Sometimes all it takes is a little push one way or the other to get an opinion off of the fence and into reality. That’s exactly what happened for the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night as they were absolutely throttled by the San Francisco 49ers at home 35-11.
And the score truly doesn’t depict just how lopsided this game was in terms of who you actually thought was going to win the game at any given point. Now obviously a 24-point victory indicates a serious beatdown, but with less than two minutes left in the first half a Sam Bradford interception in the end zone is all that kept the Rams from actually carrying a lead into halftime.
Regardless of that fact, two serious issues reared their ugly heads in this game for St. Louis. The Rams are utterly inept in the run game offensively, and they really have some serious issues trying to stop their opponents on the ground as well. 18 net yards rushing for the Rams marks the fourth time in as many weeks that the team’s total on the ground has declined. Week 1 was nothing to write home about with just 67 yards to start the season, but only 36 in Week 2 and 35 in Week 3 only further underscored the issue.
Daryl Richardson has been a huge disappointment in a feature back role after showing flashes last year as the second fiddle to Steven Jackson, and Isaiah Pead was inexplicably deactivated for Thursday night’s game. It’s almost like this team refuses to acknowledge that the run game must be part of its repertoire, and that seems impossible with a Jeff Fisher coached team. His propensity to run the rock only further muddles the mess that is the Rams offense.
But that’s nothing compared to a defense that has been assaulted through the air over the past few weeks only to get thoroughly dominated on the ground in Week 4. San Francisco’s 219 net rushing yards were just inexcusable as Frank Gore – yes, the same guy that has been buried by various pundits this season – went 20 carries for 153 yards for a whopping 7.6 yards per carry. Just to put a cherry on top of this debacle, the Rams also are expected to lose rookie safety T.J. McDonald now to a broken leg suffered in the third quarter.
Now obviously the Rams are still a young and developing team, but this type of performance just won’t cut it. Young teams have made some noise in the NFL in the past, and the Rams themselves nearly made it to .500 last season. Playing at home, short week or not, this showing completely shatters any hope for this team taking the next step in 2013.
On the bright side, the Washington Redskins are 0-3 and the Rams have their first round pick in the spring. Given their current trajectory it’s more than plausible that St. Louis could be the holders of two top 10 picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.