I’m a patient man, especially as a sports fan. But I’m also a realist, and sometimes the rope I provide with benefit of the doubt gets short, and eventually disappears.
I’m not there yet with the Rams, but I’m getting close. Billy Devaney was named General Manager at the end of the 2008 season, and hired Steve Spagnuolo about a month later.
At the same time Devaney and Spagnuolo took over the Rams, Martin Mayhew was hired as the General Manager in Detroit and hired Jim Schwartz as coach, Mark Dominick and Raheem Morris were hired in Tampa Bay, and Scott Pioli and Todd Haley took over in Kansas City.
Here we are two weeks into the 2010 season, and I see those teams improving, and things I don’t like from the Rams.
I see Detroit with a backup quarterback having a game stolen from them in Chicago and rallying from behind with Shaun Hill at the controls to score 32 in a close loss to Philadelphia. The Lions showed aggressiveness in trading up to get Jahvid Best, a running back the Rams coveted, in the draft. He scored three touchdowns against the Eagles. I see improvement from week one, piling up 444 yards of offense against Philly. I see a team doing good things and getting better. The Lions are 0-2, but should be 1-1, and there’s reason for excitement. From the time Mayhew got there, they’ve added Best, Kyle Vandenbosch, Tony Sheffler, Nate Burleson and Adrian Peterson in trade or free agent deals from other teams.
The Bucs are 2-0 to start their second year under Morris. He had a rough beginning, firing offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski during training camp last year. But he has rallied. After signing backup running back Derrick Ward last year, the Bucs realized he wasn’t the answer, and brought in young running backs LeGarrete Blount and Kregg Lumpkin as potential backups to Cadillac Williams. They’ve kept looking for that guy. The Rams continue to back up Steven Jackson, who has been hurt in each of the last three seasons, with Kenneth Darby. Morris has his team playing hard, clean football. They’ve committed just ten penalties in two games, and have won the turnover battle in both contests.
The Chiefs are also 2-0. After recognizing that his coordinators weren’t the right fit, Haley brought in Super Bowl proven Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennell during the off-season. As insurance for running back Jamal Charles, they signed 1,500 yard rusher Thomas Jones as a free agent. They’ve made draft picks count, getting impact out of the likes of Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas and Tony Moeaki and have added key veterans such as Jones, Matt Cassel and Chris Chambers from other teams.
The first four selections in Devaney’s first draft as Rams GM were held by Detroit, the Rams, Kansas City and Seattle. Detroit had a win stolen, Kansas City is 2-0, and Seattle is an improved 1-1.
Yet the Rams have added scant impact with receiver Mark Clayton being an exception. The offense remains anemic, and it doesn’t seem like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s frustrating to watch teams like Detroit, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the Jets get better and to get beat by a still awful Oakland team. I WANT to believe in the direction the Rams are headed. But when I see what other bad teams in similar situations are doing compared to our St. Louis entry, it’s hard to believe. And it’s easy to stop providing the benefit of the doubt.