In With the Old
After starting this season with a 0-3 record, the St. Louis Rams’ head coach Scott Linehan marched down to the local Country Kitchen Buffet in search of Trent Green. After finishing his Early Bird Special, Linehan told Green to suit up in his trusty leather helmet, metal cleats, a pair of Depend adult diapers, and told him to show that whippersnapper Marc Bulger how he won games back in his day. Increasing the Rams’ starting quarterback’s age by seven years was Linehan’s sole plan to revive their struggling offense in week 4…he will be missed. When that tactic was unsurprisingly unsuccessful, the Rams’ front office doubled down on Linehan’s strategy by firing him, and replaced him with Defensive Coordinator, Jim Haslett, who is Linehan’s elder by – you guessed it – seven years. What a bunch of wily mavericks!
Come to think of it, the Rams are very similar to the Republican Party. Like the GOP, the Rams passed up on their younger candidates and opted to nominate the older quarterback and head coach with the idea that experience alone would win the day. And, like Senator McCain, the Rams have apparently decided to suspend their campaign for the playoffs with the hope of regaining the attention of their supporters, and hopefully revive what can only be described as a doomed season. Just as the talking heads do on cable news, let’s analyze the Rams’ recent shift in strategy to get all mavericky:
Shock & Awe (not that one)
NFL coaches seem to think that when their teams hit a rough patch, a good roster shakeup will be a surefire remedy. Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought that head coaches created depth charts to ensure that they were starting the best available players at each position. Then again, maybe they’re using the documentary, Scared Straight, as a head coaching handbook and truly believe that the fear of spending a lifetime on the bench will be enough to prevent players from performing poorly. Technically speaking, the Rams’ decision to start Green over Bulger was a success, because they only lost by 17 points in week 4 – which was their smallest ass-kicking of this season. Marc Bulger also didn’t help his own cause by throwing for a measly 136 yards and leading his team to zero offensive touchdowns. Although they beat a heavily favored Redskins team on their home field, I can’t come close to thinking of it as the beginning of a Rams’ resurgence.
The Worst Show on Turf
Even after winning their first game, the Rams are still in a fierce competition with the Detroit Lions to be the absolute worst team in the entire league. For the Rams, this is obviously a complete 180° turn from their short-lived dominance at the turn of the century. That was a season where the Rams boasted the top offense, and the 4th best defense in the NFL. Currently, their performance on offense has been abysmal: 31th overall, 30th in rushing ypg, 28th in passing ypg, and 32nd in points per game. If you can believe it, their defense has been just as pathetic: 31st overall, 29th in rushing ypg, 25th in passing ypg, and 31st in points allowed per game. The Rams call your retarded offense, Detroit Lions, and raise you a shitty defense.
It Takes Two
Professional tackle football teams typically deem it wise to have a minimum of two solid wide receivers starting on offense. While the Rams have one of the best wide receivers in the history of the game in Torry Holt, they have struggled to maintain that standard after allowing Isaac Bruce to walk away and become one of the biggest surprises in the NFL thus far in the season – for a division rival. Without a double-threat at wide receiver, opposing defenses will be able to double-cover Holt in passing situations, and confidently stack the box with eight defenders in every other scenario to shut down their only alternative offense weapon, running back Steven Jackson. I understand that Bruce probably came up on the losing end of the Rams’ cost-benefit analysis, but what baffles me is the Rams’ lack of a backup plan. Replacing the 35 year-old Bruce with the 32 year-old Dane Looker makes as much sense as voting for John McCain with the hope that Sarah Palin will eventually become President. Goddamnit, I just threw up in my mouth…
As a fan of high-powered offenses, I am desperately hoping that Marc Bulger’s week of wearing a headset, and calling in the plays from the sideline, has lit a fire under his ass. More importantly, fans should also hope that Jim Haslett’s Feng Shui redecorating of the Rams’ practice facilities wasn’t just a vanity exercise, but rather an ancient Chinese secret for achieving NFL supremacy. Missouri may be considered by some as a swing state in this year’s Presidential election, but their St. Louis Rams are undoubtedly in the lose column for this year’s playoff campaign. Maybe they’ll have better luck four years from now…better make that eight.