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Sports Medley: Ramsí Trade for Quarterback Goff Continues More Than a Half Century of Ineptitude 2 May 16

by Tony Medley

The history of the Rams franchise is one dominated by ignorance of how to build a winning football team. Just as one example, in 1958 they had a fine team that compiled an 8-4 record and seemed poised to compete for the title in 1959.

Thatís when General Manager Pete Rozelle, the future NFL Commissioner, decided to trade 7 players, including offensive tackle Ken Panfil and defensive end Frank Fuller, both All Pro selections in 1959, and two high draft picks for running back Ollie Matson. The result? From 8-4 in í58 the Rams sunk to 2-10 and a last place finish in í59, which began years in oblivion until George Allen built up the offensive and defensive lines and made them contenders.

That trade, though, happened after they drafted Norm van Brocklin in 1949 even though they already had a Hall of Fame quarterback, Bob Waterfield. Bob didnít like sharing time with Norm, so retired early, after the 1952 season. But even though they had van Brocklin, they drafted quarterback Billy Wade as the #1 pick in 1952. Van Brocklin didnít like sharing time with Wade, so a few years later he vamoosed to Philadelphia where he led the Eagles to their last NFL title in 1960 while the Rams languished. Wade was dumped and then quarterbacked the Chicago Bears to the 1963 NFL Title.

Then in 1963 the Rams used the first pick, a ďbonus pickĒ to draft Terry Baker, an Oregon State quarterback who led the nation in total offense and won the Heisman Trophy. Baker was a bust, lasting only three years, starting only one game and attempting only 21 passes. Since 1949 the Rams have drafted 44 quarterbacks. Only one, 1949ís van Brocklin, made the Hall of Fame.

This incompetence carried over into St. Louis. After quarterback Kurt Warner (undrafted) had led the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV and to another Super Bowl appearance (XXXVI) (St. Louisís only two appearances), and being named NFL MVP two out of three years, he got injured. The Ramsí bonehead coach thought his replacement, a comparative journeyman named Marc Bulger, was better than Kurt, so Kurt was dumped. Arizona eventually grabbed him and he led the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl and came within a few seconds of winning it. Now heís a cinch for the Hall of Fame, and whoever thinks of Marc Bulger?

So now the bumbling Rams once again bankrupt their future by trading lots of draft choices, #15, 43, 45, and 76 this year, and their first- and third- round picks next year, to Tennessee to get the #1 pick this year, an untested quarterback from Cal named Jared Goff.

Quarterbacks chosen in the first round have a dismal record of success. According to ESPN, fewer than half have even made the Pro Bowl. Here are just a few quarterbacks who have been the #1 pick in the draft, Sam Bradford, JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch, Steve Bartkowski, Jack Concannon, Baker, Randy Duncan, King Hill, George Shaw, and Bobby Garrett. On the other hand, Tom Brady was chosen in the sixth round. Bart Starr was chosen in the 17th round, the 200th player selected. Wasting four top 76 draft picks in one year for a college quarterback is not worth it, especially for a team that needs talent at lots of other positions.

What the Rams have never seemed to realize is the truism that football games are won on the line of scrimmage. A passer needs protection; a runner needs blockers. But (except for the George Allen/Carroll Rosenbloom eras) the Rams have traditionally drafted mostly ďglamorĒ positions, quarterbacks, running backs, ends, and wide receivers. This year is no exception. After drafting Goff, they drafted two tight ends, two wide receivers and a linebacker. Thereís not an offensive center, guard, or tackle in the bunch. Without protection, Goffís chances, even if he has exceptional ability (which the odds do not favor) are slim.

Last year the Rams were last in total offense out of 32 teams and last in passing (they were also 23rd  in total defense). Thatís not necessarily because of defaults in their quarterbacks; itís more probably due to their offensive line. Good teams draft linemen. Bad teams draft quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers.

As far as Iím concerned, the Rams should have kept all their draft choices and drafted some talented offensive linemen, of which there was a plethora this year, 7 going in the first 32 picks, including two of the first eight picks, and 3 of the first 13. Tennessee, from whom the Rams got the first pick, chose an offensive tackle on their first pick, the 8th player chosen.