The Rams 31-7 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday sent them spiraling to 4-7 and gave them their first four game losing streak under Coach Jeff Fisher, and their longest slide since losing the last seven games of the Steve Spagnuolo era in 2011. Since last December, the Rams have gone 4-10 over two seasons.
In three years under Fisher, the club has gone 7-8-1, 7-9 and 6-10. With the way the Rams are playing and the schedule coming up, continuing the trend to 5-11 doesn’t seem out of the question. But that’s a discussion about the future. Here are ten takeaways from Sunday…
1) In his postgame press conference, Fisher said that anyone that questions the Rams effort can “kiss my (derriere).” Thank goodness I am not going to question the Rams effort, because that sounds kind of gross.
I wish I COULD question the Rams effort though, because that would give me a good reason for their losing streak. But when Fisher says it’s all about execution, and he chose these players…that doesn’t leave much to the imagination as to what’s wrong.
If it’s not effort, and you picked the players, Coach, where am I to turn to assess blame for this lack of execution?
2) I learned a long time ago that the best teams generally have an offensive line that has guys that play together and develop continuity. The Rams have had the opposite of that this season. Unbeaten Carolina has had center Ryan Kalil miss one game, and just got Andrew Norwell back from an injury as his backup, Amini Silatolu, was placed on injured reserve. Left tackle Michael Oher, right guard Trai Turner and right tackle Mike Remmers have all started all eleven games.
The Rams hoped to have a line of Greg Robinson, Jamon Brown, Tim Barnes, Rodger Saffold and Rob Havenstein. Saffold suffered a shoulder injury in game five at Green Bay and was placed on injured reserve. Fellow guard Brown joined Saffold on IR after a broken ankle suffered against Chicago. Havenstein was injured late in that game and hasn’t played since. His replacement, Andrew Donnal, suffered a knee injury in his first game replacing Havenstein. So the Rams have had chaos up front with rookies Havenstein, Brown, Donnal and Cody Wichmann all starting games and Demetrious Rhaney making his first NFL start on Sunday. It’s impossible to have a great offense under these circumstances.
They should be better, but there are extenuating circumstances.
3) Back in the day, the Greatest Show on Turf had a quite durable offensive line. While this edition of the Rams has scored four touchdowns in the last four games…a quarter of a season…the 1999 team scored four touchdowns in four QUARTERS OF GAMES on eleven occasions, and the 2001 squad scored four touchdowns in a game ten times. That’s right; those teams scored as many or more touchdowns in many games than this one has scored in a month of games.
4) It’s frustrating to see the Rams, who should be piling up wins right now, fall apart as other teams that started slowly ascend. After starting 2-4, the Redskins now lead the NFC East at 5-6, with their only two losses in the last five games coming to the two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL. The Bears were 0-3 and 2-5, but are now 5-6. The Lions were 0-5 and then 1-7, but have won their last three. Tampa Bay started 1-3, but has gone 4-3 since. The Chiefs started 1-5 but have now won five in a row. Even with the Rams injuries (Heck, the ‘Skins haven’t had Desean Jackson, the Bears were without Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery after trading Jared Allen, the Lions turned over their coaching staff, Tampa has been without Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles for the season), you would hope there would be signs of improvement for the Rams offense, and there aren’t.
5) The Rams have already lost to Chicago, and with Detroit and Tampa Bay coming to town after Arizona, and then a trip to Seattle before the finale in San Francisco, it’s hard to find a win before that last game. Sure, the Rams are capable, but with a four game losing streak and an anemic offense, it sure doesn’t feel like a win is on the horizon.
6) We can see the once dominant defense taking on water. Robert Quinn was out again, along with Trumaine Johnson. Alec Ogletree will miss the rest of the season and Chris Long is trying to bounce back from a knee injury. With those players out or compromised and the lack of offense applying even more pressure, it stands to reason that at some point the defense is going to break.
7) On a positive note, Tavon Austin continues to be a playmaker with electrifying moves. It’s too bad for him that the team has only two really productive skill position guys in he and Todd Gurley. But Austin would be best utilized as a luxury item that gets matchups because of other playmakers on offense. When there’s only one other guy, there’s too much focus on Austin. And as we feared, the lack of a passing game allows teams to stack the box against Gurley and render him ineffective.
8) With the Rams down 17-7 in the final minute of the first half, quarterback Nick Foles ran a play from the Bengal 23 yard line. He had a wide open Austin to his right at the twenty, and a wide open Benny Cunningham to his left at the 28. Foles threw down the middle to Jared Cook, who was surrounded by three Bengals defenders. Cook deflected the ball, and it was intercepted by Reggie Nelson. With Cincinnati getting the ball to start the second half, and the Rams offense struggling to the level it is, that was pretty much the ballgame. It was a bad decision by Foles, who would have gotten a first down had he surveyed the field and thrown to either Austin or Cunningham. Even though he completed 30-of-46 passes for 228 yards, going over 200 for the first time since the opener, three interceptions made it a bad day for Foles.
9) If they don’t win the rest of their games, it’ll be twelve consecutive non-winning seasons and four winning years out of 21 since the franchise relocated to St. Louis. In that same period, the Arizona Cardinals have had six winning seasons, the 49ers have had nine, and the Seahawks have had ten.
And of course since 2008, all of the Rams division mates have been to at least one Super Bowl, while the Rams haven’t even had a winning season.
10) If you want more bad news, if the draft were to be held today the Rams could choose as low as twelfth in the first round. There are six teams with worse records and five more at 4-7, but with the Rams difficult schedule, they could be the last 4-7 team to choose. We got through October without talking draft, but just couldn’t make it through November.
This should be a big week on the relocation front. Owners will meet in Dallas on Wednesday, and may set a date in January to vote on which team or teams will move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season…or may decide to push the relocation vote back even further.
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