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Fisher’s Comeback Season With Rams Skids Into Halfway Point

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 12:00 pm

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The early returns on coach Jeff Fisher’s welcome back to the NFL were overwhelmingly positive.

As it turns out, rebuilding the St. Louis Rams appears to be more of a long-term project.

The Rams (3-5) entered their bye week seeking solutions for a midseason slide into mediocrity. They can’t score, they can’t stop anybody, they can’t take the ball away.

They sure can’t run with the big boys, either.

During an extra-long flight home from London following a 45-7 spanking by the New England Patriots on Sunday, there was plenty of time for reflection. Long after the jet lag wore off, the answers remained elusive.

“We had three outstanding days of practice. None of us saw that coming,” Fisher said. “We have to look hard at what we’re doing football-wise, including the staff, me included, and the players as we talk to them. We’re nowhere where we wanted to be halfway through the season, and we have a lot of work to do.”

The first six games were competitive and encouraging, a major step forward in itself, plus the Rams won three of the first five to go above .500 for the first time since 2006. In the bargain, they topped their win total from last season when they tied for the NFL’s worst record (2-14).

The Rams got the best of quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, capitalized on special teams excellence to top the Seahawks with rookie Greg Zuerlein booting field goals of 60 and 58 yards, and rookie punter Johnny Hekker throwing the go-ahead TD pass, and leaned on stout defense to stifle the Cardinals 17-3.

The Rams’ three-game losing streak began on a day they outgained Miami 462-192 but lost by three. The last two have been a step up in class, and they have been left in the dust by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, then Tom Brady and the Patriots.

After a year away from the NFL, Fisher inherited a franchise that totaled 15 victories the previous five years. He has never leaned on that as an excuse, telling players from Day 1 that they should expect to win right away.

Halfway in, he doesn’t think the turnaround task has been tougher than he had imagined.

“No, we had high expectations and we didn’t meet them,” Fisher said. “We got to a point where we were 3-2 and looked back and said, ‘Gosh, if we would have made a play it would have been different.’

“We’ve lost three straight now, against two very, very good teams. We’ve got to bounce back and find a way to win the next game.”

The bye comes halfway through the season, and Fisher uses the analogy that it’s halftime. There is still plenty of time left.

“Yeah, you break the season down, the first half is over,” the coach said. “We’ve got to make some adjustments and get caught up.”

Before surrendering 75 points and combined 16-for-28 third down efficiency to Green Bay and New England, the Rams had a top 10 defense.

And why not, given the fact they are loaded with first-rounders and high second-rounders like Chris Long, Robert Quinn, James Laurinaitis and rookies Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins?

The first six games, quarterbacks completed 63 percent of their passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns with eight interceptions. Rodgers and Brady combined for 72 percent completions, seven touchdowns and no picks.

Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 154 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest current streak in the NFL, according to STATS LLC. The next-longest streak is 102 passes for the Colts.

The Rams had eight interceptions the first four games, and none the last four. They have forced zero turnovers the last three games, and in practice this week emphasized awareness as well as technique.

“People just need to be really cognizant of it, think about it in that corner of your brain when you’re making the tackle,” Long said.

Players say the most frustrating aspect of the turnover slump is that nothing has changed in the game plan or execution from when the Rams were ball-hawking with the best.

It’s easier to see why the Rams still have one of the NFL’s worst offenses, averaging 17 points and ranking 28th in total yards with 11 offensive touchdowns. Because of injuries, they have used 21 starters, most in the NFL, according to STATS LLC.

The Rams have been hit hardest on the line, with nine players getting starts, and are still waiting for center Scott Wells, one of the team’s top free agent pickups, to recover from a broken foot and make his debut.

Wells is eligible to return next week after being designated as the team’s marquee injured reserve player, but Fisher said he still isn’t ready.

All of the shuffling has led to a cascade of errors.

“False starts, maybe running the wrong route or blocking the wrong guy or something like that. It’s the little things that held us back, or that we held ourselves back,” tight end Lance Kendricks said. “We put ourselves in a lot of third-and-longs, and if we can cut down on the mistakes, be in more third-and-3s, and third-and-4s, that’ll help a lot.”

Better health would be a plus, too.

Quarterback Sam Bradford gets his favorite target back next week, with wide receiver Danny Amendola recovered from a collarbone injury. Left tackle Rodger Saffold could be back, too, from a left knee injury that has sidelined him for six games.

The Rams have one of the youngest teams in the NFL, with an average age of 26, and besides those rookie special team aces have gotten impressive play from fellow kids at running back and wide receiver.

Daryl Richardson, a seventh-rounder, has emerged as the change-of-pace back behind Steven Jackson that the franchise has long sought.

Chris Givens, a fourth-rounder, is the first rookie in NFL history with a reception of 50 or more yards in five consecutive games.

Fisher said defensive tackle Michael Brockers, the team’s first-rounder, is “coming on” after missing the first three games because of a high ankle sprain.

The Rams are still waiting for the emergence of second-rounders, wide receiver Brian Quick and running back Isaiah Pead, both of whom have been seldom-used.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Area Scoreboard

Area Sports Schedule

American Legion Baseball

Ninth District Senior Legion Tournament

Thursday, July 17

At Westhoff Park

G1 (1) West 11, (8) Pacific 1

G2 (4) St. Charles 17, (5) Elsberry 2

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G3 (3) Washington 4, (6) Wentzville 0

G4 (2) Daniel Boone 8, (7) St. Peters 2

Friday, July 18

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G5 Elsberry 8, Pacific 3

G6 St. Peters 9, Wentzville 1

At Westhoff Park

G7 St. Charles 4, West 1

G8 Daniel Boone 7, Washington 4

Saturday, July 19

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G9 Washington 9, Elsberry 4

G10 West 9, St. Peters 6

G12 West 14, Washington 1

At Westhoff Park

G11 St. Charles def. Daniel Boone (fft)

Sunday, July 20

Rest at Westhoff Park

G13 Championship — West 2, St. Charles 1 (13 innings)

Monday, July 21

G14 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 13, West 11

Zone 1 Senior Legion Tournament

At Lindenwood University, St. Charles

Thursday, July 24

G1 West 13, Daniel Boone Post 262 8

G2 Jefferson City Post 5 11, Hannibal Post 55 2

Friday, July 25

G3 West 11, St. Charles Post 312 1

G4 Daniel Boone 10, Hannibal 2

Saturday, July 26

G5 Jefferson City 9, West 2

G6 St. Charles 11, Daniel Boone 10

G7 West 6, St. Charles 2

Sunday, July 27

G8 Championship — West 11, Jefferson City 0

G9 If-Needed Game — Jefferson City 14, West 12

Jefferson City advances to state tournament in Sedalia.

Senior Legion State Tournament

At Liberty Park, Sedalia

Thursday, July 31

G1 Jefferson City Post 5 11, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Aux. Outlaws 2

G2 Festus Post 253 9, Joplin Miners 2

Friday, Aug. 1

G3 Jefferson City vs. Festus, noon

G4 Lee’s Summit vs. Joplin, 3 p.m.

G5 G3 loser vs. G4 winner, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 2

G6 Championship — G3 winner vs. G5 winner, 1 p.m.

G7 If-needed game — G6 winner vs. G6 loser, 4 p.m.

Ninth District Junior Legion Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Union High School

G1 (1) Elsberry 3, (8) New Haven 0

At Ronsick Field

G4 (3) Washington 7, (6) Wentzville 1

G4 (2) Union 8, (7) Hannibal 1

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G2 (5) St. Peters 8, (4) St. Charles 6

Wednesday, July 9

At New Haven

G5 Wentzville 4, New Haven 0

G6 St. Charles 8, Hannibal 7 (9 innings)

At Ronsick Field

G7 St. Peters 5, Elsberry 2

G8 Washington 2, Union 1

Remainder at Ronsick Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 Union 7, Wentzville 1

G10 Elsberry 3, St. Charles 2

Friday, July 11

G11 Washington 12, St. Peters 11 (10 innings)

G12 Elsberry 6, Union 3

Saturday, July 12

G13 Elsberry 4, St. Peters 3

G14 Championship — Washington 3, Elsberry 1

Washington wins district, to host Zone 1 Tournament at Borgia. Schedule below.

Junior Legion Zone 1 Tournament

At Borgia

Thursday, June 17

G1 Elsberry Post 226 10, Chillicothe Post 25 2

Friday, June 18

G2 Washington Post 218 5, Elsberry 1

G3 Chillicothe 5, Elsberry 4

Saturday, June 19

G4 Championship — Washington 16, Chillicothe 0 (5 innings)

Washington advances to State Tournament in Jackson.

Junior Legion State Tournament

At Jackson

Thursday, July 24

G1 Jackson 3, Springfield Glendale 2

G2 Eureka 7, Sedalia 0

Friday, June 25

G3 Jackson 8, Washington 3

G4 Springfield Glendale 8, Sedalia 3

G5 Jackson 4, Eureka 2

G6 Washington 8, Springfield Glendale 0

Saturday, June 26

G7 Eureka 11, Washington 10 (9 innings)

G8 Championship — Jackson 7, Eureka 6

Jackson advances to Regional Tournament in Leavenworth, Kan.

Sunday, June 27

G9 If-Needed Game — G8 winner vs. G8 loser, 1 p.m.

Freshman Legion Ninth District Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Elsberry Legion Field

G1 (1) St. Charles 7, (8) St. Peters 0

G2 (4) Elsberry-Winfield 4, (5) Wentzville 3

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G3 (3) Hannibal 3, (6) Warrenton 2

G4 (2) Washington 10, (7) West 1

Wednesday, July 9

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G5 St. Peters 17, Warrenton 6

G6 Wentzville 5, West 4

At Elsberry Legion Field

G7 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 2

G8 Washington 3, Hannibal 0

Remainder at Elsberry Legion Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 St. Peters 11, Hannibal 9

G10 Elsberry-Winfield 13, Wentzville 4

Friday, July 11

G12 Elsberry-Winfield 8, St. Peters 3

G11 Washington 6, St. Charles 0, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 12

G13 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 1

G14 Championship — St. Charles 5, Washington 2

Sunday, July 13

G15 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 2, Washington 0

Missouri Freshman

Legion State Tournament

At Rotary Recreational

Complex - Ronsick Field

Wednesday, July 16

G1 Creve Coeur Post 397 16, St. Robert Post 331 2

G2 Ste. Genevieve Post 150 4, St. Charles Post 312 0

G3 Jackson Post 158 1, vs. Springfield Glendale Merchants 0

G4 Washington Post 218 9, Eureka Post 177 4

Thursday, July 17

G5 Springfield Glendale 11, St. Robert 1 (St. Robert eliminated)

G6 St. Charles 10, Eureka 2 (Eureka eliminated)

G7 Ste. Genevieve 4, Creve Coeur 2

G8 Washington 12, Jackson 10

Friday, July 18

G9 Jackson 12, Springfield Glendale 0 (Springfield Glendale eliminated)

G10 Creve Coeur 8, St. Charles 3 (St. Charles eliminated)

G11 Ste. Genevieve 3, Washington 2

G12 Creve Coeur 11, Jackson 7 (Jackson eliminated)

Saturday, July 19

G13 Washington 8, Creve Coeur 3 (Creve Coeur eliminated)

G14 Championship—Washington 5, Ste. Genevieve 2

Sunday, July 20

G15 Championship Game 2—Washington 3, Ste. Genevieve 0

Great Midwest Football League

July 19

Missouri Cyclones 34, Illinois Justice 0

Swim Team Schedules

Washington Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Oaks Landing    Washington 192-100

6-16    Westglen    Washington 259-206

6-23    at Fox Creek    Washington 311-225

6-30    at Chadwick    Chadwick 264-258

7-7    Cherry Hills    Washington 291-140

7-11 at Division Meet, Westminster Christian First

Pacific Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    Lake of the Woods    LOtW 176-130

6-16    at Union    Union 289-220

6-23    Bridle Creek    Pacific 371-124

6-30    at Arbor Oaks    Pacific 282-241

7-7    at Indian Hills    Cancelled, weather

7-12    Division Meet    First

Union Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Arbor Oaks    Union 180-120

6-16    Pacific    Union 289-220

6-23    at Lake of the Woods    LoTW 312-201

6-30    Indian Hills    Union 322-275

7-7    Bridle Creek    PPD

7-12    at Division Meet, Pacific    Third

Pacific Diving Team

Date    Opponent    Time

6-14    at MAC West    MAC West 40-30

6-21    at Lindgate    Lindgate

6-28    at Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-13    at Championships    8 a.m.

*Indicates League Games

Racing News