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The Bye Week: 2nd down, second guessing

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The Rams are at a fork in the road. There’s a path to Hollywood, and a path to the Super Bowl...

Hollywood

Overview

The Los Angeles Rams were active in the bye week. Many players gave television interviews and Head Coach Sean McVay appeared not only on the Rich Eisen Show but on Fox’s nationally broadcast NFL pregame show.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers headed for tonight’s Game 7 of the World Series, it’s understandable in the second largest media market that the Rams would want to generate fan interest with their 5-2 start.

However, while it may be important to keep the team in the headlines for the time being, the best thing the team can do is stay out the headlines and put in the extra time and effort into focusing on winning football games.

While others may criticize this as nitpicking because the Rams deserve the buzz surrounding their good start, their current record given the remaining schedule can easily turn into 2-5 after the next seven games.

Why Being In Los Angeles Is Different

Los Angeles is home to Hollywood.

Actors, recording artists, and all the others in the industry who call this city their home want to be professional sports players. They make fantasy movies about it. In turn, all sports players in Los Angeles want to be seen as stars with hidden desires to be in a movie, commercial or to record an album.

This is what makes Hollywood a unique place to have a pro sports team—the available access to the media market.

Due to the size of Los Angeles County with all its suburbs, the area already possesses a huge amount of other distractions. When you throw in the Hollywood aspect, it’s easy to see professional athletes and coaches wanting to create headlines for themselves as proof they’re stars, just like the actors and actresses they see on the screen or TV.

La La Land ain’t St. Louis.

But there’s a saying in Hollywood that the Rams should take heed of: “You’re only as good as your last movie.” If you flop at the box office, the people of Los Angeles will move on. Real stars are those who continue to draw attention by continuing to do good work.

When you’re in professional sports, good work only means winning games and championships. Lose, and the people of Los Angeles will find something else to focus on. If the Rams want to be stars, they should remember that stars come and go as fast as they rise.

That’s why having saturated the media market during the bye week may not be such a good thing. The Rams don’t need buzz from interviews. They need buzz from wins.

If the team is too busy doing TV interviews and checking with their agent to see if they got any calls for a gig, that’s not the kind of focus demonstrating that they’re effectively using their bye week The Rams’ focus would be better off spent preparing for the next game against the Giants.

So now that the Rams have had their fun in an attempt to garner Los Angeles sports headlines other then the Dodgers (who are dominating the market right now), it’s time to go back to work paying attention on their next game with the New York Giants with renewed focus on winning.

On real buzz.

Why Focus Is So Important

In the NFL, the difference between a winning team and a sub-.500 team is marginal. No team can be taken lightly. If you do so, it comes with risks.

The Giants aren’t getting the kind of headlines the Rams are. It’s just the opposite. The Giants need to win in order to get away from the negative press having completely flopped at this point in the season despite being considered contenders when the season started.

For the Giants, beating the Rams will be a relief from the bad press they have been generating. No one in New York is asking for more interviews from this bunch even though they also had a bye week as the Rams did. This gave the Giants the freedom to totally focus on beating the Rams. Should they upset the Rams, the headlines emanating from the New York will be, “See? We’re not that bad. We beat the Rams.”

That’s why this next game is a trap game for the Rams.

The Giants have a stout defense. Their biggest problem is their offense since they have no running or passing game. But both of these can be fixed in two weeks for at least one game with the time and effort spent during the bye week intended to just get a little better at it. Maybe something will click against the Rams in a way it hasn’t for them yet.

The precarious position the Rams are the effects the way one approaches the bye week. If the Rams think the Giants are merely going to lay down after the opening kickoff, they’re sorely mistaken. Not only is the Giants’ staff coaching for their jobs, the players are playing for spots on the roster. And not just when season ends. Many are playing for their job week-to-week.

Do not expect the Giants to just hand the Rams a win. The Rams have to earn it.

Hollywood Will Only Be There After A Beatdown

For all the headlines the Rams have made this past week, none of it will mean a thing unless they beat the Giants.

At 6-2, the Rams would be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. By winning this weekend once the World Series isover, the Rams will hone the attention of Los Angeles while the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings will remain below the fold until the football season ends. The USC Trojans have already played their way to that spot with their two losses.

Lose, and the Rams will be just another column in the sport page.

Winning solves all problems.

By winning, the Rams create their own interest. They won’t need the media to do it for them. It will self-generate. As a result, attendance at home games will go up. Ratings will increase, and the team will be the talk of the town. They’ll be stars for sure.

So while it may seem like the criticism of the Rams during the bye week is too harsh being deserving of the media headlines generated by their surprising start, remember what the legendary Hall of Fame former head coach of the Los Angeles Rams George Allen said...

The difference between greatness and mediocrity is extra effort.

Extra effort means you don’t use the bye week to go Hollywood, but rather use it as an opportunity to put in the extra effort into working on winning your next football game.

We’ll soon see if the Rams are ready to make the difference a reality.