Brutus: There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;… And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
–Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, William Shakespeare
The Rams were riding that tide in December. Then, as warned by Brutus, they failed to take the current. The Rams were riding high in December, annihilating their main rival in the West, Seattle, 42-7 and then beating Tennessee, 27-23 going into their last game of the season against the 49ers. Then Coach Sean McVay made a rookie mistake and benched his top players, basically conceding a game that wasn’t as close as the 34-13 score indicates.
The tide was lost. The Rams were dead. Clearly the Rams were not mentally ready to play Atlanta, and that’s the sole responsibility of the coach. They started flat and stayed that way throughout. How else explain that an All-Pro punt returner would fumble the first two kicks he received in the game, giving Atlanta 10 easy points? The Rams were off kilter the entire game and I think it was caused in large part by conceding the game with the 49ers, totally blunting their momentum built up during the entire season.
Exacerbating the dismal result, it gave the 49ers impetus to start the new year in the Fall of 2018 with the confidence that they can handle the Rams. I will not be surprised if it takes a long time for the Rams to survive the decision to not compete against San Francisco, beyond the loss to Atlanta, and well into next season.
Worst game in history? While the Kansas City-Tennessee game was as bad as anticipated (even if it was close with a big comeback victory for Tennessee; the quality of play was wretched), one will have to wait a long time before seeing a game as awful as the Jacksonville-Buffalo game Sunday. The NFL must be embarrassed that these are the best teams they could get into their playoffs. In a game that saw just two field goals and one touchdown, neither team had a quarterback who could complete even swing passes. Has there ever been a more inaccurate passer than Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles? Both these offenses were exercises in futility but Bortles was in a class by himself, missing receivers 10 feet away from him by 5 yards. Watching was painful in the extreme.
The only saving grace was that Tony Romo was the TV commentator. I did not fast forward through this debacle only because I wanted to hear Romo comment and explain what was going on and why. He is a jewel. As I said 40 years ago in a column I wrote for Los Angeles Magazine on local sportscasters about Vin Scully, listening to Romo is “better than the game itself.”
I get letters: From Kathy Boase, Broadway, VA, “Your last point (last week) about female reporters on the sidelines was discussed multiple times over the weekend with my husband and friends – and right on point! While the Maria Taylor interview was bad, the female sideline reporter at the New York Giants NFL game was worse as she showed us how fast a glass of water freezes in a near zero temperature! As a female, it is very offensive. A male reporter would not be asked to fulfill that assignment. I personally do not like any female sideline reporters with a few exceptions.”
Jon Gruden worth $100 million as a coach? With young coaches leading the packs these days, it’s hard to understand why the Raiders are so excited about bringing greybeard Jon Gruden back as their head coach.
Do the Raiders realize that after Gruden won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season, his first with Tampa Bay, this was his record:
Year Won Lost PCT.
2003 7 9 .438
2004 5 11 .313
2005 11 5 .688
2006 4 12 .250
2007 9 7 .563
2008 9 7 .563
Total 45 51 .469
He was fired in January of 2009 after losing four straight games in what has been called one of the biggest collapses in the history of the NFL. So why does this man, who became a TV talking head, deserve the richest coaching contract in history? It just proves that the people who run the Raiders have about as much common sense as the people who run the Lakers.
Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.