Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he now occupies Pete Carroll’s old office at L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
But if the chair is still there from Carroll’s USC days, it’s got to be considerably hotter for Fisher these days.
The fans in Los Angeles won’t be satisfied with just finally having the Rams move back, but will be demanding of a star-studded winner in short order.
Fisher opened the Rams’ revival season, though, with a 28-0 bellyflop loss against the 49ers in Santa Clara.
L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote: “We waited 22 years for … this?” And asked, “Is there a return policy on this golden-horned mess?”
Sunday’s hosting of Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks will be the home opener for the Rams, and more than 90,000 are expected to be in attendance.
While most of those will be enthusiastically suspicious of these 0-1 Rams, it’s worth remembering that they’ve been consistently nettlesome to the Seahawks, winning three of the past four meetings and splitting eight games since 2012.
In a conference call Wednesday, Fisher offered the appropriate respect for the Seahawks, complimenting the players and staff, and citing his team’s many challenges in their meeting on Sunday.
His great appreciation for the Seahawks must be genuine. They probably have helped him keep his job.
With his arsenal of special teams threats and schematic trickery, even amid the string of lackluster seasons in St. Louis, Fisher’s Rams have beaten the Seahawks more than any other team in the NFC West in the past four years.
Without those four wins against the Seahawks, Fisher’s record with the Rams would be considerably worse than it is at 27-37-1.
Owner Stan Kroenke, we may presume, hasn’t moved the team and committed an obscene amount of money to new facilities to be patient with a coach with such a record.
The embarrassment of the lopsided loss might be just one of the motivators that help the Rams turn this into another long day for the Seahawks.
In the opener, the Rams’ offense looked as if it could become the least effective in the NFL since the 1992 Seahawks (140 points in a 16-game season).
But the Rams have been bad before and still beaten the Seahawks, always seeming to offer matchup problems.
While the Seahawks need more time for their newly configured offensive line to jell, the Rams have a defensive front seven considered among the best in the NFL.
In the past eight meetings, the Rams have sacked quarterback Russell Wilson 35 times — and that was when he had two healthy ankles.
Although Wilson practiced Wednesday and is expected to be available Sunday, he obviously suffered a painful ankle injury in Sunday’s 12-10 victory over the Dolphins.
Wilson’s mobility is such a key variable in this game that the betting line was taken off the board early this week until his health was more clearly demonstrated.
“It’s always a tremendous challenge when you’re defending their offense with Russell and the run game,” Fisher said. “And the defense is hard to score points against — they just don’t give up points. You look back over the years at the great job they’ve done, week after week after week.”
Fisher said his Rams were “just going to try to hang in there and see what happens.”
Right. The Seahawks aren’t buying that, even given the Rams’ feeble performance against the Niners.
“They’re going to give us everything they’ve got,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “They’ll definitely have their trick plays ready for us.”
Carroll has seen enough of his team getting beaten on fake punts and sneaky returns to know Fisher will be looking for angles to offset the Seahawks’ talent advantage.
“You don’t take teams lightly in this league; they’re too good, we don’t ever do that,” Carroll said. “These guys were 4-2 in the division last year; we know we’ve had difficult games with them because they’re tough to handle. We have a lot of respect for them.”
But the Seahawks’ players watched films of the Rams’ opener and just might feel unthreatened.
But they also might realize they managed only a single touchdown in their own opener against Miami.
As with so many other games against the Rams, this could be an ugly endeavor.
There’ll just be a lot more people and sunshine in Los Angeles than there were in St. Louis.