Never mind that the Los Angeles Rams arrive in Seattle on Wednesday for another divisional-rival showdown. This week has already been a whirlwind.
So much so that John Fassel hasn’t even driven home from his office in Thousand Oaks, California.
Formerly the special teams coach, Fassel was named Los Angeles’ interim head coach Monday after Jeff Fisher was fired.
It happened fast, in about an hour or two, Fassel said.
“I was pretty emotional, mostly because I have the utmost respect, and love, really, for Coach Fisher,” Fassel said. “So, initially, it was just a bummer that the guy that I really respect and admire just lost his job.
“Then, having to switch over quickly, all the sudden figuring out how to do this on the fly, it’s been emotional.”
Quickly. That is how Los Angeles has had to operate this week only a few days removed from its fourth consecutive loss on Sunday against Atlanta. Even so, Fassel said he doesn’t feel daunted.
“The only thing is, a short week just accelerates all of the installs, and all of the work,” Fassel said. “Other than that, it’s just a good group of hungry players, and (we’ll) see what happens.”
Fassel said the mood was somber on Monday, even business-like. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who was drafted No. 1 overall in April under Fisher, said he had a great relationship with his former coach.
“It’s been a little crazy,” Goff said. “It was a surprise to a lot of us, and (we) had to adjust from there and move on with the day and go through practice. But, yeah, it was a little weird and today’s been different as well.
“We’re trying to keep it as business as usual as (much as) possible and try to get ready for Thursday.”
Goff said he doesn’t expect any significant offensive changes to be made this week against Seattle.
Considering the turnaround for the Rams is their shortest of the season, there likely wasn’t time to shake much up anyway.
“The players are super resilient,” Fassel said. “I anticipate they’ll go out there and put it all on the line for themselves, and the team, and particularly for Coach Fisher.”
Goff said he didn’t think anyone was rooting for Los Angeles more than Fisher this week.
“We need to go out and win,” Goff said. “If there was ever a good reason to get a win in a short week, it’s this one.”
Goff made his first career start against Miami in November. Los Angeles’ loss to the Dolphins triggered a four-game skid, and the Rams have lost eight of their past nine.
This is Goff’s first trip to Seattle as an NFL player, though he played twice at UW when he was quarterback at California.
When the Rams played Seattle in September, Goff looked on as Case Keenum ran the offense. He said he learned a lot about the Seahawks’ defensive schemes.
“They don’t do a lot, but they do what they do well, and being able to be on the sidelines for that was obviously beneficial,” Goff said. “I got a different vantage point of it, and hopefully (can) use some of that to my advantage this weekend.”
Fassel didn’t have a concrete answer as to why it seems the Rams consistently have a beat on Seattle. The Seahawks have lost four of the past five meetings dating back to 2014. The Rams won this year’s earlier matchup in Los Angeles, 9-3, in Week 2.
He said the Rams don’t look to the Seahawks as a particularly special game more so than any other game they play, but have had success for whatever reason. He said maybe they caught the Seahawks at the right time or in situations his team could capitalize.
“We know Seattle is a heck of a team and a great place to play football,” Fassel said.
The best time to win is now, Goff said.
Fassel said he thinks the emotion this week, and this season really, has caused is good. Between moving from St. Louis, shuffling facilities, and now this.
“It’s been quite an adventure,” Fassel said. “There’s a couple more weeks left to finish the last chapter. Hopefully we’ll do all right.”
CARROLL SHOOTS DOWN RAMS RUMORS
On a conference call with reporters that cover the Rams, Carroll said he had no comment in regards to reports Los Angeles has him at the top of its wish list to replace Fisher as coach.
Yahoo! Sports cited multiple sources with insight into the earliest stages of the Rams’ coaching search. That story was released not even 10 hours after the Rams fired Fisher.
Asked by the Los Angeles media if he would like to rule the possibility out entirely, Carroll laughed and said: Yes.
The link between Carroll and L.A. is natural and the innuendo unavoidable. Carroll became a hero in Los Angeles for turning USC into a dynasty in the early 2000s. But he remains big in L.A. for what he did there outside of football.
Carroll didn’t just coach the Trojans, he coached the entire city of Los Angeles through his charitable foundation A Better LA.
Just his involvement in the area of the gangs and gang violence. I know there was a tremendous impact just in regards to his understanding, Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said.
Richard played at USC from 1998-2001 before becoming an assistant for Carroll’s final two seasons with the Trojans.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is trying to make a splash with his new hire to stabilize the foundation before the team moves into its new, zillion-dollar stadium/palace south of downtown in a couple years. And no coach would make a bigger splash along the shores of Southern California than Carroll and his return to L.A.
But Carroll, 65, signed a contract extension with the Seahawks before this season through 2019. It is believed to have him earning around $10 million per year, placing him with Bill Belichick in New England as the league’s highest-paid coaches.
More important than the money, Carroll has the control in Seattle he had at USC. That was the requirement Carroll demanded in January 2010 before he agreed to leave the Trojans and move to Seattle and return to the NFL after a decade away. It was authority Carroll never thought he’d get in the NFL.
Carroll, not general manager John Schneider, has the final say on personnel with the Seahawks. He has everything he wants in Seattle.
EXTRA POINTS: The Seahawks offense wore neon-green practice jerseys for their indoor practice, to replicate the nuclear, Color Rush jerseys the team will be dressed in head to toe during Thursday’s game. You’ve been warned. ... TE Jimmy Graham (rest) and backup linebacker Brock Coyle (foot) returned to full practice participation one day after sitting out. ... The Seahawks placed FB Will Tukuafu (concussion) and rookie running back Troymaine Pope (sprained ankle) on injured reserve. The team signed running back Kelvin Taylor and linebacker Ronald Powell to the active roster. Taylor, a rookie from the University of Florida, is the son of former NFL running back Fred Taylor. He was San Francisco's sixth-round pick in May. Powell was New Orleans’ fifth-round draft choice in 2014. He played in 14 games for the Saints. Seattle signed him off Chicago’s practice squad.
Staff writer Gregg Bell contributed to this report.