There were a lot of moans and groans at the Edward Jones Dome on Friday night as the Rams first team defense was shredded by the Atlanta Falcons, specifically Michael Turner.
“It’s going to be a long year,” and “more of the same,” we heard.
Well, I beg to differ.
You see, Steve Spagnuolo has assembled an excellent coaching staff, and he has the third youngest roster in the NFL. While Scott Linehan’s staff was a group of nice guys, unfortunately they didn’t prompt individual players to get much better. Part of the reason for that, last year, was that Linehan had a team with thirteen players over 30…and the third oldest roster in the league. Players over 30 generally don’t improve in the NFL. Sure, Ron Bartell and O.J. Atogwe got better…but for the most part, guys like Tye Hill, Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan, Alex Barron, Steven Jackson and more didn’t improve individually, and the team didn’t get better collectively.
I would argue that we have never seen the gradual ascent of a great NFL team in St. Louis. The Cardiac Cardinals went from 4-9-1 in 1973 to 10-4 in 1974, and we all know the story of the instant turnaround of the 1999 Rams. We haven’t seen a team go from the depths and slowly build, like the Blues have.
That’s what’s going to happen with these Rams. They will get better throughout the pre-season…and be a MUCH better team at the end of the season than they are at the beginning. Each individual has a position coach that’s going to coach him to get better, and collectively this team will be a force to be reckoned with by weeks 14, 15, 16 and 17. Think 1996 Bucs, who finished 6-10 after a 1-8 start in their first year under Tony Dungy, or the 1999 Eagles, who won their last two in Andy Reid’s first season…setting the stage for an 11-5 campaign in 2000 and the sustained excellence of this decade.
One other thing the Rams have going for them: no quarterback controversy. Kyle Boller proved to us on Friday that Marc Bulger is the best guy to to serve as triggerman for the ’09 Rams. Perhaps Brock Berlin needs more snaps in the second half of the pre-season. Maybe the Rams would be as well off with him as the backup as Boller. I don’t know, but it’s worth a thought.
My advice for fans the ’09 Rams…be patient. Success is on the horizon.