To me what happened at the Dome is a stark reminder to everyone with an objective viewpoint at Rams Park that the gap is not close but is very wide between where the Rams are and where they need to be. There will be people who want to blast Steve Spagnuolo for being too Pollyanna-ish this season with his players. The truth is no matter how much the public might want to see him flog his players in public it is not going to make this team play at the Colts level. It is simply not possible at this point and that was very clear today.
There will be lots of debate at a later date as to where the franchise goes from here. Clearly there is going to have to be a huge turnover on this roster and it has begun. What today does do is prove to some of the unrealistic public that the Rams aren't one or two moves away from being back in the playoff hunt. It also makes certain that the Rams front office and coaching staff is not fooled into believing that same myth. It is going to be a long road back to respectability, much less winning football games. Bigger changes are still needed and have to come. Today proved that.
Here are some other thoughts about this afternoon's Rams game....
Steven Jackson: I don't know what else he can possibly do to win a game for the Rams. He ran as hard as any running back I have ever witnessed in a St. Louis uniform, including Marshall Faulk and Ottis Anderson. I have said this before and I will say it again, he is most likely wasting his career in St. Louis. He is one of the few players on the roster that deserves to be here when it turns around. I hope that he will see that day. It is tough to pick on someone who rushed for 134 yards this afternoon but if there is a knock that I have on Jackson today, and I don't know what the answer to this, but I question why he was not on the field in the 3rd quarter when it was 21-3. He rattled off runs of 12, 11 and 13 in successive snaps. After that he was on the sidelines as the Rams offense stalled out on the next 2 plays. I don't know which thought is worse. I don't think Jackson was injured. I hope it wasn't some bizarre offensive package or Jackson being gassed after running three long plays. Either of those causes has to make you raise an eyebrow. In the scheme of things it isn't the difference in the game but I do think if the Rams get it to 21-10 in that situation it at least makes the Colts think a little more in the second half instead of the layup drill that game turned into.
Marc Bulger: I know that he gets a lot of the blame for why the Rams are bad, and I am not one of those guys who thinks he is the worst quarterback to ever play in the NFL, but he was awful today. His mechanics were bad. His decisions were poor and he has got to do a better job. I know his receivers are the worst in the league and the play calling is suspect at times but he can't be as bad as he looked today. This is probably it for Bulger in St. Louis so he better be showing off his talents over the final 9 games for whichever NFL team is going to pick him up for 2010.
Jason Smith: Everyone in the world saw Smith get crushed by Dwight Freeney and while that is embarrassing I consider that a good sign. He needs to be in there against the best, at LEFT TACKLE, and learn. The future of the Rams offensive line resides in #77 and it is time for the learning curve to increase. Freeney took him to the woodshed today but it is going to be a good learning experience. Put Smith at left tackle and stop messing with Alex Barron over there.
Chris Long: This one is starting to look like more and more of a bust every day. My thought at the beginning of the year was that Chris Long was going to make a big leap forward in year two and become a force. As the year has progressed I lowered my expectations and thought he was going to develop into a decent defensive end in 2009. Now I am wondering if he is ever going to develop into a useful player in the league. He has created nothing this year and is not a force. I don't know what is going to change and that is the scary part. The scheme isn't going to change over the next 3 years with Spagnuolo. The talent around him theoretically might but when you are second overall pick you should be the one making players better around you. Clearly that is not happening with Long.
Tim Carter: I never understood the signing of Carter to begin with. I didn't get the resigning of Carter after camp and I don't get why he is still on the field. The Rams traded for a wide receiver this week and when you are 0-7 and have wide receivers who have been here making mistakes there is no reason not to have Brandon Gibson on the field on Sunday in Detroit.
Peyton Manning: It was awesome seeing someone as good as Manning work the field on Sunday. He was in total control of what was going on in the game and he is one of the best to ever play the position. I hope the Rams compare the measurables that Manning has and apply that to whichever quarterback of the future they are going to find in the offseason.
The Rams fall to 0-7 and have now lost a ridiculous 17 in a row. They will have a chance next Sunday in Detroit to break that streak. Hope is not lost but reality smacked the Rams in the face today. The goal is not to become better then the Jaguars or the Lions. The goal is to become like the Colts. Lesson hopefully learned.