No one would blame the Rams for sounding the alarm after losing consecutive games and dropping back to .500.
Actually, though, Rams Coach Jeff Fisher sounded it before his team played at Detroit on Sunday. In order to prepare his players for an early game in the Eastern time zone, one that kicked off at 10 a.m. PDT, he carried an air horn with him and twice blared it to make sure the Rams were on their toes.
Fisher sounded the annoying, ear-splitting blast on Saturday night at the hotel during a team meeting, and again at the pregame breakfast Sunday.
“He scared a lot of guys at breakfast with it,” punter Johnny Hekker said. “He said, ‘Listen, we can’t let timing be an excuse. Time zones are what they are. We’re here to play football. We’re professionals.’ If you can’t get up for a game, then you’re not cut out for the league. That’s the reality of it.”
According to the betting site Sportsinsights.com, heading into this season, West Coast teams were 61-111 (a .355 winning percentage) since 2003 when playing in the Eastern time zone.
The Rams were offensively sharp for most of their game against Detroit, and didn’t look sluggish despite what for them was a mid-morning kickoff.
On Sunday, they have the additional challenge of playing the New York Giants in London, a game that kicks off at 2:30 p.m. local time, meaning 6:30 a.m. in Los Angeles.
“You’ve got to be ready each time you play. We could play in the Sahara Desert, it don’t matter,” Rams defensive tackle Cam Thomas said. “Each team’s got to be ready.”
The Rams are in danger of dipping to 3-4 after winning three in a row. That’s a wake-up call that doesn’t require an air horn.
There are several reunions in Week 7, among them Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford returning to Philadelphia, Oakland Coach Jack Del Rio going back to Jacksonville, and Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler returning to Denver (a game that also pits the Broncos’ Gary Kubiak against the team he used to coach.)
Eagles Coach Doug Pederson didn’t sound too concerned Monday about Bradford’s knowing the Philadelphia playbook, seeing as he was traded to the Vikings after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury in the last practice of the preseason.
“He’s got to get himself ready to play, too,” Pederson said of Bradford, who’s at the helm of the NFL’s only undefeated team.
“Back a few years ago, Donovan [former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb] was in Washington when we played him and we had a pretty good day. So listen, I’m not going to change anything. Will we tweak some stuff? Yes. We still have to get ready. This is a great football team coming in here. They are undefeated coming off a bye.”
In Denver, Kubiak returned to work Monday after taking a week off to recover from the effects of a complex migraine he suffered following the Broncos’ loss to Atlanta on Oct. 9.
THERE’S NO TELLING
Even though Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger underwent outpatient arthroscopic surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, the Steelers haven’t given a timetable for his return and at least one teammate was not ruling out the possibility Roethlisberger will play Sunday against New England.
“You never know what’s going to happen during the week, what’s going to all go on,” backup quarterback Landry Jones told reporters Monday. “So I’m going to prepare like I have been in the past, and we’ll see what happens.”
Roethlisberger, who leads the NFL with 16 touchdown passes, suffered the knee injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30-15 loss to Miami and briefly left the game before returning in the second half.
Jones started two games for the Steelers last season, playing all four quarters of a 23-13 loss at Kansas City, and later starting against Cleveland before he was injured and replaced by a recovering Roethlisberger.
“He’s grown,” offensive lineman Ramon Foster said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This will be the full test. This is a good team coming in, a good defense. He’s thrown into the fire.”