THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Another season is slipping away from the Los Angeles Rams, and Jeff Fisher knows he must shoulder the blame.
The coach also hopes everyone remembers the extra burdens that the Rams (4-7) are carrying through their homecoming year.
Fisher described the upcoming week as “bounce-back time” on Monday after the Rams returned from a 49-21 thrashing at the hands of Sean Payton, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
“I’m disappointed with the record, but I don’t think anybody really knows what we’ve been going through,” Fisher said. “I’m into this week. I’m into the Patriots. … I don’t look over my shoulder.”
After a 3-1 start that inspired excitement throughout the Southland, Los Angeles has lost six of seven to fall to the fringe of the NFC playoff race. The Rams began 2016 in St. Louis before getting approval for relocation, and the franchise was in near-constant motion until the completion of its training complex in September.
The Rams also must play eight of their first 12 games away from home, including a two-week road trip to Detroit and London. Fisher isn’t saying this tumultuous year is the root of the Rams’ problems, but he mentioned it when asked direct questions about the slump.
“We’ve been through a lot, and it’s not an excuse,” Fisher said. “But we’ve been through more than any other team in the National Football League this offseason, with the moves and the travel and all those things. So we’re dealing with those as best we can. … (Fans) have the right to (blame Fisher). It’s my responsibility, ultimately. The win-loss record falls on my shoulders. My responsibility is to deal with this football team and get them ready to play the next game.”
Fisher didn’t produce a winning season in his first four years in St. Louis, and the Rams would have to finish 5-0 this fall to record their first winning record since 2003. They would have to start that highly unlikely feat on Sunday by winning at New England (9-2).
“I’m not pleased with where we are right now,” Fisher said. “Each year, each roster is different. We took over a 2-14 team. We built it. We were competitive. We’ve had quarterback issues, and you guys can do the math. You know how many different quarterbacks we’ve played with. We’ve moved on. We’re moving forward with Jared. We’ve got a roster that we need to continue to upgrade.”
Fisher thought the Rams could be in for a long day against the Saints’ top-ranked offense, which had extra time to prepare for the Rams’ defense. After giving up two late touchdowns by the Miami Dolphins a week earlier, the defense was shredded by New Orleans for 49 points — the most given up by the Rams since 2002.
Fisher grimly noted that his defense has yielded nine touchdowns on its opponents’ last 15 drives. Put another way, that’s 63 points in just over 64 minutes.
“I think they benefited from the extra three or four days last week,” Fisher said. “And the motivation , which you guys are aware of, between Sean and (Rams defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams). We got outcoached, and I told the players that.”
The defense fell apart just as an inert offense showed signs of life with rookie quarterback Jared Goff, who threw his first three NFL touchdown passes at the Superdome. Fisher praised Goff’s performance as “a big step,” praising his improved grasp of protection adjustments and his poise in a 2-minute drill.
Left tackle Greg Robinson also is likely to start on Sunday after taking what Fisher described as a much-needed week off. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft was deactivated in New Orleans after a mistake-filled performance against Miami, but the decision hurt the Rams when Robinson’s replacement, Rodger Saffold, hurt his hand and forced backup guard Andrew Donnal to replace him in the job of protecting Goff’s blind side.
“(Robinson) just needed a break,” Fisher said of Robinson, who committed 12 penalties in the first nine games. “Guys sometimes in their career need a break. I know he refocused, he recharged, he rebooted and he’s ready to go. But the mental errors and the penalties, it was just time.”
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