St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher understands that his team will have its hands full when the Rams travel to Seattle to face a Seattle Seahawks squad on a four-game winning streak.
“First of all, I can’t remember a team that’s averaging 50 points a game over three consecutive weeks, so that’s impressive,” Fisher said. “And you’re talking about a team that’s one six out of their last seven. They’re younger players are getting better and better. It starts with the quarterback.
“They’re healthy. They’re playing hard. And they’re making plays in all three phases. … It’s an improved team that’s playing with a great deal of confidence and emotion, and that’s on a mission.”
But the Rams are heating up toward the end of the season as well. St. Louis has won four of its last five games, and at 7-7-1 have a chance to finish over the .500 mark for the first time this season.
“That’s what we have left to play for,” Fisher said. “And so, certainly that’s going to be the topic of conversation. That’s easier said the done, clearly with the way the Seahawks are playing. But from our team standpoint and our season standpoint, I think we’ve done enough to be able to move into the offseason optimistically, and continue to improve this football team.
“They have learned some difficult lessons – how to win on the road, how to manage a game, how to stay ahead, and how to get a lead in the fourth quarter on the road and win. So there’s a lot to learn, and there’s a lot ahead of us. And obviously this is our final challenge of the year.”
Part of the reason for Fisher’s success in his first year in St. Louis has been the play of some of his rookies.
After missing the first three games with a high-ankle sprain, defensive tackle Michael Brockers has played well, totaling four sacks so far this year.
And cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who fell on draft day because of his checkered past, leads the team with four interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns.
“Nobody did more homework than we did regarding Janoris,” Fisher said. “And we were very, very satisfied, or we wouldn’t have selected him. He’s been great. He’s an outstanding young man. Loves the game, understands the game. And he’s certainly over the last, three or four weeks improved significantly.”
St. Louis lost the team’s most consistent offensive lineman in Harvey Dahl for the season with a torn biceps. But the Rams got by against Tampa Bay last week, alternating Shelly Smith and Chris Williams, a former first round pick for Chicago, at right guard.
Sam Bradford had been sacked in 30 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL, heading into Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay. But the Rams’ patchwork offensive line kept Bradford clean, not giving up a sack.
Veteran running back Steven Jackson only needs 11 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth straight season. Jackson recently eclipsed 10,000 yards for his nine-year career.
However, there’s a possibility that Jackson will not be in St. Louis next season. The Oregon State product could exercise a clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent next season.
And rookie Daryl Richardson has provided decent production when given an opportunity. Richardson has 475 yards on 96 carries for a 4.9 per carry average.
But Fisher said he wants the 29-year-old Jackson to finish his career in St. Louis.
“It’s just been an honor for me to watch him play, because I’ve had so much respect for him over the years,” Fisher said. “We’d like for Jack (Jackson) obviously to finish his career here.”