By Jack Neworth
The record of our once-beloved L.A. Rams is 4-10, the 5th worst in the NFL. Frankly, I’m still unclear how they won those 4 games. Thursday, they lost to the Seattle Seahawks 24-3. And, trust me, it wasn’t that close. They also lost their QB, Jared Goff, the number one player taken in the draft, to a possible concussion. The Rams have played five games in the Coliseum this year and they’ve scored a total of five touchdowns. Last Sunday, against the Rams, Atlanta scored six! Ouch.
Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, seemed oblivious to the team’s dismal play. And why not? By moving from St. Louis he had probably doubled the value of his team. And, despite the terrible record, crowds of 90,000 were flocking to the games. (Paying up to $100 for parking!)
Kroenke’s $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood is due to open in 2019 and that means a Super Bowl is not far away. So Stan, whom Forbes lists as worth $8 billion and whose wife Ann is the daughter of Walmart co-founder James Walton, was much like Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry?”
But, during last Sunday’s fiasco against the Falcons, deafening boos filled the Coliseum like an angry tidal wave. Suddenly, Stan was very worried. So much so he promptly fired head coach Jeff Fisher. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot more than a new head coach to fix what ails the Rams. (And I’m only allowed 800 words.)
Personally, I’m disappointed in Fisher’s firing. If he’d been at the helm to absorb the defeat to the Seahawks, he’d stand alone with the most losses by a head coach in NFL history. Now he’s just tied for that Hall of Shame title.
Amazingly, Fisher earned $35 million in his 5 years as coach of the Rams and, yet, never had a winning season. Talk about smoke and mirrors, or better yet, the Emperor’s clothes. Now he’s reportedly getting a $14 million golden parachute due to an inexplicable 2-year extension.
Speaking of Fisher’s extension, former Ram and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson theorized, “He must have some naked pictures of somebody.” Fisher didn’t need naked pictures. It turns out, his agent, Marvin Demoff, is the father of Rams C.O.O. Kevin Demoff. Can you say “conflict of interest?” If you ask me, it’s all like a bad soap opera… “As the Stomach Turns.”
Other than coaching, where do the Rams problems begin? The worst offender might be the offensive line, despite many recent drafts devoted to it. They simply don’t protect the quarterback. Goff took a beating against Atlanta and then again against the Seahawks.
With his first start not coming until game 9 of the season, Goff’s record since is 0-5. Other than the 3 touchdowns he threw in a 49-21 shellacking by New Orleans, not terribly promising. Adding to the physical pounding, one worries about long term damage to Goff’s confidence, only five games into his fledgling career.
The O-line also doesn’t seem to provide holes for Todd Gurley, last year’s star running back. After the Falcon game, Gurley angrily said the Rams have a “7th grade offense.” Yikes! We can’t have waited 20 years for this but apparently we have.
Granted it’s very early, but the hunt for a new coach is struggling, too. Michigan Coach, Jim Harbaugh, not only dismissed the idea but seemed insulted. Or paranoid. “These lies are the words of our enemies.”
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll has also made it clear he’s not interested. When the dust settles, however, a head coaching job with the Rams, given the upcoming new stadium and Kroenke’s billions, will be a desirable one. You’d think.
The Rams came here in 1947 and were our first “major league” professional team. Other than Hollywood and the movie business, L.A. was considered a “hick town” at least when compared to New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
In 1951, the Rams won an NFL Championship and in 1979, played in the Super Bowl in 1979. With names like Gabriel, Bass, Pardee, Snow, Ferragamo, the Fearsome Foursome and later Eric Dickerson (and dozens I’m leaving out) and coaches like Hall of Famer, George Allen, over the decades the Rams were often in the Championship hunt. Then, in 1995, they left unceremoniously. Frankly, as returning prodigal sons it’s been nothing but “tsuris.” (Yiddish for aggravation.)
It’s so bad in Rams World, that the most uplifting rumor of late is that the Chargers (currently 5-8) will move here next year and somehow “save the NFL in L.A.” (Under the theory that two losing teams are better than one?)
Over twenty years ago many heartbroken Ram fans said they could never forgive the team for leaving. Given this season, some are feeling the same way that they came back.
Jack also writes “Laughing Matters,” which appears every Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.