Pride and all of that jazz was left to play for, but there wasn’t much else at stake for the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. They did have a shot at their first .500 record since 2006, but even that accomplishment would have left a hollow feeling given their basement finish in the NFC West.
Though they may have been lacking motivation coming into the contest, the effort was clearly not absent on Sunday. Unfortunately neither was the lack of discipline and completely asinine behavior which has become a hallmark for the Rams this season. There’s a difference between playing with an edge and being flat out punks, and the Rams proved to be the latter against the Seattle Seahawks.
Clearly head coach Jeff Fisher needs to change his ways and get this team under control looking ahead to next season. Kendall Langford was ejected for contacting an official after a verbal altercation with the Seattle sideline, and rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree was also guilty of running his mouth in the contest. Though it’s nice to see emotion in a relatively meaningless game, it’s clear the Rams are taking that concept a bit too far.
As for the action itself, the punkish antics and lack of discipline in terms of behavior didn’t lead to anything positive on the field either. The run defense was gashed by Marshawn Lynch as he was routinely being tackled by safeties after getting to the second and third level. Quarterback Kellen Clemens had his worst game of the year against the stingy Seahawks defense as his protection broke down often and his was under siege on the regular.
To add to those struggles, rookie sensation Zac Stacy was held to just 15 yards on 15 carries while the running game as a whole sputtered all afternoon. They managed to produce 13 yards which only further highlights the need for some serious help in the trenches. His rookie season may have come up just shy of the 1,000-yard mark, but Stacy still instills plenty of reason for future optimism in St. Louis.
As for some of the other positives from Week 17, both kicker Greg Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker finished their stellar campaigns in style. Zuerlein ran his kicking stats to 26-for-28 on the season while Hekker made the Pro Bowl after the awesome push his teammates made for him a couple of weeks ago.
In addition to those positives, the Washington Redskins added another loss to their resume to secure the No. 2 overall pick for the 2014 NFL Draft. At least the future of the team has a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Standout defensive end Robert Quinn also finished off his breakthrough year with authority as he added another sack and continues to be the most difficult defender in league to block. He is held nearly every play yet still finds a way to the quarterback more often than not. At least the sky is still the limit for his potential along with the stellar pass rush that the Rams put out on the field.
This seventh straight season below .500 for St. Louis shows that the team still has plenty of rebuilding work to do. What the Rams may not have accounted for, however, is just how much change still needs to take place with the attitude of this youthful roster.