Are the Rams taking the easy way out?

Questions abound in the “Show Me State”

Aaron Hooks of SB Nation posted an article yesterday about the Rams management and their disinclination to make a big acquisition.  He makes some very good points, including calling the Rams front office …


I don’t say this to be mean. But Mark Clayton is the classic example of the low-risk, high-reward management of a team. If he was the Mark Clayton of Baltimore, then who cares? It didn’t cost much. If he turns into a 100 yard/game guy and Bradford’s go-to threat down the field? Then everyone looks like a genius. But when every move is predicated on being as low-risk as possible? That’s when a franchise falls behind and can’t catch up.

The Rams have made a history of these below the radar acquisitions – Danario Alexander (recently promoted from the practice squad, size-speed combination draws comparisons to Calvin Johnson) Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Mark Clayton, Fred Robbins, Gary Gibson.  All have made a solid contribution to the Rams, but they are not top-level NFL players the Rams need.  I agree with Hooks that the Rams seem disinclined to go after the high profile players.

I don’t think that the Rams being low-risk with their player procurement process, they are just being low-risk with their pick ups through free agency.  In the draft, they have gone high-risk, picking a quarterback #1 overall – a move that has a 50% bust rate.

I’m going to argue the counterpoint to Aaron’s arguments.

The Rams are not taking the easy way out.  If they acquired Vincent Jackson, Albert Haynesworth, Michael Vick, Brian Westbrook, Terrell Owens and all the other stars and high profile free agents and trade targets the Rams were linked to, it would be much easier to pass the blame to the players and coaches.  The front office could say that they did their part, getting the best players they could and it was the coaches and players fault they couldn’t turn that into wins.  Look at how many head coaches Daniel Snyder has gone through in Washington.

Alas, this plan they have is taking precedent. You may not like Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder or Zygi Wilf. You may not agree with all their moves, many of which have failed spectacularly. But you can’t call them wimps. They’ve gone out and made the moves they thought were going to bring them glory. They could sleep at night knowing they gave it their best shot.

Sure they are not “wimps”, but they’ve got bloated payrolls, bloated expectations and so far the Vikings and Cowboys have the same number of wins as the Rams – combined.   Big acquisitions are for teams that think they are one player in one position away from making a run to the Super Bowl.  The Vikings only needed a QB, so they paid out the nose for Brett Favre (twice) and now they were a WR away so they risked it all for less than a season for Randy Moss.

The Rams have a lot of talk about the ‘future’ and laying ‘the groundwork for success.’ This is the NFL. We’re five weeks into the season and EVERYTHING is different than what we thought. Everything.

Including the NFC West, which is winnable—THIS YEAR. Even for the Rams. And some teams would look at the opportunity that they have, call an audible and say, let’s go for it. Maybe this doesn’t fit our 3-4 year strategy we had mapped out in March, but we’ve got a shot.

The NFC West is winnable every year if you have a good team.  Wild cards are rolled over every season and if you win 10 games, you are going to get into the playoffs.  The Rams are building a team from the ground up and GM Billy Devaney and the Rams front office is putting the focus on themselves.  They will not be spared any blame if the Rams are unable to eventually turn things around and become a playoff team.  The easy way out would be to make quick, splashy acquisitions.  Get the big name players and win over the talk show callers and the forum lurkers by giving away a few high draft picks.  Then the Rams can say that they tried and no one can call them wimps.

The Rams take the easy way out. Go for it never. Live in a cocoon of lunacy that tells them any sort of plan they have for next year won’t be chanced five million times in the next five weeks.

It’s time to start looking upstairs and seeing who’s committed to winning and who’s committed to saving their jobs by playing it safe.

No one in the Rams front office can think that their jobs are safe when the Rams have won 5 games in the past 2+ seasons.  If the Rams don’t win, no one with a Rams logo on their jersey or Reebok-sponsored polo shirt can say that their job is safe.  The Rams front office will take the blame if their draft picks do not work out.  If anything, they’re taking a more high risk position because they are relying on the coaching staff to develop the draft picks rather than picking up known commodity free agents and plugging them in a key positions.  In this case, low-risk does not mean they are taking the easy way out.

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