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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

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, 5:30 p.m.

McCluer North vs. Carnahan, 7 p.m.

CBC vs. Washington, 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Soldan vs. Washington, 6 p.m.

Borgia vs. Union, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Normandy vs. Carnahan, 5:30 p.m.

Pacific vs. Rockwood Summit, 7 p.m.

North Tech vs. Union, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 27

CBC vs. Soldan, 6 p.m.

Borgia vs. North Tech, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North vs. Normandy, 6 p.m.

Cardinal Ritter vs. Pacific, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation, noon

Gold Consolation, 1:30 p.m.

Gold Third Place, 3 p.m.

Blue Third Place, 4:30 p.m.

Blue Championship, 6 p.m.

Gold Championship, 7:30 p.m.

Football

Week 12 Playoff Round 3

Saturday, Nov. 8

Westminster 34, Borgia 7

Lutheran North 48, Hermann 12

Week 11 Playoff Round 2

Friday, Oct. 31

Borgia 50, Union 43

Hermann 34, Brentwood 15

Cardinal Ritter 46, Cuba 28

Week 10 Playoff Round 1

Friday, Oct. 24

Battle 56, Washington 8

Borgia 42, Kennedy 6

Union 55, Pacific 7

Priory 49, Sullivan 17

Salem 50, St. James 27

Southern Boone 40, Owensville 24

Hermann 36, Transportation and Law 6

Moberly 42, Warrenton 0

O'Fallon Christian 50, Wright City 12

Cuba 30, Jefferson 0

Saturday, Oct. 25

Westminster 49, St. Clair 6

Softball

Sectional Games

Wednesday, Oct. 15

Bolivar 17, Sullivan 2

Mexico 5, Warrenton 4

Thursday, Oct. 16

Pacific 12, Rosati-Kain 0

Saturday, Oct. 18

Quarterfinal — De Soto 5, Pacific 2

District Tournaments

Softball

Class 4 District 4

Wednesday, Oct. 8

(4) Northwest 11, (5) Rolla 3

Saturday, Oct. 11

(1) Lafayette 3, Northwest 1

(2) Eureka 4, (3) Washington 0

Monday, Oct. 13

Championship — Eureka 5, Lafayette 0

Class 3 District 3

At Lutheran South

Wednesday, Oct. 8

(4) Affton 3, (5) Bishop DuBourg 2

(3) Pacific 21, (6) Bayless 0

Sunday, Oct. 12

(1) Lutheran South 11, Affton 1

Pacific 1, (2) Notre Dame 0

Championship — Pacific 2, Lutheran South 1

Class 3 District 7

At St. Dominic

Wednesday, Oct. 8

(4) Borgia 9, (5) Wentzville Liberty 8

(3) Winfield 15, (6) O’Fallon Christian 1

Saturday, Oct. 11

At Borgia

(1) St. Dominic 12, Borgia 3

(2) Warrenton 11, Winfield 2

Championship — Warrenton 1, St. Dominic 0

Class 3 District 9

At Sullivan

Wednesday, Oct. 8

(4) St. James 12, (5) Owensville 3

(3) Sullivan 11, (6) St. Clair 1

Saturday, Oct. 11

At Union High School

St. James 10, (1) Union 5

Sullivan 5 (2) Salem 4 (8 innings)

Championship — Sullivan 11, St. James 6

Class 2 District 10

At New Bloomfield

Wednesday, Oct. 8

(4) New Bloomfield 5, (5) Belle 0

(3) South Callaway 9, (6) Hermann 0

Saturday, Oct. 11

South Callaway 7, (2) Linn 2

(1) Fatima 6, New Bloomfield 1

Championship — Fatima 7, South Callaway 4

Class 1 District 4

At Community R6, Laddonia

Wednesday, Oct. 8

(4) Wellsville-Middletown 8, (5) New Haven 2

(3) Van-Far 4, (6) Community R6 2

Saturday, Oct. 11

(1) Clopton 13, Wellsville 0

(2) Silex 10, Van-Far 0

Championship — Silex 3, Clopton 0

Volleyball

District Tournaments

Class 4 District 3

At Rockwood Summit

Monday, Oct. 20

(4) Eureka def. (5) Pacific 25-9, 25-16

(2) Northwest def. (7) Parkway South, 25-18, 25-12

(3) Washington def. (6) Rockwood Summit, 25-21, 25-15

Tuesday, Oct. 21

(1) Lafayette def. Eureka, 17-25, 25-14, 25-19

Northwest def. Washington, 25-22, 25-18

Championship — Lafayette def. Northwest, 25-19, 25-20

Class 3 District 8

At Union

Monday, Oct. 20

(5) St. Clair def. (4) Union, 25-20, 25-22

(2) Sullivan def. (7) Salem, 25-7, 25-8

(3) Owensville def. (6) St. James, 14-25, 25-16, 25-19

Tuesday, Oct. 21

(1) Borgia def. St. Clair, 25-10, 25-6

Sullivan def. Owensville, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20

Championship — Borgia def. Sullivan, 25-7, 25-10

Class 2 District 6

At Lutheran St. Charles

Monday, Oct. 20

(4) Barat def. (5) Wright City, 25-16, 24-26, 25-22

(2) Hermann def. (7) Bowling Green, 25-12, 25-18

(3) Whitfield def. (6) Montgomery County, 25-23, 25-17

Tuesday, Oct. 21

(1) Lutheran St. Charles def. Barat, 25-10, 25-9

Whitfield def. Hermann, 23-25, 25-23, 25-15

Championship — Lutheran St. Charles def. Whitfield, 25-18, 25-14

Class 1 District 9

At Calvary Lutheran, Jefferson City

Monday, Oct. 20

(4) Smithton def. (5) Otterville, 25-12, 25-10

(3) Chamois def. (6) Bunceton, 25-23, 25-18

Tuesday, Oct. 21

(1) New Haven def. Smithton, 25-5, 25-7

(2) Calvary Lutheran def. Chamois, 25-14, 25-11

Thursday, Oct. 23

Championship — New Haven def. Calvary Lutheran, 25-9, 25-16

Sectional Matches Saturday, Oct. 25

Class 3

At Villa Duchesne

Villa Duchesne def. St. Dominic, 25-19, 25-13

Borgia def. Duchesne, 25-16, 25-17

Championship — Villa Duchesne def. Borgia, 25-18, 25-23

Class 1

At New Haven

New Haven def. Liberal, 25-15, 25-17

Green Ridge def. Osceola, 25-19, 25-21

Championship — New Haven def. Green Ridge, 25-16, 25-14

State Matches

Friday, Oct. 31

Class 1 Pool Play

St. Vincent def. New Haven, 25-18, 25-18

New Haven def. Santa Fe, 25-21, 25-23

New Haven splits with Winona, 15-25, 25-19

Saturday, Nov. 1

Third-place match — Santa Fe def. New Haven, 19-25, 25-17, 25-22

Championship match — Winona def. St. Vincent, 22-25, 25-13, 25-20

Boys Soccer

District Tournaments

Class 4 District 8

At Washington

Monday, Oct. 27

(1) Timberland 2, (4) Washington 1 (1OT)

(2) Troy 2, (3) Holt 1 (PKs)

Wednesday, Oct. 29

Championship — Timberland 1, Troy 0 (2OT)

Class 3 District 3

At Rockwood Summit

Monday, Oct. 27

(2) Rockwood Summit 3, (3) Pacific 1

(1) Webster Groves 7, (4) Windsor 0

Wednesday, Oct. 29

Championship — Webster Groves 2, Rockwood Summit 1

Class 3 District 9

At Union

Monday, Oct. 27

(1) Camdenton 2, (4) Union 1 (1OT)

(2) Helias 2, (3) Rolla 1

Wednesday, Oct. 29

Championship — Helias 1, Camdenton 0

Class 2 District 7

At Winfield

Tuesday, Oct. 28

(1) Borgia 4, (4) Winfield 0

(3) Elsberry 2, (2) O’Fallon Christian 1

Wednesday, Oct. 29

Championship — Borgia 3, Elsberry 0

Tuesday, Nov. 4

Sectional — Borgia at Moberly, 6 p.m.

Class 2 District 10

At St. James

Monday, Oct. 27

(1) Fatima 3, (4) St. Clair 1

(2) Sullivan 4, (3) St. James 3 (1OT)

Wednesday, Oct. 29

Championship — Fatima 4, Sullivan 2

Playoff Soccer

Sectional Round

Tuesday, Nov. 4

Moberly 2, Borgia 1 (PKs)

*Conference Games

Racing News