LONDON – Given only a few moments to reflect on a game in which his team had been soundly beaten by New England on the field at Wembley Stadium, Rams coach Jeff Fisher didn’t have many positives to offer.
But when Fisher was asked if there was something good he could take from the trip to London, he saw something in the bigger picture that he hopes will be the key to his team bouncing back from its third loss in a row as it heads into the bye week.
“All losses are disappointing losses,” Fisher said. “I was really pleased with the way the guys handled the week. I thought they were very professional about it. They did a great job throughout the week and obviously you don’t anticipate this. One of the things I do believe when you put this game aside, I think our experience over here where we got to spend time together throughout the whole week, I think it will do this club, these guys good. They got close, they had fun and they worked.”
Putting aside any off field benefits a team might absorb from playing in the International series, what the Rams might have gained in a sense of long term chemistry and team building is something Fisher hopes proves invaluable.
After taking off on Monday evening, only about 24 hours removed from a loss to Green Bay, the Rams had to quickly and decisively put that game behind them. What awaited was a week chock full of football and events.
Included in the drastic change of scenery was a six-hour time difference and an eight-hour flight that forced each Ram to spend copious amounts of time with his teammates.
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“That’s probably one of the best things that we were able to get away and get over here and hang out together and be together and kind of bond and get away from everything,” Mikell said. “It’s almost like having another training camp. It’s one of those situations where it didn’t come to fruition on the field because pretty much we got destroyed out there but we’re building for something in the future. We took a step back so to speak but we also took a step forward in other ways.”
Upon arrival in England, the Rams immediately bused from Heathrow Airport to The Grove hotel, a gorgeous luxury resort located in a bit of a remote outskirt from London town.
There, the Rams had no one to lean on but one another as they spent nearly every waking moment together be it in meetings, walk throughs on the hotel grounds or practices at Arsenal Soccer Club’s facility.
From there, the group moved into London on Friday and was then able to spend some time seeing the sights of the city and taking in the experience on a more touristy level.
“We appreciate the whole experience,” Fisher said. “The experience was incredible. Everybody associated with this game treated us like kings. It’s a great ball game and I would strongly recommend this game to the other member clubs of the National Football League. “
To a man, every player in the locker room greatly appreciated the opportunity that the game afforded. Whether it was the chance to travel to London itself and see the sights, play on a grand stage at Wembley Stadium or simply learn about different culture with their teammates, they all took something away from the experience.
“It was a great opportunity to come out here and play the international series and to do something that only happens once a year in this league and hasn’t been done too many times before,” receiver
A group that was already well connected comes home to St. Louis bonded closer than ever.
“This team is very close; we are a close-knit group,” Laurinaitis said. “We have jelled very well. The guys enjoy being around each other. London treated us great, they really did. They welcomed us with open arms, they were very first class in everything, and things went very smooth. I credit the Rams organization: everything from the travel to how everything was organized, it had to be a big undertaking and they did a phenomenal job. Having said that, the thing we came here to do was win a football game, we didn’t do. So it’s hard for me to really enjoy the trip but big picture wise we had a good time.”
In searching for answers for the loss and the way it went down, the Rams do not believe that having to adjust to playing overseas affected their preparation.
The team managed to maintain a normal schedule as much as possible as Fisher set practices for the same time in London that he would have in St. Louis.
Fisher did acknowledge earlier in the week that his team was a bit sluggish on Wednesday as it adjusted to the time change and jet lag. But there’s no excuse to be made there considering the Patriots arrives on Friday and had less time to make a similar (though a tad easier) adjustment.
When asked if he regretted the chance to play in the game, Bradford emphatically said no.
“It was a great experience, a great opportunity,” Bradford said. “I thought we had a great week of preparation. Unfortunately we just didn’t come out and play the way we know we can tonight.”
Now, the Rams enter a bye week where the first order of business will be to get back on a normal central standard time schedule and get caught up on sleep.
That means extra time to think about their most disappointing performance of the season but also to come together and search for a strong response.
Fisher made it a point to say how eager he was to see how his young team would bounce back from Sunday’s game. He didn’t need much time to make that point.
It’s up to his team to provide the answer he hopes to see. Maybe, just maybe, the lessons gleaned both on and off the field from a trip halfway around the world will be instrumental in providing that retort.
“It’s one of those situations where we will find out about ourselves in weeks to come,” Mikell said. “In this situation where our backs are against the wall and say ‘Listen, you never let that happen again.’ That’s how we’re looking at it and that’s going to help how we respond in the future.”