THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams have been mostly on the move for eight straight months. They’ve had little time to dwell on anything during their cross-country relocation and their nomadic new beginning in Southern California.
After the debacle that was their regular season opener, coach Jeff Fisher is grateful they’ve learned how to move on quickly.
“There’s a natural sense of disappointment and frustration, but you’ve got to push that out,” Fisher said Tuesday. “You’ve got to eliminate that and come back and make it work.”
The Rams’ coaching staff returned from that 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and worked through a sleepless night to begin preparations for Sunday’s historic homecoming game against Seattle. While the Rams can’t dwell on the embarrassment of their trip to the Bay Area, Fisher saw the depth of the work they’re facing just to be competitive with the mighty Seahawks at the Coliseum.
“You’ve heard of the 24-hour rule, right?” Fisher asked. “You’ve got 24 hours to get this thing over with and corrected and done. In this case, I gave them a 22-hour rule, because we’ve got a short week.”
The Rams’ comprehensive failures were undeniably worrying, particularly on offense. Los Angeles managed 185 yards, went 3 for 15 on third downs, punted a league-high 10 times and never even reached the red zone against an opponent that isn’t expected to be particularly good this season.
Fisher saw several reasons for the Rams’ offensive struggles, largely centering on their inability to establish a running game. Todd Gurley got 47 yards on 17 carries against a San Francisco defense designed specifically to stop him — the same basic strategy that’s likely to be used by every opponent of a team that has a star running back, but made no significant upgrades to the NFL’s worst passing offense last season.
“Their commitment was to stop the run with Todd, and then try to get us to make the plays outside,” Fisher said. “But we wanted to stay with the run, because it’s the run game that helps you get the plays outside.”
Case Keenum went 17 for 35 in his first NFL opening-week start, and backup Sean Mannion didn’t get a snap. Fisher said No. 1 pick Jared Goff could step in for Mannion as Keenum’s backup against Seattle, but the Rams won’t decide until later in the week.
Fisher also was concerned by the Rams’ 10 penalties, including seven against the defense. Gurley committed a taunting penalty that stalled a decent drive, while defensive lineman Aaron Donald got ejected for a late scuffle with a 49ers player and an official.
While Fisher saw the reasons behind his two stars’ reactions, he didn’t condone them.
“We addressed it,” Fisher said. “These are two captains that had significant penalties in this game. We just can’t have that.”
After getting routed by the one NFC West team they were expected to beat, the Rams take a big step up in opposition quality this weekend for their long-awaited official return to Los Angeles. Another huge crowd is expected to welcome home the Rams, who set an NFL preseason game record with the crowd at last month’s first exhibition.
With the results from Santa Clara still stinging, Fisher realizes the Rams need every possible boost to get competitive this season.
“I would like to think that we would have a significant home-field advantage there,” Fisher said. “From a personal standpoint, I’m excited about this. This is our home opener. So we’re disappointed in what happened last night, but as the week goes on, the enthusiasm and the excitement is going to grow.”