Rams seek perspective in order to sustain success

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday would elevate the St. Louis Rams to their first 2-0 start to a season since 2001.

That year, the Rams rattled off six straight wins to open the season on their way to a runner-up finish in Super Bowl XXXVI. That it's been so long since they've started a season with consecutive victories should tell you all you need to know about how difficult it's been for the Rams to find any sort of success, let alone sustain it over the past decade-plus.

On the few occasions the Rams have had a small taste of momentum after a big win, they've consistently given it back with a letdown in a seemingly winnable game. Such is the challenge that coach Jeff Fisher faces this week.

After a dramatic victory against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the Rams are riding high. They're making big jumps in various NFL power rankings, popping up on national television and radio appearances and even raked in NFC defensive (Aaron Donald) and special teams (Tavon Austin) player of the week awards.

With all of that going on, it's incumbent on Fisher and his team to quickly forget what happened last week and move on to this Sunday's game.

“Success in this league requires you to keep wins and losses in perspective," Fisher said. "After a tough Sunday afternoon, things don’t work out – you have to get them back. When we have a really emotional win like we did, you have to keep things in perspective. We have to correct mistakes. We have to put another good plan in and we have to go out and carry respect in for next week’s opponent."

Since Fisher arrived in 2012, big victories such as Sunday's against the Seahawks have been fairly frequent. The Rams have beaten Seattle three times in the past four years at home, knocked off Denver in 2014 and the Colts and Saints in 2013. They've also had a bad habit of losing games that observers believe they should win, such as games against the Jets in 2012, Titans in 2013 and the Giants last year.

Under Fisher, the Rams have had just six winning streaks of two games and only once were they able to win a third. They've never won more than three in a row under Fisher and have never been more than one game above .500.

In each of those three seasons, the Rams were the youngest team in the NFL. The inconsistencies of those previous seasons have often been tied to the team's relative youth. But the Rams are the youngest team in the league again this year, which begs the question: What will be different this time around?

"I think our team is more mature," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "I think that showed on Sunday just the mental toughness this team has and nobody is celebrating around here. We are happy we got the win but it’s on to Washington. We know the challenge that we have going forward."

One thing that Laurinaitis hopes will help in turning the page to the next game is the team's modified practice schedule. While "Victory Monday" is still part of the plan, having a practice Tuesday instead of a day off means the Rams have to quickly refocus on the next task.

"It really forces you to get a jump-start on the next opponent," Laurinaitis said.

Laurinaitis said he already saw the team getting a head start on Monday afternoon when he arrived at Rams Park for the day's only required activity (weightlifting) and his teammates were all sticking around to watch Redskins tape. That wasn't something he saw much of in the past after big wins.

"Guys weren’t enjoying it and taking two days off from watching film and relaxing and waiting until Wednesday to find out about the next team because they were celebrating," Laurinaitis said. "Guys were really honed in and watching tape to try to figure out more about the Redskins and put the game to rest. It felt really good, probably one of the most exciting games I’ve played in the dome, but to get where we want to go, we’ve got to stack wins. We know the next challenge is the Redskins."

The Rams are also well aware that they have plenty to fix before playing the Redskins. Namely, they must cut down on turnovers (they somehow managed to win despite a minus-3 second-half turnover differential against Seattle) and do a better job of extending drives and keeping the offense on the field (Seattle had the ball for almost 10 minutes more than the Rams) in order to get a second consecutive victory.

"You can’t overemphasize the importance of getting better," Fisher said. "We have to improve in a lot of areas.

"It’s one week at a time. We have to build on this and carry this intensity and the lack of mistakes that have hurt us in the past and into Week 2. We’ll see what happens.”