Now that quarterback Sam Bradford has torn his ACL, the St. Louis Rams yet again find themselves at a crossroads.
Forget about the short-term signings of Austin Davis and Brady Quinn or the somewhat embarrassing phone call to Brett Favre. The Bradford injury throws the franchise’s long-term plans into a state of flux. Bradford’s contract runs out in 2015, and he will count $17.61 million and $16.58 million against the cap in the next two respective seasons.
Despite a seemingly sour reputation by the national media, Bradford was quietly putting together his best season as a professional – with 1,687 yards, 14 touchdowns, only 4 picks and a career high passer rating of 90.9. Had Bradford continued that level of play throughout the season, the Rams front office almost certainly would’ve renegotiated his contract into a long-term deal. Now though, the Rams must make a decision in the coming months to either double down on Bradford and pray that he heals quickly or prepare to move on and hit the reset button yet again.
Meanwhile, the Rams are most likely starting Kellen Clemens the rest of the season, starting with a Monday night game against Seattle this week. The Rams are 3-4 right now and will be lucky to eclipse six wins on the season. But Rams fans have become accustomed to such bad luck because…
The Rams are the most star-crossed team over the past 10 years.
Now, you’re probably thinking one of two things right now.
- Shut up. The Rams won the freaking Super Bowl in your lifetime! Plus, Rams fans got to witness the Greatest Show on Turf.
- Most Rams fans probably also root for the St. Louis Cardinals, who have won four NL pennants and two World Series in that same 10-year time span. Forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for you guys.
Both valid points.
But let’s look at this strictly through the prism of how the St. Louis Rams have performed on and off the field since 2004 compared to some of their fellow futile teams. Here are the six teams with the worst records since 2004.
- Miami Dolphins – 61-89 (one division title; zero playoff wins)
- Buffalo Bills – 60-91 (no playoff appearances; one above .500 season)
- Cleveland Browns – 50-101 (no playoff appearances; one above .500 season)
- Oakland Raiders – 47-103 (no playoff appearances; no above .500 seasons)
- Detroit Lions – 47-104 (one playoff appearance; one above .500 season)
- St. Louis Rams – 47-104 (one playoff appearance; no above .500 seasons)
The Bills, Browns and Lions are routinely thought of as the most tortured franchises of all time, and rightfully so. The Lions have never made a Super Bowl. The Browns in the current iteration and their former franchise, now the Baltimore Ravens, have never made a Super Bowl either. To make it doubly torturing, the Ravens relocated from Cleveland in 1996 and went on to win two Super Bowls and have become one of the most successful franchises in the league. The Bills might be the most tortured of all, as they actually have made a Super Bowl, in fact, they made four in a row in the early 1990s – a feat that will almost certainly never be replicated – and lost all four.
Once again, however, we’re only talking about the most star-crossed franchises since 2004. And since 2004, the Rams take the cake. They did back into the playoffs in 2004 at 8-8 and even won a playoff game, but since then, the team has barely sniffed the playoffs and has hit the reset button on their coaching and front office regimes three times. As we’ve highlighted before, the drafting and player development by this team over the past 10 years has been laughable at best.
But the biggest reason the Rams are the most star-crossed franchise since 2004 is the utter hopelessness that has surrounded this franchise. And any time hope has dared showed its face around the team facility – the 2007, 2011 and 2013 seasons come to mind – the football Gods have been sure to smite down the Rams.
At least the Bills enjoyed a 9-7 season in 2004, the 10-6 Browns nearly crashed the playoff party in 2007 and the 10-6 Lions made the playoffs just two seasons ago. The Raiders are in a pretty dire situation right now, but even they strung together consecutive 8-8 seasons in 2010 and 2011. The Dolphins last made the playoffs in 2008 and have won at least six games in every season since then.
The Rams, meanwhile, not only set the record for the worst three-year record by an NFL team, going 6-42 from 2007-2009, they also set the record for the worst five-year record by an NFL team, going 15-65 from 2007-2011.
The 2012 RGIII trade, coupled with the hiring of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead seemed to be the move that would steer the Rams back toward respectability. (And for the record, trading that pick was, and always will be, the correct move.) It sure looked like the Rams were headed on that trajectory. A respectable 7-8-1 2012 season led to raised expectations for 2013. After a rocky 1-3 start, the Rams still had the potential to put up another respectable 2013 season.
But those hopes crashed back down to earth along with Bradford’s torn ACL on Sunday and cemented the Rams’ status as the most star-crossed team over the past 10 years. Maybe it has something to do with the Rams releasing Kurt Warner in the summer of 2004? Hmm…