I called in sick today. It was easy to do, since what I do for a living allows me a certain latitude if I don't feel well. Not to mention the fact that all I have to do is roll over and hit the alarm - give it a certain middle finger gesture - then doze off. But I couldn't get back to sleep, so I was up at 5 a.m. my time, re-reading the horrors and laments in the game threads. Not the best way to start a day, is it?
There's a couple of things I can't get out of my mind, after watching last night's debacle in the Edward Jones Dome. Play calling? Sure, it has to be there in my list of "What the %$#&-s?", but it wasn't high on my thought tree. What's fighting through my flu tinged haze, is how thoroughly delusional I've been, to not think the 31 other teams in the NFL haven't been studying the Rams heading into this season. What's more, it's more than apparent they've seen something - like linemen tells, Sam's eyes laser-fixed on receivers, ect.. - that's made the Rams deepest flaws come glaringly to the surface.
That we lost to the San Francisco 49ers is tough to deal with from a fan's perspective. It really shouldn't be though. Their team - highly touted before the season began, and for good reason - had been reeling in Weeks 2 & 3. They've been making adjustments, dialing in missing parts due to injuries, and finding a source point for their offense to succeed - Frank Gore. In other words, the 49ers have adjusted to fit an unexpected paradigm, and done it quite well.
Where the Rams failed, was in adjusting to problems in the Dallas game on a short week leading up to the Thursday night contest. Some parts of the Rams' defense responded well. The linebacker corps - led by James Laurinaitis and rookie Alec Ogletree did a great job much of the night. Laurinaitis was making contact at or near the line of scrimmage, instead of waiting two or three yards back. The problem though, was there wasn't anyone behind him the team could rely on to be that ever so precious "third tier" of defenders, and Frank Gore took full advantage of it.
We as fans kind of live in a vacuum. We fail to see what other teams are doing to improve each week, and focus the Rams. Let's face it, it was rather naive to think they'd be the 49ers who got buried by the Indianapolis Colts a few days before the Thursday game. They studied Rams' players and schemes, and did a better job than Jeff Fisher's prized coaching staff. Don't get me wrong, Fisher remains "The Guy" I trust to turn the St. Louis Rams' fortunes around. His offensive and defensive coordinators? Well, not so much... Brian Schottenheimer hasn't impressed, but it isn't due to his play calling. It's as if he has no idea what the capabilities of his players truly are? It smacks eerily of a Josh McDaniels disconnect the Rams experienced not all that long ago.
The big problem is you really can't fire him. If you'll recall, one of the things Sam Bradford has suffered from most, is the whirlwind of offenses he's had thrown at him since his rookie season. Throwing Schottenheimer out now, is tantamount to saying the season is over for Bradford. While the coaching staff is chocked full of defensive minds, Jeff Fisher seems to have avoided looking at resumes of potential assistants with "Offense" in their C.V.s. Who would replace Schottenheimer? It's something to consider, eh?
When all is said and done, the Rams do have the talent to play better. They have a great coaching staff on paper, too. From this point forward, this season will be as much about the coaching staff "MacGyver-ing" their way through each game, as it is about showcasing special players like Tavon Austin.
We never considered the learning curve of the Rams coaching staff, did we?