THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Rrrrrinnnnggggggg!
FISHER: "Roger, it’s Jeff. Got a minute?"
GOODELL: "Sure. Hey, congrats on getting that first one for the L.A. home crowd. You guys were 0-1 and under some heat, huh?"
FISHER: "Yup, but with Deflategate, botched concussion protocols, and more blown officials’ calls, you know all about heat, huh?"
GOODELL: "Point taken. What’s up?"
FISHER: "Hey, what about this idea. How about we trash our schedule and just play the Seahawks home and away for the last 14 games? You know, build the rivalry even more. We’ll even play ‘em in Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Botswana — you pick. All about growing the game, right?"
GOODELL: "Let me think about it ………………… uh, no."
FISHER: "Aw, c’mon man!"
GOODELL: "Jeff, just get your team to play the next 14 like it always seems to play the Seahawks and you’ll be fine. Just get ‘em to think Seahawks. Just get ‘em to see Seahawks colors no matter the color of the opponent. That’s your ticket to get out of the 7-9 thing. And another thing ...
GOODELL: "Jeff? Jeff????????"
* * *
OK. That didn’t happen. But this did.
On Monday evening at the team’s facility here — after Fisher’s Rams snuffed the Seattle Seahawks again for the third straight meeting, this time 9-3 on Sunday at the Coliseum in the Rams welcome home game in L.A. — I asked him: why the success against Seattle? And why doesn’t it translate into more overall success?
How his team can go 7-9 last year and 6-10 the year before and 7-9 again the year before that, yet beat Seattle in four of their last five meetings, the same Seahawks who consistently roll as Super Bowl contenders?
He talked about the divisional thing and how both teams respect each other and how the same goes for the two others in the NFC West, San Francisco and Arizona. He said something about how his team has to go out and match up week to week against different opponents.
He said his defense had to lead, stop the run, get off the field on third downs, and his offense needed to score points.
He didn’t really have an answer for it or the Rams wouldn’t have been 7-9, 6-10, and 7-9 the last three seasons.
It’s a weird thing.
The Rams get all jacked up for the Seahawks and then fold too often against teams not nearly as good. It’s a nasty trend this team must snap to do anything special in their season of L.A. reunion.
Now that this L.A. crowd got a sweet taste, they want more. Once teased, they want glitz. The Rams play at Tampa Bay and at Arizona before returning home on Oct. 9 against Buffalo. The Rams may have just left the "Show-Me" state, Missouri, but that challenge follows them here.
"We know. Man, this place is nice,” Rams running back Todd Gurley said. “But these fans want to see something good. We gave them that first victory. But I know we’ve got a lot more to prove to them. We don’t want to mess this up. We’ve got to give the people here what they want. It happens to be what we want. You win in this city and it’s not like other places. L.A. is special. L.A. is all about winning."
That could be a problem.
The Rams traded a bounty to nab the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, quarterback Jared Goff, and have him sitting while the No. 2 pick, quarterback Carson Wentz, is dynamite in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2-0 start. Actually, this is OK, really, the grooming of Goff — except the Rams have yet to score a touchdown in eight quarters this season.
And though Rams starting quarterback, Case Keenum, was awful in the season-opening 28-0 loss at San Francisco and much better in the victory over Seattle, few outside the Rams inner circle believe in him. He is considered a 7-9 quarterback if ever there was one.
Rushing yards thus far have been tight for Gurley. The receiving group is showing promise, especially the baffling, talented Kenny Britt. The offensive line is capable but questioned.
So, unless Keenum and the entire offensive group rises, it is special teams and field position and kicking game (strong) and defense (potentially strong) that must mold the Rams into a playoff team. Not exactly the new-age way of doing it in the NFL, where bushels of big plays and points often lead the way. Not exactly the L.A. glamour way of doing things, either.
But winning takes care of that, Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree insisted.
"I’ll take winning every game 9-3," Ogletree said. "I’ll take our defense being our strong point if that’s going to be the case. I’ll just take winning, period."
* * *
It is a quirky reunion — the frequency of it — for these Rams and L.A.
After Buffalo, the Rams do not play again in L.A. for four weeks, against Carolina. They do not connect in the Coliseum on consecutive weekends until the last two of the season, Christmas Eve against San Francisco and Jan. 1 against Arizona.
The Rams do not see Seattle again until Dec. 16, at Seattle.
Hey, they have beaten Tampa Bay, up next on Sunday at the Buccaneers, in each of the last four seasons. That’s another quirk, playing a non-division team for a fifth straight season. Maybe it’s good timing for the Rams. Tampa Bay can become their Seattle East.
The Rams must get this non-Seahawks thing solved.
Otherwise, it’s all just a yo-yo. A spin up and down. A spin down and up.
The Rams grand defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, knows. In the opener against San Francisco, his team was crushed. Donald made contact with an official, was ejected, and angrily tossed his helmet onto the field. Against Seattle, though, he was steady and in the mix, creating havoc, just like all of his defensive teammates.
"My mom and dad reached out to me," Donald said. "They were concerned. But they also know that I play this game with great emotion. I hate to lose. No excuse. But I hate to lose. I apologized for my actions. But I’ll never apologize for that mindset. This is a big year and a perfect year for us to change the way, the outcome of the way some of our games have gone."
To move way beyond the Seattle thing.