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rams80

A Rams primer for new (and old) Los Angeles fans.

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Mods can merge this into the megathread if they want, but this is a bit longformy so I thought I might try it as a standalone.

Greeting new and old Rams fans! I am Rams80, and I have taken it upon myself to be something of your tutor in what it means to be a Rams fan. My credentials? Being a die-hard fan of this team for all 21 seasons they spent in St. Louis. This first post will be a history of the Rams in St. Louis, sort of as an explanation of how the Rams got to where they are on the field. The second post (which should be shorter) will be a more in-depth description of the current team.

I thought about how to break up the history, and ultimately settled on using coaches as the framework. The Rams have had many, as most of the St. Louis ones have been unsuccessful.

1995-1996: Rich Brooks.

The Rams first games in St. Louis started with much promise, as the team started 5-1 in its first season. Sadly, the success was unable to continue as they went 8-18 for the rest of Brooks' tenure and objectively got worse in the second season. What is most important to know from this era is the catastrophic 1996 Draft class which saw the Rams trade Jerome Bettis, draft Lawrence Phillips (last seen murdering his cellmate committing suicide in his cell) to replace him #6 overall, and pick up Tony Banks to be quarterback in the 2nd round. Banks, with his propensity for ill-timed fumbles, would become the baseline for poor QB play in the eyes of Rams fans and also serve as a bogeyman for them. (Ironically, I'd argue he's in the upper half of QBs to start at least one game for the Rams. Yes, its been THAT bad at times folks.) The other chief recollection is that Brooks absolutely lost his :censored: in the locker room during his last game in 1996, smashed everything, and scared the team into completing a comeback victory over the Saints. He would be fired the next day.

1997-1999: Dick Vermeil

The Dick Vermeil era is a tale of two teams, the 1997-1998 Rams and the 1999 Rams. For about the only time in their St. Louis existence, Frontiere brought in competent football guys into the front office to assist Vermeil, and Vermeil would go on to spend his first two seasons completely rebuilding the defense into something that might actually stop the other team from scoring, as well as rebuilding the offensive line (as well as to almost completely turnover the roster in general.) It was a trying process, though, as the offense was left to its own devices those two years and Tony Banks was the starter during that. They won 5 and 4 games those first two seasons, which was distressing to say the least, but ironically was something I would kill for by the late 2000s. After the 1998 season, the Rams brought in Mike Martz to quickly revamp the offense. Among the key personnel pickups in that revamp were Marshall Faulk via draft-day trade, Torry Holt by draft pick, and QB Trent Green via free agency. (Kurt Warner had been added the year before to be backup.) Everything clicked in 1999, the first year of the Greatest Show on Turf. Martz had built an offense that was literally faster than anything the league had ever seen (seriously, watch footage of that team sometime-their relative speed is surprising). The team also got lucky in the fact that Warner turned out to be better than anyone expected when he was called to step in after Rodney Harrison ended Trent Green's season in the preseason. What goes under-reported is that basically everyone on defense had (by far) a career year as well. The team would end up winning one of the more memorable Super Bowls in league history. Vermeil chose to (temporarily) retire after the game. Mike Martz, having built such a transformational offense, was seen as the obvious successor.

2000-2005: Mike Martz (Joe Vitt interim Game 6 of 2005 onward)

Mike Martz is the hot girlfriend who was great to be with, but maxed out your credit card, made you cosign a bunch of bad loans, and wrapped your car around a telephone pole. His teams were notable for their offensive capabilities, but also their porous defenses-basically they were eggshells armed with sledgehammers. That said, as long as he was coach, I never thought his teams were out of games because of the offense. Martz was handed an organization that was in fine shape, but he was unable to maintain it as his tenure wore on (he also was the GM). Although, it was not a continuous decline, but rather a roller-coaster journey of ups and downs. Case in point, after his first (2000) team managed to both lead the league in scoring, but also was last in defense, he was actually able to completely revamp the defense into something useful, which meant that the 2001 team was arguably the best team in St. Louis, if not all-time franchise history.) Unfortunately for Martz the loss suffered by that team in the Super Bowl was a watershed moment from which the franchise has NEVER fully recovered from, as well as the end of the Greatest Show on Turf. In the following offseason, the organization made its worst FA blunder in the St. Louis era by choosing not to resign MLB London Fletcher, who was the heart of the defense and someone the organization never fully replaced. The 2002 team started 0-5 as part of the long hangover and, while it was able to finish with a 7-9 record, it was clear that there were fundamental problems with the team (such as the minor issue that Martz chose to let the offensive line rot while his QBs were battered into PTSD). That season also saw the debut of Marc Bulger, a former 3rd-stringer who proved to be far more capable than initial backup Jamie Martin. The 2003 season saw the Rams return to the top of the division, only to lose in 2OT in the divisional round to eventual NFC champion Carolina. After that season, salary cap concerns forced the Rams to chose between Warner and Bulger, and they made the (IMO) correct decision to ride with Bulger. Going with Bulger was the right move as Warner basically needed to be away from Martz's offense if he ever wanted to recover as a QB (or at least take a few years off) and the Rams were, bluntly, in a win-now mode because of the age of the rest of the roster. After drafting RB Steven Jackson, the 2004 season saw the Rams blunder into the playoffs as a wild card and also saw their last playoff win to date (they took all three games against Seattle that season-their last season sweep of the Seahawks prior to 2015). The 2005 season was derailed by Martz's "medical issues" which forced him to step down from active duties. In reality, Martz's personality and ego, which had repeatedly brought him into conflict with Rams management, finally proved to be to much for the administration and they ousted him. Mike Martz is the only St. Louis era coach to depart with a winning record.

2006-2008: Scott Linehan (Jim Haslett interim from Game 5 of 2008 onward)

TheTriumphofDeath.jpg

The Triumph of Death - Pieter Brugel the Elder, oil on canvas, 1562

Scott Linehan is, to be put bluntly, the one Rams coach I feel actual hatred for. He was a petty, paranoid, vindictive, incompetent, and depressive individual and not only did he leave the team worse off from where he found it, he did so deliberately. While Linehan's first season started off well enough (4-1) a last minute Seattle victory in St. Louis (on yours truly's 21st birthday hilariously) put the team into a tailspin from which he could never fully recover from (he went 7-24 from there on out.) He did return Bulger to Pro-Bowl form that season, but he also pulled out the "most catastrophic 3-game winning streak in NFL history" out of his rear end in Weeks 15-17. This was catastrophic because it convinced Rams management that Linehan had figured out what he was doing (in reality the Rams punked 3 teams who had nothing left to play for that season.) Week 16 also saw the end of the vaunted "sellout streak" that has been frequently cited as a sign of St. Louis' support for the team. The 2007 season saw the bottom fall out and the team start 0-8. Linehan probably should have been canned at that point, but was reprieved by the passing of Georgia Frontiere in January 2008 (allegedly him getting a 3rd season was one of her dying wishes). While Linehan wasn't sacked, everyone else responsible for personnel decisions was, which created the bizarre situation in which you are trying to kick off (another) rebuild while you have a coach who is basically a dead man walking unless he makes the playoffs. This was an obvious recipe for failure, especially since Linehan was convinced his coordinators were conspiring to replace him (in fairness they probably were a little), and fail they did. A Week 1 blowout loss put Linehan behind the 8 ball, and he spent the next 3 weeks cutting his best players, benching/trying to cut/trade other good players/locker room leaders (he tried to dump Torry Holt on the Titans, but was told he lacked the authority to make that move by management after Week 3). This culminated in him sending oft-concussed backup QB Trent Green out to die as the starter in Week 4 over a healthy Marc Bulger. He was fired the next day as it was the bye week, with the Rams starting 0-4 and losing by an average score of 37-11. Haslett won his first two games out of the bye, but despite his "player's coach" reputation was unable to win another game. Worringly, the offense only cracked 21 points TWICE, a Week 17 loss that saw them score 27 and the patented random Rams upset win over a playoff contender (the Cowboys this time-they scored 34).

2009-2011: Steve Spagnuolo

A continuation of the Triumph of Death Era, Spagnuolo was completely incompetent, but at least his heart was in the right place and his intentions were good. Spagnuolo's tenure was a necessary step in the history of the franchise, as he was the guy who finally proclaimed the death of the Greatest Show on Turf and tried to reinvent the team's identity into one that was more of a smashmouth football team. His first season was a Year 0 disaster-a 1-win campaign in which the team's Super Bowl was a game against a 2-win Detroit Lions team (the Rams won 17-10, it was terrible and soul-rending). By the end the team's QB progression had been PTSD Bulger, Kyle Boller, less-injured-than-Boller PTSD Bulger, and "rookie out of a Division II school who was taught how to play QB by Ryan Leaf, I :censored: you not". Understandably, the offense scored 175 points all season and only saw 12 TD passes. Following that, the Rams drafted Sam Bradford #1 overall to play QB, and proceeded to spend the next 5 seasons doing everything the "how to develop franchise QBs manual" says not to do. The fundamental problem was that while Bradford might have had franchise QB-level talent, the Rams had nothing to surround him with or a line to protect him, and he isn't the kind of QB who can elevate the play of those around him. Despite these issues, the Rams pulled out a smoke-and-mirrors 7-9 season in 2010, which was primarily marred by Spagnuolo's gameday incompetence and tendency to have the team turtle the second it had a lead (no matter how slight) in the second half. This cost the Rams at least one win for sure, and by extension, a trip to the playoffs. Also noteworthy-the 2010 offseason saw Stan Kroenke purchase the rest of the team (a 60% stake) from the Rosenblooms. The bottom again fell out in the 2011 season, with the Rams offense cratering again.in part due to the team deluding itself into thinking Josh McDaniels was responsible for Tom Brady's success. Spagnuolo and the rest of the personnel decision-makers were fired the day after the end of the season.

2012-present: Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher has built on what Steve Spagnuolo started-smashmouth football, only this time with occasional flashes of competence. He has built the defense into one of the better ones in the league, albeit at the expense of making it one of the dirtiest (likely due to the installation of a bounty system under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.) Fisher's staff is also know for great degree of coaching nepotism, as many of his assistants' primary qualifications appear to be "was sired by a former NFL head coach/coordinator." This has resulted in some problems, particularly during the Brian Schottenheimer era for the offense. Fisher's drafts have actually been hitting more than they missed, which is a first for the Rams in St. Louis, especially on defense. (My jury's still out on RB Todd Gurley). He has, at minimum, elevated the team from THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE to base mediocrity, which can be a pain in its own way (there is potential for the playoffs, but they can't finish the deal and worse yet, other fanbases don't flip out when they lose to the Rams now unlike under Linehan and Spagnuolo.) Jeff Fisher's primary attribute, though, may have been the fact that he was coach of the Titans when they moved from Houston, so he has experienced a franchise move before and has "lessons learned" to draw upon. The 2012 season showed the most promise, but it would also be the last season Fisher had Bradford's full services for. In 2013, Bradford tore his ACL in Week 7, while in 2014, Bradford would go down in the preseason with another injury to that ACL, Curiously the revolving door at QB in 2014 only saw the Rams performance drop by a game, although the offense itself steadily declined. The most recent season saw the Rams win 7 games (again) including a sweep of Seattle, but saw the offense drop to last in the league in just about every measurable statistic. The QB position is a bit of an issue, as the Rams broke Nick Foles (who they got in the Sam Bradford trade with Philadelphia) by midseason, and Case Keenum is not exactly franchise-QB material. At least Todd Gurley, when healthy, makes things interesting and WR Tavon Austin is actually being used creatively now.

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I'm still bitter that Jeff Lurie didn't hire Vermeil to coach the Eagles in '07 when he was practically begging to come back to Philadelphia.

Instead we got Ray Bob Rhodes, famous for such quips as comparing the feeling of losing to watching the other team break in to your house and sodomize your wife and kids in front of you.

Seriously.

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Just the man I was waiting for to post.

rams80, what do we, as St. Louis Rams fans do from here?

I've been going back and forth between my resent of Kroenke, the NFL, and basically the entire "conspiracy" to move the team to L.A. once they were sure Frontiere was deep in the cold, hard ground, and the fact that I have been a firm supporter of the Rams since I acquired season tickets in 1998. It looks like you're sticking with the team and rallying behind them in L.A.? I've never found myself comfortable supporting any other team, but my sheer hatred of how the team was ripped away from me and my hometown leaves me not wanting to spend any of my time or money on a team that left without as much as a kiss goodbye.

From one Rams fan to another, honestly, I'd really appreciate some insight.

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As I said in the megathread, I've effectively been an out-of-market fan my entire life (so it has always been a bit of a struggle to follow the team). I'm going to stick with the Rams regardless of where they play, although that is because there really is no hurt here-my loyalties have always been to the team, not the market.

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I'm not a Rams fan (but I did enjoy those greatest show teams, even if they did beat my Bucs), but I gotta say, it's good to see that there are still long time fans who aren't bailing out. As a Bucs fan, if they were to move to LA or wherever, it wouldn't break my heart at all. But I'm also from California. I can totally see why St. Louis fans would bail.

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And I've always been a fan from in the market. Born and raised in St. Louis (and practically the TWA/Edward Jones Dome). Growing up, spending a lot of quality time with my dad and grandfather will be something that I'll always cherish, but, it'll be difficult to actively cheer for a team/organization that up and left in the middle of the night.

Honestly, I'll probably be bitter about it until football season starts up again. I've spent too much time and money, have too much Rams memorabilia, clothing, and whatnot, to really give up on 'em.

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I for one hope the Rams lose every game they play, and that they don't play many more games because the league explodes into a big greedy concussion-y mess.

And the good news for me is that there's a reasonably decent chance of the former happening because the Rams are terrible and Kroenke's teams are by and large awful.

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Do the Rams do what the Nets did when they moved to Brooklyn, blow up the future for a championship in the present? Hopefully with better results though.

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Hopefully not. When was the last time that worked?

Personally, at this point I want the Rams to thrive in their new home just to marginalize the Chargers

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The Colts are already inviting Rams fans into the fold. (Too soon!)

Surprisingly, Indy is closer than Kansas City. 242 to 247 miles or something, but still! You can wear blue to the games!

They are willing to negotiate terms on Twitter, so I suggest asking for one Colts sticker for every Rams logo affixed to your officially licensed NFL merchandise.

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Will LA Rams fans who changed the channel when they moved to St. Louis, feel Super Bowl title'less?

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I would suspect that it probably feels as distant as the World Championship they won in Cleveland.

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The Colts are already inviting Rams fans into the fold. (Too soon!)

Surprisingly, Indy is closer than Kansas City. 242 to 247 miles or something, but still! You can wear blue to the games!

They are willing to negotiate terms on Twitter, so I suggest asking for one Colts sticker for every Rams logo affixed to your officially licensed NFL merchandise.

This is a fun and admirable effort, but not only am I done with the NFL, Jim Irsay voted for the move (along with 29 of the other 32 owners).

Any Rams fan not willing to root for Kroenke would struggle to justify to me why any other team deserves their support.

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I wonder if all the people in St. Louis saying Kroenke is bad, were saying the same thing when Georgia Frontiere did this to LA? Some people would call this, "Karma".

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Mark Davis was almost certainly one of them. I've heard Mike Brown and Stephen Ross mentioned as the other.

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The speculation is that Mike Brown voted against it because he didn't want the salary cap and salary floor to rise.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2016/01/13/mike-brown-is-believed-to-have-voted-against-inglewood/

He also voted against the move because, dammit, jet fuel is expensive!

Cincinnati to St. Louis? That's a bus trip in Mike Brown's eyes.

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Mike Brown is claiming he's in favor of the move and thinks having LA back in the league is great for the NFL. He's one of the 5 worst owners in sports, but I don't think that nay vote is his.

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