Now we’re supposed to believe in Josh McDaniels?

In the nanoseconds after Jeff Fisher’s deserved dismissal as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, rumors started to circulate about potential successors. The Jim Harbaugh one was particularly hilarious, but at least it’s not distressing.

Current Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels? Now that’s one that will bring grief.

Here’s the logic from your local NFL beat writer: Well, he’s helped create a scoring machine in New England. He did coach the Denver Broncos. He’s only 40, so he must be an innovator. And he’s learned the game under the great Bill Belichick.

Oh, Belichick is excellent at what he does … but creating great future NFL coaches is not one of them. Since everything that builds up McDaniels’ resume stems from working with the great Bill Belichick, we can reach a conclusion that hiring him would be a disastrous move by the Rams.

How do we know?

Let’s take it apart brick by brick. First of all, the Patriots aren’t necessarily a great offense because of McDaniels. They have this guy playing quarterback that you might have heard of.

Yes, McDaniels did manage to open with a six-game winning streak in his first year with Denver. Then he followed that by losing the last four games of the season to miss the playoffs. Afterward, he convinced the Broncos to invest the 25th overall pick of 2010 on Tim Tebow. McDaniels was later fired when the Broncos started 2010 with a 3-9 record.

That was about six years ago. In the meantime, he also served as the Rams offensive coordinator. You don’t think they had their fill of him when he was with the franchise the first time?

Finally comes the alleged Belichick coaching lineage. You’ve learned under the master, right?

Wrong, at least at the NFL level. Nobody is going to question the accomplishments of former Belichick assistant Nick Saban at the college level. But six Belichick assistants have gotten at least one opportunity to lead an NFL team. Of that, only three managed to reach the NFL playoffs and two managed to win a playoff game — Eric Mangini and Bill O’Brien.

O’Brien is the only former Belichick assistant working as a head coach in the NFL. He’s currently trying to figure out how to win games with Brock Osweiler under center in Houston.

Other super geniuses from the tutelage of Belichick include Jim Schwartz, Al Groh and Romeo Crennel. As for college, Kirk Ferentz is well-respected in Iowa, but Charlie Weis reduced Notre Dame to rubble.

Which brings us back to McDaniels, who supposedly has the tool set to turn Jared Goff into Tom Brady.

Patriots assistant coaches are the cockroaches of professional football. The hype that surrounds them — this aura in a hoodie syndrome — convinces beat writers to argue on their behalf. Make your team like the Patriots. Hire a Patriots assistant.

It’s the same argument that Madison Avenue made when it claimed wearing Uggz boots will land you in bed with Gisele Bundchen lookalikes. It’s fool’s gold. You have to pass on it.

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, 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.

Since I can’t see the Rams in LA…

I lucked out Sunday. StubHub had a front row seat for me to watch the Rams in a drunken stupor.

I mean, I was the one in the drunken stupor, not the Rams. Whoops.

Anyway, they beat Tampa Bay 37-32, and I think I speak for sports fans from sea to shining sea when I say there are few things sweeter in life than your team winning a road game that you witness.

But from that excellent vantage point, there is not a strong list of reasons to believe the Rams are going to make the NFL playoffs. This game was more about cleaning up unfinished business, such as scoring their first touchdown — which Case Keenum did on the Rams first possession, a 44-yard pass to Brian Quick.

While long pass plays draw an emotional reaction, it underscored a simple reality: the Bucanneers have a horrible pass defense. Consider Keenum threw two TD passes. The second came to Tavon Austin on a similarly long pass play. On both plays, the cornerback didn’t have help from the safeties — whose primary responsibility is to prevent the deep ball.

When receivers turn around and backpedal in the act of catching a football, that’s because the receiver is so wide open he can almost signal for a fair catch.

L.A. can surely be pleased with its defensive line depth, which was considered an elite group before the Rams returned. Aaron Donald was said by NFL pundits to be on the level of Houston’s all-everything J.J. Watt prior to the season. Sunday, he deflected two passes. Even more important, for two consecutive weeks, Robert Quinn forced an opposing quarterback to fumble. Jameis Winston’s fumble Sunday was returned for a TD.

That praise has to be tempered, though. A Rams defensive lineman has been ejected two times in three games. I did not see what Eugene Sims did to earn his ejection, but as we used to say when someone at the party was about to throw up, “Dude, you’ve got to maintain.”

Even more alarming is that Winston threw for 405 yards Sunday. How much of that is on the Rams cornerbacks as opposed to the line, I’m not sure. However, as the Rams will be playing an excellent Arizona Cardinals offense this week, the gut feeling is L.A.’s defense might get further exposed.

Todd Gurley rushed for 85 yards that weren’t particularly noticeable, except for excellent balance on a touchdown run.

The upshot is this: The Rams aren’t a bad football team. In my opinion, in the NFL, with the exception of elite franchises or the utterly awful ones, all teams in the middle can be counted on to play a horrible game every four weeks. Why did the Buffalo Bills crush the Cardinals 33-18? Because Arizona is pretty damn good, but not elite. All of those teams in the middle will play way over their heads a couple of times a year and most can’t get out of their own way once a month.

The Rams had their September stinker in San Francisco to start the year, a 28-0 loss that still makes me cringe.

So it will take a lot more than five touchdowns against another middle-of-the-road team to see Los Angeles as more than what it is, especially since October is coming with one game sure to be a stink bomb in the process.

Which is sobering reality.

You should take the Rams on MNF

The first time the Rams were in Los Angeles, for you young whippersnappers out there, this was the game circled on the calendar. The gold and blue would head north to play their geographical rivals. You’ve heard of the Dodgers and Giants being bitter, and they are, but baseball is not inherently a violent game.

Add a five-hour alcohol fueled tailgate in a miserable place to play football, such as Candlestick Park, and it was on.

Back then, the 49ers of the 1980s-90s were loaded, to boot. Players of such skill and accomplishment — five Super Bowls to their credit — that naming those players only wastes further time to talk about tonight’s game.

So here’s the point about tonight: I see no logical rationale that San Francisco beats the Rams tonight.

Well, there is one. The Niners have won their last five openers, even the last couple of seasons when they’ve been lousy. Last year, for instance, they beat down Minnesota 20-3, and the Vikings went to the playoffs.

San Francisco also took out Green Bay twice, Seattle and Dallas in that run. Los Angeles has been mediocre at best during that time.

But intellect suggests you take the Rams.

The thing with football culture is stability. Don’t get me wrong. Of course you want talent, ferocity, size, speed. But all of those needed attributes of 11 men have to weld together into one stable unit. The 49ers, at this point, are anything but.

They have a new coach in Chip Kelly who was wildly unpopular, and maligned as a megalomaniac, when he was dismissed in Philadelphia. Think of the fanboy reaction to Jared Leto as the Joker in “Suicide Squad” and then add 250 pounds to the actor’s frame. Miscast. Tone deaf. Self-righteous. An irritant, like fingernails on a chalkboard.

He brings a spread offense to a team that reached the Super Bowl because of a run-based I-formation offense. New coach with drastically different philosophy equals lack of cohesion at the start of a season.

Now add a gallon of perceived social injustice to the mix. This is the team whose backup quarterback started the sit/kneel/frown/fist-in-the-air protest during the national anthem. ESPN for the first time will keep a live camera on the 49ers bench instead of cutting to commercial just to see how many teammates are going to protest.

I see a team that wants to make a statement about the police instead of playing football at the highest level.

I think the Rams, behind a rested Todd Gurley, will trample San Francisco with the same bludgeoning running game that was once the Niners forte. I don’t think it will be a blowout. Running teams rarely win by three touchdowns. But win they do, so the Rams will fly back to their new home with a win tonight of 24-13.

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.

Austin, the Rams huge offensive risk

Last night, before the Los Angeles Rams played an exhibition game against defending Super Bowl champ Denver, the team announced it will pay wide receiver Tavon Austin $42 million by extending his contract through the 2021 season.

And then they didn’t score a touchdown and lost 17-9.

Granted, it’s an exhibition game against the Broncos and their elite defense, and Austin by all accounts is a quality guy to have on the team.

But this curious move sounds like one that will backfire.

The amount of money Austin will earn makes him — in NFL parlance — a “true No. 1 receiver.” There isn’t any evidence to suggest he is one. For example, the No. 8 overall pick from 2013 reached career highs last season with 52 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 907 yards from scrimmage.

Note that I didn’t write 907 reception yards. A true No. 1 receiver should be counted on to approach 1,000 per season. He’s never had more than 500. Also, a true No. 1 receiver should challenge for 100 receptions in a season. Coach Jeff Fisher sees that as a possibility. But until there’s evidence to back it up, you’re asking Austin to double his output based on a hunch.

That’s $42 million worth of conjecture you’re trying to fit under a salary cap.

So Austin should be paid on the level of Dez Bryant, Julio Jones or Demaryius Thomas? I don’t see it, particularly when you also consider that his presence on the field doesn’t necessarily lead to other opportunities for the rest of a poor Rams receiving corps. A true No. 1 receiver should draw double teams, leading to open teammates. That didn’t happen last year, either.

To be clear, the Rams’ first-team struggles during the exhibition season have been wisely self-inflicted. L.A.’s offense is based on the production of running back Todd Gurley, last season’s offensive rookie of the year. Fisher held Gurley out of all but one offensive series. The Chargers used to do the same thing with LaDainian Tomlinson, knowing the back would be getting the ball 30-plus times per game. Why expose Gurley to extra pointless hits?

But to deserve $42 million, you’re supposed to be on a level where you can produce even when Gurley is on the bench.

This contract is another land mine in the DMZ that is L.A’s offense. The franchise traded a handful of draft picks for quarterback Jared Goff, who won’t play at the start of the year but that’s an acceptable risk. Gurley not playing is an acceptable risk.

Austin’s contract makes three risks — which should give people pause — just like the Rams offense could be hesitating in their return to Southern California.

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.

For once, I’m dreading the NFL season

We all have different sets of friends, because we go through different phases in life.

With regards to professional football, I have two phases. Two sets of friends align themselves rather neatly with those phases.

There are the people who have known me for much of my adulthood, as a fan of the Oakland Raiders.

Then there are the people who knew me growing up, when I loved the Los Angeles Rams.

If you are a male sports fan, you’re going to see where this gets awkward really soon.

The Rams were the first professional sports team in Los Angeles, arriving from Cleveland in 1946, predating the Lakers and Dodgers by quite a few years. They spent almost 50 years in SoCal, establishing an identity of rugged line play and those super-cool ram horns on the helmets, the first ever design on NFL headgear.

They were often threats to get to the Super Bowl, but never won one. Didn’t matter. I still think Eric Dickerson might be the greatest running back who ever lived. I still think Jack Youngblood playing in a Super Bowl with a broken leg is one of the most macho things I’ve ever seen. And this is one damn cool way to finish an NFL playoff game.

Only they left for St. Louis in 1994. I was going to tell you why they left, but then I looked at what I was writing and this post was turning into a treatise on why I’m happy owner Georgia Frontiere is dead. I erased all of that. Perhaps another rant…

Anyway, considering how American men love football, I was an oddball in that I had no favorite football team for years. There was no way in hell I would ever root for the St. Louis Rams. One of the darker days of my life was when Kurt Warner led them to a Super Bowl win. I was absolutely furious.

After at least five years of vacantly staring at Animal Planet on Sundays, I started rooting for the Oakland Raiders. Why is another long story that I will skip. But I stuck by the Raiders for many lean years, including three as a season ticket holder. The Raiders current run of missing the playoffs stands at 11 seasons. When I choose a team to root for, I am nothing if not faithful.

Or am I?

Because the Rams have moved back to Los Angeles. They’ll be playing in the Coliseum in downtown until a new stadium is constructed in Inglewood. Their first game with “Los Angeles” back in the name comes Saturday.

And I’m truly torn. Not weeping into a velvet handkerchief torn, but this is more of a midlife crisis than when I noticed my hair was thinning.

It’s kind of a man law. You’re not supposed to ditch favorite teams unless the circumstances are extreme. There would be no such thing as Mets fans had the Giants and Dodgers not left New York for California. This is akin to the Dodgers rebuilding Ebbets Field and returning to Brooklyn.

I caught myself looking at Rams gear online today. That cool ram horn logo. “Welcome back” sweatshirts. Then photos of the team working out in the Coliseum, where I watched them play when I was a child.

Only now the Raiders are a pretty damn good football team and I stuck with them through thick and thin. And there was more than a decade of thin.

There is no simple answer. The Raiders have been like a bitter second wife who realized you might leave and took up a Zumba class to avoid a divorce. The Rams are like a high school sweetheart you just happened to run into a month after she had breast augmentation.

I’d say I’d pray over it, but even Pope Francis can’t excuse this.

I have maybe a month before the regular season kicks off to figure it out.

The week in L.A. sports (6/3/16-6/9/16)

I’m writing this a day early, because watching these commercials for the upcoming “Ghostbusters” bomb during the NBA Finals is making me bitter. I know people like NBA players, but you can’t trick me into making me think it’s “Space Jam” by adding Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony to the ads. If this hunk of cinematic phlegm is so great, and it likely isn’t, where are the stars of the movie in the ads?

I’ll take a deep breath now. On to the teams…

Dodgers: The team continues to tread the waters of Lake Inferior, but made a rather noteworthy player transaction this weekend by designating Carl Crawford for assignment. That’s a fancy-pants way of saying “you’re so bad, we will pay you not to be on the team.” Considering that he’s owed $35 million, that’s an intense level of bad.

What’s particularly striking about that decision is that nobody thought this golden parachute was a bad idea even though the Dodgers could only manage one base hit in Monday’s loss.

LA also cut Cuban defector Alex Guerrero, who hadn’t been seen in the majors since before Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy.

Lakers: Elite draft prospect Brandon Ingram is scheduled to showcase his wares in a private workout session for the team in El Segundo today. They have yet to schedule one with consensus top pick Ben Simmons. Make of that what you will.

There’s also a bit of a pissing match over whether the 1980s “Showtime” Lakers could beat the modern-day Golden State Warriors. Everybody said the obvious things and at the end of the day, Magic still has HIV for I believe 25 years now. That’s a silver anniversary, right?

Also, Brandon Bass has declined an option in his contract in order to become a free agent. Can you blame him?

Rams: This might not be as sexy a pick as the new quarterback, but if you’re looking for a player to love with the team returning, consider defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who was rated the No.3 overall best player in the NFL by CBS Sports beat writer Pete Prisco. Donald is behind only Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Houston’s multi-talented J.J. Watt.

“He was a dominant inside force for the Rams last season, breaking out into the star category of players. Donald is so quick and strong, even if he is undersized. He had 11 sacks last season and was outstanding against the run,” Prisco wrote. “The ability to get off the ball as quickly as he did sets him apart from the rest of the defensive tackles in the league.”

Clippers: Dude, are I hear about them are wild rumors and the only fantasies I deal with are about women I can’t have.

Galaxy: Major League Soccer is in this funky little pause/non-pause with the Copa America tournament. The Galaxy is missing some of its top players and it showed in that it couldn’t score in a tie against a rather lame Sporting Kansas City.

Kings: General manager Dean Lombardi talked about the team with ESPN “First Take” gasbag Stephen A. Smith. I’d tell you what happened, but I could sense my IQ plummet like a diabetic’s blood-sugar level.