After the Rams’ first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, the Rams flew home on a short charter flight (40 minutes) and Jeff Fisher said there were no tears shed over the 38-3 loss. During last week’s practice sessions I saw this young team start the bonding process that is needed in order for a group men to develop into a team. As I mentioned on the radio multiple times last week, the practices were more spirited than before and the sense of urgency was high. All the 11 on 11 team periods were getting salty with up tempo attitudes. The players did a great job of competing and pushing each other past their comfort zone to get better in all phases of the game in that great week of practice.
Coach Fisher and Les Snead have assembled a young roster, the youngest in the NFL, but they are talented with the size, speed and athletic ability to compete. Despite more hot spots to fill, the foundation of what builds a championship team is there; a very solid coaching staff and a locker room of hungry players to succeed. Among the players the main intangibles is team chemistry, and that is what is forming now.
I’ve been a part of championship football teams from little league, high school, college to the NFL. It’s about believing in one another and the bond that team chemistry creates is a powerful element. At the NFL level it is about coaches that are good teachers and motivating leaders, and players that get along with one another with respect and loyalty in both the locker room and off the field in a unselfish way for 20 plus weeks and beyond. It is very important that the players understand their role on the team and carry out their responsibilities when called upon.
After the wheels fell off the bus in Indianapolis against the Colts, the Rams grew closer, the coaches reaffirmed the commitment and steered the bus back in the right direction with a strong sense of team identity and unity with a focus on Kansas City.
Sam Bradford came out firing on all cylinders against the Chiefs, opening the game with a 35 yard strike to receiver Danny Amendola. It sparked a young team that remains thirsty to win. The defense created turnovers and flew around the field on a mission, colliding with their opponents in explosive collisions and tackling production. Special teams remained solid across the board. While this young team still has a long way to go, the critical steps towards developing into a TEAM was written in their preparation during the week that was evident with their performance on Saturday night.
When Coach Fisher was asked about his thoughts on the win over the Chiefs he replied, “As far as the game is concerned, there’s always some really good things and there’s some things you need to improve upon. We’re kind of caught between a rock and a hard place because if I was to look at one area that we really need to improve upon, it’s third down efficiency. We’ve got to get better on offense and got to get significantly better on defense. We’re allowing over 61 percent conversion rates on defense which will do you no good during the regular season. But the issue, the other side of the coin is that we’re also not doing the things that we would do during the regular season to try to get off the field on third down because those are the things that you kind of hold back. That will be an emphasis this week. I thought tackling was good. Our penalty numbers are down. We’re averaging four per game and as I said last week, we’re still looking at the tape to identify those that are not called and make sure we get those corrected so players understand. Overall, I thought it was improvement because last week what we did on the practice field, so we need to see the same type of improvement”.
To quote Allen Inverson, “Practice, yes were talking about practice.” Weekly preparation and progression is the key for this young team’s successful future. Can the Rams take another step forward this week as they travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys? The mark of a good team is consistency; can this young team learn that lesson this week?