St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis made an appearance on Cleveland sports radio on Friday. In wide ranging interview he talked about everything from the new head coach the lack of a defensive coordinator and more. He also touched on the subject of quarterback Sam Bradford, for whom the Rams' experience in 2011 was a wildly different affair for the signal caller.
Like everyone else associated with the Rams, JL was asked about Bradford and whether or not he can rebound. Laurinaitis, who lived the Rams' 1-15 season in 2009, pointed to the experience factor for the quarterback.
"I think Sam, last year, got beat up quite a bit. ... I just think, overall, the hits, the frustration of losing, Sam wasn't here for that 1-15 season so really his rookie year he was 7-9 and we were on the brink of the playoffs. And last year was the first time, really, in his life, that he went through a miserable, losing season. And that first time you go through it, you don't really know how to react to it. I think it's good for Sam to have this offseason to kind of reboot and recharge and we're banking on that right arm of his."
Bradford's teams at Oklahoma were pretty successful. I don't know much about Bradford's high school career, but I 2011 was the first time since then, at least, that he his team had such woeful results.
The good news here is that Bradford has a track record of rebounding from adversity. Look no further than the shoulder injury that put him on the shelf for his final season at OU. He worked even harder than if he had never been injured to recover and rebound ahead of the NFL Draft.
Speaking of determination, Laurinaitis talked about what Jeff Fisher brings to the fold at Rams Park. Confidence, as we talked about in this recent post, is a big, big part of what Fisher brings to the fold.
"Coach Fisher's awesome. He's quietly confident. You can kind of just sense it from the way he walks around, the way he handles himself, that he listens to his players. One of the first things he said to a couple of guys he met with when he first got the job was that early on his career, he used to always think it was about Xs and Os and out-smarting everyone in the NFL. Then he realized a couple years in that you can't outsmart everyone in the NFL. ... You can just tell that he's a guy that truly listens to his guys."
The emphasis added is mine, because that's something I touched on in this post. And it's key for the Rams, who have had no shortage of tacticians running through the building in recent years.
Here's what I said (so I don't have to type it again):
I think fans like you and me tend to get overly focused on the Xs and Os that a coach brings. Are we throwing downfield enough? Is a curl route the right call for that receiver? Do they run enough/too much in the red zone?
That's all well and good. Those things matter, but the Rams have had so many more rivers to cross that just getting the right playbook. Instilling confidence and swagger may sound like nothing more than just simplistic talking points in an era of statistical enlightenment, but it matters. The Rams have lacked anything like that since Dick Vermeil left town. They have it in spades now with Fisher calling the shots and playing an integral role in an organization that has finally purged itself of bureaucratic tyrants.
That might not translate to wins specifically right away, but it will mean there's a much different team on the field, one that is rarely out of it when the fourth quarter starts.