Super Bowl Or Bust?
This offseason, there’s been a lot of chatter about the Los Angeles Rams building a roster to live up to a “Super Bowl or Bust” billing. While the merits of that statement are debatable (in Les we trust) for a franchise that has endured its fair share of draft day blunders and free agent whiffs, it’s welcome news that this “bust” resides alongside championship aspirations rather than eliciting league-wide chuckles.
So now that we’re good again, sometimes it’s “fun” to take a look back at the bust side of things. Call it a little late spring cleaning, or exorcising some of the demons of the past decade, but I have to admit that I spend just as much time thinking about guys that could have been than celebrating the players we’ll root for this Fall. Maybe it helps me appreciate the promise of this upcoming season more to reminisce about some of these infamous former Rams.
Without further adieu, I present to you my “All Bust Team.”
No, Sam wasn’t that bad, but a carousel of iffy OCs and injuries derailed any shot he had to live up to his draft (and contract) status. We’ll see you September 16th, Sammy!
In the inauspicious beginnings department — I was at the game where Rich Brooks benched an epically bad Steve Walsh and put Banks in on his own 2-yard-line for his first ever regular season snap. Despite the occasional pretty deep ball, Banks was a dismal NFL QB (who the Rams stuck with for far too long).
Foles was not good in a Rams uniform. Given his success in Philly last year, it’s easy to argue that Fisher’s offense was to blame, but that extension before he took a single snap wasn’t Snead’s best move.
the 1976 NFL MVP, was brought to LA in 1982 to replace the diminutive (and ineffective) Pat Haden. He played 4 games before a neck injury forced his retirement.
The #6 pick in the 1996 draft finished his NFL career with some 1300 yards rushing and 12 TDs. His troubled past mirrored a short, tumultuous career that ended with one very sad story.
With Marshall Faulk already on the roster, Mad Mike reached for this undersized University of Arizona back at the end of the first round in 2000. With an aging defense in need of a rebuild, this luxury pick was anything but.
The #50 overall pick would amass just 27 carries in his career, one marred by injuries and untimely penalties.
Neither Brian Leonard or Robert Holcombe could figure out if they were fullbacks or running backs, and both were 2nd rounders.
Given a 6-year $30M deal (when that was a lot of cabbage) after a tepid “breakout” season in Tennessee, Bennett caught 34 passes in two years, then promptly retired due to a knee injury. Scott Linehan’s deep threat acquisition was a major bust.
Picked ahead of Alshon Jeffery, the former 33rd overall pick failed to eclipse 564 yards in 5 seasons with the Rams. He had one promising season derailed by a torn rotator cuff, and was never able to live up to the “Baby TO” moniker he was (prematurely) given.
Simply not a good football player at this level. 10 TDs in 2015 showed promise, but he regressed mightily, registering just 13 catches in his final season in LA. Jet sweeps are cool and all, but that’s a ridiculously expensive decoy.
A lot of fourth-round wideuots don’t turn into All-Pros, but plenty of them haul in more than eight catches, something Gilyard failed to do. Watching Donny Avery’s Rams highlight reel doesn’t exactly quicken the pulse, either. Oh and Eric Crouch was going to be special, too.
Cook’s signing (and $35M contract) was supposed to be a big boon to Jeff Fisher’s stagnant offense. His first game as a Ram was huge, but that was as good as it got, as he’d go on to seemingly drop more balls than he caught and his reluctance for blocking was legendary.
The high second-rounder amassed just 33 catches with the Rams in three forgettable seasons.
Ok, dude is actually still in the league, so not technically a bust, but listening to announcers butcher his name then default to “Hawaii Mike” was too much.
Couldn’t catch a cold.
Arguably, Smith’s selection was worse, as the rookie wage scale wasn’t in effect. Miss on a player at number two in those days, and not only do you miss out on the on-field production, but it crushes your cap. Recency bias would lead all of us to pick G-Rob, as the can’t miss tackle from Auburn did nothing BUT miss, and then hold, on his way to the Lions. Both guys were #2 overall, both guys easily could rate as biggest bust in Rams history.
If false starts were pancake blocks, Barron would be in the hall of fame.
Brought in in consecutive offseasons to bolster the Rams running game (with high price tags), neither FA acquisition was anywhere near good. Both players would never suit up for another NFL team.
Ate his way into the doghouse, off the team, and out of the league. Though Rok remains a favorite fan punching bag, he’d be the first guy you’d call to hit the Golden Corral.
Picked #12 overall, yet only slightly less productive than Aaron Donald. The sluggish Kennedy never made much of an impact playing behind Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis. He was traded for a 6th round pick just three years later. He would finish his career with 8.5 career sacks.
Rams draft a DE at #13 and move him to DT He does nothing to distinguish himself and is traded. Reach pick, marginal production. Solid bust.
Lewis never lived up to his first round pedigree, while Hargrove and Wroten were “first round talents” with character flaws that never flashed as Rams.
Played just fine, but his signing made the Rams DL sound a lot scarier than it actually was. His half sack wasn’t exactly the Blair Witch Project.
The Rams gave the former Cowboy a $14m signing bonus and a five-year deal for 54 tackles, when he was clearly in decline. Did they watch the same tape the rest of the league did? We wanted him to remind us of London Fletcher. He didn’t.
He wasn’t completely atrocious, but you do expect more production from a first-rounder than 33 tackles. He was supposed to man the middle for a decade, and lasted just three years in St. Louis.
He had a ring, so maybe he could play, right? His signing was a flyer, but the former Patriot, Titan, and UCLA Bruin wasn’t the impact player the Rams were looking for.
Rocky McIntosh? Jamie Duncan? Todd Collins? Nah, let’s go with Alec Ogletree. He was a great guy in the clubhouse, and made some explosive plays and a ton of tackles as a Ram (and really, nothing dishonorable about Tree), but all too often he got swallowed up against the run in 2017, signaling the end of his tenure with Rams. Dead money on the books a few months after you give a guy a huge extension means it’s more than just a bad fit in a 3-4.
The #15 overall pick in 2006 started his career off with an INT and 2 sacks in his first game. And then promptly disappeared. Despite his elite speed, he rarely saw the field. He was dumped for a 7th rounder in 2009.
Smdh. $27M guaranteed for one of Fisher’s Tennessee rehash projects. Not unlike Hill, Finnegan’s first game as a Ram was exciting as he recorded a pick-6. After that, he recorded more fines than INTs.
He was paid $4.5M for three games, and beaten out by Troy Hill and Marcus Roberson. Signed in March, cut in October. Genius. His signing was compounded by the fact that we lost Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod in the same offseason.
This second-round reach – pundits had him pegged as late as the 5th -- was given to the Houston Texans in 2002 as part of the expansion draft. In 2001, he recorded three tackles.
Archuleta was too small to play like Ronnie Lott, but it sure was fun while it lasted.
This is my first piece for TST! That said, I don’t expect you to go easy on me. I’m sure you’ll have some strong opinions about some of the players on (and left off) of this list. End of the day, my goal isn’t to be negative, but to highlight just how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.
Yeah, some of these guys were complete bozos, but I had high hopes for every last one of them. That’s what being a fan is all about.