It’s very difficult for a coaching staff to recover from a lack of effort, and that’s what Steve Spagnuolo’s Rams staff must do if they hope to recover from their 0-6 start and their run of nine losses in 10 games. In those nine losses, the Rams have allowed 245 points and scored 88, being outscored by an average of 27-10.
On an afternoon in which six of the other 10 games played were decided by eight points or less, or one-score games, the Rams lost their fifth of six by more than that. Aside from their 17-10 loss to Washington, the Rams have lost by 18, 12, 30, 21 and now 27. On Sunday, they were down early, and you got the feeling that they were never really in the game … even when it was 14-7 Dallas. For the last couple of weeks, teams have toyed with the Rams, knowing that they can do what they want, when they want … and taking their foot off the gas.
Perhaps most discouraging is Spagnuolo’s admission that the Rams’ tackling in allowing almost 300 yards rushing by the Cowboys displayed the worst tackling that he’s seen. Every coach and player you ever ask will tell you that tackling is about effort and desire. When tackling is bad, effort and desire are lacking. Whether it’s because of the grim situation the Rams find themselves in at 0-6, or it’s because of a lack of outside motivation, this club has embarrassed itself.
On DeMarco Murray’s first-quarter, 91-yard touchdown run, he went those 91 yards untouched on a draw play. That’s completely inexcusable. The Cowboys piled up run after run, adding jaunts of 43, 19, 19, 17, 9, 9 and eight yards. This isn’t an issue of injuries. The guys that are supposed to stop the run, the defensive line, linebackers and safeties, are healthy. Spagnuolo tried to use the excuse that the cornerback injuries are causing the damage, but I don’t buy it. Isn’t the first goal to stop the run? If you’re capable of stopping the run, you do. The Rams haven’t stopped the run all season long, save for Green Bay taking it easy on St. Louis last week.
The offense is an even bigger offender. In six games, the Rams have scored a single touchdown in five, and no touchdowns in the other. They have 56 points in five games. Heck, during the Greatest Show on Turf days, those Rams scored 57 in one game! Not to ever compare that team to this one (there isn’t a single member of this offense that would play for that one), but to provide some context: This is one of the worst offenses in history. The last time a team had scored fewer than 49 points in its first five games was 1963. A lot has happened since then, but it’s safe to say the Rams have set NFL offense back 48 years.
The problems are just as bad at Mizzou. The Tigers simply aren’t equipped for big-time competition this year. While a team like Alabama can withstand the loss of its starting quarterback, a great defensive tackle and a Heisman Trophy winning tailback, Mizzou can’t. The Tigers simply haven’t been able to overcome the departure of Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith, Kevin Rutland, Carl Gettis and Andrew Gachkar, most of whom are playing in the NFL. As Mizzou moves closer to joining the SEC, they need to upgrade their recruiting so that they have depth when players leave early.
As much physical ability as James Franklin has, he isn’t prepared to be a big-time college football quarterback. And the Tigers simply don’t have the defensive ability to take on a team like Oklahoma State. This is a transition year at Mizzou. Transition years aren’t a part of the lexicon in the SEC, so Gary Pinkel and his staff better prepare for a different way of life if the conference move is made.
On a brighter note, the World Series will return to St. Louis after the Cardinals’ 4-0 loss to the Rangers in Arlington, Tex. As impressive as their Saturday night win was, they took a cue from the Rams on Sunday night and Monday. They couldn’t muster any offense against Texas starter Derek Holland, then left too many runners on base Monday night. That inconsistency isn’t something we’ve seen much of in the last month, but it reared its ugly head. With the way the pitching pairings shape up for game six and a potential game seven, the Cards will have a difficult time winning two at Busch. But they’ve had a lot of difficult times in the last two months, and they have overcome them.