The Rams were an old team before Jeff Fisher took over the head coaching duties this season (they were the sixth oldest team in the league in 2011).
After a boatload of cuts and changes, the Rams are now the youngest team in the league. The average age of their players is a little over 25 years old, which means the youth movement is in effect, but with youth comes inexperience, which Fisher and his team are dealing with right now.
St. Louis comes into Sunday’s contest with the Cardinals at 3-6-1. They’re in the midst of a tough portion of their season where they’ve lost four of their last five games, with the fifth game being a 24-24 tie with the 49ers at Candlestick Park on Nov. 11.
Despite this rough patch, Fisher sees a silver lining in it all.
“We see improvement,” Fisher said. “Some of the younger players are improving on a weekly basis.”
“Our issue right now is one of consistency,” Fisher said. “They’re preparing well, they’re ready to play. We’re just not making plays. We haven’t had a turnover in five weeks, quite the contrast to the Cardinals defense.”
Fisher says it’s not for lack of effort that the turnovers aren’t coming, because he sees his players trying to force the ball away from their opponents.
“The ball is coming out for us, it’s just things, they happen,” Fisher said.
The last time the Rams and Cardinals met was a day that will live in infamy for quarterback Kevin Kolb, as he was beaten and bloodied in Week Five on Thursday Night Football in St. Louis, Mo.
The Rams defense shredded the Cardinals offensive line, yanking Kolb down nine times in a relatively easy 17-3 victory.
Seven weeks and five losses later, the Cardinals stand at 4-6 and in desperate need of a victory this Sunday over St. Louis.
Teams obviously change as the NFL season goes on, whether through injury or by other changes in personnel.
Fisher sees some differences in the Cardinals, but for him, one thing remains a constant with this team: it’s defense.
“I’m very impressed with the defense, as we were prior to playing them the first time,” Fisher said. “The injuries at the quarterback spot have obviously been a problem for them, but we’re anticipating good quarterback play.”
Running back Beanie Wells was activated on Wednesday, and will most likely get the start on Sunday.
Fisher knows Wells adds a whole new dynamic to Arizona’s offense, with his rough, punishing style of running.
“With Beanie coming back, we’re expecting to see a different offense than we saw the first time around,” Fisher said.
Continuing with Fisher’s focus on the Cardinals offense: he says he and his team will have to prepare for Arizona’s whole offense, not just for their quarterback, especially not knowing if it’s going to be John Skelton or Ryan Lindley calling plays for them.
“They’re well-coached, the offense is multiple,” Fisher said. “Obviously, Larry [Fitzgerald] is Larry. We have to look at the first game and look at what their approach was and be ready to adjust.”
The Cardinals have a young man at inside linebacker by the name of Daryl Washington, who’s having a Pro-Bowl type season right now.
Washington will be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday. He’s coming off an 11-tackle game in Atlanta, and will be out for blood against Fisher and the Rams.
“Well, it’s got to be a team approach, you know that,” Fisher said, when talking about how to contain Washington. “He’s making a lot of plays and putting a lot of pressure on the passer, so we’ve got to shore up the inside of our protection.”