The Oakland Raiders are not a good football team. Not even close. I know the response to that is: "what does that make the Rams?" It makes them a bad team--a team that doesn't know how to win. Not yet. The Raiders aren't more talented than the Rams. I'll debate that position by position until I'm blue in the face. And there aren't many teams I'll say that about. But the Raiders won five games last season. They are capable of making plays in close games. The Rams are not. Not yet. Four personal foul penalties, dropped interceptions, a missed field goal and the inability to generate any offense when Steven Jackson isn't dominating (my kingdom for a legit backup running back!!) led to the Rams demise Sunday. The Raiders were the beneficiaries. Nothing more.
In the past few seasons, predating Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams have made a habit of making very ordinary players look like All Pros on a given Sunday. Please, don't read too much into what Bruce Gradkowski did Sunday. He's a journeyman quarterback and nothing more. He's a tough guy and I thought he should have made the Rams roster as the third QB in 2008. But he is what he is--an NFL backup. Wide Receiver Darius Heyward-Bay had a career day Sunday. We've seen it before. He caught just one pass against the Titans in week one and caught just nine passes all of 2009 despite making 11 starts. He'll again disappear from the radar screen shortly. The guy has suspect hands and can't run routes. But the Rams made him look better than he is. We've seen it before.
And let's hold off on clearing shelf space off for Darren McFadden's bust in Canton. The guy is a tremendous talent. But in two full seasons, he's never gained more than 499 yards in a year. Last season he averaged a paltry 3.4 yards per carry and gained 357 yards for the entire season. Is he on a bad team? Yes. But Steven Jackson gained 1400 plus yards on a 1-15 team last season. Steven leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage per game since 2006--on bad teams. Part of a being a Pro Bowl performer is staying healthy and producing numbers. McFadden hasn't done that. He won't run for 145 yards every week. Not even close.
The Rams will start winning games when they develop a killer instinct and when they end their self destructive tendencies. Until then, there will be more ordinary NFL players (Gradkowski and Heyward-Bay) who have break out games and more very talented players (McFadden) who have career best days. And there will be more very beatable teams (Arizona and Oakland) who walk off the field with a win they shouldn't have earned.