Next up for the Rams is filing for relocation from St. Louis to Los Angeles, after the franchise wrapped up their ninth straight losing season with a 19-16 overtime loss to a bad 49ers team Sunday in Santa Clara.
Most teams with four straight losing seasons under the same coach would be ready to announce a change at that position, but obviously this organization has more pressing issues on its mind.
At the end of the football Cardinals’ stay here in St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch ran a series of articles entitled “A Futile Franchise.” I’m here to tell you, the St. Louis Football Cardinals couldn’t compete with the St. Louis Rams in terms of futility. It’s not even close.
And with that, ten takeaways from Sunday’s loss to San Francisco, where they fired coach Jim Tomsula after they BEAT the Rams…
1) The gold standard for St. Louis football was the Greatest Show on Turf, so it’s always fun to compare the exploits of current Rams teams to them. My fun fact for the day is that the 2015 Rams offense had nine games in which they scored zero or one touchdown, giving them seven games with more than one touchdown. In 2000, Marshall Faulk’s MVP season, he played fourteen games, and had seven games HIMSELF in which he scored more than one touchdown.
The 2015 offense did have more overall TD’s than Faulk did in 2000…27 to 26.
2) The 7-9 season is Jeff Fisher’s fourth losing campaign in four seasons as Rams coach. In the Super Bowl era…and this season will bring us Super Bowl 50…only one coach has started his career with a team with four losing seasons and then received a fifth. That was David Shula with the Bengals, who had years of 5-11, 3-13, 3-13 and 7-9 from 1992-1995. After a 1-6 start in 1996, Shula was fired. As an amazing aside, the Minnesota Vikings started play in 1961, and that franchise has NEVER had four straight losing seasons. The Steelers last run of four straight losing years was an eight year run from 1964-1971. Since then, they’ve had seven losing seasons in 45 years. The Rams have had nine losing seasons in their last nine years.
3) Sunday marked the fourth time this season that the Rams went over 200 yards passing in a game. The 49ers finished the season with 2,966 yards passing and were 31st in the league in that department. The Rams had 2,574 yards through the air, 32nd in the league and nearly 400 yards shy of second-to-last. Their passer rating of 73.9 was dead last. All season long, the passing game was the Rams nemesis, and until they fix that with a different philosophy, some receivers and a quarterback, they’ll continue to have losing seasons.
4) Remarkably, with all of the turnover on the offensive line, they allowed a league-low eighteen sacks. While Nick Foles had some games early in which he was under duress despite not going down, the offensive line improved immensely over the last five games. According to Pro Football Focus, rookie right tackle Rob Havenstein was the only starting tackle in the NFL not to allow a sack all season, and guard Cody Wichmann came on strong. With Jamon Brown returning from his broken leg, the Rams should have a good nucleus up front. Rodger Saffold’s salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster as of March 11, so expect him to be released with a $3 million cap savings by then.
5) You may have seen former Pro Bowl offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley’s piece on Greg Robinson during the season. Bentley has a training facility in Scottsdale that’s utilized by many NFL offensive linemen during the off-season. I think Robinson would be well served to get in touch with him and head to Arizona for some training.
6) When considering what the defensive staff was able to accomplish despite the absence of Robert Quinn for the last half of the season, Alec Ogletree for the last three quarters of the season, and Tim McDonald, E.J. Gaines and Chris Long for varying amounts of time, they deserve kudos. The defense was terrific even with all of the injuries they incurred.
7) We often hear about too many voices being a distraction for players. Is it possible that the Rams have too many coaches? Fisher has 24 assistants, with three of those being strength coaches. Chris Weinke is the quarterbacks coach, and former NFL QB Jeff Garcia is an offensive assistant.
There are two offensive line coaches, two special teams guys, two, and perhaps three defensive backs coaches, two linebackers coaches, two defensive line coaches. I know in college we like to have a small student-to-teacher ratio. If a coaching staff is going to have to have that, they better be on exactly on the same page.
8) Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins are both headed toward free agency, and as D’Marco Farr has mentioned in The Fast Lane, both should be retained. It would make sense for the Rams to try to sign both, and if they can’t, at least sign one and franchise the other. Even with Gaines coming back, you can never have too many cornerbacks. It would be smart to keep your talent in house.
9) As it turned out, the Rams played eight games against playoff teams, winning three; two against Seattle and one at Arizona. They lost to Arizona at the Dome, and to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Green Bay. They were 5-3 at home and 2-6 on the road. Few of the peripherals that fit the profile of a playoff team were achieved by the Rams. There were some positives, like finishing 11th in turnover ratio and fifth in yards per rush. But being last in passing, 29th in scoring, last in 3rd down conversions, last in yards per game and 26th in yards per play don’t translate to making the playoffs these days.
10) If indeed this game was the last one played by the Rams representing St. Louis, the team will have had four winning seasons in 21 years here. St. Louis has stepped up with, relative to other NFL situations, a workable stadium plan, and under the circumstances fans have supported the franchise as well as could be expected. Back in 2011, Rams COO Kevin Demoff told us in The Fast Lane that “We (the Rams) want a global solution. Not just what the Rams need, but what is needed to move St. Louis forward as a region and as a city. If we’re going to have a 65,000-seat stadium downtown, let’s make sure it works for all parties involved. If it works for everybody, it should work for us.”
Well, the Stadium Task Force’s plan seems to work for the St. Louis and Missouri Governments. Demoff said in the same interview that “I think the criteria need to be what makes St. Louis a better place for our citizens, and a better place for everybody long term. As long as we use that as our guiding principle, how we can work together, how we can build something meaningful for everybody involved, then it shouldn’t really matter where it ultimately ranks (against other NFL stadiums).” Those are the words of the Rams’ representative, laying out their own principles (a personal or specific basis of conduct or management, according to Dictonary.com).
As the team approaches filing for relocation, especially if reports that they have no interest in St. Louis’ stadium plan are true, it’ll be interesting to see if they are people of their words (to hold to one’s promises). Nobody knows how it’ll turn out, but the Rams actions sure are contradictory to their words, aren’t they?