If there’s one thing that the St. Louis Rams have had difficulty with in this young NFL season it’s defending a legit No. 1 receiver. That task won’t get any easier in Week 3 with a visit to Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys on the ledger, but at least the team can zero in on its biggest weakness heading into the third game of the season.
Many believed the secondary would be an issue for this young Rams squad coming into the 2013 season, but it’s to believe any could have imagined it being such a glaring cause for concern. Week 1 set off mild alarms with the Arizona Cardinals completing passes with ease and spreading the wealth amongst their receiving corps. Despite this, their top target, Larry Fitzgerald, still managed to outshine his teammates with eight catches for 80 yards and two big touchdowns on the day. He routinely abused Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan in coverage giving the Rams very few options to slow him down.
Week 2 saw the Atlanta Falcons without a healthy Roddy White still manage to dictate things through the air with their top weapon, Julio Jones. His outing was monumental with 11 grabs for 182 yards and one ridiculous 81-yard touchdown catch. He continued the trend of making the Rams’ corners look silly and had a serious impact on the outcome of the game.
So now the Rams face a third consecutive massive task in the aforementioned Dez Bryant who has been on a tear since midway through last season. His first game of 2013 was nothing to write home about, but he woke up last week with a nine catch effort for 141 yards and a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs. In his last 10 regular season games dating back to last season, Bryant has hauled in a touchdown in eight of those contests with 11 scores in total. If the Rams want to stay within striking distance in Week 3, they must keep Bryant under wraps at all costs.
Obviously that’s easier said than done given the insane streak of dominance he’s been on as mentioned above, but bracket coverage is always an option. The Rams have good enough personnel in their front four to generate some pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and force some errant throws, but unless they can get home on the pass rush every single play, finding alternatives in coverage is a must.
Head coach Jeff Fisher must devise a plan to prevent Bryant from taking over the game in the same fashion as the last two top receivers the Rams faced this season. He and defensive coordinator Tim Walton have to get the secondary on the same page and looking out for one another to keep Bryant in front of them. Eliminating the huge, backbreaking plays on defense will go a long way toward getting the Rams back in win column in Dallas.