Rams prepare for home opener after embarrassing loss

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The Los Angeles Rams will have their first home game of the new L.A. era Sunday at the Coliseum. They will host the Seattle Seahawks, winners of Super Bowl XLVIII. To celebrate the event the Rams will have the Red Hot Chili Peppers do a short set before the game so the gates will be open early — 11 a.m. — and fans should be in their seats 30 minutes before game time — 1:05 p.m. — to see and hear the Chili Peppers.

Red Hot Chili Peppers L-R: Flea, Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis and John Klinghoffer (Warner Bros. Records)
Red Hot Chili Peppers L-R: Flea, Chad Smith,
Anthony Kiedis and John Klinghoffer
(Warner Bros. Records)

The Peppers are singer Anthony Kiedis, bass player Flea, drummer Chad Smith and guitarist John Klinghoffer. One of the most successful rock bands of the past 30 years, they have a long discography of gold and platinum albums, plus numerous Grammy Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

Of the Rams, Flea said, “Since I was a little boy, I’ve taken joy in the beauty of the Rams. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1972, I was getting uprooted from my home and I thought, ‘Well, where I’m going they’ve got the Rams. It’s going to be all right.’ ”

Even without MVP quarterback Russell Wilson the Seahawks will be a tough opponent for Los Angeles. His ankle was injured in their game against the Miami Dolphins and it’s considered a “significant” injury. But Wilson has never appeared on an injury report during his first four seasons in the NFL and the QB tweeted, “See you in LA.”

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

So there’s a good chance the Rams defense will face another quarterback who can scramble for a lot of yards in a game. Not to mention his other Super Bowl-winning talents.

In the Monday Night game against the San Francisco 49ers the Rams faced another quarterback with legs, Blaine Gabbert. He was second only to Carlos Hyde in rushing yards.

Had that been the extent of the Rams challenges they would have had a good game, but in the view of everyone, from head coach Steve Fisher on down the roster and throughout the new Rams Nation Monday Night against the 49ers was an embarrassment.

After the game Fisher told the media, “Well, that wasn’t what we expected, certainly not what I expected for our first game. Back in LA we’ve got some work to do, obviously, very disappointed in the outcome.”

He complimented the San Francisco coaching staff several times in his debrief of the Rams’ performance. “The line of scrimmage was loaded up and you know, they’re well coached and we couldn’t get it going. And when we can’t get a run game going you know, nothing else falls after that.”

Jeff Fisher
Jeff Fisher

Defensively the Rams didn’t live up to their reputation as one of the best in the league. The San Francisco offense ruled the field in the first half. “I was a little disappointed in the defense. Although with the defense we made adjustments at half-time, settled down, got numerous back-to-back three and outs, and that gave us an opportunity to get some starts, you know, get some drive starts offensively, but we just couldn’t get the blitz,” Fisher said.

Quarterback Case Keenum gave credit to the Niners defense for shutting down the Rams offense, especially the passing game “They did a good job of mixing it up. San Francisco did with coverage over the top and mixing it up with the single I. You have to give them a lot of credit. They did a really good job especially on third down. A lot of looks that we haven’t seen before, but it’s not an excuse though. We still have to convert. There were some chances to convert, and it’s tough.”

Running back Todd Gurley called the game embarrassing. Keenum echoed that sentiment. “It’s definitely embarrassing. I’m a winner, I know Todd’s a winner, I know this offense is a winner, everyone in that locker room feels like they’re winners. When you don’t win, especially like that, it’s tough. But, you have to give the 49ers a lot of credit, they came out here ready to play and defensively they did a great job.”

Rams running back Todd Gurley
Rams running back Todd Gurley

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the best player on the Rams defense, was ejected in the fourth quarter. He told the media “I just let emotions get the best of me. There’s no excuses. I can’t make mistakes like that and hurt my team.” He added, “I just saw something happen and tried to break some things up. I was just a little too physical, I guess. It was dumb on my part.”

When told he should expect to pay a fine to the NFL, Donald said, “Yeah, I got to pay for my actions.”

He also called the loss embarrassing. “That’s not the way we play and that wasn’t our best football. We know that. We know we have to go back to the drawing board and fix things. We have to play a lot harder.”

By Tuesday Fisher had begun to look ahead to Sunday’s home opener against the Seattle Seahawks, by first explaining the 24-hour rule, “We basically have this philosophy, and everybody does, that you get 24 hours to get this thing over with, and corrected, and done. In this case, I gave them a 22-hour rule, because we got a short week. We’re just wrapping up with the players now at 5:00 p.m. We’re correcting things and looking at tape, and see what happens, and then we go on; we have to move on. Everybody is sleep deprived, but that’s a part of the Monday Night game. So, the coaches have already got a good start on our next opponent. I did ask the players, just to take an extra half hour…so maybe it’s an 22.5-hour (rule), and go back and reflect; make sure that we did everything possible that we possibly could do last week. That’s about preparation, and everything. Players are resilient, they bounce back. They’re excited about this challenge this coming weekend.”

rams2The Rams have had success against the Seahawks. Fisher isn’t sure if there’s any advantage in the new season, but he likes his team’s chances. “My job, as the head coach, and our jobs as a staff is to get them (the players) ready to play and respect this opponent because they’re highly-talented. I think Miami is a good football team and for them to hang in there and find a way, even with (Seahawks QB) Russell’s (Wilson) ankle situation, to find a way to win that game is impressive. We’re just going to prepare. We’re familiar with them, they’re familiar with us; we respect them, they respect us. I love watching them play – the Seahawks – because they play hard, (Seahawks head coach) Pete (Carroll) does a great job and fortunately, we’ve had some success against them.”

He did mention the problem with the penalties from Monday’s game. The Rams were penalized 1o times for 102 yards. “We addressed it today. Todd was a little frustrated when he flipped the ball past the official and it landed in the hands of an opponent. Sometimes that’s called, and that’s not called. The learning experience from that is just give it to him, put it on the ground.” About Aaron Donald’s penalty he said, “Aaron was playing really hard, and there was some chirping going on in that little scrum. He shouldn’t have done it, but he kind of pushed (WR Quinton Patton) 11 away, who I am fond of, I think he’s a really good player.”

Rams Fans5In contrast, the 49ers were only penalized twice.

Is there anything special planned for Carroll, who was the head coach for the USC Trojans? Fisher said, “I could see the emotions that Pete is going to go through. He and I have been doing this a long time, this is about our teams competing and finding a way to win the game. I’m sure he’ll have an emotional moment. I may bring him into my office – which was his old office – and let him see it.”

Game time at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum is 1:05 p.m., but there will be the short concert by the Red Hot Chili Peppers before the game so fans should be in their seats before 12:30 p.m.

Photos by Claudia Gestro unless otherwise noted.