At the conclusion of Week 4, the NFL season will [sadly] be one quarter of the way to it’s conclusion. The St. Louis Rams, who boast a 1-2 record, won’t be chalking up a win or loss this weekend, as they’ve been "rewarded" with a very early Week 4 bye. The fan base will look for improved results in Week 5.
The Rams have one of the toughest regular season schedules in the NFL. Regardless, the expectation is that the team is prepared for the competition. Fans, minimally, anticipate the team moving the needle in regards to posting a .500 record [or better], and one day...just one day...being in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Many, myself included, would’ve liked to have seen the Rams go 3-0 in their matchups before the bye. Not necessarily a bi-product of unbridled optimism, homerism, or pure lunacy...but out of necessity. The first three games of the season - Vikings, Buccaneers, & Cowboys - looked winnable on paper. The games that follow the bye...not so much.
And yet here we are, taking a breather during the Week 4 bye, having exited those games with a 1-2 record. The road to a .500 record [for the first time since 2006] is about to get much rockier. And we all knew it was coming; hence the dire need to come out of Week 3 with a winning record.
As you can see, things aren’t going to get any easier for the Rams any time soon. That said, this team shows up when you’d least expect them to. You might recall the victories over the Colts and Bears in 2013. Not many had the Rams pegged to win those games, yet they did, and in fine fashion.
The Rams’ season isn’t over by any stretch, but the odds are seemingly stacking up against them. Sam Bradford will play a total of ZERO regular season snaps in 2014. The team’s backup QB - Shaun Hill - has missed two and a half games with an injury of his own; forcing the team to start two consecutive games with a 3rd string QB [who just so happens to be an undrafted free agent]. The Rams' longest tenured player, and leader of the defense - DE Chris Long - is out for several more weeks.
That being said, the entire team needs to be ready, and that’s on the coaches to ensure they field a prepared group of players each Sunday. They need to draw up a game plan that works to their strengths, while also exploiting the weakness[es] of their opponents.
The Rams lost - at home - in Week 1 vs. the Vikings [34-6]. With all eyes on Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson shredded the Rams’ defense to the tune of 102 rushing yards.
In Week 2, Austin Davis stepped up for the first time in his young NFL career and lead the team to it’s first win of the season, on the road against the Bucs [19-17].
In Week 3, the team coughed up an early 21-0 lead against the Cowboys, ultimately falling 34-31 at home. It marked the second consecutive game, in as many tries, where the Rams failed to "Defend Our Turf."
So, what’s the pulse?
The Rams’ first selection [No. 2 overall] in the 2014 draft - OT/OG Greg Robinson - has essentially been a non-factor in the first three games. Third round selection [also from Auburn] Tre Mason has seen even less time. The Rams have had more sacks than any team in NFL over the past two years, yet they rank dead last in that statistical category one quarter of the way through the season.
Every coaching staff, Rams included, has to cope with matters beyond their control. It’s the preparation they’ve put in all offseason, continue to put in on a day-to-day basis, and their game-plan on Sundays that’ll decide whether this team is capable of stringing together a few wins.
Knowing what you know....and having seen what you have seen...how would you grade the Rams’ Coaching Staff at the start of the 2014 season? It all starts with Fisher, and works it’s way on down. He’s ultimately culpable for everything that has/can/will go wrong.
Editor's note: TST did this same post a year ago. 831 fans graded them an "F." 17 gave them an "A."