carroll fisher2

Fair. It’s for the equal distribution of joyous time on a swing between siblings which is regulated by their mother, or the slice of pie cut to exactly equal proportions. It’s for basic societal rules that ensure the purchase of goods and services goes as seamlessly as possible, like the simple concept of the grocery store lineup that must never be violated.

Unfortunately, it has no jurisdiction over football games and their outcomes.

Oh sure, in a literal sense it does, as there are rules that form the foundation of the game and they’re enforced by a team of officials. But that’s just basic structure, and often there’s no fairness whatsoever to the chaos that ensues, and the resulting outcome. The team that largely controls a game does not always win said game, which I suppose can be a generic sports bemoaning, but often it’s even more glaring in football when the strength of one unit (offense or defense) far outshines the other.

This is the St. Louis Rams’ reality. This is their pain.

Chris Long says it all without saying anything [GIF] #rams  on Twitpic

With my old age memory has become a little foggy, but I can’t remember a recent game in which one team has dominated the game so thoroughly on one side of the ball — in the Rams’ case, defense — and with one massive exception been so underwhelming on the other side en route to heart numbing 14-9 loss despite being inside the opposition’s five-yard line with 30 seconds remaining.

More on that truly special soul destruction in a moment, as the Rams were thoroughly Brian Schottenheimer’ed. What transpired prior to that will cause even more head asplosions.

While repeatedly beating up on Seahawks tackles Michael Bowie and Paul McQuistan, the Rams sacked Russell Wilson seven times. Though he’s been exposed often this season (it was the third game he had been sacked at least four times), that sack total was the highest single-game hurt of his career. Robert Quinn and Chris Long were particularly fast and scary off the edges, totaling three sacks apiece.

Combined with solid downfield coverage from a returning Cortland Finnegan alongside Janoris Jenkins, that held a Seahawks offense which had been averaging 368.6 total yards per game to only 135 yards, most of which came through a vicious outlier of an 80-yard touchdown to Golden Tate that was eventually the difference. Subtract that, and the Hawks had all of 55 offensive yards, including only 44 from a ground game that was averaging 154.4 per game. Yep.

But this gets better, as although overall the Rams’ offense was expectedly deficient and sloppy with backup Kellen Clemens starting his first game this season and only his fifth over the last seven years (he threw two interceptions on sailing balls), he was effective in key moments. Most notably that final drive when he completed passes for 21 and 18 yards, key chunk yardage in between the ground pounding.

And a pounding it was, with Zac Stacy amassing 134 rushing yards, shattering his previous single-game high of 79 yards while making many a fantasy owner who benched him in an unfavorable matchup spend the night with their face firmly planted in a palm (preferably their own). Toss in Daryl Richardson’s 39 yards on eight carries and the yardage gained on scrambles by Clemens and an end-around by Chris Givens, and the Rams finished with 200 rushing yards against a defense that was allowing only 91.6 per game. Even better, Stacy averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and even after last night Seattle still has an average average of 4.0 YPC allowed.

In total then, the Rams out-gained their inferior road opponent offensively 339 yards to just 135, largely thanks to the utter lack of time available for Wilson throughout the entire evening. And they lost.

They lost even with Stacy’s chugging, even with Clemens doing everything you could possibly expect from a backup quarterback in a crucial moment, and they lost even though Marshawn Lynch became an afterthought. Mostly, they lost because Schottenheimer.

Back to the aforementioned goal-line situation. It happened because of the (also aforementioned) passes by Clemens, and again, an apparently juggernaut running game. On that drive alone Richardson and Stacy accounted for 48 yards.

So there they were, with a first down on Seattle’s six-yard line, and all three of their timeouts remaining after a 10-yard run by Richardson. What followed was odd, and difficult to justify.

Due to an offside call that gave the Rams an extra play, they had five tries to advance the ball six yards. Yet only two of them were runs (one was a drop by Givens), and the game-deciding play from the one-yard line with time running out was a fade that wasn’t remotely close. On a play that was the difference between winning and losing when the offense needed one yard and had been bullying the Seattle front seven on the ground all night, putting your fate in the hands of the backup quarterback was deemed the best strategy for success.

Football isn’t fair, and it’s also made a fool out of many a man.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

Golden Tate is a dirtbag

Hey bro, you should probably do the scoring before the celebrating.

But Golden Tate is still the best ever

Yes, I do believe “American hero” is apt.

This. This is perfection.

A few words on Dez Bryant

Every Sunday/really, really early Monday morning, I write a manifesto recapping the day’s events. It’s primarily done from a fantasy perspective (as are most things around here during the season), but inevitably fantasy and reality blend together. Of the over 3,500 words in that post this week, there’s exactly zero dedicated to whatever Dez Bryant did or didn’t do on the sideline during Dallas’ loss to Detroit, mostly because you’re getting enough baseless narrative elsewhere.

Oh, I care about Bryant’s wild gesturing and profanity as both a writer and an NFL fan, because I care about every dominant story. But there’s a central problem with any story based purely on sideline appearances: we know nothing (at least at the time).

When we see Bryant waving his arms and yelling, what’s created is an open canvas to paint whatever image we please. And of course, the portrait of our choosing is one of an immature and selfish player who’s a petulant child. What we conveniently forget is that while Bryant may take it a step or three further, he’s not unique. Only a few weeks ago somehow it was also news that Tom Brady became frustrated on the sideline, and was momentarily red-faced and fuming.

To review then, being openly passionate during a brutal game that inherently generates intensity is not OK, but neither is sitting quietly with a towel on your head (Cam Newton), or sitting even more quietly and alone with nothing on your head (Jay Cutler). Nothing is right and nothing is good enough, because the definition of what a “leader” looks like is vague and almost devoid of meaning since it’s a moving target.

The truth of the matter always surfaces a short time later, because few things that happen on a football field aren’t mic’ed up now. Last night audio of Bryant’s first apparent blowup hit the Interwebs, and although he was certainly doing it in a fired up and rah rah fashion, it turns out he was committing the irreparable crime of…talking to his quarterback and position coach about the gameplan, and how to improve going forward.

What a thug.