The Los Angeles Rams’ flight from Detroit to London was a breeze, and the team arrived in England ready to start work for the upcoming week.
Fixing the problems revealed in Sunday’s loss to the Lions will take a bit longer.
The Rams (3-3) have lost two straight heading into their game against the New York Giants at Twickenham Stadium this weekend, erasing their strongest start to a season in a decade.
A trip to London is an added complication for a team that has seemingly spent most of 2016 in transit, but the NFL and the Rams’ support staff are making this journey as manageable as possible. The Rams had a team meal with their families at Ford Field before boarding their flight and touching down across the Atlantic on Monday.
“We came in this morning, and everything is set up,” coach Jeff Fisher said in a phone interview from London. “We’re ready to go. The coaches, as we speak, are game-planning downstairs. They haven’t had a whole lot of sleep, but I think by Wednesday, we’ll be OK. The players will be the same way. We’re encouraging them to eat and take care of themselves.”
The players have Tuesday off before returning to practice Wednesday, so the coaches have only a few days to address the shift in the Rams’ problems revealed in Detroit.
After five weeks of the Los Angeles defense soundly outplaying the offense, quarterback Case Keenum set a franchise record for consecutive completions during an impressive offensive day in Detroit — only to be let down by the defense giving up 348 yards and 31 points.
“The offense did their job, and that’s what the focus has been over the past month,” Fisher said. “We’re improving. We just need to keep it going. … (Keenum) had a great day. It obviously wasn’t enough to win. The difficulty we had in the game was keeping Detroit out of the end zone and 31 points is unacceptable from a defensive (standpoint). We had some opportunities to change the game. We just couldn’t make the play we needed to make on defense.”
The Rams also continued to be plagued by penalties. They’re third in the NFL with 50 penalties for 435 yards. Still, Fisher insists: “I’m not overly concerned right now. Penalties aren’t our problem.”
He’s more concerned about getting execution from a defense that was missing two of its best players in Detroit: defensive end Robert Quinn and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Los Angeles then lost defensive lineman Michael Brockers and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner to injuries during the game, and it’s too early in the week to know who will be back this weekend at Twickenham.
“I expect our defense to bounce back as the health factor improves,” Fisher said. “The encouraging thing for me in the big picture is the offense is making plays, and Case is comfortable, and we’re pushing the ball down the field. We’re getting the ball in the end zone. We’re getting the ball to our playmakers.”
Indeed, the Rams no longer have the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense, even if only for a week. After finishing last in 2015 and ranking last again this season, Los Angeles moved up to 31st with 387 yards at Detroit, boosting its average to 301.3 yards per game.
NOTES: Fisher said he apologized to Detroit coach Jim Caldwell after the Rams attempted to break through the Lions’ offensive line on the final two plays, attempting to force a turnover in the Victory formation. Fisher indicated star DL Aaron Donald was upset about the Detroit offensive line’s behavior earlier in the game, but didn’t use it as an excuse. “When the game’s over, the game’s over,” Fisher said. “Pay respect to your opponent. … We’ll address it, and it’s unlikely it will happen again.” … Brockers was sidelined in Detroit by a new injury, not the hip problem that kept him out against Buffalo earlier this month. … OL Cody Wichmann could have played at Detroit, but wasn’t needed, Fisher said. Wichmann has an ankle injury.