Week 5 is approaching, and with it, the forced hand of sliding off of the .500 fence. So with an eye toward the future, I thought it pertinent to look back at the first quarter of 2015 and how those four games stack up against the performances up to the quarterpole in years past for the Rams under Jeff Fisher.
|@ DET||L, 23-27|
|vs. WAS||W, 31-28|
|@ CHI||L, 6-23|
|vs. SEA||W 19-13|
The Rams' first season under Jeff Fisher saw them out to a 2-2 start. It was at that point the season really fell out from under the them. A three-game losing streak heading into the bye including a 45-7 drubbing in London courtesy of the Patriots saw the Rams into a Week 8 bye. A post-bye tie against San Francisco and the following loss at home to the Jets put them at 3-6-1. A late-season turnaround couldn't pull them out of a hole that deep in Sam Bradford's second and final full season as a St. Louis Ram.
|vs. ARI||W, 27-24|
|@ ATL||L, 24-31|
|@ DAL||L, 7-31|
|vs. SF||L, 11-25|
The cracks began to appear as early as Week 2 when the Rams saw the Falcons sprint to an early 21-0 lead. The next two weeks saw then-Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray and then-49ers RB Frank Gore combine for 328 yards on 46 rushes throughout the next two weeks. Back-to-back wins after Week 4 would get the Rams back to .500, but the 3-3 start quickly turned into 3-6 as losing Bradford in Week 7 in Carolina fed into a 4-6 finish on the back of Kellen Clemens.
|vs. MIN||L, 6-34|
|@ TB||W, 19-17|
|vs. DAL||L, 31-34|
|@ PHI||L, 28-34|
It was a mess of not good. The team crumbled in the second half of the season opener. They escaped by the skin of their teeth with a road win in week 2. They blew a 21-0 lead over the Cowboys in Week 3. They helped a Nick Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles team out to an insurmountable 34-7 lead in Week 4. The wild swings of inconsistency inherent in Fisherball followed thereafter as the Rams would alternate losing and winning over the next eight weeks. By the time the Rams ended that streak at the backend of the Octet of Pain with the back-to-back shutouts over Oakland and Washington in Weeks 13 and 14, a 6-7 record was asking quite a bit of them. Three losses to finish the season offered nothing of the required response.
|vs. SEA||W, 34-31|
|@ WAS||L, 10-24|
|vs. PIT||L, 6-12|
|@ ARI||W, 24-22|
It's not just the slow starts. It's not just the inconsistency. It's that the Rams can't quite pull out of their own spiral until it's too late.
If we're looking at the side of things to worry about, it's that the 2014 Rams were an example of how easily things can fall apart and that with the same defense (more or less) we're relying on to carry the team in 2015. That the Rams toyed around at QB and RB and LT before settling in, though the Mark Barron trade perhaps wrinkles the linen there, should give pause to Rams fans hoping the team that came home from Phoenix with the win is indicative of the team that will be rolling out next week or next month.
On the hopeful side, things are at least more stable. Nick Foles was established early on as the starting QB and has taken the team every snap of the way thus far. The reluctance to press Aaron Donald, Greg Robinson and Tre Mason into action from 2014 didn't keep Jamon Brown or Rob Havenstein off the line to this point in 2015. Regardless of how any of us feel about their individual performances to this point, I'd be shocked if we can't all agree that both will be better off in the short and certainly long-term for the experience they've gained throughout the offseason as the starters and obviously in the regular season.
We'll have to see where things go from here, but the problem for the Rams under Jeff Fisher has been the same. The ups and downs that see the Rams to a middling final record and the broken record of potential untapped, of promise unrealized. To avoid that fate in 2015 requires more out of the next month and a half than just the back and forth across the win column.
The post-bye foursome may tell us more about this team than anything, even Lambeau looms taller in the immediate future.
As for the first four games? We've seen this before. And we knew the Rams weren't coming to this party prepared. They never have under Fisher.
What comes next is what we haven't seen before. So even if the odds to point to 6 or 7 or 8 wins by January, at least the Rams have an opportunity to turn the page on history and change course.