Monday, September 20, 2010

The Pecking Order

A sober analysis of the Rams

The Rams have opened 0-2 for a fourth straight season. Week one featured a loss to the Cardinals. Week 2 featured a loss to the Raiders. Both games were close 17-13 and 16-14 respectively.

Both opponents are now 1-1, with victories at the Rams expense. Both teams were demolished completely by their other opponents. The Raiders were systematically annihilated by the Titans 38-13. The Cards were annihilated 41-7 by the Falcons.

Now for the complex part. The opponents of the opponents are both 1-1. The Falcons destroyed the Cardinals and became a 1-1 football team. The Titans destroyed the Raiders and are now 1-1. Who did the Falcons and Titans lose to? It was the same opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are now 2-0.

Stop me if I am wrong, but the Steelers are supposed to be vulnerable and beatable team right now lacking Ben Roethlisburger, am I right? Maybe not. However, most Las Vegas experts would not put money on the Steelers were they going against top-end competition like the Colts or the Saints. They probably wouldn't bet money on the Steelers were they going against the Texans either.

The way I see it, the Steelers are a second tier team, below the elites, especially in view of the fact that they lack Roethlisburger. They may change my mind very soon. We will see.

This would make the Falcons and Titans 3rd tier, or so it seems in the early going of this 2010 season. Yet the Falcons and Titans systematically annihilated the two opponents who have defeated the Rams.

So here we have our first whiff of an NFL pecking order, or ranking tree. Guess who is at the bottom-bottom? Well... the Vikings are 0-2 also. Yep, but they are not expected to finish with a losing record. Neither are they rebuilding... yet.

Because hope springs eternal, and fans are biased to believe whatever a General Manager tells them, there were some who were all jacked up about the Rams in the 2010 NFL Season. As you well know, I was not one of them. I believe we passed on many opportunities to acquire high-impact players. I'm am talking about all-pro players like Brandon Marshall, Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, and Albert Haynesworth. In short, we did not do what we needed to do to produce a great-leap ahead.

The forces of truth would dictate that management should be honest about verities of the situation. You should try to bring down expectations, warning people that this going to be a rough year. This is only year 2 (or 3) of a comprehensive a-z rebuilding program. Tempering the enthusiasm with a little reality is the honest thing to do.

Against the forces of truth are the marketing forces. Marketing forces would remind us that the Rams were 29th in stadium attendance last season. They would remind us that the Rams are currently operating in the Red. They would remind us that the Rams just dished out 50/78 (86?) million dollar contract to Sam Bradford. They would remind us that the Rams are about to pitch a new Stadium proposal at the city fathers of St. Louis. If city fathers don't buy into it, it's time to move the franchise.

Who wins in the battle of truth v marketing? Marketing, by a knock-out. Truth goes down in flames.

So, the Rams' draft strategy in 2010 has not produced an instant-turnaround. We have not seen a great leap ahead. It has not produced a substantial change in the NFL pecking order.

We are still seeing a lot of guys rolling around on the ground defensively during enemy running plays. OH! I forgot, they were tackled by the turf monster. However, there are no holding calls when the turf monster tackles our front 7.

This would not have happened if we drafted Ndamukong Suh, kept Adam Carriker and traded for Albert Haynesworth. You know I was pissed about all of these issues. I wrote about these moves and anti-moves copiously in public forums.

Hey, I've got an idea: Let's draft a surgically repaired QB, who missed his senior season, provide spotty protection from an unproven line, poor receivers, run an outdated offense, with a bad coordinator, and let's tell the fans we are going to make a great leap forward. What do you say to that?

Great plan! Some might not buy it, but we are in a business where you just can't please everybody all the time. We have to accept that. This will work! It's sufficient for 2010.