St. Louis Rams: Another Season On The Brink

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 12: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL season opener at the Edward Jones Dome on September 12 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Rams 17-13. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Sunday changed everything. A loss this week in Oakland puts the Rams season on the brink of another disaster. It's time to start expecting more.

Sunday morning.

We were pretty fired up, no? It'd been a long time since we'd looked past Friday and Saturday night and just wanted to get to the tailgate as early as possible on Sunday morning.

A 3:15 start? Nice. Even better.

Weather? It was 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky. This, my friends, is called "it all coming together."

Judging by the large TV ratings, most of St. Louis was jacked about watching St. Louis Rams football.

Among the masses we saw a Larry Fitzgerald jersey tee burning, a makeshift Sam Bradford Jersey, a Mr. Softee vendor barreling though a tailgate lot and a guy from Connecticut that had a Rams helmet tattooed on his leg.

Hell—we even saw a LARGE line filing into the Edward Jones Dome. Seriously! I took a picture to document this very rare occasion, just in case people didn't believe that the enthusiasm for this franchise was back.

I have to admit, I'm guilty of doing exactly what I'm about to piss on. Namely the patsy comments that we all made before kickoff. Everything from "as long as Bradford survives, I'll be happy" to "I just want to see a competitive game and not waste my money". It was norm de rigueur to temper any sort of blatant excitement with a caveat that you weren't expecting  much and anything short of a complete implosion a la that horrible 38-3 opener at Philadelphia in 2008 would be worthy of a juice box and orange slice for our boys.

Days after I can simply say this: FUNK THAT.

What we saw Sunday wasn't a young team struggling to find a way to win. It wasn't a building block to better days ahead.

What it was was taking a win and turning it into a loss. Something that Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo has done 16 out of 17 times he's led a Rams team into action.

It's lazy and hack of anyone that has a forum to talk or write about pro athletes to harp on the money they make. But in this specific case I think that it's important to remember that we aren't participating in some sort of pro bono confidence-building session when we invest in this team. These men are paid handsomely to win. We pay money to see them win. And it's been almost two calendar years since we've seen what they get paid to provide. At what point do we start to expect more? When do we start holding players accountable for what is now a divisional side that is borderline historic.

The Rams snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They blew blocking on a chip-shot field goal, they fumbled a sure touchdown on the goal line after a nice turnover, they couldn't hold on to interceptions, they weren't disciplined in the two-minute offense.

They sucked when sucking a little less would have netted a W. It would have rewarded our excitement. It would have fueled our fire. But now the Rams are in danger of another lost season.

Being 1-0 and heading into Oakland to face a demoralized Raider team would have sent this town into a Rams frenzy. The Cardinals are tanking. Hockey and Mizzou football are still months away from meaning anything to the average sports fan. But the NFL? It's in our faces all week. Right now. And that win would have set up the Rams to go 2-0 and really start to get some people talking about them.

Again: in the NFL the talent differential between the best and worst isn't impossible to overcome. Improbable? Yes. But we've seen worse teams get hot and get 9 wins.

Now, though, the Rams are 0-1, and a loss to the lowly Raiders puts the Rams in a hole that is two-fold.

1) It completely drains any excitement left over from before opening day. People could just decide to wait until next year and forget about getting behind another miserable effort.

2) It makes it difficult to see where four wins out of those last 14 would come from. And asking for four wins from an NFL team is almost insulting. Yet 0-2 puts the Rams right back in the mix for a top 3 draft pick before the end of September.

We should expect more.

We need to demand more.

Making excuses and looking for a rainbow in a crap-storm isn't doing anything to make this immense feeling of disappointment go away.

I'd like to say 'believe' and recite all the platitudes that are echoing around sports talk call in lines and blogs all over the net. But at the end of the day, this sign found after the game in the concourse of the EJD says it all...

Over before it started.

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