Found September 30, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
San_diego_chargers_e33a
ST. LOUIS This walk was the kind that will be remembered if Jeff Fisher's vision becomes real, if a St. Louis Rams renaissance erases the bitter memory of a lost decade and elite football becomes the norm here once more. In a corridor at the Edward Jones Dome, about an hour after his team's 19-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Fisher gathered by a small group of fans and friends. A whirlwind of postgame duties was long over, and the coach relished in his moment to unwind. Between grins, he exchanged hugs. He posed for photographs. He talked about seeing everyone Thursday night, when St. Louis, now a surprising 2-2, hosts the Arizona Cardinals in the next stage of a season-long study. "Now," Fisher said earlier, moments after the Rams improved to 2-0 at home, "we can boast a little bit about making this a hard place to play." September has served as an examination of Fisher's direction, and the season's first month has included a variety of findings. There were signs of a young, competitive team that lacked defensive discipline in a last-minute loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 1. There were signs of an edgy, relentless group that turned back the Washington Redskins in Week 2. There were signs of an unfocused, overwhelmed bunch that played flat in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears in Week 3. Then came Sunday, when fulfillment of Fisher's vision seemed closer than thought possible this early when he was introduced to replace Steve Spagnuolo in January. Rookies Greg Zuerlein (made field goals of 24, 48, 58 and 60 yards) and Janoris Jenkins (when rushing Russell Wilson and when defending in the secondary) both made significant impacts beyond their years. Late in the second quarter, a bold fake field-goal attempt allowed rookie Johnny Hekker to find Danny Amendola for a 2-yard touchdown, giving the Rams a 10-7 lead. The defense, the glue of Fisher's leadership, forced Wilson into three interceptions including one by Bradley Fletcher at St. Louis' 23-yard line that iced the new regime's first NFC West victory. "Unpredictable," Rams rookie wide receiver Chris Givens said of the team's emerging identity. "There are a lot of different personalities. But on Sunday, we all come together with one personality and that's to do whatever it takes to win." On Sunday, St. Louis did what was necessary to win even if the effort was more grimy than graceful. Yet it's wise to remember this project remains a work in progress, and the time is right to exercise caution. Among the questions: It remains to be seen how a team that began the season with 17 rookies and about 60 percent roster turnover will manage tests against the Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. It remains to be seen if the Rams will become consistent winners or if they'll continue a stop-and-start pattern of success. It remains to be seen if they'll make a leap to contend in the NFC West or if such fantasies for a franchise that last appeared in the playoffs in the 2004 season are at least another year away. But the fact that such scenarios are considered possible this quickly after Fisher's arrival before the calendar has flipped to October shows progress in this former NFL Death Valley. On Sunday, the Rams matched or surpassed their win total from three of the past four seasons. The advance is noteworthy and no accident. Spagnuolo and Scott Linehan are long gone, both serving lesser roles in locales like New Orleans and Detroit. With each outcome like Sunday's, a dark shadow in the Gateway City left by their failed leadership grows thinner, giving way to promise of the franchise's new day. Make no mistake: The Rams' evolution is far from complete. There are holes, like a struggle to stop Seattle's rushing game, which produced 179 yards. (Marshawn Lynch gashed them for 118 yards and one touchdown.) But September's results have revealed that a transition has begun, that it's notable and that it's a change of course from past failures. "For the most part, we're definitely still young as a whole," said Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who had three tackles and a sack Sunday. "We still have a lot more growing to do. I think we're developing well as a young team. We still have a huge upside that people haven't seen yet. I think the best is yet to come." But what will come next? The Rams have developed a defense-first persona that's reflective of their coach. It's no surprise that the unit was asked to preserve a triumph for the third time in this young season, and for the second occasion in such scenarios, the group answered the call. Wilson drove Seattle to St. Louis' 40 with less than two minutes left, and it looked as if Matthew Stafford's Week 1 dramatics would be replicated. But the past month has included growth. Each test has revealed something new, and this defeat of a rising division foe showed these Rams are more bend than break. Winning ugly? Check. At times, looking unrefined especially on offense but doing enough to survive? Check. Changing the culture of a franchise fresh off the worst five-year stretch in NFL history? Check. "I'd much rather win them by 21 or 28, but that's just not the case," Fisher said. "That's a really good football team short week, travel, emotional game last Monday night. It's hard to get up not that they were flat. They're very talented. I thought our guys hung in there. We had some negative plays, yes, but you're going to against a defense like that." A stigma that has accompanied so many Sundays here seemed more distant after Week 4. As Fisher moved past the small group of fans and friends, toward a tunnel that led out of the Edward Jones Dome, a renaissance appeared less of a stretch than before. Yes, a vision doesn't come into focus after two victories in one month. But measured progress does. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Rams adjusting to short workweek

The St. Louis Rams' adjustment to a short workweek has started pretty smoothly. They come off a 19-13 victory over Seattle on Sunday relatively healthy and get a second consecutive home game for their Thursday night matchup with Arizona. Coach Jeff Fisher said while there were obvious adjustments to the schedule - Monday's practice was more typical of a Wednesday workout...

Zuerlein sets Rams record with 60-yard field goal

Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein has topped the field goal record he set earlier in the Rams game against the Seahawks on Sunday with a 60-yarder in the third quarter. Zuerlein kicked a club-record 58-yarder in the first quarter, and his 60-yarder put St. Louis ahead 16-7. Zuerlein is a sixth-round pick out of Missouri Western, and now is 11 for 11 on field goal tries. The previous...

Danny Amendola catches TD pass on fake field goal

The St. Louis Rams needed an offensive spark.  According to the Fox broadcast of the Rams game with the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams had not scored a touchdown in one hundred offensive plays. On Sunday, Jeff Fisher used some trickery to find the end zone. After being stopped near the end of the second quarter on third and goal, Fisher sent his field goal unit out on the field with...

Steven Jackson expected to be active with reduced role

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson is expected to play in Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Jackson had been listed as questionable with a groin injury. A focal point of the Rams offense for years, it is expected that Jackson will have a reduced role in the game since the injury is preventing him from being at 100 percent. The injury occurred last weekend at Solider...

Rams start Steven Jackson

Running back Steven Jackson is active for the St. Louis Rams after missing all practices this week with a groin injury. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers, the Rams first-round draft pick, makes his NFL debut against Seattle on Sunday. He is coming off a high right ankle sprain. Jermelle Cudjo, who started the first three games at right tackle, is inactive. Wide receiver Steve...

Steven Jackson Expected To Play

Jason La Canfora of NFL Network expects injured Rams halfback Steven Jackson to participate in Sunday's game versus the Seahawks, though he could be limited.Fantasy Spin:Jackson, hampered by a groin issue in recent weeks, has only totaled 20 carries over his last two games so we'd be very wearing about employing him as anything more than a flex player in Week 4. Daryl Richardson...

St. Louis Rams pull off fake field goal against Seahawks (Video)

Personally, I'm a huge fan of trick plays and this fake field goal that the St. Louis Rams pulled off against the Seattle Seahawks was a thing of beauty. The Rams were trailing 7-3 and appeared to be kicking a short field goal to cut Seattle's lead to one. However, the Rams called a fake field goal as punter Johnny Hekker finds Danny Amendola in the right corner...

Danny Amendola Has Solid Outing vs. Seattle

Rams receiver Danny Amendola had his usual PPR-friendly line -- six catches for 55 yards -- Sunday against the Seahawks, but he also added a touchdown on a fake field goal late in the first half.Fantasy Spin:Amendola has had at least five catches in every game this season, including 15 in Week 2. The receiver's touchdown Sunday is one that Sam Bradford owners won't like since...

Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams: Five Things We Learned

It was another tough win for the Rams, but they were able to pull it off. They are definitely grateful for another win. The Rams beat the Seahawks 19-13 mainly due to the help of kicker Greg Zuerlein. We already learned what a great kicker he is earlier in the season. Below is a list of five things we learned from this game.1. The Rams Can Win At HomeThe Rams have won both of their...

Steven Jackson Ineffective Against Seahawks

The Rams didn't limit Steven Jackson's carries Sunday against the Seahawks but the running back was ineffective again, carrying 18 times for 55 yards.Fantasy Spin:Jackson, hampered by a groin issue in recent weeks, is only rushing for 3.3 yards per carry this season. He's yet to find the end zone, though he did have a touchdown called back by a penalty Sunday.

Quarterly report: Rams rookies making a huge impact

Photo by Chantal Overton (@OhhMyOnlineNet). One quarter of the way through the 2012 season, the Rams are already ahead of schedule. We were supposed to be the young team that learned how to fight, but would have a hard time closing games and putting wins in the standings. We were supposed to be in the "rebuilding" year - an NFL euphemism for "acceptable...

Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams: Week 4 Recap

As I predicted, the Rams did beat the Seahawks. It was a tough game, but the Rams were able to pull through and win 19-13. It was a close game that couldn't have got much closer. Many of the points scored were from field goals by the rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein. Zuerlein had four field goals including a 60-yard field goal. If you haven't learned how to spell "Zuerlein...

Rams 19, Seahawks 13

ST. LOUIS -- Relying on thunder-footed rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein and a defense which kept the Seahawks out of the end zone after the game's first 4 minutes and 15 seconds, St. Louis matched its win total of 2011 with a 19-13 verdict Sunday at Edward Jones Dome. Zuerlein, a sixth-round draft pick in April out of Missouri Western, drilled field goals of 58, 48, 60 and 24 yards...

Why the St. Louis Rams Pass on a WR in Round 1

By Tyler Lurkins.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.