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Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans: 2nd Down, second guessing

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The Rams gained some valuable playoff experience in Week 16.

Los Angeles Rams v Tennessee Titan Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Recap

Coming into the game, the Los Angeles Rams needed a victory over the Tennessee Titans to secure their first Western Division Championship in over 30 years and 15 years from their days in St. Louis. The Rams had just come off an emotional victory the week before against the Seattle Seahawks, so they were bound to have a slight letdown.

And they did.

They fumbled at their own 3-yard line which the Titans picked up and waltzed into the end zone for six. This was a mental mistake due to a missed blocking assignment that no team can afford to make when you’re up against your own goal line. The Rams new kicker, Sam Ficken, missed an extra-point. That’s four points off the board, keeping the Titans in the game.

Despite these flubs, the Rams battled through the adversity on a rainy day in Nashville. They learned a valuable lesson as the second youngest team in the NFL—this is what it takes.

It wasn’t an impressive win on the merits, but given how important this win was to the franchise’s future, “a win, is still a win.”

By winning, the Rams have captured the NFC West crown. The joy and happiness was clearly evident in the locker room. The Rams are no longer those “Same old sorry ass Rams.”

This team has made it.

No one could have predicted that after a 4-12 year, the Rams would be where they are today (unless you’re like me who expects his favorite team to be in the postseason every year).

Thus, the Rams making the playoff brings joy, but also relief. By winning, Rams fans don’t have to worry about whether the Seattle Seahawks will lose. It’s much better to secure a division title or a playoff berth by winning than it is to back into the championship because some other team lost

The future looks bright for this team. Ram fans are celebrating this important achievement, but keep your eye on the prize. The playoffs are just around the corner.

Rather then throw cold water on this joyous event, I’ll stick to some thoughts which can only enhance the Rams chances of winning the Super Bowl.

Consider your kickers

As noted, the loss of K Greg Zuerlein hurt the Rams this weekend especially because their chosen replacement had a disastrous debut. It could very well be that Ficken was nervous as he just shanked the extra point and field goal. On the other hand, it could be he was available for a very good reason: he’s not that good.

This is still a results-oriented game. Even though I don’t like throwing players under the bus without at least giving him a second chance, the Rams should consider picking up a veteran place kicker for the short ones and let Ficken exclusively concentrate on making the long ones—he’s got the leg for those.

Surely, within the confines of the 53-man roster there is someone the Rams could release without hurting the chemistry of the squad. By bringing a veteran place kicker in, you don’t have to worry about the extra points, so critical after scoring a touchdown.

Making field goals from 35-40 yards are also a big part of the need to score when the opportunity presents itself, especially in the playoffs. It’s tough enough to coach in this league. You don’t need fto add to the pressure.

Coaches want to avoid having to make a tough decision as to whether your team should go for it on 4th down when just outside the opponents 30. Who needs to worry about taking three points off the scoreboard merely because you have no confidence in your place kicker? Sure the the decision is easier when you have absolutely no confidence in your place kicker, but going into the playoffs, every team needs every point they can get to secure the victory. That’s the way these games play out.

The Rams have little time to make a decision on the obvious. The Rams need to decide if they are going to stick with Ficken or find another place kicker and fast.

My suggestion is to work with Ficken on the long field goals and kick offs and bring in a veteran for the short ones to make that lousy extra point you have to have.

Being so late in the season, I think one should think out of the box. This way, the tough decision is made easier by having options available.

Jeff Fisher can put a sock in it

The Jeff Fisher publicity machine is starting up again. His show goes like this:

“I’m a great coach who was unfairly dismissed from his job. Those are my players winning now. I could’ve done that.”

His public comments were specifically designed to take the limelight away from the Rams’ improbable, remarkable and historic run this season to becoming a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl in order to take the credit for himself. It was a shot at his ex-employer for sure.

Usually when a head coach gets fired, there’s at least one good thing to say about their tenure. Rams fans old enough often speak with affection about the “good old days” with George Allen, Chuck Knox, John Robinson and even Tommy Prothro and Ray Malvazi.

Fisher is the only head coach I can remember who will never be able to join that club. He is by far this most disliked head coach the Rams have ever had and it’s practically unanimous.

The reason is clear: Fisher is the very definition of mediocrity. It was never about the team, but rather always about him.

Fisher has, at least per his public statements, never ever made a coaching error in his entire career. He takes credit for drafting the good players, even though it’s a collaborative effort with the general manager and scouting department, but never takes the blame for the busts, like OT Greg Robinson—no accountability. He’ll say what fans want to hear after a loss like “We’re gonna get that fixed.” But the truth is, it never gets done, creating unfulfilled expectations. He is clueless, especially when it comes to coaching offense and in particular in a league where the quarterback position is so important.

One need only look to the success Case Keenum and Jared Goff are having without him. I’d mention Nick Foles too, but he had a terrible game against the Oakland Raiders Monday night.

Fisher has nothing to with this team’s success. If he was as good a coach as claims he is, how come he couldn’t he win with these same players?

I would prefer if Jeff Fisher would simply just shut up and go away. Any owner that would hire him as a head coach will have me laughing and scratching my head wondering what that team is doing.

The Rams are playing well. It started the moment Jeff Fisher was relieved of his coaching responsibilities and escorted out of the building at the 13th game of last season.

You knew things were going to get turned around. Owner Stan Kroenke was willing to eat the millions of dollars he would have shell out for having just signed Fisher to a two-year extension for the sake of one thing—winning—winning for the players and for the fans.

It allowed VP/COO Kevin Demoff and General Manager Les Snead the necessary time to search for the right guy to fill the position. They hit a home run.

The success of this organization has achieved goes to Sean McVay, a leader of men, a football coach—a winner.

Sean McVay has led to the Los Angeles Rams to a long overdue division title. He has also led the Rams to respectability and legitimacy.

So now it’s time to get ready to rumble!