Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Okay, I know there's been a lot of football lately, but I just can't let it go. The St. Louis print media is bordering on delusional in their assessment of the St. Louis Rams. In column after column, the St. Louis scribes pen odes to the supposed gutsiness and tenacity of this squad.

My old friend Bernie Miklasz of the Post Dispatch, with whom I used to work and who is one of the good guys, uncharacteristically finds himself hyperventilating like a love-besotted schoolgirl:
This is about a team slipping but not falling, a team dodging the potential knockout force of falling rocks, a team that manages to maintain footing as it continues to climb this treacherous NFC mountain.

This is about the collective heart of a team that has won seven of its last eight games and gone 4-1 in a difficult stretch that included four road games. A team that has won three of its last four on the road. A team that's now tied for the best record (8-3) in the NFC. A team that has a firm jaw, able to absorb heavy punches.
This is also about a team that nearly blew a win against the horrific Arizona Cardinals. A team that has in recent weeks squeaked by some of the most awful teams in the league, such as the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens. A team whose schedule strength currently ranks around 29th of 32 teams in the league.

Mike Martz must buy these guys a lot of beer to get this kind of coverage. Bryan Burwell is mystified by the fact that the fans are not quite as confident in this team as he is right now:
Yes, someone please tell me what is the problem? A year ago, the Rams were 5-6 and in the midst of a football nightmare. Now they are 8-3, and I guess someone forgot to inform a lot of people in this town that that is a good thing. It's like Armageddon is just around the corner, and I just don't get it.
That's true, Bryan, you don't get it. An embarrassing thing to admit when it's your job to get it.

Perhaps the fans are "whining" (to use a phrase that both Bernie and Burwell have been throwing around a lot lately) because they see a team that with Warner at the helm boasted the greatest offense in NFL history, and which now battles to merely squeak by in games against teams that won't even get a whiff of the playoffs. Perhaps they recognize a team that will be embarrassed in their first playoff game, a team that is not capable of playing on the same field against real football teams--playoff football teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are some facts the fans see that apparently the media guys have overlooked: the Rams, in this "spectacular" eight win season, have beaten precisely two teams that currently have a record over .500--the Green Bay Packers (who are a whopping 6-5), and the Baltimore Ravens (who are also a whopping 6-5). They've only managed a split with the San Francisco 49ers (5-6).

This is a team that is thoroughly mediocre in every way. They will be cannon fodder in the playoffs. Though the fans see the clear truth, it may take the lapdog St. Louis media a while to catch up.

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