Monday, August 23, 2010

The Bradford era begins now

Another screed about the Rams. I fear this will go down as just another screed about the Rams. It is like being a man standing on top of wooden post in the middle of Indian Ocean, shouting at the top of your lungs, but there is no one around for thousands of miles, and nobody is paying any attention.

I have shocking news for all Rams fans: A.J. Feeley was injured during the 2nd preseason game against Cleveland. He jacked up his thumb and his elbow on his passing arm. A defensive lineman blasted him just as he was throwing. The strange thing is that the O-Line just can't keep those QBs clean in St. Louis.

Gheez... how the hell did that happen? Gheez, I wonder why?

We still await the results of the MRI, but it took only 2 preseason games for the first significant QB injury to manifest itself in 2010. So now the Sam Bradford era begins. How long is he going to last? Not longer than 7 weeks in the initial campaign.

Folks, I am not the crazy one in the room. You are, if you think it will go longer. Have a look at the CBS Sports forums here:

"Sammy is already taking a beating"

"Bump it up for 50 sacks by midseason"

"Not many starting rookies from week 1 make all the way through"

"Starting rookies with a porous offensive line could even spell the doom for the rest of their careers, much like David Carr""

"Watching Bradford trying to survive is scarier than having Freddie Kruger on a rampage."

Folks, the objective world sees things much as I do. I knew this would happen *_before_* the draft. I knew this was the way it would play out. Any rational, honest man watching the Rams play for the past 30 years must, perforce, come to the same conclusion. I vehemently objected to selecting Sam because I knew damn well we were (and remain) utterly unprepared to receive him.

I also knew that throwing him head first into the shark tank (naked as a jay bird) would very probably result in David Carr syndrome. Call me foolish, call me irresponsible, call me a dreamer, but I just don't think you take a kid #1 to turn right around and flush his career down the crapper.

Most serious fans of the NFL, who are objectively detached from the Rams, don't think Sam is going to make it through this season. Many don't think he will make it in this league specifically because the Rams drafted him.

The cheerleaders and apologists have just one thing to say: Don't panic. Let me spell this out for you and make it perfectly clear. This is not a question of panic. It is a matter of knowing the unavoidable eventuality here.

Right all the time... Sometimes I hate being right all the time. It's a mostly a matter of hating the state of psychological denial the organization is in.

It's not a matter of being a swammy or a guru or being clairvoyant, or having psychic powers, or an astrology chart. You just have to be brutally honest with yourself. You gotta look yourself in the mirror in the morning and say "You know, Dave, you could stand to be a little more authentic and honest with yourself and other people today."

Most people already regard me as one brutally honest bastard. I still say that to myself each and every mornings.

Self deception is a hell of thing. It is worse than self pity. You are never going to make any progress in this world if you are not absolutely brutally honest with yourself about where you stand. The first step in the 12 step program is come to a full realization that you have a real problem. If you don't do that, no other steps towards recovery are possible.

Right now, I see the Rams locked in death spiral. A few years ago, we had one of the worst management situations the NFL has ever seen with VP Jay Zygmunt and GM Charlie Armey. The forces of Zygmunt, Armey, Linehan utterly destroyed the Greatest Show on Turf. Georgia dies. Now the Rams are between ownership regimes. The Rams now have three minority owners, which is to say that the Rams have no owner. In the interregnum between owners, Billy Devaney has taken command of the ship.

The Rams flush everybody in 2008-2009. We make a bunch of additional bad draft decisions. Then the Rams make a really bad decision in hiring Pat Shurmur, possibly the worst offensive coordinator currently employed in the league. In 2009 the Rams field an offense more reminiscent of the 1976-1977 Bucs than anything else. They look like keystone cops at a Chinese fire drill as they score a total of 175 points in 16 contests. That's a mere 10.9 points per game folks.

Why did that happen? You can start with the fact that the Rams has a quarterback rotation by medical triage. The least wounded guy started. All Ram quarterbacks got injured. All Ram quarterbacks missed time. By the end of the 2010 season we had a banged-up 7th rounder starting at QB. Buldger finished with a broken leg.

Given so many QB injuries over the past several years, and so many offensive line injuries, you might think that some brilliant fellow, paid millions of dollars a year to get the facts straight, might tweak on the logical inference: The offensive line requires a full-scale Marshall-Plan. When I say Marshall-Plan, I'm not talking about drafting a guy in the second round and grabbing a former undrafted free agent who has been cut by his last two teams. I'm talking about a full-scale Marshall program to rebuild the line with All-Pro and Pro Bowl talent. By that I mean guys like Alan Faneca.

Did Devaney get that right? NOPE! Devaney does the cheap and easy thing: He blames the quarterback for our offensive woes. Buldger is responsible for the Rams offensive problems. The Rams cut Bulger and draft Sam Bradford. This works well with ignorant fans. The quarterback always gets too much credit: Too much blame for a loss, and too much glory for victory. Smart fans know better than to believe this pile of crap.

Let me think... You go through one era of absolutely terrible offensive production due to (A) injured/fragile QBs and (B) a very poor offensive line. You don't fix the O-Line. You flush the toilet on one fragile QB and select a new fragile QB (who is surgically repaired already) and you expect everything to change and get better.


Buldger failed because the Rams allowed his receiver corp to dwindle down to shit, and his line to dwindle down to shit. Now you stick Sam Bradford in nearly the same pile of shit and you expect him to succeed where Buldger failed?


You cannot convince me that there is any rhyme or reason to that rebuilding program. There is not the slightest trace quantity of logic in this program. Ergo, I have no confidence in the current rebuilding program. I lost confidence in Devaney shortly after the 2010 draft finished on that Sunday evening.

Some have suggested that there is perfect rhyme and reason to this program. You just have to switch Paradigm. There is an NFL Draft philosophy known alternately as Assism or Buttism that states "A college players value in the draft is exactly equal to the number of asses he will put in the seats." There are a number of corollaries to this philosophy. Big, ugly, sweaty, dirty, smelly offensive linemen don't put any butts in the seats. The Rams found that out last year when they finished 29th in attendance.

Now drafting a QB is an entirely different proposition all-together. That will put some asses in the seats. This is a very splashy, A-List, box office, public relations move. It's something a casual (read ignorant) fan can get into and get behind. It will bring people into the stadium. It just might help with the attendance figures.

But what if this isn't a sound strategy for building a future winner? Many denounce Assism as lousy blueprint for building a quality winning program. I certainly do. What if you need big, ugly, smelly, dirty, filthy, foul, nasty offensive linemen who won't put any butts in the seats? What if that is what you really need? You better sack up your nuts, and a find enough nad to go to New York and select some offensive linemen.

There are rumors in the wind that Dick Vermeil will return as President and possibly GM of the Rams, if Mr. Kroenke should complete his acquisition of the Rams. If that happens I will fall on my face and weep tears of joy. You have no idea how much I want to see Dick Vermeil return. You have no idea how bitter I was after he left, or was pushed out, or retired, or whatever.

Until then, it is the interregnum of our discontent.

Sam, if they make me the boss, I promise you a full-scale Marshall Plan for the offensive line. I doubt that you and Steve will object to that notion.