It seems like ancient history, but it was only nine months ago that Jeff Fisher arrived in Miami with a hero's welcome as Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was trying to convince him to be his next head coach.
There was no shortage of speculation in the ensuing couple of weeks as everyone tried to figure out which way Fisher was leaning. The most laughable talking point during those two weeks in January was that if money were the deciding factor, Ross' dollars would win out.
As if St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke would allow himself to be outbid. Once Kroenke decided to fire Steve Spagnuolo and enter the Fisher sweepstakes, there was no way money would be an issue. Deep down, Kroenke and the Rams knew it would be a difficult sell to hoist another head coaching first-timer on a fan base tired of dreadful losing as well as the uncertainty surrounding the franchise's future.
So it was that Fisher officially became the Rams' head coach on Jan. 17, and three days later, the Dolphins hired Joe Philbin. Now, nine months later, the teams get together in South Florida in a game the Dolphins (2-3) need to reach .500, while the Rams (3-2) try to build on division wins over Seattle and Arizona with a win on the road.
The Rams have lost road games this season to Detroit and Chicago, and dating back to last season, they have lost five consecutive games away from the dome. Since 2006, when the Rams were 4-4 on the road, they haven't won more than two road games in a season, and they are 7-35 away from home since the start of the 2007 season.
As running back Steven Jackson said after last Thursday's win over Arizona, "It's big for us, but it doesn't stop here. We've got to continue to build off this. We have a nice little break coming ahead of us, but we've got to face another tough team on the road, and we have to learn how to win on the road."
Linebacker James Laurinaitis said, "The thing I'm proud of is ever since preseason, we were in a groove of lose-win, lose-win. It's been alternating things. So you get two W's in a row; I think we broke that, and now we need to learn how to win on the road."
Asked about the challenge of playing on the road, quarterback Sam Bradford said, "Obviously for us, communication is more of a challenge on the road. Playing on the road, you have to deal with the crowd noise. You've got to deal with the silent count, being able to get everything communicated at the line of scrimmage. Our wide receivers aren't able to hear, so they've got to be tapped into signals. Sometimes, when you're on the road, you've got to overcome adversity.
"When you're at home, you can feed off your crowd, you can feed off of playing at home in an environment that you're really comfortable in, whereas sometimes on the road, you've got to learn to overcome certain things. I think it just comes with going out and doing it. I think once we get one under our belt, hopefully, more will come."
Bradford said there's no secret to winning on the road, it's just a matter of getting it done.
"I don't think it's a confidence-level thing at all," he said. "I think every time we take the field, we're extremely confident in our abilities, in our plan, in our ability to go out there and execute. I think it's just a matter of going out and doing it."
Concluded coach Jeff Fisher, "You've just got to go in there and stay focused and find a way to win it. That's our next challenge. Our next challenge is our next opponent, and it happens to be on the road."