Monday, September 23, 2013
Quick turnaround a tough test for Rams
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The good news for the St. Louis Rams is that they have only four days to wipe away what happened Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
The bad news for the Rams is that they have only four days to wipe away what happened Sunday against the Cowboys.
It’s an interesting dichotomy for a team that undoubtedly can’t wait to get back on the field Thursday night against San Francisco and wipe away the sour taste lingering in its mouth.
“If you’re looking for a silver lining in the playbook, that could very well be it,” cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “We’ve got a chance to bounce back in front of a home crowd, Thursday night, division opponent. I guess that’s a silver lining.”
A Thursday night game against the rival 49ers could be a blessing for Cortland Finnegan and the Rams, who were blown out Sunday at Dallas.
At the same time, it also leaves less opportunity for the Rams to correct the many mistakes that plagued them in a 31-7 loss at Dallas. Things like a complete inability to stop the run or convert on third down or avoid special-teams penalties, among others.
Sitting at 1-2 three weeks into the season, it’s hard to call any game a must-win, but even Rams coach Jeff Fisher was quick to acknowledge the importance of bouncing back on a short week against an NFC West division rival.
“This is a defining moment for us right now,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to get past this and get ready for the 49ers.”
In many ways, the two teams that will square off Thursday night in the Edward Jones Dome are sitting in a similar, not exactly enviable, position.
Both are coming off disappointing performances, both are 1-2 and coming off consecutive losses and both are searching for solutions to a variety of issues.
As we covered in this morning’s Ram-blings, things may actually be more difficult for San Francisco, which will likely be missing key players and has to travel halfway across the country.
The flip side of that is the Niners are in a similar situation with their backs up against the wall and likely carrying bitter memories of going winless in their two games against the Rams last season.
“The 49ers, in a lot of ways, probably see themselves in the same situation that we’re in -- let one slip away,” Fisher said. “[They] got beat at home, now have to deal with some injuries, and then come here on a short week. So, they have as equal as great a challenge as we do. It should be a short week and a good ball game.”
The Rams’ approach this week falls in line with the typical approach of teams around the league coming off a disappointing performance. Like a cornerback who just got torched for a touchdown, it’s all about the short memory cliché.
Fisher made it clear in his Monday news conference that the Rams wouldn’t spend much time dwelling on the things that happened in the Dallas game. Instead, Fisher offered that the players will spend a little time Monday going over what happened against Dallas but then that game won’t be mentioned again and the Rams will turn their complete focus to San Francisco.
The always confident Fisher has little doubt about his team’s readiness to bounce back.
“This team, by and large, despite the fact that it’s young has a short term memory and understands the next challenge, and that’s where we’re going,” Fisher said. “You explain what we have to do, what we haven’t done over the last three weeks and where we need to get better. That’s the coaches' philosophy is you have to put those things behind you and move on.”
It’s a mentality that San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh is likely instilling in his team. Just because things aren’t going their way, the 49ers aren’t going to just roll over for the Rams.
“They don’t care who we played or how we played, they’re going to try to beat us,” Finnegan said. “We’ve got to figure it out.”
After a dreadful performance like Sunday’s, it can be easy to overreact and use it as a basis for how the rest of the season will play out. It can work both ways, too, as plenty of Cowboys fans are probably feeling a heck of a lot better about their team today.
Did Sunday’s loss throw up some red flags about the Rams? Absolutely. Were there things in Sunday’s loss that are starting to evolve into disturbing trends over the first three weeks? Of course.
How the Rams respond Thursday night will provide a strong litmus test of where this team is, but more importantly, where it’s going.