Words by Wes G.
“Deacon Jones used to slap the shit out of people” were my dad’s words whenever it came to the Rams.
It was 1988 when I went to Knott’s Berry Farm with my big brother and our parents. I wasn’t really one for scary rides back then so I guess the closeness to home and the lack of BIG rides made this a fun spot to hit other than our usual summer weekend trip to Disneyland. Anyway, we stopped by a photo booth to take one of those typical 80’s mock magazine cover photos. You know the ones with the costumes? Cowboys, Native Americans, suited criminals…and of course athletes. My brother grabbed a Marcus Allen uniform and as fate would have it I grabbed Eric Dickerson’s. From that day forward I was a Rams fan. Through the good and bad, ups and downs. So HELL YEA I’m excited as hell to know that my boys are coming home!
I know a lot of you may not share my same sports background, however for those of you who recently jumped on board I come to you with open arms. It doesn’t matter to me if your favorite team was different last year. I could not care less if you had all the shit to talk last season because your team beat mine, which for those of you that are new around here that don’t know, happened a lot last tear. If you are a Rams fan now you’re like family. Ramily I should say. Buuuuut some of you may not have the proper amount of team knowledge required to have an appropriate expectation for the next few seasons. I want to make sure you don’t expect surf and turf and end up with a sausage pizza. A few need to knows…
A) We’re a very good team. Sometimes. Here is the thing….we excel within the division but we’re a crap shoot the other 8 games of the season. Last year we beat Seattle twice and Arizona in their own stadium. Unfortunately losses to Washington, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Arizona (all playoff teams) hurt us. Particularly when we lost 5 games in a row in November effectively ending any realistic chances at a playoff appearance. We finished the season with a 7-9 record which doesn’t really stand out as less than marginal, but we did that with the toughest record in the NFL last year. Without a QB worthy of his paycheck all season. So we played well when we had to, but not when we should have.
B) Our successes are fairly recent and our struggles are well documented. Over the last four seasons we’ve won 27 games and dropped 36. Head coach Jeff Fisher has a career record of 165 wins and 150 losses. 52%. 1 out of 2. I love the guy but statistically he is no better than a coin flip and at times I wonder why this team isn’t turning the corner. I don’t think we need to get rid of him, but we do need to bring in some younger coaches, guys that recently retired to walk up and down the sideline and pump guys up keeping the energy where it needs to be to stay on attack mode. I think that added filter could produce a better win/loss records for the team. A better record will help attract more free agents and continue to build through success. Which brings me to my next point…
C) We haven’t signed many big names over the years. I think the fact St. Louis is cold winter city and football is a winter sport are more than enough reasons a lot of really good players would rather play elsewhere. Calling Los Angeles home now should change that immediately and I expect to see some marquee players coming to LA in the very near future to make a huge impact. For now our offensive unit has two cogs that make it work. Rookie of The Year Running Back Todd Gurley and lightening bolt Slot Receiver Tavon Austin who was a season away from being a bust. Fortunately he proved a lot of people wrong and had a breakout season. We still have NO QB, lack depth at the wide receiver, and offensive line positions. The reason we won a lot of games was our defense. Defensively we’re a power house. Unfortunately quite a few guys are up for free agency. Four of our offensive starters and two great role players on defense. We don’t need to keep each one but there are quite a few we do need. And of course it wouldn’t hurt to bring in some new faces through the draft.
All in all, we have a solid core. We need more on offense, more from the coaching staff and a bigger splash in signing proven players who either produce points or leadership qualities in others that will carry this team over the hump. That may not happen before the new stadium is built, but the future looks bright for a team who won a super bowl in 1999 but hasn’t made a playoff appearance since 2004. The road has been bumpy as hell but better days are ahead. As a new fan you can now consider yourself informed. If you don’t know yet what to expect next season don’t get too high and don’t get too low. Your role for now is to have support the squad and know that we’ll probably finish 8-8 next year although 9-7 would be a tremendous improvement and enough to grab a wild card appearance in the playoffs. The year after that could see something really special though. I think the 2017 will be a huge year for our team.
See you on game day.
Words by Wes G.
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