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True Confession, and You’ll Hate Me For It: I Really Enjoy Watching the LA Rams

The Los Angeles Rams aren’t slowing down. They will not observe the speed limit.

They plan to keep this up, scoring as many damn points as they please to give the people something fun to watch on an NFL Sunday.

This is a healthy development for an NFL cartel that’s so consumed by chasing dollars, amassing power and warring with its own players that the moneychangers forgot about the necessity of providing entertainment.

The suits in charge of this enterprise don’t have the time to focus on cultivating a more exciting and dazzling competitive product to please fans in the stadiums and the TV viewers at home when they’re so busy chasing Ezekiel Elliott’s attorneys through courthouses.

The suits don’t have enough free time to fix the increasingly invasive fussiness of game officials who apparently believe they’re being paid for every flag they throw … never mind that they are turning a sporting event into three hours of monotony.

And when league leaders and owners are ripping franchises away from three alienated markets and losing fans there forever … and digging in hard to maintain the cabal’s corrupt internal justice system … and are getting the vapors in the rush to suspend players who haven’t been found guilty of committing crimes … and that they’ve been woefully incompetent in mishandling — and worsening — these preventable national anthem controversies…

Well the VIPs cannot fret over minor concerns such as the regressive drop in points scored in NFL games, or the slide in TV ratings, or taking a few minutes to call Cleveland and insist that the Browns find their first real quarterback since Otto Graham.

Not when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is trying to stage a coup to overthrow commissioner R. Goodell, a remote possibility that nonetheless has cable networks panting. The networks, you see,  are becoming just like the league they service … it ain’t about the football. It’s about everything except the football. The way this league is covered is more Kardashian than the actual Kardashians.

True confession here.

I like watching the Rams play, even if I don’t like the owner who is paying them to play.

This league is so ridiculously low on entertainment, so littered with gratuitous penalty flags, so neglectful about truly protecting players from vicious, supposedly outlawed head-shots … so active in carting the broken bodies off the field …

It’s really becoming unwatchable.

And as an entertainment form, college football is vastly superior to these NFL Sunday slogs.

But I do like to watch football on Sunday, a lifelong habit. I have to find something on an NFL Sunday that’s interesting, and fresh, and engaging … something that isn’t like digesting a fistful of ambien. … something that stands out as different than the humdrum procession of boring teams that the NFL pushes out there each week.

The Rams are fun.

Charismatic.

They are a marketable product …

(Well, except in Los Angeles.)

The Rams have something going that can make fans smile.

(Well, except in St. Louis.)

Of the many preseason predictions I would have flunked before this 2017 campaign, I can assure you my forecast failures would be topped by these misjudgments:

— That the Rams would be 6-2, and leading the NFC West, and getting talked up as a dangerous playoff contender …  a contender that no opponent really wants to take on should the Rams get into the tournament

— That head coach Sean McVay, age 31, would emerge as a short-list, hot-list candidate for NFL Coach of the Year in his rookie season.

— I did say I thought the Rams made an intriguing hire with McVay, and I liked that they were trying something different to stimulate an offense that’s been depressed if not dead for more than a decade. But no, I didn’t think that when the Rams fired antediluvian head coach Jeff Fisher to bring in someone new, they’d find the next Bill Walsh.

— I wouldn’t have predicted that McVay and the Rams could recruit legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to move to Los Angeles to run their defense.

— No prediction that  the Rams would be leading the NFL in all-around points per game, 32.9, after averaging half of that (the worst in the league, barely 16 points) over a 10-season stretch that dragged them through 2016.

— That the Rams would have won three games by 30+ points this season — after winning only two games by 30+ from 2007 through 2016.

— That these Rams would score 40+ points in three of their first eight games when the snoozer Rams of yore scored 40+ points only TWICE in 160 games from 2007 through 2016.

— That Rams GM Les Snead would be freed from Jeff Fisher Prison to sign a very good left offensive tackle (Andrew Whitworth), sign a very good center (John Sullivan), and do a wide receiver makeover that brought in Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp … and that Snead would get all of this done in one offseason.

— And that McVay could make something out of Tavon Austin, and rejuvenate the running back Todd Gurley. In this armory the Rams have more playmakers than they’ve had in a long time — maybe going back to 2006.

— That the Rams, with 263 points scored through only eight games, would already have more points on the board than the 2008,   2009,   2011 and 2016  Rams scored  over  a  full  season  of  16 games.  That’s crazy.

— That the Rams would be leading all NFL teams with the highest percentage (51.6%) of possessions that end with points being scored. Go back a season, and the 2016 Rams scored points on only 21.8 percent of possessions … 32nd (last) in the league.

— That the Rams would have 23 touchdowns from scrimmage on offense through eight games … the same number that last year’s team produced in 16 games.

— That Rams quarterback Jared Goff  would be third in the NFL in average yards per passing attempt (8.32), or leading the league with an average of 13.8 yards per completion. Not after Goff, last year’s No. 1 overall draft choice, looked so overwhelmed, so awkward, so horrible. Goff was so bad last year that I felt guilty about making fun of him when watching his games. After 2016, I thought the only future this kid would have would be in Cleveland, the place where the Browns collect failed quarterbacks.

— And now, eight games into his second season, Goff is piercing defenses for an average of 13.8 yards per connection? My goodness Kurt Warner and Trent Green combined to average 13.59 yards per completion for the 1999-to-2001 St. Louis Rams. No, I would not have predicted that.

— I would not have predicted the 2017 Rams averaging 29.1 points on offense each game … just points on offense, excluding points scored by the defense or special teams on returns.

— I would not have predicted that the 2017 Rams, with that spiffy average of 29.1 offensive points per game, would be hanging out with the 1999-2001 Rams that averaged 29.7 offensive points per game over three seasons.

I wouldn’t have predicted any of this.

This is  La  La  Land  stuff … and I ain’t talking about the movie.

“La La Land” as in being completely detached from reality.

Thanks for reading…

–Bernie

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