COMMENTARY | On Sunday, September 9, the St. Louis Rams lost their season opener at the Detroit Lions 27-23. Two starting offensive linemen, center Scott Wells and left tackle Rodger Saffold, were injured in the game.
Two thoughts came to mind when I saw Saffold hit the turf during the fourth quarter. First, I hoped that he would be okay. Head and neck injuries are scary, and I'd never want to see a player's career and quality of life taken away. Secondly, I envisioned another 1-15 or 2-14 season for the Rams with 15 players on injured reserve. This has happened in two out of the past three seasons in St. Louis.
After all, who could forget how the Rams lost five starters in last year's opening game against the Philadelphia Eagles? Who could forget seeing Greg Salas break his leg just as he was starting to get the offense? What about the 2009 team which lost multiple players to injuries?
Let's be honest here. The 2009 and 2011 teams weren't very good. Even if those Rams squads had stayed healthy, they would have struggled through both seasons. The 2009 team was devoid of talent, and the 2011 Rams didn't have the depth to win against one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL.
However, if you've been following the Rams for a long time, seeing Saffold and Wells get injured on Sunday had to be frustrating. Every NFL team opened its season with hope. There's no reason to believe that head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead do not think that the Rams can win now. Fisher didn't sign with the Rams to finish in last place. Yet after losing two starting offensive linemen in the first game of the season, this team is hamstrung for the foreseeable future.
When you add in the fact that the clock operator in Detroit essentially gave the Lions an extra timeout, you have to feel like the Rams can't catch a break. The clock error forced the Rams to take a timeout just before the two-minute warning instead of forcing the Lions to take a timeout after the ensuing third down play. Overall, it cost the Rams around 30 seconds of clock time, which had a huge impact on the game. The Lions would get the ball back and drive downfield for the winning touchdown.
I'm not trying to whine about an outcome that can't be changed. The Rams had every opportunity to stop Detroit on that final drive. But you have to wonder what the franchise has to do to finally breakthrough. The Rams came out and gave the Lions a fight, but they still lost the game and two starters. Does this sound familiar? If you've been following this franchise throughout the past six years, then it sure does.
I've never been a superstitious person, but it's starting to feel like the St. Louis Rams are cursed. Is it possible for a franchise to be so poorly run for over five years that it's now stuck in one of the worst stretches in NFL history? Sure, I think we can all agree that the Rams have been poorly run. But it doesn't help that the Rams have been hit with every injury imaginable. It doesn't help that a clock manager in Detroit failed to do his or her job. It feels as though this franchise will never have a run of good luck.
Maybe things will change next weekend when the Rams host Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Perhaps the Rams will win their home opener and set the stage for a solid 2012 campaign. But, in the meantime, it's hard to see how this franchise can remain positive while injuries do the same thing they did last year: ruin the team's chances for success.
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- American Football
- Detroit Lions
- Rodger Saffold