It’s now official. The Rams have reached the broken-record stage of the 2015 season. The offense can’t score. The team can’t win. Repeat this cycle once per week.
And this just in: The coach has run out of answers.
Last week, the answer was: “Kiss my (bleep).” To anyone questioning the team’s effort, that is.
This week? After Sunday’s 27-3 loss to Arizona, Jeff Fisher was almost at a loss for words. For weeks, reporters have asked him about what’s gone wrong — to the point where there’s almost no way left to ask the same old questions about the same old Rams.
The feeling is mutual, apparently.
“Coach is almost out of answers,” Fisher said with an air of exasperation. “My responsibility is to say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna get this thing fixed.’ I mean, we’re not efficient on offense.”
The way Fisher sees it, the Rams have too many good players on offense for that to be the case.
“We’ve got guys that can produce,” Fisher said. “We have an outstanding running back and we have a dynamic receiver. We’re starting to get a little bit better on the offensive line, and so we’ll keep working. But it has to get better. It’s not good.”
Actually, it’s much worse than “not good.” It’s awful. As awful as anything the Rams put on the field offensively under Fisher predecessors Steve Spagnuolo and Scott Linehan.
The Rams lost their fifth in a row Sunday, scoring a season-low three points and gaining a season-low 212 yards. They have been outscored 58-10 over the last two Sundays and have lost by margins of 24 points in three of the past four games.
For those scoring at home, the latest loss puts the Rams at 4-8 for the season, and guaranteed to have their 12th consecutive non-winning season. The 2004 and 2006 teams both finished 8-8 — everything else has been below .500 since the 2003 squad won the NFC West title.
The official mood of the Rams’ postgame locker room Sunday? Numb, bordering on shell-shocked.
“We’ve just gotta pick our heads up,” defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said. “We’re grown men. It’s a job for us. We get paid to do what we’re doing. ... We gotta go out there and win the next game next Sunday.”
No matter how you measured it, the Cardinals (10-2) ran roughshod over the Rams with 524 yards total offense, 29 first downs and 175 yards rushing against a once-formidable St. Louis defense.
The Rams were also non-competitive on the other side of the ball. They have failed to score more than 18 points in any of their eight losses.
“It’s not good,” quarterback Nick Foles said. “It’s not good.”
Foles had another poor day at the office, completing a mere 42.9 percent of his passes (15 for 35) for 146 yards and a 43.3 passer rating. He threw his fourth interception in two games in the opening quarter on an overthrown pass intended for Kenny Britt.
Fisher announced after the game that Case Keenum would be his starter next week against Detroit. Keenum cleared the concussion protocol Saturday and dressed as the team’s No. 2 quarterback against the Cardinals.
“I want to be out there,” Foles said. “But at the same time, I respect Coach Fisher and I’m going to do everything I can to help Case along and help him succeed out there, and help this team succeed.”
Foles isn’t playing with much confidence these days. Then again, he got next to no help from his receivers against the Big Red. Several catchable balls eluded tight end Jared Cook, as well as Britt and Brian Quick.
Running back Todd Gurley managed a 34-yard run in the third quarter, his first gain of more than 9 yards in a month. But he otherwise found the going tough, finishing with nine carries for 41 yards.
“We have to stay positive,” Gurley said. “At the end of the day, things could be a lot worse. We’ve still got a job, and it’s the game we love. At the end of the day, whether we’re in the playoffs or not, we do this for living. We love this game, so we’re gonna keep going.”
The Rams certainly aren’t going to the playoffs this year. And if this nose-dive continues, there may be more than a couple of players out of a job at the end of the season, not to mention Fisher and his staff.
“Coach Fisher has had our back,” defensive end Chris Long said. “We’ve got Coach Fisher’s back. He’s a heck of a football coach. At the end of the day, we have to make plays on the field.
“We’re far too often in position to make plays and we don’t make plays. We don’t do the little things. Just do your job. It’s not necessarily about Coach, it’s about doing your job. And it takes 11 guys to do that. We’re playing way too often where one or two guys aren’t doing that.”
Even though it was giving up lots of yardage to Arizona’s top-ranked offense, the Rams’ defense found a way to keep the game close for more than 3½ quarters. After a Zach Hocker field goal 3½ minutes into the second half, the Rams trailed by only 10-3.
(Hocker once again was replacing an injured Greg Zuerlein.)
When Kerwynn Williams fumbled out of bounds on the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals took over on their 2. For just a moment, it looked like the Rams had a flicker of a chance to make this a wire-to-wire game.
But on third-and-3 from the Arizona 9, Big Red wide receiver Michael Floyd outleaped Janoris Jenkins on a 50-50 ball for a 31-yard gain down the right sideline. It was the kind of aggressive, contested catch that Rams receivers rarely make. At least not this year.
What became a 98-yard drive culminated in a 10-yard pass from Carson Palmer to rookie running back David Johnson. That was the back-breaker, giving Arizona a 17-3 lead with 5:53 to play in third. The way the Rams were malfunctioning on offense, it might as well have been 170-3.
“We have to get the offense fixed,” Fisher said for the umpteenth time. “Three first downs at halftime, I think we had six to start the fourth quarter. It doesn’t give yourself the chance to be productive or win games.”
No it doesn’t. But we’ve heard that over and over again.