Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams See Progress despite 6-10 Mark

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams See Progress despite 6-10 Mark

Article excerpt

For the handful of Rams veterans who have been around for a while, this is the worst time of the year.

"It's the disappointment of not being in the postseason, of having to watch playoff football against teams that you've played against," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "Some teams that you've beat. Some teams that you should've beat. And just really self- reflection on how do we become those teams? How do we win those close games that we lost?"

As the chase for the Lombardi Trophy gets underway in January, the Rams will watch a Denver team they dominated in a 22-7 victory Nov. 16.

They'll watch an Arizona team they led 14-10 midway through the fourth quarter on Nov. 9. An Arizona team they held without a touchdown a month later in St. Louis.

A Dallas team they had on the ropes with a 21-0 lead in the first half in September.

And a Seattle team seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champion, a Seattle team they defeated in St. Louis in October and then played toe-to-toe for three quarters Sunday.

Despite all that, the team's 6-10 finish was the worst in the three-year tenure of coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead. And they did so with clearly the most talented roster since the Fisher-Snead tandem came in three years ago.

So the discussion, or the debate, will probably take place for weeks into the offseason. Did the 2014 Rams regress? Or are they as close to breaking out as they've been in years?

"It's most definitely a motivation going into the offseason," running back Benny Cunningham said. "We know what he have in this locker room, and we know we're not far from being where we want to be as a team."

Was it progress, or a step back in 2014?

"It's definitely not a step backwards," tight end Lance Kendricks said. "We have a lot of young guys on the team. I think the talent is there. It's just putting it all together and really displaying it on the field.

"We practice hard. We work hard. Game day, we gotta make sure that we're focused, we're ready. Mistakes are gonna happen. But you've gotta find ways to overcome them, just be more consistent."

But when you see an inexcusable coverage bust by cornerback Janoris Jenkins lead to the go-ahead touchdown Sunday in Seattle ... and when you see the Rams get outscored 20-0 in the second half and commit three turnovers to fuel another fourth-quarter meltdown, you realize that those are the plays that losers make and winners avoid.

So it doesn't take a gridiron savant to figure out what the Rams need to improve on the most as they step into 2015.

"I think if you asked anybody in this locker room, they would tell you we've got to finish better," safety T.J. McDonald said. "That's one thing we need to understand. We've just got to finish better as a group regardless."

And from Kendricks: "Minimize turnovers. …

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