I must be hallucinating about the Rams

I’ve had bronchitis for more than a week. Bronchitis is an odd illness. For the most part, you feel cool. Then you cough and your mouth fills up with … Stuff. If people are around, you feel shame. Either way, you find a way to get rid of it and then you feel very light-headed.

And then you start to hallucinate.

Like how I read on ESPN, CBSSports.com and saw on “Fox NFL Kickoff” that the Los Angeles Rams extended Jeff Fisher’s contract for two more seasons. If I didn’t follow basic journalism standards of double-sourcing what I read, I’d have feared I grabbed a bag of shrooms instead of Ricola.

I have a theory. I’ll get to it after I quickly list all the reasons why Fisher doesn’t deserve an extension.

He’s coached for 22 seasons and had a total of six winning seasons. His last winning season came in the first year of the Obama presidency when he was in Tennessee. This means he hasn’t even reached 8-8 in any of his five seasons with the Rams.

In addition, he’s now on his second “franchise quarterback” with the Rams. The first, Sam Bradford, actually functions well enough in Minnesota. The current, Jared Goff, didn’t start until three weeks ago. Here’s my problem on whether Goff can develop. Consider offensive tackle Greg Robinson. The former No.2 overall pick was benched last week despite being healthy. This leads me to believe the Rams coaching staff has no idea how to teach young prospects to play the game.

The less said about the disappointment of Todd Gurley this year, the better.

So why would news leak out about a contract extension a week after the Rams were humiliated 49-21 by the Saints?

Could it be the sources inside the organization who leaked the information want fans such as you and I to be outraged? Infuriated?

The feeling here is that at 4-7, even people inside the Rams organization don’t back their coach. Or, since this extension was allegedly signed six weeks ago, the players heard about it and are staging a mini-mutiny.

And I can’t say that I blame them. It’s either that or fake an injury so that they don’t have to play for the guy.

So if you’re a Rams fan, by all means support your team — by calling for the coach to be fired.

Or maybe I’m full of it and the shrooms have me trippin’ balls.

The Rams have to fire Fisher before more damage is done

I’ve seen some curious reasons why teams fire their coaches and managers. The Lakers let Pat Riley go because they thought he had been there too long despite four titles in nine years, for Pete’s sake.

It’s somewhat obvious that Rams fans want coach Jeff Fisher to be fired. The reason, until the last two weeks, mostly escaped me. It’s not that the Rams sucked — although the defense surely did when they got their heads kicked in by New Orleans 49-21 Sunday. They’ve been competitive. They’ve rattled off the occasional upset to give their new fans hope.

None of that covers up the disturbing regression made by key Rams players. Instead of building around cornerstone players to make a run at a playoff berth this year, many of them have declined before our very eyes. That’s not just an indictment against a Fisher. It’s against the coaches that he hired.

Consider left tackle Greg Robinson, taken No.2 overall in the draft three years ago. These last two years, he’s committed four more penalties than anyone else in football. He was scratched from the lineup Sunday even though he’s healthy.

You might also recall how Aaron Donald was rated a Top 5 player in the league, a game-changing defensive tackle. That so-called disruptive force led a defense that allowed 49 points on Sunday.

And for that matter, why the hell did No.1 overall pick Jared Goff not take any snaps in a game until last week?

The Rams can’t run, can’t protect their quarterback and in one case, can’t drive sober.

There is no reason to believe he and the staff he hired have the wherewithal to counsel Goff into being an elite quarterback. Hell, they already had their chance with Sam Bradford.

Fisher’s gotta get run before he can do any more damage to the franchise.

No, Jared Goff is not a bust

Yesterday, as the nation vented about San Francisco’s backup quarterback, Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher did likewise on the No.1 pick in spring’s NFL draft, albeit with a velvet glove.

Jared Goff won’t start for the Rams. Hell, he’s not even the first backup. He’s at No. 3 on the depth chart.

In Minnesota last night, a preseason finale where the first-stringers spend three hours in pads winking at the girls in the stands, Goff led the backups on the Rams to a touchdown in an opening drive and stunk up the joint after that. I think he went 6-for-16 overall, but after a while I watched “Tyrant” DVDs because this girl is freaking gorgeous.

Goff goofed in the preseason. The quarterback of the future completed 22 of 49 (44.9 percent) attempts for 232 yards (4.73 yards per attempt), two touchdowns, two interceptions, three fumbles and a 55.8 passer rating.

Considering what the Rams surrendered to draft Goff, four picks in this year’s draft was only part of the haul, people are understandably freaking out. I like that the Rams returned to LA, but I care more about Goff’s future than I do about you-know-who’s socks.

It wasn’t that long ago when — if a quarterback was a top draft pick — he was expected to sit and learn for quite a while. It’s the right call here.

I realize that’s not what people who shelled out dough for jerseys and tickets want to hear.

They want to get excited about a future that doesn’t include Case Keenum or Sean Mannion.

I also understand EA Sports “Madden” video games make us all believe we are just one cheat code away from being an NFL quarterback, but the position is hard to master from level to level. You don’t pass much in youth leagues. You do in high school. The athletic talent level increases dramatically in college, and the intellect and athleticism spike dramatically in the NFL. You can up-up-triangle-down-X your way out of a blitz from the Cardinals.

Goff has no business starting. Consider some recent quarterbacks who did in their first year. Robert Griffin III did lead the Redskins to the playoffs, but that was with a simplified playbook and he still blew out his knee. And he’s trying to rebuild his career with the Cleveland Browns. Good luck with that.

For every Ben Roethelisberger, there are two or three JaMarcus Russells. For every Russell Wilson, there is a J.P. Lowsman and a Matt Leinart. For every Cam Newton, and the jury is still out on him after that Super Bowl disaster, there is a Cade McNown, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf and a Brady Quinn. Maybe even a Tim Couch.

The thesis being for every rookie quarterback pressed into service, the odds favor flameout better than they do fabulous. Even Derek Carr, who by most accounts exceeded expectations in year two, has his doubters because Oakland is loaded with younger elite players. Can Carr keep up, is the question.

So Goff on the bench is a smarter move to me. The Rams run the ball better than they pass, anyway. Besides, there is one area where L.A. needs to be assured that Goff was the right move: work ethic.

Earlier, I mentioned you-know-who, the 49ers quarterback turned social activist. He, too, was once the hot future all-everything in the NFL. Granted, he didn’t get playing time until his second year, but it didn’t take long for NFL defenses to adjust. And because he was more concerned with kissing his own biceps than adjusting his game, he failed, too.

Ultimately, I’m suggesting to you that because an NFL defense is an ever-evolving tactical unit of violence, speed and intellect, younger quarterbacks need time to get acclimated. It worked back in the day. It’ll benefit the Rams and Goff now.

What to make of the L.A. Rams after two games

Much like the preseason itself, it’s difficult to come up with a precise forecast after watching two exhibition NFL games. The Los Angeles Rams moved back home an incomplete team, and they still look like a team that left a few things behind in St. Louis.

To wit, they left their secondary behind. The Rams had excellent defensive personnel last season but had to make difficult cuts to remain under the salary cap. In the process, cornerback Jenoris Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod left as free agents. 

Now, the Rams defensive line also took hits. Chris Long left as a free agent for New England, for example, but that calculated gamble paid off because Aaron Donald is considered by some to be even more devastating than Houston’s J.J. Watt.

As a result, rebuilding the secondary has so far inspired Cowboys fans to nominate an unknown quarterback named Dak Prescott to the Hall of Fame and made Kansas City’s Alex Smith look like Dan Marino. The Rams are 2-0 in the preseason, yes, but those wins came from fourth quarter rallies by players with little to no chance of making the team. You want progress from your starters.

L.A. has appeared to progress on offense. It scored two touchdowns in the first half Saturday against Kansas City, which is a reason for optimism. The Rams have also advanced despite top draft pick Jared Goff being demoted to third string.

At this juncture, though, I can’t argue that the Rams are better than Seattle or Arizona. Maybe Arizona, but that puts the team in jeopardy of missing the playoffs again.

Meanwhile, St. Louis is fooling itself into thinking the Rams are worse off without them. Keep telling yourselves that, guys. Maybe it will keep you from jumping off the arch.

And this does not look good. I remember seeing this all the time when the Raiders played here. The gut feeling? L.A. Raiders fans switched colors so they could skip paying $4 for every gallon of gas up to Oakland. Note to Rams ownership: Better pay some OT to put up that new stadium up quicker and price the thugs out of the market.

The week in L.A. sports (7/29/16-8/4/16)

I would have had this earlier, but I was called in to work. So be it. I like talking sports. I love getting paid. There’s a clear difference…

Dodgers: Very little respect to the front office for finally getting a trade done before the non-waiver deadline on Monday. The primary swap was three minor leaguers for the top two players the Oakland A’s had to offer. Before we break down the trade, know that the Dodgers haven’t won a game since making the deal.

As for the trade, well … They brought in yet another injured starting pitcher (Rich Hill), because with Andrew Friedman’s way of thinking you can never have enough people under contract who are physically unable to compete. They also acquired a jolly good outfielder named Josh Reddick, in the process acknowledging that the deal is like the chemotherapy to rid themselves of their Puignoma.

Bottom line: yes, the rotation is in tatters, but it wouldn’t be in such a mess if Friedman hadn’t acquired so many injury-prone players in the first place.

Lakers: Earlier today, the team’s pursuit of guard Russell Westbrook for next offseason ended. Yeah, Westbrook figured why wait 11 months to give Jim Buss the finger when he could do so today. Westbrook re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. A bench jockey for OKC took to Twitter to laugh at the Lakers, to which I would reply “You realize you’re no longer a title contender either, right? … Do you really want Kevin Durant to tweet what he thinks about you?”

Larry Nance Jr. apparently injured something and I don’t care much.

Clippers: The Los Angeles Times reports Paul Pierce spent $2.23 million on a residence in the area, which means he’s renting a closet in the back of a Whole Foods Market. Wakka wakka!

Galaxy: In securing a 1-1 result in Seattle on Sunday, the Galaxy pulled a remarkable little feat by not losing road games throughout Cascadia — Seattle (win and a draw), Portland (win) and Vancouver (win). For the uninitiated, it doesn’t sound like much. Portland is the defending league champs and the other two did reach the playoffs last year. Teams tend to mail their effort in when they travel in MLS. The Galaxy didn’t. Credit where it’s due.

Rams: I’m still genuinely thrilled that the Rams returned home. I honestly am. And then I recall they’re playing their first few seasons hereSigh.

Here’s an item to slide into your “no sh-t” file: ESPN wrote that in “position battles to watch for all 32 NFL teams,” it’s quarterback Case Keenum vs. No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m in such a foul mood, I get that way every time I see some asshat with “lipstick” tattooed on his neck. Sure, playa.

Kings: They sold one of their minor-league teams to a group of trust fund babies in Boston and the sooner I finish typing that, the better.

The week in LA sports (6/9/16-6/16/16)

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com asked a fair question: Why can’t we wait until the end of LeBron James’ career before we talk about his legacy?

The answer: Look to your competitors over at ESPN. James is a 31-year-old man. He came into the league at age 18 and was annointed the next Jordan back then by the network, and this was before the network debuted “First Take” and infected the nation with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. That cheaply produced hype show begat many more. Now, ESPN has 11 shows that feature at least two opinion flingers disguised as journalists chucking poo disguised as original thought.

And all of them, as recently as last year’s NBA Finals, still called James the greatest of all time even though he was about to lose yet another title shot.

I wish I didn’t have to write that. I don’t hate LeBron James. He’s had a damn good career to me.

But don’t direct “legacy” talk here like it’s my fault. Blame ESPN.

Now to the SoCal teams:

Dodgers: There is no good news on the horizon. The team simply can’t hit, aside from shortstop Corey Seager, and can’t pitch, outside of the incredible Clayton Kershaw. At their current pace, the $250 million roster with the alleged smartest front office in sports history will be sellers at the trade deadline. They are six games behind the Giants and only one Dodgers team has ever rallied from more than seven games out to win the division.

The Dodgers have not been to the World Series, let alone won one, since 1988. Every team in the division has gone since, even the Rockies and Padres. There is no reason to expect that streak to break this year.

I have many more thoughts on this plummet to mediocrity, but i will save that for a later time. 

Lakers and Clippers: I just read a rumor that claimed the Lakers will trade starting point guard D’Angelo Russell and starting forward Julius Randle to the Boston Celtics for the No.3 overall pick. Let me get this straight: Two starters — your two best players — to your worst rival for a couple of draft picks?

Now do you see why sports blogs aren’t worth a bucket of chum?

So let’s keep it simple: The Lakers have the following picks — the No.2 overall pick in the first round and the 32nd overall pick. They need height and shooters. In my opinion, they will take the best player available with No. 2 and the best center available at No.32.

The Clippers have the 25th and 33rd overall picks. They could use help at small forward and so-called “wing” players.
The draft will be held one week from tonight, June 23.

Rams: The death of former running back and career criminal Lawrence Philips in prison was ruled a suicide. I’ll shed fake tears the moment I find a needle.

New quarterback Jared Goff finally got to run plays with the first-team offense. The first-team defense confused him, but he said he liked it. In other words, spin. He’s a rookie. He wasn’t going to say anything else, lest he look like a punk.

Kings: Priority free agent Milan Lucic and the team are at a bit of an impasse in contract talks. It doesn’t appear to be acrimonious. The Kings are standing firm at $6 million per year, which doesn’t sound like much unless it’s the NHL. Then it’s a massive amount of dough.

Galaxy: While many of its top players are part of international tournaments, what was left of the franchise began U.S. Open Cup and earned arguably the ugliest win in franchise history — needing extra time to put away a team of amateurs.

Amateurs. Look at the link. The goalie has a bigger beer gut than I have.

This is my problem with the Galaxy. Not that I expect Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, et al, to play 90 minutes of every match, but this franchise doesn’t take tournaments seriously. The Galaxy is to MLS what the Cowboys are to the NFL. If MLS is going to grow on the world’s stage, the LA Galaxy have to dominate these tournaments.