We’ve reached the quarter point of the season, and I’m feeling good about where we are, and where we’re going. We’re 2-2, and every game has been close. Our special teams and our defense have made some big plays to pull off those two wins.
But what I’ve seen in this team that’s different from years past goes beyond that, starting in the locker room. We have a lot of new faces, a lot of younger guys that are eager and very talented. We want to turn around the way people perceive and look at the Rams. We don’t wear those scars of past teams. We look at ourselves as an entirely different team. It feels that way, we’re playing that way, and teams will see that, week-in and week-out.
The atmosphere around the team is definitely building. I think this team has a confidence and swag to it. That type of attitude and demeanor, we’ve taken on from our head coach’s personality. Coach Fisher is one-of-a-kind. He’s a great coach, and we’re very lucky to have had the chance to get him this offseason.
It starts with his attitude, the way he carries himself and the way he talks to us at team meetings. He feeds into our confidence and speaks positively. Those are two things in the grand scheme that are very little, but they help you.
I’ve mentioned in the past the great coaching staff he’s put in place. They do a really good job of putting together game plans, and making sure that we’re all on the same page. There’s not a lot of miscommunication within this team, and when everyone is on the same page, doing the same things, it brings about success.
Coach Fisher also does an excellent job of taking care of players and their bodies. He’s the best in that capacity of all the coaches I’ve been around in my years. He makes sure that we get enough work, but equal amounts of study time and down time, allowing us to recover and prepare ourselves week-in and week-out to be at our best. He’s leading us forward. We have to continue to do what we’ve been doing and that’s playing competitive games and pulling off these wins. I think we will. We’re a very youthful team and the more experience we get in finding out how to win tough games, the better off we’re going to be.
FINDING OUR OFFENSIVE RHYTHM
We’ve been able to put a lot of points on the board, but we’re still leaving a lot of points out there on the field. We as an offense have to get better, especially in the red zone. But Sam is doing a very good job, on third down especially of getting the ball out of his hands, getting it to his receivers and allowing them to make plays.
Sam is getting better and better each year in his leadership. He’s really putting in a lot of time after hours and on his days off, getting the game plan and knowing it like the back of his hand. He’s doing a great job of communicating, getting guys lined up correctly and executing our offensive scheme. This offense really suits him. He’s doing a really good job and putting the ball on the money right now to our receivers.
Coach Schottenheimer does an excellent job of getting guys involved early in the game. Coming out against the Redskins a few weeks ago, we knew that they were going to load the box with eight men and do everything they could to take away the run.
We had to loosen them up, and the way to do that was to come out passing. If they want to put eight in the box, Sam and the receivers can move the ball quickly down the field. Once we put points on the board, we had some explosive runs right away. That was because we showed them that if you want to take away the run, we’re still able as an offense to move the ball.
That’s a big deal for us. It’s a good feeling to know that we as an offense can be more balanced. It allows me to be more explosive and patient instead of feeling pressed to make something happen on each and every play.
As we steadily come along as an offense, I think we can be even more special as a team. Our defense continues to create turnovers, and our field goal kicker may be one of the best in the league. He’s just a rookie. He’s definitely a weapon for us. Legitimately, when we cross the 50-yard line, we need only another 10 yards to get in his range.
It gives the other team and their special teams coach something to think about. We can be a lot more aggressive and it keeps teams from wanting to kick onside kicks. They have to play a little bit more reserved than they probably would like to.
PUTTING IT ON THE LINE
I’ve been trying my best to go out there and help my team each week. It’s respected in our locker rooms amongst other players and our peers when you gut it out on the field and put it on the line. Your teammates see that leadership in you, and when you give everything, they’re willing to do the same for you at the same time. It makes for a stronger locker room.
I wish fans could see it that way too. But I think fantasy football has ruined the way the game of football should be respected and looked upon. Fans totally lose sight of the fact that we’re human beings, we’re dealing with injuries and we’re fighting it out. I don’t play for stats. I play for the love of the game, and I think that’s why I’ve had the success that I’ve had over a long period of time.
I owe a great deal of thanks in this recovery to Dr. Clayton Skaggs and his staff at the Central Institute for Human Performance. I believe they’re second to none. I’m just fortunate enough to have them here in St. Louis. To get back where I wanted to be, I put in a lot of time at CIHP. If I wasn’t at Rams Park or home sleeping, I was there with Dr. Skaggs putting in hours and hours of time. It took a lot of acupuncture, a lot of ice and a lot of working with Dr. Skaggs personally. We wanted to make sure my body didn’t overcompensate and instead remained balanced to heal. It’s lucky for me that he’s willing to stay a little longer for me to help me get back on the field.
I think I’m nearly healed and over the groin injury. Luckily, it wasn’t a very serious one that kept me out and would’ve been nagging for weeks going forward. Going into this Thursday night game, I’m looking forward to being a major contributor against a very stout Cardinals defense.
DEFEATING THE UNDEFEATED
The Cardinals are a division rival of ours, but to have them come in undefeated and get the chance to give them their first loss, it definitely adds extra incentive to the game. They’ve beat some very good teams in the Patriots and Eagles, and they’ve shown they can do it on the road by winning in New England.
The two wins we have both came at home in St. Louis, and that’s one thing we’ve wanted to do is establish: that we’re going to be a tough opponent, especially at home. We want to have that home field advantage, to get our fans excited in St. Louis about football, and have the dome rocking. With that, it makes it difficult for our opponents to communicate and gives us a distinct edge at home.
But there’s no doubt for us that they’re going to be a tough opponent. They possess a very potent offense and their defense is playing lights out. They have some solid veteran leaders on that side of the ball with Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson, and playmakers who can be very disruptive for an offense. Of course, you also have Patrick Peterson, who is very explosive. He had some big returns against us last year, and we have to keep our eyes on him to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
It is interesting being on a short week. It’s been busy and a little hectic. I haven’t played on a Thursday night since a game we had against the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the 2007 season, so it’s been a while. I forgot how short the week really is. Monday and Tuesday I had to really force my body to wake up and prepare for the short week, but we had a good few days of practice and checked into the hotel Wednesday night to get ready.
The atmosphere is a little different because it’s a night game and everyone is watching around the nation, but you don’t prepare any differently. If anything, you work to keep your routine the same, and that’s something we’ve done a good job of so far. We’re not treating one game any differently and getting up for one, only to come out flat for another. We consistently prepare for each game the same way so that come kickoff time, we’re ready to go out there and get another win.