LOS ANGELES -- Penalties. They're a problem once again for the Los Angeles Rams.
Six weeks in, the Rams have committed 50 of them for 435 yards, two figures that rank as the third-worst in the NFL. This after ranking within the bottom 10 in penalty yards each of the last four years. This after Jeff Fisher basically promised "a culture change" with regards to penalties during training camp.
For whatever reason, the Rams have been by far the most penalized team since Fisher became head coach.
Dating back to the start of his first season, in 2012, the Rams lead the NFL in penalties accepted with 548 (the Oakland Raiders are second with 531) and penalty yards with 4,568 (the Buffalo Bills are second with 4,517). They were assessed two critical ones in the 31-28 loss to the Detroit Lions, neither of which Fisher agreed with. One was a holding call against defensive end Eugene Sims on the second half's opening kickoff, which moved the Rams from their 28 to the 10 and ultimately forced them to punt. The other was a pass interference on safety Maurice Alexander, during an incomplete pass on third and 12 early in the fourth quarter, which ultimately allowed the Lions to score the tying touchdown.
The Lions were on the Rams' 48-yard line with just over nine minutes remaining and Los Angeles leading 28-21. Matthew Stafford threw deep to the outside to Marvin Jones, and Alexander made a play on the ball, deflecting it out of bounds. But the official ruled that Alexander made too much contact with the receiver in the process.
The Rams were assessed eight penalties in that game, giving up the same 62 yards that the Lions allowed.
"When the game is over and you look at the penalties and you see the number being eight or whatever, that’s too many," Fisher said during a conference call from London on Monday. "But then you go and you look at it closely -- that was a big play on Maurice, to stop the drive. The penalty’s called, and they continue the drive, as opposed to we’re off the field and they have to punt in [Tavon Austin's] hands. In close games, those are significant penalties."
The Rams' most penalized player has been left tackle Greg Robinson, who has been assessed six, two shy of the league lead. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald is next with five. Six others -- Sims, left guard Rodger Saffold, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner and Troy Hill -- have three each.
"The team is aware," Fisher said. "The team is aware. The team is addressing penalties like they’re addressing their practice tempo and their effort and their commitment to meetings and things like that. I’m not overly concerned right now. Penalties aren’t the problem."