With only three games left for the Rams, there's little value left in parsing each loss, the reasons are so similar. Since the team has switched over to evaluation mode in the hopes of starting a new chapter with the right personnel in 2009, it is worth our time to start asking questions.
Here's a few I had, with an attempt at answers, after watching another lopsided affair.
Is the randomizer picking 25% of the Rams plays?
The sight of Dane Looker passing and some bastardized version of the Wildcat (the lame Ram?) make you wonder. In truth, it's part of a personnel problem. Bulger lost his reliability, sub-par blocking, and injuries have edited Al Saunders' Tolstoy-sized playbook to read more like one of Madonna's children's books. I've said it before, a healthy Randy McMichael would be a huge help since they've been forced to go to the dump offs.
Which Pisa Tinoisamoa will show up?
There he was making beautiful, textbook tackles, moving effortlessly around the field, seeing the ball. Where was that Tinoisamoa in previous weeks? Last week he missed open field tackles and got blown away by Ronnie Brown for a TD. Against the Seahawks earlier this season Julius Jones easily swerved behind him for a 32-yard run. Maybe getting outplayed by Mr Irrelevant last week motivated him. Players like this infuriate me. Yes, I understand nobody has their A-game every day, but players at this level have to show some consistency. Injuries have buggered Pisa throughout his career, but there's been nothing indicating that's the case for Pisa at the moment.
The difference between Alex Barron and Adam Goldberg is?
More than I thought. Barron, despite his aversion to expectations, is a better run blocker than his status as a general disappointment allows us to give him credit for. If he had real talent around him - and that includes solid blocking from players not on the offensive line - I don't think he'd be a weak spot. He'll never live up to the expectations he was drafted with, but he can be an everyday, league average kind of starter. Goldberg has heart, but is no more than a decent backup with some versatility.
How much is Ron Bartell worth?
Oh how times have changed. Ron Bartell is easily the Rams best cornerback. Granted, that's a low bar to reach, but Bartell has played solid all season. Fixing the secondary for next season starts with resigning him and safety OJ Atogwe, which gives the Rams a good coverage guy and a playmaker. Adding a real shutdown corner to start with Bartell would significantly improve the backfield. Still, is Bartell worthy of a franchise tag if it comes to that (hopefully they can work something out before that)? Such a move ties his pay to the top earners at that position, is he worth it?
Is Leonard Little's career over?
Watching him walk away from that sack, the Rams only sack, clutching at his hammy was bittersweet. He's already limited to passing downs only. The answer to this question lies in his potential for recovery. The Rams have him under contract for one more season, at a relatively cost controlled rate, so if he can recover he could contribute, especially with Chris Long expected to get much better. Don't discount the impact of the team bulking up in the middle too. Still, his recovery is a big "if" for the Rams.