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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.

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Area Scoreboard

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

%Washington vs. TBA    4 p.m.

%Borgia vs. Poplar Bluff    5:30 p.m.

%St. Clair vs. TBA    TBA

%Sullivan Shootout

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Farmington 61, Pattonville 39

Sullivan 68, Owensville 64

Principia 55, St. Louis Patriettes 42

Borgia 56, Cuba 38

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Francis Howell    7 p.m.

Sullivan Tournament

Seventh Place — Pattonville vs. St. Louis Patriettes, 4 p.m.

Consolation — Farmington vs. Principia, 5:30 p.m.

Third Place — Owensville vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.

Championship — Borgia vs. Sullivan, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Kennedy 88, Washington 84

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Lindbergh 128, Washington 48

*Conference Games

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