The Rams had a lot of things going against them in week 1. First off they were hosting the Super Bowl contending, Vince Young anointed, Dream Team of the NFL. Secondly they were fielding a team that by all accounts and analysis was not. As I wrote earlier this week, "Sunday matched-up a Super Bowl contender and an improved Rams squad. That is not an apples to apples comparison." So What.
Then the game started and so did the injuries. The Rams had five starters (three 1st round draft picks) go down and all but Sam Bradford were lost for the game. This was the readymade excuse so many media and fans needed to apologize away a bad loss. Guess what, it’s football and in a full contact-gladiator-winner take all sport injuries happen. This is why you have depth on your roster and have your best players active (Yes, that is a shot at Spagnuolo for not having Alexander & Quinn available). Did the injuries hurt the Rams chances? Sure they did, but again; So What.
Do you think the Chiefs who lost Eric Berry for the season, the Charges who lost Nate Kaeding, the Saints who lost Marques Colston or the Colts for that matter who are without Peyton Manning feel bad for the Rams? Absolutely not. And do you know why? Because THERE ARE NO EXCUSES IN FOOTBALL.
It is beyond frustrating, when one game into the season. A season that began with as much excitement, hype and optimism around the Rams in years, can all be abandoned one game in. That articles with titles such as, “Injuries and a tough schedule conspire against the Rams” can be made to trivialize and excuse the fact that the Rams played bad football and lost. The team was not sharp and did not look ready for big time football.
The Rams wanted this team. The Rams drafted and signed this team. The Rams have this team. Will made the point that maybe losing Bradford’s safety blanket in Danny Amendola will encourage him to look downfield a bit more. Josh McDaniels & Sam Bradford should not evoke comparisons of Pat Shumur & Keith Null. Twice Bradford went deep against Asomugha and twice it had positive results.
As much as I like and think DX should be on this team, if you have no intent on playing him or Pettis that is two spots that can be used. Roster decisions played as much into the loss as injuries or the opposing team. Not activating Alexander immediately told the Eagles, "We're not even going to bother going deep."
Management opted for smarts over athletics in some areas. See Pettis & Curry over Avery & Gilyard. Quinn was deemed not ready to play. When the Rams rushed with 4 or more they came away with three sacks and a forced fumble. When they came with less…they came away with less.
My point here is decisions and play. While football is a game of inches, those inches are earned through decisions and play. Over four quarters the sum of both ultimately adds up to either a win or a loss. No more excuses. No more talk of injuries and a tough schedule. The Rams are an improved team with higher expectations. They must and I believe they will play up to them. To excuse away a loss is doing the team disservice.
Coach Spagnuolo will not make excuses, nor will Bradford, James Laurinaitis or Steven Jackson. Why should we.