Life as a Rams fan is tough.
The specter of a dishonest owner uprooting the team from near his own backyard for greener (read: more lucrative) pastures looms over the 2015 season. The Rams haven't had a winning season since 2003 and haven't made the postseason since the year after. Sam Bradford was the 2010 offensive rookie of the year before the head coach and general manager who drafted him were fired before his ACL was twice-injured before he was traded.
It's not easy.
But every year brings hope. Such is the pact with the NFL. I will abide by your shady governance structure, your immoral deceit on the workers' compensation front regarding mental trauma and your dedication to misreading what crimes and misbehaviors ordinary people find actually dangerous and offensive versus the foibles of professional athletes in exchange for the chance at joy. The momentary joy of a win. Of an important win. Of a postseason win. Of the rare ultimate win of Super Bowl finality that ends arguments and provides certainty. That's the pact, but the pact requires that the teams, that my team actually participate.
The Rams aren't participating.
They're not actively trying to adhere to a process by which teams try to be as "good" as they can be in terms of a football product. They're not following any kind of coherent plan that extends beyond the immediate requirement to employ people to participate in 60-minute "games".
They're not making any sense
Case Keenum Named Backup QB
The Rams claimed Case Keenum off of waivers exactly one year ago today:
Rams claimed QB Case Keenum on waivers, per team official. Rams spent a lot time researching Keenum past 24 hours.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 1, 2014
"...a lot time researching Keenum past 24 hours."
This is the oxymoron of being a Rams fan. "A lot of time" in NFL circles generally doesn't occur within a 24-hour frame.
Nevertheless, the Rams needed someone with game experience having recently lost Sam Bradford to the aforementioned second ACL injury. But Keenum slid in behind Austin Davis who held the backup QB spot. Davis' intimate knowledge of Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense was too valuable of a trait to sacrifice his depth chart spot.
Now a year later, Schottenheimer is a coordinator at the University of Georgia, Keenum, signed off the Rams' practice squad back to the Texans mid-season only to be traded back to the Rams for a 2016 NFL Draft seventh-round pick, is the Rams' backup QB and Davis is fit to be cut this weekend as the fourth QB after starting seven games a season ago.
This couldn't make any less sense if you had charted it out 365 days ago.
The Offensive Line Has Two Starting Tackles And Three Questions
Reporter: Rodger, what do you think expectations for the entire line should be? I mean, obviously we're less than two weeks away from the opener and there are still some adjustments being made. What does that say or what kind of challenges does that suggest the line's going to be dealing with?
Rodger Saffold: Our biggest thing about the O-line is just being consistent.
That's Rodger Saffold, who played left tackle before playing left guard who is now moving to right guard.
The move means that Jamon Brown, a rookie who played tackle for three years at the University of Louisville and has practiced and played at right guard all preseason, will move over to left guard.
The position change echoes the 2014 preseason use of 2014 NFL Draft #2 overall pick Greg Robinson, who plugged in at guard in preparation for the season and played at LG for three games starting in week 6 before moving over to the left tackle spot for the remainder of the season. Robinson was unofficially named the Rams' 2015 starting left tackle at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
The three-man rotation at center between Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones and Demetrius Rhaney that changes each practice not based on how well any of the three are playing, but just rotating to rotate.
With injuries to Saffold and Brown, the Rams have plugged in Brandon Washington, Garrett Reynolds and Rhaney at starting guard positions.
Vanilla Is A Delicious Flavor
The refrain throughout the preseason regarding both sides' lackluster play has been the call of a "vanilla" playbook, that the Rams aren't using the complexity of their playbook in these preseason games.
This, given the results, should not be something Rams fans take with much optimism..
1.) If the Rams are employing such a "vanilla" approach, why would they have committed 29 penalties in just three games?
2.) What does that say about how well they're going to handle the threshold between acceptable physicality and penalizable play when the complexity of the action increases?
3.) Are the teams they're struggling against not also using "vanilla"-flavored versions of their playbooks/gameplans? If so, why are the Rams struggling to win at vanilla football? If not, why aren't the Rams capable of installing as much of their playbook as other teams?
4.) For a team with so many penalties and with so many miscues in the last game alone that mirrors the miscues of seasons past (Andre Johnson's touchdown on blown coverage, Kenny Britt failing to finish a route, Emory Blake failing to finish a route), why the dedication to eschewing mandatory minicamp or cancelling practices when guys look "tired"? That certainly feels like the kind of decision a team who has things sorted out makes versus one that hasn't figured things out less than two weeks to go before the regular season...
...which is the entire point.
The Slow Start Isn't The Start
The Rams don't start their regular season in week one.
It's why Fisher held a competition session between Shaun Hill and Austin Davis in week one a year ago losing to the Minnesota Vikings.
It's why Aaron Donald and Tre Mason and Greg Robinson didn't start in week one of last year.
It's why Daryl Richardson started over Zac Stacy to begin 2013.
It's why the Rams started 2012 going 3-6-1 before finishing the final six games going 4-2. It's why the 2013 Rams started 3-6 closing out with a 4-3 run. It's why last year's Rams started 2-5 with Austin Davis as their starting quarterback.
The Rams don't start their regular season in week one.
By design, they're not ready.