We’ve seen already a few times this season where the St. Louis Rams have a few players get involved in some extracurriculars after the whistle or during plays and get burned in the process. Most figure this chippy nature comes from their head coach Jeff Fisher who has always coached his teams to play through the whistle with a bit of an edge, but that philosophy has clearly backfired on the team this season. It seems time for Fisher to start coaching his guys to play football instead of winning the war of words out on the field.
If you remember back to the Rams’ Week 7 meeting with the Carolina Panthers, quarterback Sam Bradford’s torn ACL wasn’t the only headline coming out of that tilt. Panthers veteran wideout Steve Smith had some not so flattering things to say about cornerback Janoris Jenkins and his trash talking throughout the game. Following the contest, Smith told ESPN:
“I don’t play them games. When you try to take it personal like that, I don’t have any great humbling things to say. So he can take his *** back to St. Louis and watch the ******* film, ’cause I don’t play them games. And if I see him on the street, I’m going to bust him in the ******* mouth.”
Well then, you don’t say.
It’s not like the tactics did Jenkins any favors on the field either as Smith had six catches for 69 yards and a touchdown to lead all Panthers receivers. But these young Rams just don’t seem to learn from their mistakes, or maybe the blame should be put on coach Fisher for his inability to realize that this methodology clearly isn’t working with his team. Against the San Francisco 49ers there were more verbal altercations out on the field with plenty of friendly conversations taking place. 49ers safety Donte Whitner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“Yeah, it seemed like that was their game plan — to come out and get some guys ejected. It was a lot of chippy-ness out there. Not anything on our part, but on their part. Maybe that was their game plan. But it didn’t work.”
Clearly this plan could work in the opposite direction against a younger team, but when it’s the NFL’s youngest team doing the jawing it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Focusing energy on getting the better of an opponent in a verbal sparring match is the last thing a young team needs to be focused on when the task at hand is much more pressing. And the borderline tactics don’t end there for Fisher’s crew.
No, these Rams were flagged for a ridiculous 11 penalties on Sunday for 105 yards. That’s another unwelcome hallmark of team coached by Fisher as that play through the whistle mentality tends to generate more flags and more costly yards lost. The coach said:
“There’s a grab here and a grab there. I don’t know. We had one on Tru (Johnson) where he tackled Anquan (Boldin) on the sideline. So, not good. Way too many defensive penalties. We had put that away and put that aside in the last weeks.”
I’m not sure what Fisher’s been watching, but a team that averages the fifth most flags in the league per game at 7.4 certainly hasn’t ‘put that aside.’
It would seem a change in philosophy is needed for this team to truly realize its potential and get to the next level. Fisher must adapt to the ways of today’s NFL and stop living in the past era where borderline antics were let slide and teams were allowed to play through the whistle. Otherwise, these Rams may be stuck in neutral — or worse, going in reverse — instead of moving forward like they should be.