Friday, September 30, 2016

This Week's Los Angeles Rams Weekly!

Los Angeles Rams 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32
1. It was a knock-down, drag-out contest you'd typically see between two league heavyweights, but instead it was two middling squads with uncertain paths. Which Buccaneers team would we get this week: the 31-21 winners in Week 1, or the squad decimated by turnovers and a swarming Cardinals defense in Week 2? Well, it was neither, sort of. Both teams made mistakes that each seemed to follow with another. They held serve on positive plays and errors, making for an entertaining contest.

2. The game's highlights opened with each team giving the other a gift: the Rams' Case Keenum tossed one directly to Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, who had nothing but green in front of him for a pick-six; then Charles Sims dropped a pass (thanks to a hit from Trumaine Johnson) that landed in Los Angeles arms, setting the Rams up with great field position that ended in a Todd Gurley touchdown. It was very much call and response of both teams. Anything you can lose, we can lose better.

3. A few days after the depth chart suddenly opened up due to the release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bucs tight end Cameron Brate caught five passes for 46 yards and two touchdowns, including an impressive, one-handed catch just outside the goal line for six. Brate's role will likely only increase as he has just blocking tight end Luke Stocker to battle for catches.

Rams Get Road Victory over Tampa Bay
Given a road trip that included a four-hour flight across the country, 90 degree temperatures at gametime, and a 70-minute weather delay, the Rams had plenty to overcome in order to win Sunday’s game. And that they did, spoiling Tampa Bay’s 2016 home opener with a 37-32 victory, marking the fifth straight year the Rams have beaten the Buccaneers.

“It was a great win for us, especially coming off the emotional win and the emotions from last Saturday at home, and the long trip, and the circumstances in there,” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “But when you score points, which we did, you’ve got a chance.”

While there were plenty of fireworks, the game was not decided until the last whistle blew. With just four seconds on the clock, Tampa Bay had the ball at the Rams’ 15-yard line. The Bucs needed a touchdown, and quarterback Jameis Winston had no one open downfield. Winston moved past the line of scrimmage, ball cocked in hand as if he could still throw it. While it appeared the QB had an open running lane, defensive end Robert Quinn raced in from behind Winston, bringing him down at the Los Angeles 10 with time expired.

“It was gut-checking time,” Quinn said. “I saw Winston step up and to be honest, I thought he was going to run it in. So I charged up — everything I had and took one little false step and I was able to get to him.”

“I saw him [Winston] step up and he was holding the ball forever — I thought he was going to run the ball,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “And I just saw Robert Quinn’s fast [behind] run up and catch him and made the big play. And I always say, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and he came through for us.”

The final plays came after a 70-minute weather delay brought the game to a halt at the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. At that point, Tampa Bay had just scored to get to within five points, and the Rams had 3rd-and-11 from their own five-yard line. But lighting strikes in the area caused the officials to pause the contest.

“It was weird. I guess that’s kind of how hockey players [have it] with three periods,” quarterback Case Keenum said. “But to have that crucial of a moment being paused, it was tough. It was really tough. But guys responded, did well. Defense came back out and did a heck of a job.”

Though the defense earned the final stop, this was a game full of offense. The Buccaneers put up 472 yards, with Winston throwing for 405. The Rams had their best offensive output of the young season as well, racking up 320 total yards, 18 first downs, and converting 6-of-13 third-down chances. Running back Todd Gurley rushed for his first two touchdowns of the season — both coming from one-yard out — as he finished with 85 yards on 27 carries.

“The difference there was we converted some third downs and we had some opportunities,” Fisher said of the ground game.

But turnovers and takeaways were also key factors. Keenum had an up-and-down performance, but made enough plays for the Rams to win. The quarterback finished 14-of-28 passing for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, which was returned for a touchdown. Wide receiver Kenny Britt also fumbled after a second-down reception, and the Buccaneers scored a touchdown on their extra possession.

“There were some mistakes we want back — obviously turnovers are huge,” Keenum said. “I know they got points off of my turnover … but [we need to] clean that stuff up.”

That said, the Rams also forced two turnovers and collected 14 points from them. Weakside linebacker Mark Barron intercepted a pass off his former team, and Ethan Westbrooks returned a Quinn forced fumble 77 yards for a touchdown.

“Turnovers hurt us early but we got the two big plays on defense — the return for touchdown and the interception by Mark. So that kind of balanced things out,” Fisher said.

The back and forth affair began in the Rams’ favor, with Keenum and wide receiver Brian Quick breaking the ice for the Rams’ first touchdown of the season on the opening drive. On 3rd-and-7 from the Tampa Bay 44, Keenum fired a pass down the middle of the field to Quick who caught it in stride and went the remaining few steps for his first touchdown since Week 5 of the 2014 season.

“It was really big,” Keenum said. “We converted on some third downs, which was really big coming out of the gate. And ‘Quickie’ ran a great route on the post. I just laid it out there, he went and got it.”

Aided by a Tampa Bay clipping penalty, the Rams’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the day. But on the offense’s second drive, Keenum threw a pick six. Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander stepped in front of Keenum’s intended target, wide receiver Tavon Austin, and the ball went right into the defender’s hands. There weren’t many men to beat as Alexander returned the pass to pay dirt.

The home team had a chance to tie the game then, but kicker Roberto Aguayo — a second-round pick in this year’s draft — missed the extra point, keeping L.A. ahead, 7-6.

The Rams increased their lead with a 53-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein, but the Buccaneers offense got going with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Running back Charles Sims scored on a one-yard run to give Tampa Bay a 13-10 advantage.

The home team scored once again on its next drive, this time off Britt’s fumble. Keenum hit Britt on the right side for an eight-yard reception, but Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David knocked the ball out as the wide receiver tried to fight for more yards. Winston turned that turnover into points with a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate.

But after that, the Rams would score 14 straight points to re-take the lead. On 1st-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 27, cornerback Trumaine Johnson hit Sims just as a pass was coming into his hands. The ball went into the air and right to Barron, who returned it seven yards to the Tampa Bay 22.

Running back Todd Gurley would score his first touchdown of the season with a one-yard run, cutting the Bucs’ lead to three with just under 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Then in the third, the Rams registered arguably their best offensive drive of the season, marching down the field in eight plays. After Aguayo missed a 41-yard field goal, Gurley began the ensuing possession with a nine-yard run, then added three yards on his next carry for a first down. Keenum completed a 19-yard pass to Britt and a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Bradley Marquez to get the Rams in the red zone.

Then Gurley got back to work with an impressive 16-yard run. The running back used his remarkable athleticism to keep himself upright after breaking a pair of tackles, nearly reaching the end zone before finally going down at the one-yard line. A play later, Gurley finished the job with his second one-yard touchdown run of the game, giving Los Angeles a 24-20 lead.

With the Buccaneers threatening in the red zone, another Rams takeaway extended the visitors’ lead. On 3rd-and-6 from the L.A. 13-yard line, defensive end Robert Quinn came around the corner and knocked the ball out of Winston’s hands as he was preparing to throw. The ball squirted over to the defense’s left, and end Ethan Westbrooks was there to recover it.

That’s when Westbrooks turned on the burners, running down the sideline 77 yards to the end zone for a scoop-and-score. With the extra point, the Rams increased their lead to 31-20.

“I think the inside had a great push so the quarterback couldn’t step up and I saw him lift his arm up,” Quinn said. “And I just stuck my arm out and was able to get my hand on the ball. It had the perfect bounce to Ethan and 77 yards he went.”

“I just saw it on the ground and I thought about just jumping on it,” Westbrooks said, “but we do so much ball-drill work in practice, so I just picked it up and hoped nobody was going to catch me.”

Tampa Bay would not go quietly, however, using a seven-play drive to go down the field in 2:44 to pull within five on a one-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Brate.

Los Angeles, however, would have a nice response drive, reaching the end zone on a 43-yard pass from Keenum to Austin. The West Virginia product had 104 yards from scrimmage on Sunday — 82 receiving, 22 rushing.

“Tavon’s a threat and any way we can get the ball in his hands — they’re looking out for that,” Keenum said. “And he did a good job.”

The consecutive scoring drives continued with the Buccaneers once again reaching the end zone, this time on a Winston pass to wideout Mike Evans for a seven-yard scoring strike. Evans finished with 10 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown.

From there, the Rams overcame the weather delay and a furious comeback attempt on the game’s final drive to hold on and improve their record to 2-1. It’s the first time the Rams have held such a record since 2006.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Keenum said. “Going on the road and being successful is, obviously, really good, too. So we’re going to have another tough test with a really good football team on the road again this week.”

“All I know is we’ve got Arizona at Arizona next week,” Fisher said. “So none of them are easy, but we’ll take it.”

Five Takeaways: Rams 37-32 Win over Buccaneers
The Rams won a shootout with the Buccaneers on Sunday 37-32, improving their record to 2-1 on the season. With this kind of high-scoring affair, plenty went right for Los Angeles but there was also clear room for improvement.

1) Touchdowns
Head coach Jeff Fisher joked early in the week that he had found a box full of touchdowns at the Rams’ facility that had gotten misplaced in the move to Cal Lutheran. After Sunday’s game, he repeated the line, quipping the Rams “just had to pass them out.”

That they did, with the offense scoring four touchdowns and the defense adding a fifth in the Rams’ second straight victory.

Los Angeles got on the board with a 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Case Keenum to wide receiver Brian Quick on the opening drive, which was significant from a mental standpoint.

“Anytime you can get out there and have success early, it just kind of settles you down as an offense,” Keenum said.

The quarterback’s second touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, when he found wide receiver Tavon Austin on the left side of the field for a 43-yard touchdown reception. Between the two passing touchdowns, running back Todd Gurley scored two rushing TDs — both from a yard out.

Generally, the offense moved the ball much better than they had the first two games of the season on Sunday. L.A. finished with 320 total yards, 18 first downs, and a 6-of-13 mark in third-down efficiency. Those numbers do represent progress, though there is still significant room for improvement.

“There were a lot of good things,” Gurley said. “I’ll watch film tomorrow and kind of build off that.”

2) Scoring on defense
One element of the game the Rams’ defense takes a lot of pride in is the unit’s ability to put points on the board itself. L.A. did that on Sunday when defensive end Robert Quinn recorded a sack/fumble on Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston and defensive end Ethan Westbrooks brought the loose ball 77 yards to pay dirt.

“It was big — it was big for Ethan,” middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “You want to create an extra possession for our offense if we didn’t score, but we also want to score on defense, too.”

“To do that on defense is a great thing — put points up and your offense is on the sideline is always a great thing,” Quinn said. “But I think that’s just the mindset in the room. We can score on defense and put the game in our hands.”

With the temperature at 90 degrees and humid for kickoff, Westbrooks was rightfully exhausted when he reached the end zone. So much so, he said he didn’t even do much celebrating.

“Oh yeah, I was pretty done after that,” Westbrooks said. “My coaches were like, ‘Why didn’t you celebrate?’ I honestly didn’t have any energy to celebrate. I barely had enough energy to get to the sideline.”

While Westbrooks’ return is getting a lot of earned attention, the play Quinn made to get the ball out is why he’s so dangerous when healthy. The defensive end recorded his second strip-sack in two weeks, giving him 18 forced fumbles since the start of the 2012 season — the most in the NFL over that time frame. It’s a sign that Quinn is getting back to to himself after finishing last season on injured reserve.

“It’s a long season, but I feel like he’s going to get even stronger as the season goes on,” Ogletree said of Quinn.

“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable,” Quinn said. “As the weeks [have] been going on, I’m feeling better and better. And, of course, when you get to play games, that’s when you really get the true test of yourself.”

3) Donald plays D-end
Some unexpected circumstances pushed the Rams into giving defensive tackle Aaron Donald significant snaps at defensive end during Sunday’s game. First, defensive end William Hayes had to exit the contest with an ankle injury. While Hayes re-entered the game at one point, he was sidelined for much of it.

Then defensive end Eugene Sims was ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With defensive end Matt Longacre inactive, that left the Rams with just two available defensive ends.

In steps Donald, who ended up playing a total 77 of 90 possible defensive snaps — a very high percentage for a D-lineman.

“Just like playing D-tackle — just lined up different,” Donald said of the experience. “But it was good, anything I have to do to make sure we come out on top. And I know we had some guys that went down and things like that and just needed to move around a little bit more.”

According to the press box statistics, Donald recorded two tackles — one for loss — two quarterback hits, and two passes defensed.

“Aaron was playing end, and Ethan had to play the whole time,” Fisher said. “In the conditions, that’s hard. So they’re going to need some rest the next couple days.”

4) Need to cut down turnovers
After playing a clean game of no turnovers last week to beat Seattle, Los Angeles had two costly turnovers on Sunday. The first came on the second drive when Keenum threw a pick six to linebacker Kwon Alexander. Later, wide receiver Kenny Britt fumbled  and the Buccaneers’ offense scored on the ensuing drive.

“We were just doing stupid stuff, man,” Gurley said. “We score a touchdown, we give a touchdown up, and basically [gave] them two touchdowns on offense. That can’t happen. We can’t have that.”

The offense was able to get past those negative plays for this week. But those are the kinds of plays that can effectively derail an offense when it comes to staying on schedule, sustaining drives, and scoring points.

5) Overcoming the weather delay
As if 90-degree heat with significant humidity were not enough of a weather obstacle — with two minutes left in the game and the Rams’ offense on the field for a 3rd-and-11 play, the officials suspended play because of lightning in the area. And it’s not the first time the Rams have had to deal with a weather delay while playing at Raymond James Stadium.

“You know what’s funny, it’s the second time in a row that we’ve had a little break coming down here and having a weather delay, and then coming out and fortunately finding a way to win the game at the end,” Fisher said, referring to Week 2 of the 2014 season, when the Rams beat the Bucs 19-17.

While it’s a nuisance to deal with, the Rams were able to work through it effectively.

“The most important thing is communicating to the players,” Fisher said. “The officiating department did a great job just keeping us informed and then I would relay the information to the players. And finally, I told them we’re going to get this thing going again.”

“You kind of used it to your advantage, just to cool down, hydrate a little bit, get a little bite to eat and re-focus yourself,” Quinn said. “The Bucs had to do the same thing. We just came back in, got our minds right, and went out and tried to execute our plan.”

Fortunately, the delay and the game worked out in the Rams’ favor as the club was able to seal its 37-32 victory.

Misone has his list of notes from the Rams week three win against the Buccaneers, and what this could mean...

Well, the Los Angeles Rams are 2-1. This is the first time this franchise has been able to say this since they were the St. Louis Rams in 2006...Yup, it's been awhile.

The question is how did they get to this point? The Rams are playing some terribly inconsistent football at the moment. While others teams identities are starting to show, the Rams still don't have one. This team might be one that has a dominant defense. Or, and this one is the more interesting, this might be an offense built for big plans and wins off that. The one thing this team hasn't shown yet -- and it's ironic considering it's what they want to be -- is a team that wins on the back of it's dominant running game.

Let's get to the notes...
  • For the first time in the Jeff Fisher regime, they are actually letting the top two receivers hog the targets and get into a rhythm. Fisher has been notorious for spreading the ball too much and never really allowing a chemistry to be built between quarterback and receiver. WRs Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin have been the apple of QB Case Keenum's eye. Thus far, a whopping 51 of his 91 attempts have gone to those two targets. Together, they've produced a combined, 28 rec, 344 yds, and a touchdown. TE Lance Kendricks is the clear cut third option. The issue is Britt and Austin have yet to capitalize on their targets together in the same game. Through three games, Britt has taken advantage in two, and Austin in one. If the Rams want to create running space for RB Todd Gurley consistently, that game with both capitalizing needs to come sooner than later. But for this week, the Rams coaching staff did a good job utilizing Austin in the pass game based on matchups. Bucs DB Chris Conte stood no chance, as Austin abused on him on a 43-yard TD reception.
  • Gurley has had no running lanes as the line has not created any. It's actually kind of odd -- the Rams are allowing the least amount of sacks in the NFL right now. Now some will point to the fact that they aren't throwing the ball as much as the reason. But upon further review, they've actually performed quite well in this area. Two of the sacks have been Keenum's fault as he twice has run out of a clean pocket only to alert the QB spy and cause him to rush. A free rusher outside the pocket will more often than not get the sack. This was the case against the Bucs as LB Lavonte David recorded his team's lone sack. The offensive line has looked really good in pass protection. However, next week will be a true testament to whether or not this line has improved or the competition just has not been up to par. Overall, the Bucs put very little pressure on the QB. In fact it was the least amount of pressure put on the QB through three weeks.
  • While the line is struggling mightily to open running lanes, Gurley is also to blame for missing holes and running with no patience. After watching all three games from the coaches' view, it's clear that he had no lanes against the 49ers. Against the Seahawks he missed two clear opportunities to bust open some huge runs. But against the Bucs, Gurley missed an insane seven beautifully opened holes. He's getting the ball and running without vision too often. He could be forcing the issue out of frustration, but it's still no excuse. Sometimes, you have to be slow getting to the hole, then blazing going through it. Actually that's most times in this league. Gurley simply isn't letting the blocks develop all the way. Often times, he's running right into his lineman's back. There's no question there could be better and more consistent run blocking, but from what I saw against the Bucs there could be better vision and patience shown by Gurley as well.
  • It's not that Case Keenum has played bad. He's actually playing very similar to the efficient version of himself from the preseason. But drops -- while Britt and Austin have caught 28 of their 51 combined targets, they've also dropped a combined six (Britt 3, Austin 3) which even if tackled immediately would have translated into, 6 rec and 73 more yards -- and his weak arm have been a major issue. He simply can't throw into tight windows. Actually he can't even throw into average windows. So when he gets the ball there it needs to be caught, because those chances aren't going to come often enough. He also has shown a tendency to stare down his target. This was the issue on the interception by Bucs LB Kwon Alexander. He stared Austin down from presnap all the way through his release. There's nothing that can be done about his weak arm, it is what it is. But catching the ball and looking off defenders is correctable.
  • So far through three games, the defensive line has showed up for one (the Seahawks). They were mostly held in check against Bucs QB Jameis Winston. DE Robert Quinn however is back, and with a vengeance. For those fans who were calling for him to be dumped and traded, I ask why would you say such things?Calling him a fluke is crazy. He's clearly a top five edge rusher in the NFL,  and no one over the last five seasons has more forced fumbles than him. Sacks and fumbles are game changing plays and you don't get rid of that because a guy hurt his back and only played in six games (three of which he wasn't healthy). DT Aaron Donald has been regularly double teamed and he's actually struggled to beat it. It's surprising, but that surprise speaks volumes to how good he is. He's been double teamed since the second half of his rookie season but has still managed to produce sacks and a lot of tackles for loss. But thus far he's been held in check in those areas. He has had some QB hits and he touched Jameis Winston a few times but that's about it.
  • The best linebacker has been Mark Barron so far. That's not a good thing, because Barron has struggled to get off blocks and it was no different against the Bucs. Alec Ogletree has been atrocious. I don't believe he knows what he is doing. He's sort of out there just reacting. His coverage has been horrid. And Jameis repeatedly attacked him in zone. Throwing the ball to where Ogletree should have been over and over. Ogletree might also be the most undisciplined player on the team. He's going to pile up the personal fouls, and I wouldn't be surprised if in the future it costs the Rams a game or two. There's zero thought process in any of his actions.
  • The secondary -- as I often predicted during the offseason -- has been the weakest part of the team. Coty Sensabaugh has been benched -- also as I predicted -- he's been the absolute worst defensive back. Troy Hill is only the best of a bad situation. However, the biggest disappointment is Trumaine Johnson. He might be playing with more ego than confidence. The best defensive back has easily been Lamarcus Joyner. And while his game against Seattle looked like his best of his career, the Bucs game topped even that one. He was a true lock down corner, and played faster than I've ever seen him play before. He checked the Bucs top three targets through the game and only allowed one catch which resulted in 6 yards (if the receiver catches one in the hole of the zone that's hardly on the DB). And at the end of the game on the last play, Winston was looking for WR Adam Humphries, and he could not shake Joyner. Great game by the young man.
So far it's been an interesting couple of games. As far as offense goes, the game against the Bucs was the most interesting one from a coaching point of view. It's easily the best game called by Rams OC Rob Boras. He dialed up play after play to put the team in the best situation to win match-ups. Even if the play wasn't always excuted, albeit from drops, missed blocks, or bad running, the play designs were nice. Now he'll be tasked with doing it two weeks in a row, against a much better opponent defensively in the Cardinals.

But as for now, the Rams are 2-1 for the first time in a decade. Soak it up and enjoy it. Talk trash to your friends who aren't Rams fans. Because by the end of this upcoming Sunday, they will either prove to be the same ol sorry ass Rams, or a team that's truly improving...

Defensive Line Flexible in Victory
The Rams’ defensive line was up to a significant challenge during Sunday’s 37-32 victory over the Buccaneers. With injuries and an ejection to deal with, the nine-man rotation quickly went down to seven. And given 90-degree temperatures with significant humidity, plus a slate of 90 plays to defend, there was a lot the line had to deal with.

Los Angeles usually designates one of its nine defensive linemen inactive, and that player on Sunday was end Matt Longacre. Thus, when fellow end William Hayes went down with an ankle injury, it meant others would have play more snaps in his place.

And then L.A. lost defensive end Eugene Sims to an ejection, inducing head coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to come up with a plan to compensate for the shorthanded line.

“It was difficult. Gregg and I talked and we had some other packages,” Fisher said at his Monday press conference. “We had a three-man-line package, and we brought some extra DBs in. And, fortunately, the game was such where they weren’t just pounding the ball, running the ball. So we tried to give them an ever-changing look, but it was not easy for the defensive line.”

While the club used different packages, Williams also deployed defensive tackle Aaron Donald at a spot other than his usual three-technique. The Rams have used Donald at defensive end in the past, but that, for the most part, has been in a three-man front. This was different, as the Pitt product was lining up on the outside in the Rams’ four-man front.

“Just like playing D-tackle — just lined up different,” Donald said after the game. “But it was good, anything I have to do to make sure we come out on top. And I know we had some guys that went down and things like that and just needed to move around a little bit more.”

Playing two positions, Donald ended up on the field for 77 of the Rams’ 90 defensive snaps (86 percent). One of the other healthy ends, Ethan Westbrooks, played 73 (81 percent) — unusually high numbers for a pair of linemen.

“When you take into consideration that Aaron got so many snaps at both ends, and then Ethan was playing both sides and moving down inside to rush,” Fisher said. 

Defensive end Robert Quinn, who made two key plays with a sack/fumble and the game-ending tackle on quarterback Jameis Winston, was in for 64 percent of the defensive snaps. Defensive tackles Michael Brockers (53 percent), Dominique Easley (38 percent), and Cam Thomas (28 percent) helped as well on the line. Fisher was particularly impressed with Easley’s performance.

“Dominique played really well,” Fisher said. “We needed him. He needed to step up because we needed to bounce Aaron outside. And he played really well inside. So, yeah, it was a tremendous effort there.”

And even after Hayes’ injury, the defensive lineman did his best to come back on the field to contribute. He ended up playing 19 snaps.

“You know I have total respect for Will Hayes. And there’s no way he should’ve returned,” Fisher said. “Will was in the locker room with the ankle injury and when Eugene walked in the locker room after being ejected, Will just said, ‘I’ve got to go out. I’ve got to go.’ So he came out and helped us.” 

The weather conditions made the performance that much more challenging, which Fisher acknowledged for both sides.

“I mentioned last night — it was a test of wills. It was hot, it was humid,” Fisher said. “Both teams — you could see the fatigue factor kicking in. And both teams battled. It was not easy."

Sims’ ejection for a personal foul in the second quarter marked the second defensive player in three weeks to be disqualified from a contest mid-game.

So what happened on the extra point that resulted in Sims having to watch the rest of the game from the locker room?

“There was some stuff that was going on up front,” Fisher said. “It wasn’t a defensive play, it was post extra point. And something was said and he retaliated.

“No place for it — no place for it at all,” Fisher continued. “He knows and was remorseful after the game. He apologized to his teammates, he apologized to me. It’s going to be addressed tomorrow.”

Fisher added that these are the kind of pre- and post-snap penalties that particularly irritate coaches. And fouls that lead to ejections are not acceptable.

“We’re on pace right now, from a penalty standpoint [that] doesn’t look good,” Fisher said. “So we’ve addressed that, but we’ll continue to address it. Pre-snap, post-snap — we eliminate those, we’re fine. Those are under our control.

“And as I told the staff, I can’t remember in my career having a defensive player ejected, let alone had two in three weeks,” Fisher said. “So that stuff has to stop.”

Fish talked about the team’s first three performances after practice today.

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(On if making big plays at the end of games recently is something that is random or if something is developed)
“There’s a lot of plays that are made during the course of the games, you end up focusing on the one at the end. Yeah, ‘Tree’s’ (LB Alec Ogletree) play was huge against Seattle, (DE) Rob’s (Quinn) effort was tremendous, we needed that. You take the wins however you can – in a perfect world, you’d like to think you don’t need to make that play at the end. But that’s something you can hang your hat on and you can always go back and say ‘Hey, you made plays at the end, so if it comes up again, just go do it. Do what you’ve done before.’”

(On what he has said to the team about the number of penalties they’ve gotten so far in the early part of the season)
“I’m not going to go into specifics, that’s my presentation. But we had a long discussion today about it. It’s nice to be able to discuss it after a win. You look at the penalties and they’re like anything else. The big thing, as I mentioned yesterday, is the ones that don’t have anything to do with the play – and that’s what kind of gets under the coach’s skin – the false starts, the defensive offsides and the things that happen after the play. You’re in control of that. The things that take place during the course of the down, you’re really not in control unless you’re grabbing as a defensive back. And then you look, if you really look at them, there’s five or six or seven that I disagree with. Penalties are penalties, but at this rate, it’s not good. We have to coach better and we have to talk about things and we have to be aware of a hard count on second-and-10 or third-and-one. Just bring it to their attention and we did that. Our focus is more on Arizona, however, than it is on our team penalties.”

(On if there’s anything that he can take away from the game plan that Buffalo had after they intercepted Arizona QB Carson Palmer four times)
“No, if we go and change our defense and do what they did, then we don’t have a chance of being successful. We have a system, they have a system, there’s familiarity with both of these two teams. Buffalo made some plays – a ball was overthrown, a snap was misdirected – they made plays and they capitalized on it, they were home and they got some momentum. (Cardinals Head Coach) Bruce (Arians) is a good coach and he’ll have them ready to play. We respect them, as I said. We have a long week ahead of us (and) we’ll put together the best plan we can and go out and execute.”

(On WR Brian Quick having problems catching the ball in training camp and having a big game last week against Tampa Bay)
“His problems weren’t holding onto the ball, they were catching the ball. He didn’t have a (WR) Kenny Britt fumble, they were drops. He’s worked on that, he’s not dropping them on purpose and he made a couple really good plays in the game. It’s just about him being consistent. You don’t want to see the drops, drops are hard to overcome, we had four this weekend at Tampa and they’re hard to overcome – we had one or two on defense. You have to catch the football when you’re given the opportunity.”

(On if it’s nice to see Quick make a play like his 44-yard reception because of everything that he’s been through, including coming back from his injury)
“From that standpoint, yes, but that’s expected. We expect him to make that play, that’s his job – run past the corner in that particular defense and go make that play and he made it. The alternative would not have been good, but he made the play and he’s got to do it again.”

(On if RB Todd Gurley not having a big run is more of a factor of opposing teams focusing in on him or Gurley getting rust off)
“It’s not necessarily Todd, it’s really a situation where we’re just really close. A double-team that comes off that’s efficient and he hits the crease, he’s on his way, a good block by the receiver. Todd feels great; if anybody has any question as to how Todd feels, look at his 16-yard run, that was impressive.”

(On what he would like to see improvement on the defensive line)
“Last year, we didn’t have a sack for four or five weeks to start the season or something like that. Not that we started slow, but people are aware of the talent level up front, so they’re protecting the quarterback, the ball is coming out quickly. From a defensive line standpoint, I couldn’t ask any more of them from what we got out of them in this game, considering the numbers went down and the weather conditions. We’ll rest them, we’ll get them recovered and we’ll go out. We’ve typically had success from a standpoint of pressuring Arizona’s quarterbacks, so we’ve got to do that this week. We have to get relentless pressure on him and make the ball come out quick.”

(On how important it would be for the defense if QB E.J. Gaines can play this week and if he expects him to play)
“Won’t know until later on the week, it’ll be a day-to-day thing. He’s feeling good, he had a really good pregame workout in Tampa and felt really good, had no setbacks. So we’ll see how he is and just kind of work him in.”

(On what Gaines would add to the defense)
“Just the experience. The experience and the knowledge of our system, the depth there and the flexibility because he can go inside or play outside.”

(On what he has thought of DT Aaron Donald’s performance in the first three games)
“He hasn’t had a sack, but he’s probably had 20 quarterback hits. Whether the quarterback has the ball in his hands or not, he’s making contact with the quarterback legally. And they know that, so he’s getting double teamed and he’s getting all those scheme things that you get offensively. It creates other opportunities for someone else. We have to keep moving him around a little bit and create the one-on-ones. He’s been very productive even though he numbers aren’t reflecting it, he’s very productive.”

(On if the success that other rookie quarterbacks are having influences QB Jared Goff’s development)

“No, I spoke on that. I’m happy for young quarterbacks when they have success, but we have our own sense of timing here with him. The quarterbacks are having success because of injuries. As I mentioned last week, had we not had the injuries that we did in the league, probably all four of those quarterbacks either would be inactive or backups.”

Rams Power Rankings: Week 4
Each week takes an aggregate look at where the Los Angeles Rams rank in different outlets across the sports media landscape., Elliot Harrison Rank: 21
Last Week: 24
Change: 3 Rank: 24
Last Week: 28
Change: 4, Pete Prisco Rank: 18
Last Week: 22
Change: 4 Rank: 18
Last Week: 22
Change: 4

ProFootballTalk, Mike Florio Rank: 19
Last Week: 26
Change: 7 Rank: 22
Last Week: 28
Change: 6

Yahoo! Shutdown Corner Rank: 22
Last Week: 23
Change: 1

USA Today Rank: 18
Last Week: 26
Change: 8

ProFootballTalk: 16 14
Yahoo! Shutdown Corner: 7
USA Today: 12

Rams Claim S Marqui Christian
The Los Angeles Rams claimed safety Marqui Christian off waivers on Thursday.
Christian was previously on the Arizona Cardinals 53-man roster. The 2016 fifth-round pick out of Midwestern State earned the Cliff Harris Award (Small College Defensive Player of the Year) in 2015 and was named the Lone Star Conference (NCAA Division II) Top Male Athlete in 2016.

To make room for Christian, the team waived defensive back Isaiah Johnson.

What's good LA

Fisher said cornerback E.J. Gaines has a “really good chance this week. He’s feeling good, which is good for the defense.”

Gaines was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, but ended up being inactive.

As for rookie wide receivers Pharoh Cooper and Nelson Spruce, Fisher said both will be back on the practice field. That, however, does not guarantee anything for their Sunday status for the game at Arizona.
A satirical look at more than 75 years of Football's Rams history, combined with discussions of American Exceptionalism and almost 50 years of personal experience in the life of a Rams Fan. The history parallels and intertwines life to form a humorous, yet serious look at American HistoryWorld History, an American Footballteam, and Political Science.