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St. Louis Rams: The "Fisher Project" Succeeds Or Fails With Next 5 Games...

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It's time to put the "youngest team" yada-yada to rest once and for all. Winning the big one, and losing against less than stellar opponents has to end for the Rams to make it around the bend; from also-ran, to winner. It comes down to the next five games, and at this stretch's end St. Louis fans will know if all the pain and longing has been worth it...

I've been one of many who've wondered about how the Rams can play well against the best the NFL has to offer, then slide back into pure ugly versus marginal foes? In truth, I think coaching doesn't play as much of a part in it as many think. If you consider the baseline personality of any NFL player, "Type A" has to come to mind. Faced with being challenged by top flight opponents, players really do hate being told they don't have a chance to win. Veteran players manage to hold their competitive edge week to week, but younger players are a different story. They get psyched up at the prospect of facing the insurmountable, and give their all to rise to the occasion. But when the challenge lessens, they relax ever so much... Here in lies the problem: At what point do young players shift from being inspired to win by being an underdog, to controlling their ability to play like an unending storm week to week?

Yes, you can point at this player, or that one too. In the greatest team sport ever, it's the 53 man NFL roster - working in conjunction with each of its living parts - that turns a team into a winner. It's all about having a flow of confidence; that can't be diverted by the eddy-s and bumps inherent in a 16 game NFL schedule...

The next five games for the Rams will be a first for the team since the arrival of Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. Every draft pick, move, and coaching decision has led the Rams to this point in time. At the start of the 2015 NFL season, it didn't appear St. Louis had a significant block of winnable games on their schedules. Twists and turns - which seem to happen every year - have somehow landed the Rams at this critical point. Five games... Five games against opponents who - on paper - appear to provide St. Louis with an opportunity to showcase just who they really are, while also providing the first true point where Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead can be fairly judged. Go back and look at the schedules the Rams have played since 2015, and you'll start to see what I mean. The youngest team in the NFL over the last few years also had the toughest overall combined schedule during the 2012 to 2015 period. They never really had the opportunity to weave more than two weeks together to learn how to integrate what they've been taught since coming out of college. A great team always appeared on their schedule to slap them backwards.

It's different now, and if Jeff Fisher is smart, he takes his players to task with this five game block as a singular challenge. Put before them as their final exam as NFL players, it's time to graduate, or fail...