– Welcome back to the first edition of “Wrapping Up” for the 2012 season as we take a final glance at the preseason opener against Indianapolis with the hindsight provided by Coach Jeff Fisher in his day after game new conference. Fisher, of course, has watched the game tape and offers more insight into what happened than he possibly could right after a game.
– Without any further adieu, let’s dig into it…
– First, as always, let’s start on the injury front. As Fisher indicated after yesterday’s game, the Rams came out of it injury free. In fact, Fisher had nothing but good things to report on the injury front saying that the team actually expects to enter week 2 of the preseason healthier than week one. That’s hardly ever the case.
– Fisher said CB Bradley Fletcher (ribs), S Darian Stewart (hamstring) and WR Brandon Gibson (hamstring) are expected to return to practice this week. Fletcher is the most questionable of the trio but Fisher was confident all would return in some capacity.
– DT Trevor Laws and C Scott Wells still have some work to do to make it back.
– WR Danario Alexander is a bit of a day to day situation. It’s possible he could return this week but that will be up in the air leading up to Saturday’s game.
– As for the game itself, let me give a little bit of analysis on how it seems Fisher views this and how he handles these Monday pressers.
– First, he went into some detail describing why it’s important for him not to get too high after a win or too low after a loss. His belief is that if he’s riding the rollercoaster, the team will too. The idea is to set a high standard and keep it even keel from there.
– And that’s how Fisher was in his Monday press conference. There’s no panic in his voice but he’s not gushing about anyone either. He was balanced in his criticisms of what went wrong in the opener and what he liked when he turned the tape on. That’s a good example to set for the team.
– As for the game itself, Fisher said his team will have no trouble moving on from it and again emphasized that there was a big difference in philosophical approach to the game. Fisher said his team was extremely vanilla while the Colts did quite a bit of scheming. That doesn’t mean there’s a right or wrong way to do but just different philosophies. Fisher said the Rams will steadily add more and more to the pregame schemes in each game though the final preseason contest will likely be fairly plain as well.
– Fisher’s biggest disappointments in this one?
1. Failure to put points on the board
2. Not finishing drives well (which goes hand in hand with 1)
3. Inability to get off the field on third down on defense and to stay on the field on third down on offense
– On the flip side, Fisher found plenty of good things he liked as well. Here’s a sample of those:
1. The run blocking by the first team offensive line
2. The accuracy of QB Sam Bradford
3. The special teams as a whole (with specific mentions of P Johnny Hekker and LB Aaron Brown)
– While I’m on the subject of special teams, it was a bonehead mistake on my part to forget to include him in my blog yesterday. He was really good and Fisher said Monday if there was going to be a game ball for that game, it would have gone to Hekker. The 67-yard punt he hit in the first half was absolutely perfect. It was inside the 20, the returner didn’t catch it and it rolled out of bounds at the 2. 67 yards of gross and 67 yards of net. Hekker finished with a two-punt average of 55.5 yards with a net of 52.5 and both punts were inside the 20. Nice debut, kid.
– Fisher also made mention of a player we didn’t forget in this space yesterday: WR Austin Pettis. He said Pettis has gotten better throughout camp and has been consistent about catching the ball. Expect his role to continue to grow.
– The competition will continue this week at right tackle between Jason Smith and Barry Richardson. Richardson got the start on Sunday but Fisher said both players did a solid job and will continue to battle it out in practice. For what it’s worth, on the sack Jerry Hughes got on Smith, he was clearly in the neutral zone and there was zero chance for Smith to get any sort of blocking angle on him. In my mind, the most blatant missed call of the game, that one.
– On the subject of some of the missed penalties, Fisher made it clear he does not want to point blame at any officials. To him, it’s up to the coaching staff to “coach penalties out of the scheme.” That won’t ever be a perfect task but his point is that the coaching staff has to find ways to get the players to play through any missed calls or things out of their control.
– The delay of game penalties were a function of some mixed communications between the staff and the quarterbacks, an area that will certainly need to be cleaned up.
– All told, Fisher is looking at the big picture and wants his team to do the same. From his point of view, the Rams did improve yesterday even if the score didn’t show it and ultimately that’s what he wants out of the preseason. He’s not throwing out wild plaudits or making excuses for the result but he believes in evaluating players in the preseason and trying to develop talent. Whether it results in wins or losses is secondary at best and that’s just how it’s going to be for Fisher and his team.
– As always, thanks for reading. Fisher and the Rams are back on the practice field tomorrow at 3:30. That practice is free and open to the public.
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– The Rams and the NFL announced today that the team has withdrawn its commitment to playing a home game in London in 2013 and 2014. The team will, obviously, still play New England in London on Oct. 28.
– Below is the full release from the team sent out moments ago:
ST. LOUIS, MO – In an effort to focus on the Edward Jones Dome First Tier Process with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the St. Louis Rams are withdrawing their commitment to play a home game in London in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
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