So I’m walking out of the Edward Jones Dome after the Rams’ 19-13 win over Seattle on Sunday, enjoying the fact that this team matched last year’s win total in a quarter of the games, and the first thing someone says to me…the very first thing…is “I don’t know about running Jackson on that 3rd and 2. What did you think of that?” The guy was talking about the Rams’ last real possession (they had two kneeldown plays at the end), when they ran SJ39 for three plays to try and bleed the clock. Jackson was stopped for a two yard loss, and the Rams had to go back on defense.
Then he asked about another negative Rams play, and I felt compelled to say, and did say “you ARE happy with the win, right?” and he agreed that he was.
I hate to be rude, but we are watching a team digging out of a 15-65 morass, in which they’ve won seven games at home over five years. We shouldn’t be dwelling on the negatives after a win yet. We should be enjoying wins, reveling in them. I like to think of myself as a logical observer of the Rams. I’m not objective, I root for them and want them to win, but I AM logical.
As Coach Venturi and I wrapped up the pregame show by giving our predictions, I said I thought the Rams would score a special teams touchdown and kick four field goals, and win 19-17. I KNOW this team isn’t the Greatest Show on Turf, and I know that Jeff Fisher’s plan is to be close in the fourth quarter and hopefully win it there. And, fortunately, that’s what happened.
When a team has a challenged offensive line, a coaching staff has to work around that. When those issues are exacerbated by a limited wide receiver corps, it’s logical to assume that the offense isn’t going to score a ton of points. Fisher is a brilliant game manager, the best I’ve seen since the Rams moved to St. Louis. He and his staff develop a plan to win a game, and without gifted offensive players, the plan has to include playing great defense, running the ball, and winning the field position battle with great special teams.
The Woody Hayes approach…that only three things can happen when you throw the ball and two of them are bad…is not necessarily wrong here. I would have rather run the ball than throw an incomplete pass. I would have rather run the ball than throw an interception. I would have rather run the ball than have Sam Bradford get sacked. Sure, I would have preferred a first down, but there were too many other bad things that could have happened in that situation.
We are seeing an astutely coached football team that is instructed how to win within its limitations. Because of that, I will overlook some questionable play calls, imperfect quarterback play and even some rookie mistakes if the end result is a win. If Jackson is run on 3rd and 2 with 3:17 to go and gets stuffed, I’m OK with that if the team wins.
Do you realize that many Rams fans haven’t experienced joy in winning since 1999? After that season, expectations reached such high levels so quickly that winning became a relief rather than a celebration. Fans…myself included…nitpicked twenty point victories. And if your team is, and has been good, that’s fair. You can break down a game and be critical because winning is the norm and you want perfection.
My point is that we’re a long way from that. As Rams fans, we should revel in EVERY success. We should be happy to just win a game, and enjoy the experience that fans in the Dome experienced on Sunday afternoon.
Eventually, Jeff Fisher, Les Snead and Kevin Demoff will build this franchise to a point where fans should have extraordinary expectations, so high that we can be critical immediately after a win. We aren’t there yet. Enjoy this ride, because it doesn’t happen often. There’s plenty of time to be negative about sports. Let’s be happy that our team is CAPABLE of winning a game again.