EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Having a bye week this early in the season might seem unfortunate for a St. Louis Rams team that would probably like to get right back to business after last week's 34-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
But the bye is here and it might be a good thing that they have a little longer to let such a disappointing finish linger.
"Personally I hope we let it stew all week," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "We’re better than this. Why do we keep coming up short with what our potential is? That’s one of the things we’ve got to figure out this week. So I’m going to let it stew all week. We need to get better.
"I’m done with any moral victories, stuff like that. It’s about wins and losses. We’ve got to get wins. A home loss like this, I feel bad for our fans. We are going to go to work this week, I promise you that and I wish I had a special equation I could give you. But it comes down to work ethic and these guys are going to work this week."
There is no shortage of things for the Rams to work on over the bye nor should any changes or tweaks be off limits.
On defense, the Rams must find answers for a run defense that has struggled in the first three weeks and a stagnant pass rush that hasn't been able to bring down quarterbacks more than once.
On offense, the Rams appear to be ahead of schedule, performing better than most expected in the first three games (or at least the past two) but there's also plenty of room for improvement. That could include finding ways to get No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson more involved, re-integrating receiver Stedman Bailey into the mix and coach Jeff Fisher figuring out what he's really going to do at quarterback.
“The staff is addressing in some of the things that we need to work on," Fisher said. "Whether that’s third down or third and long defensively or the red zone stuff, or the two-minute stuff. We’re going to look at all of that. The specifics in the run game. Protections and what we’re doing defensively. And then we carry that over on to the field."
League rules dictate that the Rams can't practice every day during the bye and the players must get at least four days off. So the team will practice Wednesday and Thursday before returning to work next Tuesday.
Beyond the tweaks that will happen on the field, the Rams will also monitor the progress of players returning from injury. Fisher said Monday that receiver Tavon Austin (knee) and quarterback Shaun Hill (thigh) have a good chance to be at full strength after the bye. He also indicated cornerback Trumaine Johnson (knee) and offensive lineman Barrett Jones (back) are getting "closer" to a return though it seems unlikely that both will be back in short order.
It's common practice for teams to spend bye weeks doing self-scouting and correcting. The Rams will do that, but with a different look coming their way in the form of the Eagles' unique offense, the Rams will work some early game planning into the mix also.
"We’ll start taking a look at Philadelphia," Fisher said. "That’s typically what you do. In addition to that we’ll get some younger guys some reps. We’ll get (QB) Case (Keenum) some reps this week in the offense. Some of the younger guys. Got to get (RB) Tre Mason involved, not only more in the offense but also more on special teams, things like that.”