How bad are the 2011 St. Louis Rams? That question is not meant as the start of a joke, but is meant as a serious question. Is the 0-3 start just merely a bump in the road to an 8-8 season and a playoff berth? Does the 0-3 start mean were headed toward a mediocre 5-11 type of season that will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth? Or does the 0-3 start mean the Rams are headed toward a top 3 or 4 pick in next year’s NFL Draft and will be putting the General Manager and Head Coach on the hot seat?
You can take some guesses looking at the schedule, but I wanted to go back and look at the past few seasons and see what the offensive and defensive numbers match up against. Where are the Rams headed? Here is a glimpse into where things are right now.
Currently the Rams are scoring 12 points a game, which is horrible. That matches up almost exactly with the 2009 team that finished a woeful 1-15 and led to the Rams acquiring the number one pick overall in next year’s Draft. Not only are the points per game in that same ballpark, but the other stats also match up. That year’s quarterbacks, Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller and Keith Null, were sacked a combined 44 times. Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley are on track to be sacked 64 times in 2011. If your offensive line is worse statistically than that 2009 line with Alex Barron and Richie Incognito then you are in a world of hurt.
Not only is the offensive line not protecting Bradford, but they are not running the football as well as that 1-15 team was running the ball. Currently the Rams are averaging 108 yards a game; in 2009 they were averaging slightly better at 111. Another stat that is telling is how good you are on third down. In 2009 the Rams were 28th with a woeful 32% conversion rate. The Rams are currently 31st in the NFL with a 25% conversion rate which is abysmal.
After the Rams spent all the money on an offensive line, a new quarterback and some wide receivers, not to mention a new offensive coordinator, you would expect the Rams to be delivering better on offense during year three of the “rebuilding phase.” Right now you cannot say they are better than what the Rams were trotting out during that 2009 season.
What is worse is that the Rams are equally as disappointing on the defensive side of the ball. The Rams are surrendering 32 points a game right now. To be fair some of that has been the direct fault of the offense, but the numbers are staggering. In 2009 the Rams were giving up 27 points a game. That 27 a game is about what the Rams number would be for 2011, were it not for the Cadillac Williams mistake in New York and the Bradford fumble return against the Eagles.
It doesn’t stop there either. In that awful 2009 season the Rams were giving up 137 yards a game on the ground. In 2011 they are at an astonishing 172 yards a game against. In the passing game the only real difference is that this year’s team gets to the quarterback much more than the 2009 squad. The Rams already have 8 sacks this season as opposed to the paltry 25 sacks that the 2009 team had that season.
Where most football games are won and lost is in the turnover battle and the penalties. In 2011 the Rams are currently -2 in the turnovers category which means they are averaging a -0.7 turnover ratio a game. In 2009 they were -13, which was 30th in the NFL, averaging a -0.8 turnover ratio per game. In penalties the Rams are averaging 8.3 accepted penalties per game, which is 29th in the NFL. In 2009, when the Rams were supposedly their worst, they were averaging 6.2 per game, which was only 23rd in the league.
Your heart and your eyes might tell you one thing right now, but the facts and the numbers tell you something different. The 2011 St. Louis Rams, right now, are worse than the 1-15 Rams from two seasons ago. The only difference right now is that this year’s Rams have 13 more games to do something about it, while the 2009 records are set in stone. It would be ridiculous to say at this point that this team is headed to 1-15, but right now they are much closer to that than being a .500 football team.
Things need to change and change fast at Rams Park. It can begin this weekend against the Washington Redskins. History tells us though that we may be worried about who to pick in next April’s draft than be worried about playoff scenarios in two months.
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