Bad drafts have been compounded by bad financial decisions. Shaw will spend $700,000 for Curt Warner's wounded knees but won't part with the $1 million it would take to land a cornerback of Albert Lewis' world-class skills. He loses a pivotal bidding war with San Francisco for free agent linebacker Matt Millen. He won't trade or pay to replace such fallen defensive starters as Jerry Gray, Larry Kelm and Strickland.
You've already heard the standard Ram alibi: This football team is Frontiere's livelihood, and she simply can't compete with Eddie DeBartolo's deep, corporate-lined pockets. Eddie can afford to lose money and win Super Bowls. Georgia is just trying to stay in business.
Well, you should examine these figures, recently printed in the Orange County Business Journal. They are projections of the Rams' budget for the entire 1990 season.
Revenues (including gate and television broadcast receipts): $48.57 million.
Expenses (including salaries, travel and scouting): $30.21 million.
Estimated profit: $18.36 million.
That's a lot a nose tackles.
It's a very rudimentary equation: The Rams won't win more until they spend more. They flimflammed everyone last season with their rise to the NFC championship game, but remember: If Steve Grogan completes one more pass on Christmas Eve, the Rams don't make the playoffs at all. And with a little less luck, they also lose to a 1-15 Dallas team and to the rudderless New Orleans Saints twice.
In this light, no, 2-5 is not a shock. Neither is 2-6, once Warren Moon is done with his running and shooting today. The Rams exited 1989 with some major problem areas, refused to address them and now have a new address:
Last Place, NFC West.
The Rams have settled for the valley instead.