A TALE OF TWO SEASONS.
By Rams Nation's Rudy Hiers
The 2002 NFL season
“It’s was the best of times… it was the worst of times.”
For all we know, Charles Dickens penned his classic French revolutionary metaphor
after time traveling to the year 2002 and catching the Rams first 10 games of
One thing’s for certain though, just like another famous Dickensian character
Ebenezer Scrooge, the once slumbering Rams through the last 10 games have been
haunted by several spirits.
The ghost of seasons past:
0-5? Egads. What was this…? The 1990-ish Rams? Did we walk through a
time warp? After starting the season as a consensus choice to reach their 3rd
super bowl in 4 years, the Rams got off to the franchises worst start in 40
years. Not even the teen denizens of Elm Street suffered through the kind of
nightmare the Rams had the first month of the season.
Well, the Rams play of the first 10 games appears to give credence to the age
old adage that “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” for after
fighting their way through tsunami’s of turnovers the past several seasons,
the Rams continue on their quest to keep less talented opponents in games by
continuing to cough the ball up in crucial situations. The Rams in fact, have
committed two or more turnovers in 22 of their last 27 games. It boggles the
mind to consider what this team would have accomplished the last three years,
if they had been more accomplished in terms of ball security.
The ghost of season present:
Paging Dr’s Pierce and McIntire.
Is this Ram’s Park or the 4077th?
The injuries to Warner, Pace, Williams, Faulk, et al:
Do you realize how many ALL-PRO man games the Rams have lost to injury this
year? The number isn’t pretty. Of course, the injury list in and of itself
didn’t give the Rams license to waltz and stumble around the first 5 games
as though they were extras in “Night of the living dead”, but it
did without a doubt play a small part in how the team performed over the first
5 contests… I mean, watching the Rams try to field a competent offensive
line the first 5 games of the season, was like attending a 3-card monty convention.
Can’t you picture Jim Hanifan standing over a TV tray on the side line
with 5 sheets of paper, arms rapidly moving the little sheets of paper across
the table from side to side muttering “let’s move the right tackle
to the left side, replace the right tackle with our backup center, move our
left guard to center, our right guard to left guard, and a partridge in a pear
Now, we all know the league office and the Rams don’t get along, but
this was ridiculous.
Opening up on the road in Denver (league’s #2 defense) then following
that up with a home game against the Giants (leagues #5 defense... With the
Giants getting 10 days of rest to prepare for the Rams due to their having played
on Thursday night opening weekend ) and then sending them back on the road the
next week against Tampa ( leagues #1 defense...With them having an extra day
to prepare against the Rams due to the game being on Monday night ) Coming home
the next week on a short week to face the Cowboys ( leagues #10 defense) then
sending them back out on the road in week 5 to face their biggest division rival,
the San Francisco 49ers ( who conveniently happened to have their bye week scheduled
the week before, thus giving them two full weeks to prepare for the Rams )
I know that “there’s no crying in football” and I’m
not an Art Bell listener, but if one didn’t know better, one would get
the sneaking suspicion that the scales were a bit “tilted” towards
the Rams opponents just a little the first month of the season. This is no excuse
mind you, because the Rams should have just taken care of business, but the
schedule didn’t help.
The ghost of season’s future:
Bruce Springsteen once wrote “from small things momma, big things one
We saw it in 1999, when a journeyman grocery bagger/QB rolled onto the scene
a relative unknown, and waltzed off the field the next January, not only the
league MVP, but a world champion.
Fast forward to 2002
The grocery bagger/QB who now has garnered two league MVP’s and two NFC
championships, comes off the field, his right pinky finger having more curves
in it than a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Surgery/Pins and 6-8 weeks
the word is... Gloom sets in, darkness descends, and the 0-3 Rams soon faced
the type of adversity that usually overwhelms teams.
Backup Jaime Martin steps forward, only to be ineffective and eventually sidelined
by a knee injury he suffers through one of the most disturbing defeats in Ram
History, a 37-13 embarrassment in San Francisco. Now the Rams were without their
top two QB’s on the depth chart, and the team coming to town next, the
4-0 Oakland Raiders, just happened to be the hottest team in the NFL at the
Signed by Rams 1/12/01 ... spent two weeks on Falcons' practice squad ...
spent one week on Rams' practice squad in 2000 ... spent 2000 training camp
with New Orleans Saints ... drafted by the Saints in the sixth round (168th
overall) of 2000 NFL Draft. 2000: Spent one week on Rams' practice squad ...
spent two weeks on Atlanta Falcons' practice squad. Has not thrown a pass in
Gee, non-impressive resume right?
Well, let’s take a look at another set of numbers then…
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