Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The St. Louis Rams had a nightmarish start to their game this week. Last weekend may have been brushed off as just an anomaly by many Rams’ fans, but it appears a disturbing trend is developing which could lead to a long year for the NFL’s youngest team if the issues plaguing this club aren’t fixed quickly.
There are many areas to point at as the reasons why the Rams found themselves on the short end of things against the Dallas Cowboys, but let’s begin with the most obvious. It’s hard to win when all an offense can muster is 18 total yards in the opening half. That pathetic performance was led by a leaky offensive line surrendering sacks from all angles as quarterback Sam Bradford was under siege for much of the game. After not being sacked once in the first two games, the Rams’ signal caller was dropped a staggering six times in Week 3 alone.
The truly wretched showing was underscored by the Rams not managing to record a first-down until midway through the second quarter. It’s certainly no coincidence that the running game was basically useless early in the game with Daryl Richardson not suiting up and Isaiah Pead in charge of the ball carrying duties. He did show some promise including the ability to run tough between the tackles, so perhaps a dedication to the run game featuring Pead will be in the cards moving forward.
As for the other side of the ball, the story begins and ends with getting absolutely gashed by DeMarco Murray on the ground. The yards were surrendered far too easily as the Dallas ball carrier piled up nearly 100 yards in the opening quarter alone before settling on 26 totes for 175 yards on a massive 6.7 yards per carry average.
Giving up yards on the ground at that kind of clip is simply inexcusable for any defense let alone one with Jeff Fisher as the head coach of the football team. There were WAY too many tackles made by defensive backs and coverage linebackers in this game as safeties T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod along with linebacker Alec Ogletree each had seven tackles to lead the team. The defensive line is clearly great at rushing passer, but the lackluster effort stuffing the run is going to really wear on this defense as a unit and force them to stay on the field far too long throughout the course of a given game. Teams are skilled at running the ball successfully will have a field day against this Rams defense.
At the end of the day, the Rams will have to pick up the pieces quickly on a short week as they head home to welcome the hard-nosed division rival San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night football. It’s time for some serious revamping in scheme in order to mask this team’s deficiencies in stopping the run and keeping pass rushers away from their quarterback. If St. Louis can’t address these problems quickly, these season could snowball in the wrong direction in a hurry.