The St. Louis Rams’ season has been on life support for the better part of the last month as it is, but the San Francisco 49ers graciously pulled the plug on this lost cause on Sunday. Without their starting quarterback and with several glaring defensive deficiencies as well, the Rams were never going to make much of a push in the postseason even if they miraculously managed to get there. Now the focus can be shifted to where it should be: on the 2014 season.
It’s hard to say that the NFL’s youngest team two years running is a disappointment, but it’s clear the franchise expected more out of this group of talent they’ve assembled under the regime of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead. The well is about to run dry from the heist the Rams pilfered from the Washington Redskins in the Robert Griffin III deal in the upcoming draft, and all they have to show for it is treading water at best this season.
Where the struggles really showed up against San Francisco was again in a porous secondary with plenty of room for Vernon Davis, the recently returned Michael Crabtree, and especially Anquan Boldin to work. Each proved to be matchup nightmares for a coverage unit that really doesn’t have much to offer in terms of personnel. That has to be an area of emphasis during the upcoming offseason if this team wants to improve in 2014.
The defense as a whole continued to be mildly successful employing a bend but don’t break philosophy to keep them in the game by forcing three field goals, but the offensive ineptitude only delayed the inevitable for St. Louis. Despite a huge fumble forced by none other than turnover producing machine Alec Ogletree on Frank Gore, the Rams proceeded to muck things up by going three and out before going into desperation mode.
That desperate moment occurred on an insane fake punt call inside of the team’s own 20-yard line with eight yards to go for a first down. The move essentially ended the game as the Niners turned around and cashed in for a touchdown right after the turnover on downs. Coach Fisher showing zero faith in his defense after they had just forced a turnover to get the ball back was a completely unthinkable move. This type of coaching really doesn’t bode well for this young team as these kinds of errors can rob the confidence to grow from the potential of the roster and pen them into a ‘woe is me’, ‘failure is inevitable’ mentality.
Where the Rams go from here is really back to the drawing board as the team still has four games remaining in the 2013 season with several young guys to evaluate. The team has to find out what it has in terms of personnel to build around and take inventory of the situation before the real work can begin to overhaul this roster properly. Cutting some dead weight will be important and so will adding further insulation to the offensive line, but figuring out who the quarterback is to lead this team forward is the most important question facing them going forward. At least the Rams know where they stand now after this despicable showing in Week 13 even if it isn’t very happy making.