Maybe being so close to the riverboats has brought out the gambler in Jeff Fisher.
The rather conservative Rams coach has been rolling the dice this preseason, going for six fourth-down conversions already in two games, the kind of rate that would lead the league in aggressive play-calling in the regular season.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that the Rams have averaged 17.4 fourth-down conversion attempts per year in their 17 years since moving from Los Angeles. And in 16 years with the Oilers-Titans, Fisher averaged 15.6 per season.
So why now?
“Well, I know both kickers can kick 20-yard field goals, 30-yard field goals,” said Fisher, referring to Greg Zuerlein and Garrett Lindholm. “In the preseason, why not try to make plays on offense? So that’s basically it. Obviously the philosophy changes during the regular season — [with] momentum, flow, and field position.
“But I don’t think we need to kick 35-yard field goals in the preseason, especially if it’s fourth and less than 4. The longer the down and distance is, the less likely you have an opportunity to convert.”
Part of Fisher’s rationale is to give opponents something to think about, to game-plan for the possibility of something that might not be there in September.
But there’s a human element to it as well.
“I enjoy it immensely,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said, smiling. “I don’t like punting. I’m not a punter, I’m not on the punt team, so I don’t like it.”
Since no one cares about the results in the preseason, it’s easy to like Fisher’s mindset. And if it rubs off on a team that could use a shot of confidence, why not?