Tag: Rams

LA Rams showing no respect for STL

Who pissed in the Los Angeles Rams cherrios?

I get it. You leave a city and don’t want to keep playing nice with what is now in the past. When the Rams got up and left St. Louis on January 12th, something was cut and dropped that had been stable for 20 years. Saying nice things about St. Louis wouldn’t be in the cards but I don’t understand why the Rams are taking a giant shit on their former residence now. It’s not classy. It’s bush league. It’s a batch of bullshit.

Before the Rams open up the 2016 season with no quarterback and the same boring offensive game plan with aspirations for a lovely 5-10 finish, let me remind the organization of something. The Rams won a Super Bowl in St. Louis. Remember. Back in 1999. They went to another Super Bowl and lost in the closing seconds. St. Louis was where the Rams found their most sustainable run of success in the franchise’s history. Most of that history is utter shit. In St. Louis, they created the Greatest Show on Turf.

All they will have in Los Angeles is quarterbacks heads banging on the turf and lots of useless penalties, field goal gold star stickers, and lifeless moments where fans wonder what they are watching on the field. It will be like the good old days. Back in 1946, when the Rams formulated in LA in the first place. Anyone remember? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The Rams gathered in LA and played there for nearly 50 years before moving to St. Louis. During that time, they participated in many NFL championships and even won it in 1951. After another 1955 championship appearance, they wouldn’t see sustained playoff success until the 1970’s, culminating in a Super Bowl loss to the Steelers in 1979. They made the playoff 16 times from 1960-1989 but didn’t win the Super Bowl. That happened in St. Louis.

In 1999, against all odds, the Rams came out of nowhere and outscored, beat up, and dished knuckle sandwich specials to the NFL in route to a ring. When can fans expect that in LA? Any time soon is not the correct answer.

As much as Stan Kroenke deserves the visceral shit stain thoughts, Kevin Demoff is a real Harvey Two Face here. After telling St. Louis and local radio talent that the Rams were doing whatever was needed to stay in the Lou, he immediately started trashing us the moment the plane landed out west. I did say “us”. I am a St. Louis native so pardon me if I don’t act 100 % professional and not included “us”. We got screwed together here after all.

From the proposal statement that trashed St. Louis’ market and economic profitability to the outgoing messages on social media to LA reporters about bad it was in St. Louis, this is just a lack of class that one doesn’t see that often. I don’t remember St. Louis doing this in 1995.

All you need to know someone is to see how they act when change occurs. Messy change. The true colors of Kroenke were known years ago before he ever staged his attack on St. Louis football. Demoff and others is the colors that are now blooming like a stinky turd left out in the summer heat. It’s unfortunate and relentlessly arrogant.

The Rams have no quarterback and a head coach that hasn’t won anything since My Space was the hot fuzz on the internet. The last time Jeff Fisher won anything, flip phones were cool. The last time the Rams won in Los Angeles, Pedro Guerrero played first base for the Cardinals. I hope they go 0-16.

If anyone in LA really believes that the ownership’s unique ability to shit on a fan base will change simply because their mailing address did, think again. Watch an action film. The plot will be the same brand of ridiculousness but the happy ending will be better.

Let me make this perfectly clear. The Rams won a Super Bowl in St. Louis. That won’t happen in Los Angeles anytime soon. Trash The Lou all you want but it won’t change your approval ratings or record.

In case you missed it on We Are Live Radio’s Live Blog

The Tackle: 16 Years Later

January 30th, 2000. Super Bowl XXXIV. The night of “The Tackle”. The evening Mike Jones never paid for a drink again in any St. Louis bar.

My dad and I were nervous. Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans were like the boxer that wouldn’t go down. The St. Louis Rams had outlasted the Titans to this point without completely finishing them off. Jevon Kearse had done his best to rip Kurt Warner’s head off all night, but the Rams were a step in front. The Rams were up 23-16, and McNair was going to drive down the field like there was no defense, only doors that kept opening with short smart and timely passes. Whether it was a handoff to Eddie George or a slant that the Rams didn’t see because they were in prevent mode, the Titans were charging.

In addition to this stressful moment, my best friend Josh wouldn’t put the guitar down. He was in that “I want to be the next Stevie Ray Vaughn” stage where’d he pick up a guitar, strum about 3/4 of a song, struggle and then start over. All night, he wouldn’t put the instrument down. My dad must have thought about tossing him through the window(it was a short fall).

Finally, as McNair started the final march, my dad said, “Okay, Josh, that’s enough. Seriously” I’ve never seen my friend so shell shocked but my dad was right. This was important. My dad and I never saw a Super Bowl team before. I’d only been following this team for five years, freshly scrubbing off the bandwagon paint from my clothing. We couldn’t believe what was happening. St. Louis was in denial for the past four months, thinking they were politely stuck in some fever dream that wasn’t ready to end yet. Warner had been marking up cans of corn in a grocery store a short time ago, and Dick “Glass Case of Emotion” Vermeil hadn’t led a team here since the Eagles years and years before. The Titans, led by the young(and actually good) Jeff Fisher, were tenacious and wanted to shock the world, defeating the Greatest Show on Turf.

After scoring 49 points against the Minnesota Vikings and barely squeaking by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams had done just enough to stay ahead tonight. Or did they?

McNair, suddenly was more elusive than ever before. Kevin Carter and D’Marco Farr couldn’t find him, reach him or chase him down in time. He rolled out and found Kevin Dyson streaking across the field, towards the end zone on a slant that couldn’t be denied. Linebacker Mike Jones, in an interview with Fox Sports, said the defense was running a base 77, which was a cover defense. It was a man to man setup, but a bracket coverage where the safety dictated the play. Jones said he was lined up to stop the tight end, but had his eyes on Dyson the entire time. When he stopped him, tackling him in perfect form, wrapping his legs and having Dyson fall like a tree, it was before the one yard line. To Dyson, it was just another tackle. To the rest of the coaches, players and the city of St. Louis it was the football equivalent of a closer in baseball firing the final strike past the hitter to seal the championship.

When it happened, my dad and I sprung up in elation but had to temper it to make sure it was actually a stop and the game was over. When it was over and Jones had saved the game for the Rams, it was party time. Honestly, all I could focus on was not falling down the stairs which were a short leap away. For the first time in St. Louis, a Super Bowl was in our possession. No matter what has happened since, I will never forget that furiously entertaining fall and winter of football in St. Louis. Warner coming out of nowhere to lead the way with Marshall Faulk driving the car with wingmen Issac Bruce and Torry Holt. I’ll never Jones, a formerly respected yet widely unknown linebacker, being the last line of defense.

The banners can be taken down, but the tackle will never fall. Roger Goodell can slam St. Louis with every possible greedy lying manipulative move, but he can’t take this away. He can hand the extra 100 million to California dreaming teams like San Diego(which is the biggest slap in the face to St. Louis ever) but he can’t demolish memories.

16 years ago, Mike Jones made the tackle and the Rams won the Super Bowl. It may sting now and sit in a bitter corner inside your heart but it should never waver or go away.

No NFL team adoption for me

When the Rams left St. Louis on January 12th, my team affiliation was gone. For good. While I hold a special place in my football heart for Peyton Manning(something that has been there since his debut), I won’t merely drop my Rams devotion and pick up another team like I would buy a new shirt at a clothing store. Where’s the special in that?

I’ve always been a traditionalist when it comes to sports. I root for St. Louis sports teams, because those are the teams I grew up on. I don’t root for a team because everyone else does or because it’s cool or would create millions of hot take articles. I was born into the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team but was too young to know about the Cardinals football team in St. Louis. When the Rams came calling in 1995, I saw it as a chance to truly love and follow an NFL team. I was 13 years old. Ready for get fully acquainted.

Now that Stan Kroenke has come, waved his money flag like a can of rogaine in the late 1990’s, I see no reason to cheer for the Rams or any other football team. I laugh and sneer at the people who grab another team within a week and change their Facebook and Twitter profile or cover images to that team. How is that even possible? How can that happen so fast? The NFL isn’t even that great of a sport to just switch to another team.

A bunch of guys smashing into each other repeatedly, lowering their brain strength and longevity in life one head smash at a time. The NFL sucking millions of dollars from fans while not caring about their own players. The writing has been on the wall for years. Maybe having an NFL team like the Rams, horrible or not, concealed the wound. That blockage is gone now. All I see is greed, a waste of time and a pure vault of energy to be relocated elsewhere.

So when 2016 begins, I won’t be following a team. Manning will be retired and there are other players worth watching, but the blood pressure drive and addiction to follow the sport will be gone. That deteriorated when the Rams left town and the true ugly of Roger Goodell and the NFL showed their colors.

The NFL stabbed St. Louis in the back. How? Before you toss dome guidelines at me, let me tell you the NFL didn’t have to drag this out. They could have simply saw the money potential in LA and agreed to move the team to LA. Forget rules. The NFL makes up rules as they go along. Who cares about the thousands of fans in St. Louis who saw a good stadium plan come to fruition and some hope restored. Dave Peacock got it all in place, and even got the funding from the city and state. Forget how late Francis Slay or Jay Nixon was to the party. It got approved. Instead of giving St. Louis an extra 100 million, Goodell offered 100 million EACH to Oakland and San Diego to stay put. That’s a knife into the back. The NFL didn’t just tell us no. They showed us a secret pathway to the promised land, led us there for months and in the end all we saw was a brick wall of denial.

The NFL will never get my money again. It barely got much of it. I’ve slowly moved away from the league, covering it and watching it over the past 2-3 years. It goes deeper than the Rams moving. I moved to Arkansas in December of 2014 and didn’t even seek out the NFL Network package. I didn’t do it in 2015 either. While I followed the Rams from afar and wrote about them a little, I started to detach. That could have been from being distanced, knowing Stan would get his way or maybe a slow disinterest in a league that ONLY cares about money and promotes greed. It all just started to stink. Why should I lend passion to a league that doesn’t give back? If I do that, my son may think it’s a good idea. No way. I am done.

Super Bowl 50 may be the last one I really watch with intent. Thank Manning for that. That’s loyalty that may be flawed but it’s real. It’s my last ride too. Next year, I may watch. I may not. One thing is for certain. Passion will be less if not remote. I won’t watch with that burning desire to get a certain outcome. That’s gone.

For all of you who jump to the Kansas City Chiefs or Arizona Cardinals or another team this summer, I won’t judge or mock you. I may laugh a bit. Question your reasoning and newfound loyalty. Some people need the NFL for financial(fantasy football) or personal reasons. Some of you just need it.

I don’t need it. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I can’t just pick up another team and act like the Rams never existed to me. Where’s the special in that?

So long for just a while, Nick Foles

Sooner or later, it had to happen. The St. Louis Rams passing offense ranked near the bottom of the league. Jeff Fisher kept saying they would fix things. They would work on things. Well, you can’t work on crap.

NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at St. Louis Rams
Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

After a terrible effort where he made Jay Cutler look like Tom Brady by comparison, Nick Foles has lost his job as starting quarterback. The only thing he has right now is financial security. Two thirds of his preseason minted three year/26 million dollar extension is guaranteed. He will be a high paid clipboard holding scout team running quarterback for a few weeks. Foles earned that spot.

People weren’t too excited to see Case Keenum get the keys because they think he is a Foles clone. Well, until I see Keenum, a former Houston Texan, overthrow or all together misfire eight different throws in a single game, he is an upgrade over The Philly kid. If Keenum can connect on a ten yard pass or hit a deep route, he’s golden. If he doesn’t find a way to miss the gigantic body of Jared Cook on a wide open play, Keenum will be okay against the not what it once was Baltimore Ravens defense.

Maybe Foles should start against division rivals only. His best games in 2015 were against Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco. He had quarterback passing ratings of 115.8, 126.9 and 101.9 against those guys. In those games, he threw five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Did he make a special sandwich the night before? Wake up on the right side of the bed. Get shave. Have a good cup of coffee. Hit up Mom’s Deli before the game. There’s no telling, but in the other games he was average at best and terrible often. He threw two touchdowns and slung six picks. He had a 23.8 rating against the Green Bay Packers when sensational running back Todd Gurley was carrying him and the offense on his not so broad shoulders. He had a 68 PR against the Minnesota Vikings and a 53 rating against the Bears. Foles could mess up a wet dream.

He’s done. For now. I don’t think we will see Foles for three weeks at least. The Rams can’t afford to completely quit on him. Keenum has to prove himself.  Behind him, it’s Sean Mannion, their recent quarterback draftee. They traded the oft injured Sam Bradford(who hurt his shoulder again and was concussed Sunday) for Foles, a Chip Kelly prodigy who apparently his good arm up East. This guy is bad. Stinky bad. He’s not hurt like Sam, but he might as well be missing something.

It comes down to making throws my friends. Your receivers may drop a few and kill a couple drives but a good quarterback has to be able to overcome his receivers mediocre lot in life and find a way to connect. For nine pitiful games, Foles showed zero consistency. He was the Rams ineptitude over the Jeff Fisher regime. Not good enough. Not even close.

Can Keenum produce better results? He can’t do any worse. The receivers will publicly rally around Foles while quietly celebrating the change. This is a money game. Receivers want to get paid. They can’t do that trying to impersonate Shaq. Keenum may not be Aaron Rodgers but he will be something different. For now that’s good enough.

 

 

Meet Todd Gurley, the Rams new running back

Since I am not your average college football addict, when I heard the name Todd Gurley this spring, I wasn’t completely aware right off the bat who the Rams got with the 10th pick in the 2015 draft. And since I am a George Carlin fan, I immediately thought, “Well, Todd sure is a weak name for a boy.” However, if you heard my neighbors down here in Little Rock, Arkansas, you got all the analysis a man could need. In other words, sounds effects.

“Whoooa!” “Oh mannnn!” “That guyyyyyy!” Gurley, who collected touchdowns at the University of Georgia like you collect diet cokes on a long day at work, put the Arkansas Razorbacks through the trenches during his time in college. So when my neighbor told me months ago, “your Rams got a great running back,” I couldn’t help but smile. His shoe prints were still being felt down south.

The 21 year old Gurley came into Rams camp fresh off knee surgery in the offseason, which has slowed his development this summer and will keep him out of preseason games(a good thing when you think about it). Gurley has started to practice with the team and looks as imposing as his draft card read back in April. The 6 foot 1 231 pound back drew comparisons to Marshall Faulk at the draft, and NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock liked the comparison a lot. His description of Gurley for NFL.com puts it bluntly why the Rams took this kid.

“I like the Marshawn Lynch comparison. St. Louis wants to win games the same way that Seattle and San Francisco do in the same division, that is by running the football and playing great defense and special teams. Gurley has Olympic-type speed. I love this pick for St. Louis, which already has a great defense and Gurley will help out Nick Foles.”-Mayock

Gurley doesn’t come with the wrapper untouched. He was suspended for four games for accepting 3,000 dollars to autograph memorabilia and his knee had other teams wondering if he could get that burst of speed back post ACL surgery. However, it has been nine months since Gurley’s surgery, and his limited participation in practice drills continues a normal rehab. An injury at an early age does project a healthy return.

There’s a lot to be excited for. Gurley was the second freshman in Georgia history to run for 1,000 yards and set a new record with 17 touchdowns. In a head to head clash with Clemson, Gurley ran for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2013. Watching the man work in videos, Gurley has a unique blend of speed and power. This bulldog has some bite. He can barrel through you or spin away. In 2014, he collected 62 percent of his yards after contact so his motor doesn’t stop when he is hit, it’s just getting warmed up. Instead of getting wrapped up by linebackers, Gurley will shred them like a house of cards and can cut back to the outside. He’s a multi-dimensional back who will fit right into head coach Jeff Fisher’s offense.

With Nick Foles driving the offense downfield yet needing that safety valve in a reliable back, Gurley should get plenty of action when the knee is stable and ready to roam. Together with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham, Fisher is building a Game of Thrones type kingdom with his running backs and that is how the Rams will run for years. Gurley is a Fisher prototype.

The silver lining in Gurley’s suspension and injury is that he has plenty of football life in him. Unlike a guy like Jake Locker, Gurley didn’t lose a lot of his impact talent and tenacity in ugly college football battles. He’s still a brand new toy with some of the plastic attached. Unlike quarterbacks, running backs like Gurley don’t need to digest an entire system or adapt from shotgun to under the huddle. The transformation is apparent but not overwhelming. Gurley, when healthy, should be a force in this offense and an impact talent.

When it comes to young players in the draft, look at the tape and forget the combine. I don’t care how he did when the stadium was quiet and he was jumping, sprinting and moving without anyone around him. I want to know how he did in a packed house in Georgia with the pressure of the SEC barring down on him. That’s where the true analysis is dug up. From what I’ve seen, Gurley looks like a weapon of mass destruction. A healthy knee and discipline is all the kid needs. Todd is no “girley” man on the football field.

Under the tutelage of Fisher and company, Todd Gurley should run a long way for the St. Louis Rams.

Rams Suddenly Comeback Kings

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Sometimes change comes in different forms, especially in sports.   It takes longer to notice than usual and even challenges your judgement.  As I watched the season opener of the St. Louis Rams, bad nightmares came back into my head.  Horrible penalties.  Broken down drives.  Secondary breakdowns.  Bad fumbles.   For some reason, I wanted to check the sideline for Scott Linehan feeling for the hair that had fallen from his head or Steve Spagnuolo on his knees desperately looking for a positive spin.  I looked for the various offensive coordinators that have tried to hustle fans into thinking touchdowns weren’t extinct but I would need a lineup card.  What were these band of misfit toys?

In the first 3 quarters of the football game, the Arizona Cardinals, equipped with a quarterback who can hit receivers and make quick reads, were making their move.  A 13-10 Rams lead was suddenly a 24-13 Cardinals march.  Like the cold water bottle lying in the middle of the desert, Carson Palmer flipped the switch on these Arizona receivers and made them fantasy hopefuls against our defenders at times.

At this time in the past 6 years, the Rams would fold up and die in front of their home crowd.   For years, the team punished out better judgement and made fools out of us for telling others they were our team no matter what.   As I struggled for hope yesterday, I remembered something.  Jeff Fisher is on that sideline.  Sam Bradford is out there and looks like The Sundance Kid before he stepped out in front of those guns.   Fearless and ready to lead instead of shell shocked.   This team looked different.  Who were these quick receivers catching passes and stretching the defense?  Who was the mini me version of Steven Jackson at tailback?  Who is that monstrous playmaking pencil charity producing tight end who makes Antonio Gates look like a lazy security guard?   The 2013 Rams are still a bloody mess readers but the one thing they aren’t coming to close to be calling is quitters.

The defense tightened up and starting getting to Palmer.  I am sure if you approached Palmer in a restaurant this week and suddenly said the name Robert Quinn, Carson would duck beneath a table.  Quinn had 3 sacks and a fumble recovery.  He rocked the veteran quarterback’s body and mind.   James Laurinaitis stuffed the run and gave the birds nowhere to go.  The secondary broke up a few passes.

And then, the offense engaged and took over, scoring 14 unanswered points, led by Bradford’s ability to play great 4th quarter football.   The kid completes passes, and suddenly showing an ability to move in the pocket and not freeze up during a pass rush.   At least three times, Bradford stepped up in the pocket and ran around and made a play.  On a late and vital two point conversion, he ran right up the gut for the extra points.   Tavon Austin on a post route.  Brian Quick on a slant.  Chris Givens anywhere Arizona future hall of famer Patrick Petersen wasn’t.   The real star of the day belonged to the biggest off season acquisition in my mind.    A man named Cook.

After fumbling a sure touchdown in the first quarter, Cook collected 2 touchdowns and over 120 yards receiving.   A man with the body of a semi truck and the breakaway ability of a Ram, Cook sliced and diced Cardinals defenders.   After coming up lame in his first real attempt at a touchdown, Cook finished strong like the rest of the team.   He is a game changing tight end and at that position, a cornerstone talent that may end up with better stats than Ricky Proehl.

The biggest difference I saw was the coaches ability to turn things up a notch in the second half instead of staying plain jane.  For the first three quarters, the offense was slightly quicker but lacked creativity.   Defenses could easily keep this in check.   Brian Schottenheimer unleashed a fresher set of plays that required daring playmakers.   Fisher tightened up the defense and let his coaches go to work.  The coaching staff adjusted to adversity and that is a first in years.

In short, the Rams took charge.  They didn’t welt and die in the spotlight of heightened expectations.  They rose up out of the ashes.  They came together and beat a divisional opponent.  This will mean a lot later when the race tightens up and this team looks for the flicker of hope in the dog days of the winter.  When things get cold and dry in a few months, this team will remember the win in the burning heat of the kickoff the season.  Unlike last year in Detroit, the St. Louis Rams got busy late instead of settling for a good effort.

There were problems.  Too many penalties after the whistle.   Cornerback Cortland Finnegan(a Fisher loyalist) committed two personal fouls that were simply heinous.  This was the bad side of Mr. Finnegan, a well known agitator with a history of losing his edge when desperately trying to get under the skin of opposing receivers.  For one game, he was trying to be Richie Incognito, the famous hothead who negated a long Steven Jackson run years ago after smacking a man’s helmet clean off.  Finnegan also got burned by Larry Fitzgerald, which isn’t as bad as the personal fouls.  Plenty of corners find themselves on the wrong side of Fitz, who looks rehabilitated with Palmer.  However, Finnegan has to be smarter.  He stood out the most in the overall lapses.  The Cook fumble and Bradford tipped pass(should have NEVER been thrown) for a pick 6 are also there.  These are real problems that could cause trouble down the road if not handled.

All mistakes aside, this group of football hounds smelt blood in the 4th quarter on Sunday and fought out a victory.  The Rams are 1-0.  Don’t go crazy yet.  There are 15 weeks to go.  Atlanta and Dallas await this team in the coming weeks.

For more of my thoughts, go to my site, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.

-Dan L. Buffa

@buffa82 on twitter

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