4,353 yards and 41 TD's. Marshall Faulk wins offensive player of the year with 2,449 total yards. The old mad man Dick Vermeil ends up being the Coach of the Year. The Rams bring a 13-3 season to the playoffs; hopes are high as a kite in Earth City.
January 16th the city of St. Louis hosts its first playoff game ever. The top two offenses of the year, Minnesota and the Rams trade blows for the whole game. The never quit and manage to win with an impressive 49-37 victory over the Vikes.
Next stop, Tampa Bay a team with the best defense the NFL had to offer that year. The Rams underrated defense rose to the occasion as the teams struggled all day. Trailing 6-5 late in the fourth quarter Warner hits Ricky Proehl for a 31 yard TD pass to give the Rams an 11-6 lead. The Bucs drive down the field and are set to score but win an instant replay call on a critical 3rd down pass. The Rams hold and become Super Bowl bound.
What Goes Around Comes Around:
I'm not going to point out all the similarities of the 1995-1999 years, but as a fan the future looks like history might repeat itself. Maybe not this year, but in the near future things are starting to fall in place just like before.
So rejoice Rams Nation, the future is so bright we need shades!
I hope you enjoyed this walk through the past as much as I did researching it. As a fairly new fan that didn't get to experience it in real time, I found it fun to dust off the cob webs of history and learn a bit more about this team.