Fisher: Rams Are Better Today Than a Year Ago

Posted Dec 30, 2013

A day after the Rams dropped their season finale 27-9 in Seattle, Head Coach Jeff Fisher exuded confidence in the trajectory of the franchise during his final weekly news conference of the season.

“Overall, I think we’ve improved over last year,” Fisher said. “I know the record doesn’t reflect it, but I think we have a team moving into the offseason that is significantly better than the team we took in last year.”

The Rams finished with their second straight seven-win season, the first time they’ve had consecutive years of seven wins or more since 2003-2004.

Much of Fisher’s optimism has come in light of a coming of age of sorts for a multitude of Rams rookies, led by RB Zac Stacy and LB Alec Ogletree. Stacy fell just short of reaching the 1,000-yard rushing plateau, finishing with 973, but still accumulated the most yards on the ground by a Rams rookie since Jerome Bettis in 1993.

Ogletree ended the season with six consecutive games of 10 or more tackles and led the Rams with 155 total stops, setting a team rookie record and becoming the first player not named James Laurinaitis to lead the team in tackles since Pisa Tinoisamoa in 2008. Ogletree helped a Rams run defense that ended the season ranked ninth in the NFL, a significant feat considering a four-game start to the year that saw the Rams ranked in the league’s bottom third in the category.

“There’s a lot of things we take pride in, I thought that was one thing in particular,” Fisher said. “The defense settled down and we changed some things. Again, I go back to those two games in five days. That was hard, but we played some excellent run teams. I thought we did a nice job, especially in the average per carry.”

This year also saw the emergence of DE Robert Quinn, who set the Rams’ team record with 19 sacks, the most in the NFC and just a half-sack behind Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis for the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award. For his efforts, Quinn was voted team MVP by his teammates. Rounding out the team awards handed out on Monday, the players also voted Stacy as the team’s Rookie of the Year and voted James Laurinaitis the Carl Ekern Spirit Award.

The Rams’ seven-win season came despite playing much of the season without QB Sam Bradford—who was lost for the season in Week 8—in the league’s best division. Playing in Bradford’s stead, veteran QB Kellen Clemens was 4-5 as the Rams’ starter, posting career-bests in completion rate (58.7 percent), passing yards (1,673) and passer rating (78.8). Highlighting the Rams’ seven wins were victories against

Highlighting the Rams’ season was a 5-3 record at home, the team’s first home winning record since 2010. Of their seven wins, the Rams collected three against teams with 10 or more victories this year (Arizona, New Orleans, Indianapolis).

“When (QB) Sam (Bradford) went down, we said that the quote, ‘Let’s give them hell with Kell,’ and we did,” Fisher said. “We beat some good teams and we played hard right to the end, so now we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”