St. Louis Rams: 3 Ways Jeff Fisher Improves the Rams This Season
Don't look now, but Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is quickly changing the football culture in St. Louis.
With a 31-28 victory against rookie sensation Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Rams registered their first win since last November. The Rams, who could easily be 2-0, are already halfway to last season's win total.
The on-field personnel looks drastically different from the injury-ridden team of 2011. Quarterback Sam Bradford is back to full strength, as is his go-to target Danny Amendola, who played only one game last season. The Rams have also added lockdown cornerback Cortland Finnegan to aid an improved defensive unit.
However, arguably no one is more responsible for the upgraded Rams squad than Fisher. Appearing in his 21st season as a head coach, Fisher brings a new mindset to a team that was 9-23 in their previous two seasons.
Here are three ways Fisher improves the Rams in 2012.
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A franchise without a winning season since 2003, the Rams were in dire need of a change in leadership this offseason.
With the addition of Fisher, the Rams have found their man. Fisher is a proven winner, boasting a 143-121 record as a head coach with six playoff appearances.
While it has yet to be seen whether St. Louis has the roster this season to change their previous misfortunes, Fisher has his team moving in the right direction.
Sunday's win marked the first time the Rams won their home opener since 2006—a major accomplishment for the new sheriff in town. Expect more wins to come with Fisher at the helm.
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It's anyone's guess the last time toughness was a word associated with the Rams, as they have served as a punching bag for most of the last five seasons.
This year's team, however, is forgetting the past and have come out of the gates fighting—taking on the personality of their head coach.
Fisher talked about his team's toughness after last Sunday's win, according to an article on news-leader.com.
"These guys, they all had it deep down inside of them," Fisher said. "We just had to bring it out of them."
According to the article, Fisher largely credited Finnegan, who played for Fisher in Tennessee, for the team's new attitude, but the cornerback said his coach is who deserves the praise.
“You know what, I think that’s just the attitude of our head coach and everything that we’re about. We want to be a physical defense, we don’t want to back down or take anything from anybody.”
Whether he wants to take credit or not, Fisher's character is a major reason for the new-look Rams.
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"The Greatest Show on Turf", with the Hall of Fame-caliber talent of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce, had nothing to do with defense.
It just has not been a part of the franchise's DNA.
Last season was no different, as the Rams defense ranked 26th in the league in points allowed (25.4 per game). Forcing turnovers was also a problem for the unit, as they were 15th in the NFC in takeaways.
There is a different outlook this season, though, as Chris Long, Rocky McIntosh, James Laurinaitis and Finnegan headline a talented group.
The defensive mindset of Fisher, who coached under Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia in the 1980s, is also a major addition to the equation. Fisher knows what a successful defense looks like and is on his way to molding this unit into one.
Hard-hitting defense with the toughness of a heavyweight champion boxer has always been a staple of Fisher's teams. The major pieces are in place, and once they become accustomed to Fisher's system, expect favorable results.