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Your 2014 St. Louis Rams

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The 2014 season has been awfully difficult for St. Louis Rams Fans. With expectations higher than they had been in a decade, seemingly nothing has gone right since Sam Bradford went down. Even the most positive developments have had a negative flip side. Can the team recover?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Frustration as:

"Frustration (noun): the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something."

For the fans of the 2014 St. Louis Rams there is possibly no better way to describe the past few months.  The Rams were finally generating some media buzz, a rehabbed Sam Bradford coupled with a defense built around a dominating defensive line, they were considered darkhorse playoff contenders out of the NFC West.  The team bought into the idea of their defensive lines potential 100%, going so far as to push the Sack City moniker through social media.  Surely the Rams were going to give Zac Stacy the ball 20+ times per game, limit Bradford's throws to 25-30 per game, and rely on a stingy defense to win games and contend in the toughest division in football.

Then Sam Bradford went down in the preseason, with yet another season ending ACL injury.  No big deal, this team was going to win games with defense and a physical running game anyway right?  In the same game Trumaine Johnson went down with an injury that would keep him out for up to 8 weeks.  Then Chris Long went down during the first half of the season opening debacle, which is perhaps the single most devestating thing to happen to the Rams this season.  Long is the longest tenured Ram, and the heart and soul of the defense, not to mention one of the 5-10 best DEs in the NFL.  No worries, this is the deepest defensive line in the NFL anyway right?

Also in the Rams first game of the season, backup Shaun Hill left the game during halftime and never returned.  This thrust the undrafted Austin Davis into the QB1 role, a player that before Bradford's injury was tied for 3rd/4th on the teams QB depth chart.  All of the hope for the 2014 NFL season seemed to crash down between the first play of preseason and the final horn in week 1.  Davis went on the road in his first ever NFL start and spurred the Rams onto victory over the Buccaneers, for a moment it appeared the storm clouds may be clearing.  Davis followed up a solid start in Tampa Bay with 2 consecutive 300+ yard games, games which the Rams should/could have won.  The young QB was creating excitement among the fanbase, his gunslinger mentality was a stark contrast to an ultra conservative Bradford.  None of the fireworks have translated to wins for the Rams, and that is frustrating.

5 games into the 2014 season and there are some very alarming trends developing.  Yes we all know about the Rams pass rush, and of course the seemingly guaranteed blown coverage per game.  The less talked about trend is the one which is most frustrating.  For a team that was seemingly built to run the football and thrive on play action, the team has been very pass heavy.  Counter intuitive when you consider the starting QB is, for all intents and purposes, equivalent to a rookie when it comes to NFL experience.  Consider this, through 5 games Zac Stacy averages 12 carries per game while Austin Davis averages 37 pass attempts per game.  What about the "running back by committe" approach you say?  Well the team has run 198 passing plays to just 128 rushing attempts, or almost exactly 60% pass 40% rush.  This ratio is all the more frustrating when you take into account the 21 and 14 point leads the team built early against the Cowboys and 49ers respectively.

For Rams fans the losing isn't something new, as the team has set the bar very high over the past decade for low achievement.  No, the most frustrating part about this 2014 season may very well be the expectation things were about to change.  This was a team on the verge of being a contender, built to compete with the Elite NFL teams within their division, or so we were told.  Jeff Fisher and newly hired defensive mastermind Gregg Williams were going to ride one of the most dominating defensive fronts in the league to a playoff berth.  That is frustrating.

So what is the most frustrating aspect of the Rams 2014 season so far?  Is it the talent laden, yet error prone defense?  Is it the coaching staff and their seeming inability to get production out of their players to match potential, or perhaps their inability to get a full 60 minutes of football out of their team?  Is it the offenses inability to protect a lead, despite being built to run the football and protect a young inexperienced QB?  Is it the so close, yet so far aspect of each of the Rams 3 most recent losses?  All 3 of those games the Rams were in a position to win or tie in the closing minutes, only to throw it away (literally, more often than not).

As the Rams took over with just over one minute remaining on Monday Night Football, I cautiously hoped for a miracle.  Austin Davis just may channel his inner Kurt Warner for another minute and find Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, or Tavon Austin pulling off their best Isaac Bruce/Torry Holt impersonations.  With the GSOT legends in the house, perhaps there was time for a little more magic.  How fitting is was then, as I watched the terrible throw which resulted in a 49ers pick-6 to end the game, that the famous line from almost 20 years ago crossed my mind yet again "Same old sorry ass Rams".