That smell is the rotting corpse of a season that was dead before even beginning. Let's assess the fallout from the worst possible start the St. Louis Rams could have had.
The roof over the dome only serves to hold in the stench of the rotting corpse.
Make no mistake; the 2011 St. Louis Rams season was dead on arrival September 11. Since then there haven't been even the faintest signs of life to warrant hope of resuscitation. Friends, for the fourth time in five years, the NFL franchise that calls St. Louis home has started a season 0-4, cementing their status as the be-all end-all for masochistic sports observers.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. We knew the schedule didn't break well for the Rams, facing the NFC East and AFC North in their non-division games. But even a 1-3 mark at the bye week wouldn't necessarily spell doom for the Rams, playing in the NFC West.
0-4 with Green Bay and New Orleans still up next month and Dallas in between? Um, yeah—you aren't making the playoffs starting 0-7.
Worse, watching the cacophony of errors that plague the Rams week in and week out gives whatever bullheaded fans still had some hope more reason to pause. Chris Koster almost has enough evidence to file charges for the state against this overpaid band of frauds on the offensive line.
It's a boondoggle.
But what the hell happened? Six suggestions on just what is going on...
1. Bad coaching. Remember when Coach Spags's biggest question mark was whether he could command an offense after building his reputation as a defensive coordinator? Well, the Rams went out and got Josh McDaniels to run the O, and paid him as well as any assistant in the league to do this job. He got a Pro Bowl running back, a budding superstar QB and an offensive line filled with high priced free agents and elite draft picks.
And St. Louis, once again, was foiled by Bill Belichick.
But McDannyboy isn't the only coach with blood on his hands. The O-Line can't block. The WRs can't catch. And the defense can't find anyone without an AARP card to play DB responsibly. Meanwhile Spags fiddles as Rome burns saying things like:
"First of all, I say this to preface it, we're not into moral victories, but I do want to share with you what I said to the football team. I said that first. But there is a lot of fight in this football team and I'm very proud to be this head football coach. And I think we can hang our hat on that and I always will."
Thanks to Tim McKernan for that quote. I think that about sums up what's going on with the coaching staff.
2. Horrid receiving. 15.2%. You know what that number is? That's the drop rate for the St. Louis Rams WRs. 1 out of every 6.5 passes that should be caught are dropped.
Have you ever been to Dick's Sporting Goods and tried on a pair of WR gloves? If not, do it. It's damn hard to drop things with those gloves on. But the Rams continue to blaze a record-setting trail of dropped balls.
What the F is going on out there?
3. Piss poor blocking. Sometimes you say things like "the QB is running for his life" and it's kind of meant figuratively. Not here. Nope. We're scared for Sam Bradford's life. 250 pound HGH'd (probably) beasts running full speed at your torso for 3 hours?
The only reason Jay Cutler can go to work every morning is because he knows at least one guy has it worse than him. A tremendous waste of money. That should be the new nickname for the O-Line.
4. Yucky talent evaluation. Billy Devaney, sir, these are your men.
Men you identified as men who would come in and beat other men at football. And so far in your tenure, we haven't seen much of that. A couple of years back, we didn't blame you because those weren't your guys. But Jason Smith? He's your guy. Justin King? Your guy. These are busts. And in a league where the difference between 4-12 and 12-4 is how many misses you have evaluating talent... well, that's not going to cut it.
5. Lackluster leadership. Sometimes as players you've just got to rise above. Forget about all the BS and do it for you. We can question McDaniels' schemes and Spags' quotes all day long. But it'd be nice for a Jason Brown to make a block. Or an Austin Pettis to catch a ball.
We're not in that locker room or practice field, so I can't say that this is the case for sure - but it feels like there are far too many Rams that have accepted their fate in 2011 and are ready to roll with whatever bad hand they're dealt.
6. Idiot fans. One quarter away from the playoffs meant that playoffs were coming for sure. At least this was the rationale I was using in prognosticating the 2011 season.
As I found out quickly... that was not smart.
Expectations were set way too high for the season and, dammit if it didn't come back to bite our butts. We aren't smart and we proved it. Instead of the playoffs, we're looking at the real dilemma of trying to figure out if Andrew Luck is a viable option in the 2012 NFL Draft.