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Vermeil losing grip on Rams

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Posted: Tuesday October 27, 1998 01:18 PM


Dick Vermeil was supposed to restore some discipline in St. Louis. But look at his track record after a year-and-a-half: his effort to reform Lawrence Phillips was a total disaster; he agreed to ease up on his practices; the Rams are one of the NFL's most penalized teams; and last week, quarterback Tony Banks blew off the team plane and practice on Monday without telling the club just so he could stay behind in Miami and celebrate his girlfriend's birthday.

Vermeil still allowed him to play on Sunday. And to show his gratitude Banks turned the ball over four times as the Rams lost to the 49ers, and Vermeil lost what was left of his credibility.

Not so fast

Certainly the Cowboys will be happy to welcome back Troy Aikman, who missed five games with a broken collarbone. But during his career Aikman has struggled in comeback games. In fact, since 1989, Aikman has never won a game after missing two or more starts because of an injury.

D, as in Dolphins

There has been a lot of talk about the Miami Dolphins switching from a passing to a running game, but the more startling development has to do with the team's defense. Miami has given up only one touchdown at home this year while holding all opponents to an NFL low 79 points.

Safety Brock Marion told me that for the first time the Dolphins feel like they can rely on their defense to win games. "It's gotten to the point that we don't expect to see anyone in our end zone anymore," he said.

Quick milestone

On Sunday, in his 83rd game, New England's Drew Bledsoe reached 20,000 yards in career passing yardage. Only Dan Marino, who reached 20,000 after only 74 starts, hit that mark sooner than Bledsoe. So is Bledsoe headed for the hall of fame? Not necessarily. Bledsoe has also thrown 3,116 passes, the most over six seasons in NFL history.

Good kind of loss

The biggest field goal in recent Broncos history was not Jason Elam's record-tying 63-yarder on Sunday. Last year Kansas City's Pete Stoyanovich hit a 54-yarder to beat Denver in week 11 as the Chiefs went on to win the AFC West title.

As a result, the Super Bowl champion Broncos are playing a second-place team schedule this year. While the Chiefs lost to New England and Jacksonville on the road, the Broncos faced both those AFC powers at home and that's a big reason why Denver is still undefeated.  

Related information
Rams so injured that Vermeil says no pads this week
Despite problems, Rams expect Little back at practice Wednesday
Rams' Conwell out for year; Bruce, Pace, Lee also injured
Inside the NFL with David Fleming: Vikes' offensive line key to 6-0 start
Pat Kirwan's Unsung Heroes: Don't forget Broncos' stellar defense
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