The final episode of Hard Knocks for 2016 provided a clearer example of some of the flaws in the Rams that I have talked about since the series started.
There are several major concerns with the Lamarcus Joyner situation. The show starts with Joyner not showing up at practice for the walk through. I mentioned my concerns about Joyner’s emotional stability last week. However, this incident shows some of the deeper issues with the Rams coaching staff.
Joyner approaches coach Jeff Fisher and says: “I don’t know where my mind is … I’m done.” Fisher then asks Joyner to talk after practice. Fisher does a fantastic job in talking with Joyner. He tells Joyner: “The nickel position is the hardest position to play and you are the best I’ve had here in years – it’s a starting position.” He then talks about how he would like to help Joyner get his passion for the game back. This is a wonderful exchange on Fisher’s part, however the situation should have never gotten this far.
The question here is, where was Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach in all this? Where was Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator in all of this? Think about this like a workplace situation. Joyner has a manager – Dennard Wilson. Wilson has a manager – Gregg Williams. Fisher is the “big boss.” Had Wilson and Williams been doing their jobs – Joyner would not have had to go to Fisher for reassurance. This is much like Fisher having to comment again and again that Todd Gurley is not to be hit in practice – this shows that the other coaches are not doing their jobs.
After talking with Fisher, Joyner says: “Now that I understand the bigger picture, hearing it from you, I’m gonna walk out of here with a clear conscience, no matter what happens.” How come Wilson and Williams were not giving Joyner this feedback? Why did he need to hear it from Fisher? There is something very wrong with this picture. Yes, Joyner has a hard time controlling his emotions on and off the field, but both Wilson and Williams should have done a better job reassuring him in his ability to play and his position on the team.
All Fisher should ever have to say to Joyner is when he made the comment during practice, “Nice job #20.” He said this when Joyner broke up a pass in practice. Fisher should not have to micromanage all the players.
Mike Singletary is once again great in this episode. He tells Brandon Chubb: “You’re too high, you’re go no power, you have to get down.” “Right now you look stiff running down the field, look up and somebody’s going to off you.” “You’re physical but you gotta run.” “You gotta get low so you can explode, you’re not transferring.” Once again Singletary is focusing on mechanics and technique. Compare this to Mike Waufel with Ethan Westbrooks. Waufel says “Do you want to play at this level?” “If you don’t get your eyes up – you’re gonna play for someone else.” Singletary did not threaten, bully or intimidate any player during this series.
Paul McRoberts made a common mistake in the final preseason game. When he muffed the catch of a punt he was trying to do too much. This is a common mistake many athletes make. It is important that athletes “stay within themselves.” McRoberts felt like he had do something extra. This is completely understandable, but resulted in a costly turnover.
Parting thoughts; Fisher handles the cuts very well.
Throughout the series when Case Keenam was shown outside of practice he was often working with his wife going over the plays. When Jared Goff was shown he was on his phone.