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Are the 2008 Rams The Worst Team The History Of St. Louis Sports?

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  • Are the 2008 Rams The Worst Team The History Of St. Louis Sports?

    By Bernie Miklasz

    Not until Sunday, when I had a chance to sit back and watch parts of every NFL game, did I truly realize just how horrific the Rams are.

    Look, I knew the Rams were bad. After years of terrible drafting, appalling personnel misjudgments and paying small fortunes to players who go in the tank, the Rams lack talent and playmakers.

    But there are more than a few incomplete and undermanned teams in the NFL. So what's the difference between the Rams and the others? I see other teams playing with verve and vigor. I see other teams straining and fighting and buzzing around, trying desperately to make something happen. MORE BERNIE
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    Sunday, I saw a poor team, the Miami Dolphins, go into New England and destroy the Patriots in large part because of a creative coaching staff that went in with a crazy, fun and let-it-rip game plan that clearly energized the players.

    And the Rams?

    They're lifeless, helpless, hopeless.

    Instead of being listed as underdogs each Sunday, just mark them down as "DOA."

    This is the worst team in the history of NFL football in St. Louis.

    These 2007-08 Rams of Scott Linehan are more dreadful than the Bob Hollway-coached Cardinal teams of 1971-72, more discouraging than the Bud Wilkinson teams of 1978-79. The 1998 Rams went 4-12 and were dull on offense, but they generally played hard for Dick Vermeil and lost six games by a touchdown or less. The 1985 Cardinals were a soap opera and a crushing disappointment at 5-11. That squad was plagued by nasty internal issues, including drug use and locker-room thefts. But at least the '85 Cardinals started the season by going 3-1 and showing a pulse. The players on the 2008 Rams team aren't stealing from each other; many of them are just stealing a paycheck each week.

    These Rams are being dominated on both sides of the ball. They aren't remotely competitive, having been outscored 116-29 in the first three games. They are 31st among the 32 NFL teams in scoring points, and 32nd at preventing them. Their defense is giving up the most yards in the league. And after the big signing of alleged franchise back Steven Jackson, the Rams are dead last in the NFL in yards per rush (3.1) and have had only one running play go for 10 yards or longer. When this offense reaches the red zone, it's cause for as much celebration as Lindbergh reaching Paris.

    The Rams' current losing streak has stretched to an ugly seven games, and they have lost these beatings by an average score of 37-14. They're 3-16 in the last 19 games; the average score of the defeats is 31-13. They are 7-23 in the last 30 games, by an average of 16 points. And this is in a league where about half the games are decided by a touchdown or less.

    And if you're expecting Linehan and staff to find a way to get the players emotionally revved to slay dragons the way the Dolphin coaches did at New England, well, forget about it.

    "Something's vanishing from our competitive state of mind on the field and I take total responsibility for that, trying to find out what it is, what buttons we need to push, what lineups that can get it done," Linehan said Monday at Rams Park. "After three games, I don't know that I have any better answer for you ... ''

    Linehan has no answers.

    Uh, so why is Linehan still here?

    What is the point of alienating and infuriating customers by keeping him around?

    That's business. What about the humanistic side?

    The owner-chairman, Chip Rosenbloom, likes Linehan personally. And Rosenbloom also respects his late mother's wishes to give Linehan a third season. Understood.

    (An aside: I can only imagine how hard John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt are lobbying the owner to stay the course and keep the coach they hired. If this team played nearly as hard as the executives lobbied, they'd be 3-0.)

    If Rosenbloom steps back for a moment and really thinks about this, he'll do the merciful thing and put an end to the suffering. Because this is sad, and the depression will only deepen. Linehan is drowning. His wife, understandably distraught, was crying in Seattle at the end of Sunday's 37-13 loss.

    What is the benefit, the value, of continuing to allow this coach to endure needless humiliation?

    Why continue to torture Linehan? The coach won't be able to turn this around; his demise is inevitable.

    So why prolong the misery?
    Bad St. Louis football Bernie Miklasz ranks his contenders for the worst years in St. Louis pro football:

    1. 2007-2008 Rams

    The current version of the Rams has lost 16 of the past 19 under coach Scott Linehan by an average margin of 31-13. Going back to last season, they have lost seven in a row by an average score of 37-14.

    2. 1985 Cardinals

    The St. Louis Cardinals, picked by some to go to the Super Bowl, crashed to a 5-11 record, finished next-to-last in points scored, and were marked by drug controversy. Coach Jim Hanifan was fired.

    3. 1971-72 Cardinals

    The Bob Hollway Era lasted just two years (8-18-2). The '72 team finished last in the NFC in total offense and defense. Hollway was replaced by Don Coryell, who dramatically elevated the franchise.

    4. 1978-79 Cardinals

    Bud Wilkinson was 9-20 with the Big Red until he was replaced by GM Larry Wilson on an interim basis with three games left in the '79 season. Still, that team had a good offense with Jim Hart, Mel Gray, Pat Tilley, Jim Otis and Wayne Morris.

    5. 1998 Rams

    The Rams went 4-12 under coach Dick Vermeil, with QB Tony Banks handing off to RB June Henley. That said, the defense hung in pretty well -- 10th in the league in fewest yards allowed. And they lost six games by a TD or less.

    6. 1986 Cardinals

    The Cardinals were 4-11-1 under first-year coach Gene Stallings, who had a real mess to clean up. The team finished last in the NFL in points scored, but had the No. 4 defense and lost five close games.

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