You can take the team out of the city but you can’t take the crap out of the team. I will admit that even though I no longer follow the NFL adamantly like I once did, I still will on occasion go online to see what reporters in Los Angeles are saying about their new team; the L.A. Rams. My latest venture into their world was like a flashback to what we, St. Louis, fans have seen in recent years when the team was still here.
After the Rams most recent game, a 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins, many of the L.A. reporters were using a phrase often heard in St. Louis under former Coach Jeff Fisher. “Well the team looks better”, “They competed and were in this game”, “They are on the verge.” I want to let the reporters and all of the L.A. Rams fans (all 40,000 of them) know, this is NOT something new. This is the Rams modus operandi. They make you think they are close when in fact, they can never get over the hump.
Let’s first look back at the Redskins game this past Sunday. The Rams were coming off a 46-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts, nevermind that the Colts are maybe the worst team in the league this year. That throttling of the Colts primed the Rams and media to think that this was a new Rams team. With the first-year head coach, and quarterback whisperer Sean McVay, and defensive wizard, Wade Phillips; the Rams were ready to take L.A. and the NFL by surprise and finally join the upper echelon. The Rams were hosting the Redskins, who were coming off an ugly loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. Everyone picked the Rams to win against the Redskins and started looking ahead at a seemingly favorable schedule for the Rams. What happened? The Rams stunk it up Sunday, falling behind 13-0 before playing it safe at the end of the game and opting for a tie, which eventually allowed the Redskins to get a late game-winning touchdown. Oh and to cap it off, Goff, threw an interception on the Rams final drive to end any hopes of a dramatic Rams win.
So isolated incident right? Rams have momentum off a big win, playing at home. Hope on the horizon. Team is playing better, ready to take the next step. Nope. This is just the latest in long line of disappointments.
Don’t believe me? Well it’s time to cue, Garth and Wayne “diddly doo, diddly doo”
Let’s go back to just last year when the Rams were getting ready to begin their “Return Home” era with L.A. by facing rival and down-trodden San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. What happened? With the hopes of a new city and the league watching, the Rams lost spectacularly 28-0.
That’s okay they were nervous right? How did they react? They in fact won their next three games, see it was just nerves. They righted the ship. What’s that? Oh then after holding a 3-1 record with wins over Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Arizona the Rams lost their next 4 games and next 11 of 12 games you say? Oh, well maybe it was just a bad year.
Nope. Let’s go back to 2015, the team’s last season in St. Louis. With fans knowing the move was eminent the Rams in fact gave the fans one lasting memory. Defeating the Seahawks 34-31 in the season opener in St. Louis. What a great way to start the year! Could this be a dream season and save football in St. Louis? Nada. The Rams lost their next two but wait, they again responded and pushed their record to 4-3; the latest the Rams had been above .500 in a season since 2006 and were actually 3-0 in the NFC West for the first time since 2004. Then what did they do? They lost their next five games. The Rams weren’t even done in 2015 with the let-downs. In Week 17 the Rams were 7-8, facing the 4-11 49ers, with a chance to finish with a non-losing season for the first time since 2006. After taking a 16-10 lead into halftime the Rams did not score again, losing to the 49ers 19-16 in overtime and prolonging the franchises drought of failure.
How about in 2014? That year was a roller coaster for the Rams, putting together just one stretch of winning back to back games en route to a 6-10 campaign. But there were plenty of let-downs still. Beginning with their 34-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. The Rams had jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the Cowboys only to see the Cowboys tie the franchise record for largest comeback. The next week, against Philadelphia, the Rams fell behind 34-7 only to come roaring back and close the score to 34-28. The Rams forced a punt and drove the ball into Eagles territory with under one-minute left before stalling and turning the ball over on downs. Yet another hope dashed. Oh but the Rams would bring hope back again a few weeks later, defeating the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and actually won 5 of 7 games mid-way through the season to push their record to 6-7. But again hopes were squashed as the Rams lost their final three games of the season.
The 2013 season saw the Rams open up with a thrilling 27-24 win over Arizona only to then lose their next three games, one of three multiple game losses in a row that year. The Rams had a chance once again to finish with a non-losing record, facing Seattle in the final week of the season; only to fall 27-9 in a lackluster effort in which the Rams were penalized 12 times for 87 yards.
In 2012, Fishers’ first year, the Rams started out 3-2 before failing to win in their next five weeks. But once more at 6-6-1, the Rams had a chance to close out a season strong. And once more they showed what they are made of by losing two of their final three games including their season finale against the Seahawks. The Rams held a 7-3 lead at halftime before allowing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to give the Seahawks the lead on a 1-yard run with 1:39 on the clock. And in typical Rams fashion the team wasn’t done destroying hope. The Rams actually drove down the field on the Seahawks, reaching the 29-yard line with 53-seconds left before quarterback Sam Bradford threw three straight incompletions before closing out the game by being intercepted in the end zone.
As you can see the Rams have a long history of building up hope, only to let it slip through their hands like a football in Tavon Austin’s hands. Nothing about the Rams will change until their culture changes. And that begins at the top, with the owner Stanley Kroenke. He doesn’t care about winning. Only about his portfolio. And no matter whether you change coaches, trade up in a draft for a quarterback, give big money to a receiver, or even change cities; that is not going to change. So I am sorry L.A. Rams fans and media types don’t put your faith in the Rams, because you will be disappointed. Oh who am I kidding I am not sorry.