When a team is 3-6, has lost it's starting quarterback, and has perennially underachieving, fans tend to get a little restless. For the love of all that is holy, who can blame them? As of the last few weeks, there has been more and more criticism of this coaching staff and the direction of the team, and with that in mind I wanted to point out a few bullets that I think are very important to remember.
- In Dick Vermeils first two seasons as Rams head coach, he was failing to turn around one of the leagues chronically bad football teams. He was building the team his way, and the staff around him was one that he sought out. Fans began to heavily question his ability to coach in the new NFL. Fans asked, "is the guy simply living off Super Bowl victories from times past?".
- In 2009 when the Titans started 0-6, and finished 8-8 (barely missing the playoffs), Jeff Fisher said the approach didn't change from when they were losing to when they were winning. He claims consistency was the secret.
- Across the NFL, the long tenured coaches have had time to build good teams. Many of these coaches endured losing stretches in the beginning. Guys like Gary Kubiak, Marvin Lewis, and Tom Coughlan have all had time to built high-quality teams over long stretches. The problem with building this way means that some seasons may not be as spectacular as many fans would have hoped, but results in a higher quality and more consistent product on the field.
- The Rams are not the Kansas City Chiefs or the 2011 San Fransisco 49ers. The Rams were a smoking void of talent when Jeff Fisher took over. The roster had to be completely turned over. The Chiefs and the 49ers were chocked full of talent, and were being driven into the ground by coaching. The Rams now have a coach in place that know what a winning football team looks like and is in the process of building it right now. Simply look at the talent on the field compared to two years ago.
No surprise here. Imagine, the Rams could feasibly be 5-4 right now with Kellen Clemens at quarterback. Where do you think the Rams would fall if that would have been the case?
On paper you would think the Colts would just roll over the Rams; however, this Rams team has proven the last few weeks that they won't go down easily. If the Rams can run the ball and eat up the clock, the Colts will be in some real trouble. The Chargers were able to come away with the win against the Colts by wearing out the defense and keeping Luck off the field.
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's just another penalty flag courtesy of something boneheaded that Richie Incognito pulled off. Rams fans know the trials of Incognito all to well. Nothing about the recent accusations of his alleged bullying are shocking Rams fans right now.
Jim Thomas has a good feel for what's going on at Rams park, and often these little chats provide great insight into whats going on.
To me this symbolizes a different frustration than times past. It's not a frustration of "oh, we almost got then win". It's a frustration that points to a team that feels like it should be 5-4, and has failed. A team that feels like it is underachieving and not getting the results they should be. This should be inspiring for fans who have long endured a team that probably didn't expect itself to win many games.
Who would have thought this shaky group at the start of the year would turn out to be one of the teams lone bright spots at this point? The good news is that even though many of these guys are getting older, most of them that are playing now are under contract for a few more years.
Stay Classy Rams Fans!