Rams' Focus: A Short Memory

Posted Sep 29, 2010

In the immediate aftermath and delirium that went with the Rams’ victory last week against Washington, the easy thing to do was to live in the moment, enjoy the win and celebrate what had just happened.

While there was plenty of that celebrating going on – and with good reason – the Rams’ core leaders, guys like middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, running back Steven Jackson and head coach Steve Spagnuolo couldn’t help but think ahead to the next game.

“You celebrate,” Jackson said. “You enjoy it because we should. Everyone worked really hard. A lot of people have put a lot of hours into this moment so I think we should enjoy it tonight but after tonight, change our focus to Seattle and make sure that we can again feel like this next week.”

The Rams turned the page quickly following Sunday’s win and got back to work on Wednesday with the singular goal of finding a way to translate last week’s success into something more long term.

Spagnuolo’s message to the team remained the same from moments after the game until Wednesday and it will remain the same for the rest of the season. And while he openly acknowledged what last week’s win could mean in terms of confidence, he also cautioned his team not to get too high from the win just as he reminds them not to get too low after a loss.

“It can go one way or another to be quite honest with you,” Spagnuolo said. “I’m hoping the guys handle it right.  It’s a little bit of a confidence builder, but if we’re going to do this thing right we forget about it and we move on to the next game.  I’ve said this before, you guys have heard me say it, it’s been after a lot of losses, but it doesn’t matter – really tomorrow or Wednesday morning – it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, the approach is exactly the same.”

What, exactly, last week’s victory means in terms of the bigger picture can only be determined in time but there was little doubt the past few days that the Rams were ready to turn their focus to the Seahawks.

The prospect of a division rival coming to town with a chance to get back to .500 and potentially jump to the head of the NFC West class was more than enough motivation for the Rams.

Laurinaitis vouched for Spagnuolo’s message that there can’t be any kind of a winning hangover.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s a great feeling to win,” Laurinaitis said. “But I think coach kind of set the tempo in the team meeting. We don’t approach adversity or success any different. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the same thing. You have got to have a short memory whether it’s a loss or a win. It feels better on Monday and Tuesday but when you get to Wednesday, you can’t look back and think that performance from last week is going to make you play better this weekend. You have to start fresh and study Seattle. They don’t care that we beat Washington, we have to hunker down and focus on beating this team.

Success in the NFL can be fleeting. As in any sport, you’re only as good as your most recent Sunday.

Perhaps that’s why, even after Spagnuolo rewarded his team with a “Victory Monday” a couple of days ago which essentially excuses the team from all activities for two days, the majority of the players stopped by the Russell Training Center for workouts, to review film from the Washington game or to get a sneak peak at Seattle film.

It’s also why, when those players woke up Monday morning sore from another long day at work the previous day, the bumps and bruises didn’t hurt quite as much as usual.

“I don’t know if the speed getting out of bed changes but I think you might have a smile on your face instead of a frown which is a good thing,” Laurinaitis said. “I’ll enjoy this game tonight but tomorrow I will be in there working out and doing the same routine. You have to. Just because you win doesn’t mean you skip those things.”

On Wednesday, Spagnuolo was pleased with the way his team went back to work after hammering home the “move on” message earlier in the week and in the team meeting Wednesday morning.

“I think everybody gets a little bounce in their step but again the thing I keep pounding is that it shouldn’t matter,” Spagnuolo said. “The approach to a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday should be all the same. I think our guys do that. They are human but I thought they fought through the two week where we had not done so well on a Sunday and then I thought they did a good job today.”

To further make his point, Spagnuolo also continued to make the same point he has made from the beginning of his tenure as head coach.

One win is nice but winning consistently is the ultimate big picture goal.

:I think it’s important to get that ‘W’ for the fans,” Laurinaitis said. “But what Spags preached all along is that it’s more than just a one win thing. We are trying to build a consistent winner here. I think this team responded with a good practice today, very up tempo and we’ll see how this team responds Sunday to try to keep this thing going.”

The fact that Spagnuolo and his team had a high-energy, uptempo practice Wednesday is certainly an encouraging sign.

For each of the past two weeks, Spagnuolo has said his team was a bit sluggish coming back to work on Wednesday, something he had hoped would go away sooner than later.

Forgetting a loss can be difficult but so too can a win. That’s the toughest task of all according to center Jason Brown who has been a part of plenty of winning streaks and plenty of losing streaks in his football career.

“Just put the last win behind you,” Brown said. “Of course, we did a lot of good things. We have to take away the positives and learn from the negatives and also come out here and put together a great practice like we did today. Out there, there weren’t that many smiles. You’d be surprised. We got over it pretty quickly. We went out there and were pretty competitive.”

If the Rams are to get win No. 2 this weekend against the Seahawks, that competitive edge will have to carry through the rest of the week.