The St. Louis Rams are not going to be a good football team in 2010. Let’s get that out of the way right now. If
there is such a thing as a "bad" 1-15 in the NFL, the Rams were it.
Gaping defensive holes, a beyond lethargic passing attack, lackluster line play—you name the ailment and the Rams had it. Times 10. So progress for the most pitiful franchise in the most popular American sporting league over the past three years won’t be measured in playoff appearances and division titles; it will be more along the line of … "Hey, I think these guys scored two touchdowns in a game. ON PURPOSE!"
Since real games are still months away, everyone is optimistic about their particular team. And the Rams are no different. Sam Bradford’s arrival at Rams Park is welcome. James Laurinaitis seems to be stepping up as a defensive leader after a promising rookie year. Coach Steve Spagnuolo is confident that his sophomore coaching effort will be more polished and prepared. Hey—free rainbows and puppies for everyone!
Fortunately, for you, SB Nation wasn’t built on cotton candy and Twilight movies—we talk turkey. So here are the five biggest obstacles in the Rams' march to .500:
1. Lack of ownership. Without a doubt the biggest drama this offseason for the Rams has been the ownership issue. First, an unknown car parts manufacturer from central Illinois was announced as the presumptive owner. Then, Stan Kroenke, owner of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, decided to pull out his hidden immunity idol, send Shahid Kahn off the ownership island, and buy the Rams himself. But wait… the NFL won’t let him own the Rams because he owns two teams in Denver, but since he actually owned the Rams before, the NFL is working on ways to break their own stupid rule in the first place. Kroenke may or may not want to move the Rams back to LA.
All you need to know is this: The Rams haven’t acquired a significant free agent this spring or summer because they don’t have an owner. Who’s going to pay the dude? Established veterans aren’t volunteering to walk into this mess. The sooner Kroenke gets rubber stamped by the NFL, the better.
2. Pat Shurmur. The Rams' offensive coordinator lived up to his title in 2009, directing a run-first attack that displeased the fans. Actually, that’s an understatement. By week 10, the Edward Jones Dome Jumbotron was playing scenes from Revolutionary Road… and it was an UPGRADE.
Now he’s got shiny new toys Sam Bradford and WR Mardy Gilyard, so scoring a touchdown shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it was last season. Let’s see if he can reward Coach Spags's loyalty with some sort of offensive life.
3. Broncos, Saints & Falcons. To get to .500 in 2010, the Rams will most likely have to beat two of these teams, and definitely one of them. The good news is that the Rams don’t meet the Broncos until well after the point where all the players will have turned on Josh McDaniels, and Pat Bolen will be on the third leg of his apology tour to Broncos fans for hiring such a smug SOB.
4. Steven Jackson’s back. I’m not a doctor. Probably never will be. But every single person that’s had a bad back can do one thing extraordinarily well: piss and moan about how bad their back is. True, most of these people are 350 pound slobs who would be best served not taking Golden Corral up on their $10 buffet every night … but still. Seems to me a bad back isn’t something that is bothering an athlete one year and then all good right after a surgery.
Perhaps this won’t be an issue in 2010. If it is, though? 0-16 is a real possibility.
5. Luck. Every team in the NFL needs a little of it. Maybe it’s an easier schedule than anticipated. Could be a player breaks out from a slump or plays above his talent. Or perhaps some fortuitous bounces of the ball here or there. But whatever form it takes, the Rams haven’t had much of it in the past three seasons. In fact, they’ve had none of it.
(This is where I will NOT be mentioning the mini-camp injuries to Jason Smith or Mark Setterstrom or…)
Will the Rams bust through that .500 ceiling?
But at least this list serves a sort of primer to why they’re not getting anywhere close to back to respectability in 2010. We’ll be adding to it as the season draws closer.