Is that...could it be...I think it is...
a speck of light on the horizon for the Rams. Morning in Earth City it ain't, but a glimmer of hope for the Rams has finally emerged on the horizon in the wake of a coaching change and the promise of a front office restructuring upon the season's end.
Could that translate to something in the more immediate future? Well, gambling aficionados, take note, from SI.com's Inside the NFL:
Here's my theory about coaching changes during the season. The game immediately following one of those changes generally is upscale. Everyone's concentration is a bit sharper. Thus, I'll take the Rams and their new coach, Jim Haslett, getting 13 1/2 in Washington.
Well, well, well. The official odds makers have taken a more cautious approach, letting precedent guide their decision making in the smoke-filled back room where they make their decisions.
Right now, the odds on the Rams being the last NFL team to win a game this season are 3/2. The Lions have slightly better odds, 2/1, to win a game first. (Courtesy of Bodoglife.com)
Getting back to the mental thing, listen to what Haslett told NFL.com columnist Thomas George about the Rams on-field attitude through the early goings this season:
The team, if something bad happens, has not handled it very well in our games thus far. It is the mindset of a team that has lost 17 of its last 20 games. A mindset where something bad happens, the team deflates. This team needs a shot of confidence. It needs to begin to play with a little swagger. Buffalo showed that against us. Washington is playing that way. It’s more mental than anything.
Here's what George said about the Rams:
Both the Raiders and Rams are dangerous opponents this weekend.
Both coaches used bye weeks that provided extra preparation. Both have let a cleansing of sorts unfold in their locker rooms. Both have commanded the attention of their players. Both have tried to renew confidence and instill a rest-of-the-season-is-all-that-matters, 12-game mantra.
Both lead teams that for the first time this season are not dealing with a head coach/front office disconnect or a constant clock-ticking watch on when -- not if -- their head coaches would be fired.
Now, it's important to stay realistic about this; a coaching change doesn't suddenly turn a team into a Super Bowl contender. However, the point about release, catharthis and a new found enthusiasm on the field can indeed have some impact, if only a temporary one, as players improve their execution and the other mental aspects of their game...like not quitting or turning to panic when adversity strikes during a game. I guess we'll see this weekend, which maybe isn't a bad one to bet against the spread at least.