The Rams are even bad at winning. Which, I suppose, is infinitely better than being good at losing - the norm de rigor for St. Louis football since 2005.
Last Wednesday, Bill Simmons of Grantland released an episode of The B.S. Report where he and the NFL Network's Mike Lombardi broke down the big winners and losers of NFL free agency. Toward the end of the conversation, Bill tossed it to Mike to wrap it up with any final thoughts, when it happened...
Mike: I absolutely love what the Rams did this short off-season. They are really flying under the radar.
Saturday night at the Edward Jones Dome I sat with a Colts fan. Since it's the preseason, we had to do something to make the game interesting, so we made quarterly bets. Q1 she had to turn around to the person directly behind her and tell him an embarrassing moment, no context allowed. Q2 she had to order drinks in sign language without saying a word.
By the end of the game, she asked me if the Rams played the Colts again this season. I told her no.
"Good. I can be a Rams fan then."
All over St. Louis people are reliving their weekends. And inevitably, the conversation will turn to sports. At which point thousands of people, like Mike Lombardi or my friend, will mention how they really like what the Rams are up to. They'll plan to keep an eye on them. They're excited for the upcoming season.
I was reticent to write a verbal fellatio piece on the Rams today for exactly this reason. The NFL hype machine is a cruel mistress. Enough influencers like a Mike Lombardi and enough average fans like my friend start getting even mildly excited about a team and expectations can get out of control. Quick.
Hell, I'm guilty as anyone.
I went into the Edward Jones Dome hoping to see some progress. I left wondering if the Week 1 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles could be a possible NFC Championship preview. Even went so far to point out the symmetry of 2011 being the 10 year anniversary of the last Eagles/Rams title tilt.
But I swallowed hard and tried to remember that Curtis Painter is not Peyton Manning, and that these guys have been practicing all of two weeks, and that no matter how hard the NFL tries to convince us that these games have any semblance of meaning... they don't. And that the Rams could wreck the next three preseason games and we'll still have no idea what Week 1 will look like.
So let's make a deal.
Right here, right now. We as a collective fan unit need to just forget everything we saw this weekend. Chalk it up as a more official looking scrimmage and not change our opinion on the Rams one bit. If they get to the quarter-pole of the season at 2-2, they'll have a pretty good shot of making a run at the NFC West. If they get into the playoffs in Spag's third year, they'll be right in line with the expectations we had when he was hired.
We will not remember that Dick Vermeil got the Rams a championship in his third season. We will not read the inevitable watch-out-for-the-Rams posts on PFT. And we're certainly not going to start talking smack in an overcompensation move built on five years of pent up frustration.
But we are.
And we will.
Can the Rams finally do us a solid and give St. Louis something to get hype about? Just typing that sentence scares the hell out of me. And probably you too.