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Transcript: Rams HC Jeff Fisher Finds New Excuses For Old Problems Following Loss To Carolina Panthers

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Here’s what Fisher had to say after the Rams’ 10-13 loss in Week 9.

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher
Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(Opening remarks)

“When you lose consecutively like we did there’s always a point of emphasis, or a focus that goes in, to see what’s going on. Obviously, as a staff today, as we looked at the tape, some things came up that were – I guess I’m stating the obvious with respect to them – but ten points in the last two weeks offensively is not going to get it done. That’s by and large the biggest issue that we’re facing right now, is our lack of ability to score points. Then of course, on the other side of the ball, on defense, we’ve had one turnover in the last three weeks. When you only get one turnover, it’s hard to turn the ball over to your offense. We’re not playing particularly well on third down defensively, so we’re not getting the additional drives or the opportunities for big plays. We all see it and I think the biggest challenge for us offensively is running the football. (RB) Todd’s (Gurley) not getting enough carries, our passing numbers were skewed. But if you’re realistic, we’ve had a lot of two-minute snaps the last two weeks. Those people that are saying that we are throwing it almost 50 times a game and running it 20 or 25, well 15 or so of those plays in each one of the last two games have been in two-minute, at the end. We’re doing whatever we can to try and win games, it’s just not happening.

“We put it in perspective for the players. Players understand. As we told them, we need to flip the switch, we’re in the second half of the season. Our goal, like anybody else in the league right now, is to compete and contend for the division. That starts with a potential win, a great week of preparation rather, and then a win here at New York (Jets). From a health stand point, we’re good – I think we’re better than most teams right now. I may have mentioned to you after the game, but we started the same 22 players yesterday that we basically started in the opener. That’s encouraging and we’re just going to keep working at it, get them back, and have a good week – got a long trip and go out and should we put one together. But understanding that the only change you have to put together is to score points – we need to do that.”

(On where things are at with the quarterback situation)

“Case (Keenum) is starting.”

(On what specifically is QB Jared Goff missing in order to become the starter quarterback)

“Jared is improving. I keep saying that as you guys keep asking the questions, he’s improving. But, Case right now, especially against this defense, give us our best chance. It’s an extremely complicated defense, and they can pressure the quarterback, they can do anything they want to do. They’re very, very talented. Our focus is this week against the Jets, and Case will be under center.”

(On what specifically is Goff improving on, and what has he not mastered in order to give him enough confidence to insert him as the starter)

“I’ve been saying from day one, we’re going to play him when the time is right, and when he’s ready. With each passing week, he’s getting better and better. He’s better understanding, he recognizes things, he’s prepared, he understands the challenges week-to-week. There was a moment yesterday when Case came out. He had an extreme contusion to his non-throwing hand, and there was a chance – we didn’t know on the sideline – but there was a potential chance for a fracture. So, I said, ‘Jared, get warmed up. Get ready to go.’ He goes, ‘Coach, I’m ready.’ I said, ‘I know you are. Let’s see where Case’s forearm is, and we’ll go from there.’ Then, it was determined that is was just a contusion and not a fracture. But, that’s his mindset. I know everybody wants to talk about it, and that’s the big question. Again, he’s going to play. Whether it’s the following week, or the following week, or what have you, it’s eventually going to happen. The big picture, as I keep saying, this is about making sure that he’s ready to go out there and be sharp, and give us a chance to win. The quarterback position is not easy – Andy Dalton, (Philip) Rivers, Jay Cutler, (Drew) Brees, (Andrew) Luck, Cam Newton, (Ben) Roethlisberger, (Joe) Flacco, and (Aaron) Rodgers, that’s a good list – That’s an impressive list of quarterbacks. The one thing they have in common – two things rather – other than being really, really good quarterbacks, a number of them have rings, is right now, their records are .500 or worse. So, that shows you how hard it is to play at the quarterback position. We’re taking our time, we’re being patient, and when we feel it’s the right time, he’ll be under center.”

(On if there will be a tipping point to when Goff will start) OR (On if Goff will be the starter if the team falls out of playoff contention)

“I don’t think the playoff contention is fair to the football team, so we’ll see. Our expectations are we’re going to stay in it, so we’ll see. I’m not ruling out the possibility that he’ll make a playoff run for us as well. But for right now, Case is starting and we’re going to New York.”

(On if the challenge to incorporate RB Todd Gurley in the run game was harder than he had anticipated coming into the season)

“Yeah, good question. It’s been a much greater challenge. Defenses are saying, ‘Don’t let Gurley or Tavon beat you and put the ball down the field.’ We’ve got to do a better job, we recognize that. Todd’s number of carries the last few weeks are not what we would like. I think they’re 15, 14, and 12. Those numbers need to get up in the 20s. Again, they’re offset a little bit by our third-down stuff, in addition to the two-minute snaps. But, his touches and his numbers need to increase significantly. That’s what we discussed, and what we’re working on right now offensively.”

(On why RB Benny Cunningham is better suited for the two-minute offense than Gurley)

“There’s nothing that Todd doesn’t give us in two-minutes, and there’s nothing that Todd can’t do on third down. We have a tandem, we have one, two, we’ve got Todd on first and second down, because we have so much trust in Benny on the third down stuff. Again, Benny can make plays, because you’ve seen him make plays. That’s kind of how we deploy our personnel. Todd was in on some third down reps, but when we go to two-minute, or we’re in the third-and-long, or something like that, Benny is the back that gives us the opportunity. Todd understands everything. It’s just a matter of – I don’t want to say not committing to Todd – but, Todd is going to need a break. He needs a break every once in a while, and basically our philosophy going in, that’s how we’ve been since Benny has been productive for us, that Benny has been our third down guy and two-minute, and Todd has been our bell cow during the other series.”

(On how he would evaluate the offensive line’s performance)

“We gave up four sacks and that’s not good – although, this defense sacked (Cardinals QB) Carson Palmer eight times the week before. So, there were some good things in the game. There were a couple mistakes, a couple holding penalties, but we’re healthy and we’re progressing. Our offensive struggles are related to the entire team – you can’t blame it all on the offensive line, we had five drops yesterday, we dropped a touchdown pass you can’t blame that on the offensive line. You catch the touchdown pass and you’re lucky to kick a 55-yard field goal, the game’s different, we win and our offensive line played pretty good against one of the better defensive fronts in the league. I think you have to be realistic and keep things in perspective.”

(On if not having an official determination on his future makes him uncomfortable)

“No, I’m not uncomfortable at all. I’m uncomfortable because I didn’t expect to be three-and-whatever we are, okay, but I’m not uncomfortable at all. I never look over my shoulder, we’re moving on. (Rams Owner/Chairman) Stan (Kroenke) and I are on the same page, he understands what we’ve been through, he’s as disappointed as I am at the losses – two three-points and a seven-point in the last three games. He understands that we’re competitive and we’re doing everything we possibly can to get this turned around.”

(On if he has to keep an eye on how the defense is doing mentally to make sure they don’t start to get frustrated)

“What we’re going to do, we’re going to get the defense to help the offense on the practice field, that’s how you handle that. The defense gave up 31 points three weeks ago in Detroit – or three games ago. Every week there’s a different challenge. I thought, in the game defensively, it was one of our better efforts. I thought the game-planning was outstanding, the coaches did an outstanding job, the players responded, we got everybody back, we didn’t get the turnovers, but we bottled up a very, very explosive offense and held them to 13 points. If you’re a defensive guy, the 13 points was too much because we didn’t win the football game. The attitudes are different on both sides of the ball. But, no, I’m not concerned about the defense, they played really hard, they played smart, they played fast, they played physical – there was a lot of contact in the game. We just have to make sure that that becomes our standard.”

(On what he thought of the 10 penalties on Sunday)

“We did have 10. The two on special teams, I disagreed with. The holding penalty on (DE) Eugene (Sims) on the reverse, I really completely disagreed with it. The same thing with (RB) Chase’s (Reynolds) penalty on the punt return, I didn’t agree with that, either. We had the two defensive offsides. The last penalty, which was on the onside kick, you can scratch that, that was just kind of one of those things that happens. But the holding penalties, the defensive offsides and then the DPI (defensive pass interference) – the DPI shouldn’t happen – (DB) Lamarcus (Joyner) should have played the ball better. Yeah, statistically, we had 10, I would acknowledge maybe six of them.”

(On CB E.J. Gaines’ status)

“Oh, he’s fine. Yeah, he’s fine.”

(On if the penalties, the drops and the inconsistencies are a matter of coaching or personnel and how he addresses it)

“It’s hard to talk in general terms about it. For example, we’re behind in the game and their best asset on defense is rushing the passer and (T) Rob (Havenstein) gives up an inside move – he’s been playing well the whole game – gives up and inside move and grabs to make sure the quarterback is not hit. That’s not an athletic-ability deficiency at the right tackle, it’s just one of those things that happens. You have to look at each one of those penalties, in particular, to come to conclusion on that. Nonetheless, the penalties, we had two defensive offsides, (DT) Cam (Thomas) and (DE) Rob (Quinn) just were drawn offsides, they shouldn’t be drawn offsides – they should never be drawn offsides at home – but they were trying to rush the passer. Again, the special teams penalties, I disagreed with. We don’t allow those things to happen on the practice field, we coach them. I disagreed with a number of calls. This particular crew was the crew that did the Oakland-Tampa Bay game last week, so that’ll tell you something.”

(On WR Pharoh Cooper and TE Tyler Higbee getting more integrated into the offense)

“Yeah, ‘Higs’ made the big play – it was a great throw by Case, ‘Higs’ came up and made the big play. He needs to play better, he’s starting to figure it out now and we’ve got him involved. He needs to be better at the point of attack and he knows that. Nonetheless, he did come down with the big catch and a field position change. ‘Coop,’ he’s healthy, we worked him into the offense last week. For all intents and purposes, we’re going to continue to work him in and he’ll probably see a little bit more playing time offensively. I’m pleased with where he is right now. We just need to get the ball in his hands. Then again, I’m adding another person to the list that we need to get the ball in his hands – Gurley and Tavon. He’s a playmaker, he’s taken on his special teams responsibilities and he’s accepted them. He’ll be able, I think, you’ll see more of him. I’d like to be able to keep him up now.”