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Are They Injuries or Excuses?

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by -X-, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    Howard Balzer
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.101espn.com/category/hbalzer-blogs/20111122/Are-They-Excuses-or-Reasons/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.101espn.com/category/hbalzer ... r-Reasons/</a>

    [wrapimg=left]http://www.101espn.com/images/authors/medium/hbalzer.jpg[/wrapimg]There are certain catch-phrases that have become such a part of the sports vocabulary that when they are said it is just assumed they are true. But are they?

    Two of those, as it relates to the current plight of the Rams, are often blindly repeated when anyone dares mention that injuries have played a significant part in why the Rams are playing so poorly on offense.

    One is, "I don't want to hear any excuses."

    The other is, "All teams have injuries in the NFL."

    In his blog today, Cliff Saunders writes that he's sick and tired of hearing excuses. Many fans also say that. Well, what do you want to hear? Anyone can say the Rams are playing poorly. That's the easy part. But then comes the most important question: Why?

    When that question is answered, it becomes the explanation for what is happening. It's really as simple as that. The reality is that many people are coach-haters, and so when there is a bad record, they can scream "fire the coach," because that must be the only explanation for why a team has a bad record.

    Back in August, when it looked like the Cardinals were in the tank, John Mozeliak was being ripped for the trades he made that didn't work. Suddenly, the team came together after a few weeks, and one reason was that it took some time for the new players to mesh and come together for everyone to play as a team.

    Football teams don't have that luxury, this year especially. Teams were thrown together in the first week of training camp, and then expected to play together immediately. The chemistry is affected when there are constantly changing parts because of injuries, and it is difficult for players to come together as a team. On offense, timing in the passing game is paramount, and an ever-changing cast at receiver plays havoc with that.

    As for that notion that all teams have injuries, yes they do. But to what extent? All teams have injuries, but not the same amount of injuries. Have all teams lost their top four cornerbacks? Are all teams playing their third and fourth offensive tackles? Have all teams already lost 50 man games with more to come from nine different players on offense?

    Don't think so.

    Another often repeated mantra is how the Green Bay Packers had 15 players on injured reserve last season, but still won the Super Bowl. Yet, I'll bet those saying that couldn't name more than a few of the players. The reality is that those 15 players started a combined total of 84 games the previous season. That's an average of between five and six games a player and 58 came from four players, one of whom (Johnny Jolly) was suspended.

    Yes, there were a handful of key players: linebacker Nick Barnett, tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant (combined 42 starts in 2009). But there were also JAGs (just a guy) like Spencer Havner, Josh Bell and Derrick Martin. Of those 15 players, only five are currently on the Packers' roster.

    Of course, what's often overlooked is that the Packers were 3-3 after six games, were 8-6 with two to play after losing to Detroit 7-3, and wouldn't have even made the playoffs had the Giants not kicked the ball to Eagles punt returner DeSean Jackson (or tackled him) in Week 15.

    But they went on a nice run in the post-season, and now are undefeated. Of course, no one is talking about the Packers' injured reserve list this year. Why? Because they currently have only four on the list: safety Nick Collins, running back Alex Green, defensive end Lawrence Guy and wide receiver Shaky Smithson. Collins is the only notable of the four. The others are rookies, and Green is the only one who made the opening-day roster that went on IR.

    With all the discussion of what has led to the 49ers being 9-1, health is never mentioned. It should be. San Francisco has five players on IR: wide receivers Josh Morgan and Dontavia Bogan, tight end Nate Byham, cornerback Curtis Holcomb and defensive tackle Will Tukuafu. Only Morgan was a starter. Bogan and Holcomb are rookies.

    Always remember that the Rams' 1999 Super Bowl offense had just two missed games the entire season when left guard Tom Nutten was replaced by Andy McCollum.

    The stark reality is that injuries play a major role in all team sports. And while the notion of "next man up" sounds great and sometimes will lead to a discovery (see Kurt Warner), when a team has to go to that "next man up" over and over throughout the season and during games at key positions, there will be problems.

    Sure, the Rams could have done more to help the overmatched Kevin Hughes Sunday against Seattle. But would it have made a big difference? Chris Clemons had three sacks, and Bradford went down five times. However, he still got off 40 passes, but only completed 20 for just 181 yards.

    There are other explanations for what ails this offense, and it's not all related to injuries. But it's also disingenuous for anyone to dismiss them and simply label it an excuse.
     
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  2. cfin5256 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting. This subject has been on my mind with the way the Ram's season has gone. '99 was very similar, injury-wise, the Sooner's 2000 season. It's not realistic, in my opinion, to blow off injury as an 'excuse' without taking into account who was injured. I think the teams that succeed despite injury are more the exception to the rule; quality depth at all the right positions at the right time. With salary cap, that's pretty hard to accomplish consistently.
     
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  3. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    Spot on. It's also pretty difficult to do in 3 years. Particularly since the first year there was no money, and year two there was no free agency.
     
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  4. Angry Ram aka Captain RAmerica aka the OG Rammer

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    I totally understand injuries. I really do. To bring in the NBA, a couple years ago the OKC Thunder was one of the worst teams in the league. They only won like 30 some odd games. But they played hard, and next year were in the playoffs and nearly knocked off the eventual NBA champs Lakers. And all through that year, the health of the players was always brought up. Durant, Westbrook, Green, etc.

    But when I step back and look @ this Rams teams injuries. Even w/ the 9 or 10 CBs on IR, they are still top 15 in the league in pass D. For freak's sake they are ranked 9th!!! Unlike the Tye Hill/Fakhir Brown years. Remember that Cardinal game where Derek Stanley had like an 80 yard TD catch and run? In the final 2 mins of the 2nd half the Cardinals scored like 3 TDs.

    No name RBs don't earn pro bowl berths and ever since DeMarco Murray the run D has improved, and really Chombers is playin pretty well.

    On offense, IDK if you can blame injuries that much earlier when everyone was fully healthy. The Monday nite game is clear of that. Bradford had like 332 pass yards, all the weapons were utilized (Kendricks, DX), etc. SJack was out, but Cadillac couldn't score from the 3 yard line. Cadillac caught the game winning catch for the Bucs against the Rams, but can't score from the 3 for the Rams?

    I hate how McDaniels hasn't adjusted the offense to compensate for the injuries, or if he has isn't showing on the field or being executed. Now w/ the best 3 WRs down, the best TEs down, both starting OTs down, a benched C, and a QB w/ only 1 real weapon...IDK what else you can do.

    I'm so glad I don't have to make the decision on Spags, b/c if he does get booted, this D is gonna take a step back and we'll be right back to where we were in 2009.
     
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  5. cfin5256 Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Spags took over a tough situation. Last season it felt like magic ya know. It's been a hard road this year; especially on the heels of such a promising season. But the Rams have had shyte luck in the injury department going on forever now it feels like, this year is just icing on the cake. Or more like salt in the wound lol.
     
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  6. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    Hey, let's keep this going. Why do you think last year felt like magic? What did you see that was working last year? And why do you think things have gone SO far south this year? What are the contributing factors to that, in your opinion?
     
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  7. cfin5256 Well-Known Member

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    Good questions.

    Why do you think last year felt like magic? What did you see that was working last year

    Well, from 1-15 to 7-9 and a breath away from the playoffs seemed magical. I thought we'd show improvement but plateau @ 4 or 5 wins. Sam proved durable, and seemed comfortable in Shurmer's system, though admittedly we were pretty conservative. It just started to feel like the sky was the limit. Offensively and defensively we were getting glimpses of what might be, and I liked what I saw.

    And why do you think things have gone SO far south this year? What are the contributing factors to that, in your opinion?

    In my opinion, the lost off season of prep while trying to install the WCO didn't help at all; especially with a young QB. It kind of feels watching the games that Sam and the receivers aren't completely comfortable in the new system. I've uttered many an expletive over dropped passes this year and I wonder if the guys are concentrating so much on remembering everything that at times they lose focus on just catching the ball. I'm also not sold on McDaniels yet; but I'm willing to give him more time to see if I want to buy.

    Offensive line has been at times, well, offensive. They've actually gotten worse from last year. I know injuries and new faces are a part of it, but fundamentals and discipline have been lacking. I think that's part of why Sam has looked worse even when given time; he's locking onto guys early like he doesn't think the time is going to be there. He's gotten rattled, and some of that is on him. He needs to calm down and just concentrate on making a good throw. Defensively, we've done about as well as can be expected with all the injuries on that side of the ball and have still looked fairly solid at times.

    I watch a lot of football, but don't coach and can't tell you squat about in depth x's and o's so take it FWIW. ;)
     
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  8. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    That's what I thought. Good post. I like where your head's at (e.g., not up your ass). :sly:
     
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  9. Anonymous Guest

    You have my admiration, dude. It's like watching a squirrel feverishly searching through bushels of empty nuts.....finding that one with meat....then looking for any way to call it a not so lost harvest.

    I remember being pissed at 6-10 with Martz.
    I remember being pleased with 7-9 with Spags.
    What a ride.
     
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  10. cfin5256 Well-Known Member

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    I've spent my share of time with my head firmly up there :shock:

    Luckily I survived that stage :bign:
     
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  11. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    Yeah, not so much. This absolutely IS a lost harvest. I'm not delusional. I know things are bad. I'm just the kind of person who searches for answers. Looks for reasons. Analyzes problems. As I said in a previous post, that's more or less what I get paid to do as a Consultant. I don't walk into board meetings and say, "Fire the elevator company." I say, "Well, here's what they're doing wrong. Here's what's wrong with your equipment. Here's where your expectations are unreal. Here's WHY the elevators break down. Here's a plan to correct things." Sometimes the answers are simple. Sometimes they're complex and require many resources.

    This isn't a knock on anyone else either. It's just the way I approach any problem. You said something similar before. You like to take things that are broken and fix them. You take things apart, you poke around, you investigate. Why would you take a different approach with this team and reduce it to a hypothesis? Fire everyone. Well, why? Who would you replace them with? How do you know that would work? What would those replacements do differently in the same exact position as the current management structure finds itself in? What, specifically, is this coach/gm doing wrong? How do you know? Can you call upon your previous experience as a NFL Head Coach or GM?

    Problems aren't solved with flippant, emotion-driven proclamations. They just aren't.

    But thanks for admiring me. Chicks dig me too. :p
     
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  12. DR RAM Rams Lifer

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    Because you rarely wear underwear, but when you do they are very unusual.....
     
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  13. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    Please. I'm WAY cooler than John Winger. :what:
     
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  14. DR RAM Rams Lifer

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    The Dude vs. Winger...pretty close. The man knows how to use a spatula, you have to admit.
     
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  15. cfin5256 Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Suddenly, I have a mental picture of X.
     
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  16. Angry Ram aka Captain RAmerica aka the OG Rammer

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    There's a lot of reason why 7-9 was possible. How lucky did they get against the Chargers and Broncos?? Those games could've very easily been lost. That would've given us a 5-11 year. Maybe if Clift Ryan ran a little faster in game 1 that would've been 8-8.

    Lots of things went right last year, but wrong this year. 2 games in a row where a fumble has been returned for a TD. IDK how much the lockout and new system affected the team, I'm sure it did - a good amount- but they moved the ball against the Giants and Packers. They were in posistion to score vs. the Eagles, Redskins, etc.

    Its just a whole bunch of factors. But still failing to score from the 2, 3 yard line or not getting 1 measly yard w/ one of the best backs in the NFL...hmm....those things for w/e reason they failed.

    Also there's so many things the effect outcomes...turnovers in good field posistion. That's why the Saints game was a W. If Josh Gordy drops that INT late in the 1st half, I think Saints go down and score. If Stewart doesn't get that pick 6...I still think they go down and score.

    Speaking of field posistion, the Rams have always had pee pee poor field posistion for a while now. Why can't we ever see drives start at the 40 or 50 yard line? It always seems to be inside the 10, for a few years now. It's hard for even the best teams to drive 80 yards and score each time, let alone 90+.

    Rams need more good breaks. T/Os in the other team's terriotory, defensive TDs, KO/PR TDs. Things like that make teams good. That's why the Lions won that Cowboys game.
     
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