To state the obvious, the St. Louis Rams were not competitive today, getting crushed on both sides of the line of scrimmage leading to a 31-7 shellacking at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. Now they only have three days to get it together before a huge home test against the San Francisco 49ers. I guess we’ll all see whether or not Coach Jeff Fisher can clean up the issues in pass protection and on the defensive line because if the Rams don’t play [night and day] better from what they did today, it’s going to be ugly in the extreme again.

The Good
— Tavon Austin had a few catches; a dynamic 84-yard punt return touchdown (called back, of course) and another long punt return. He also had a drop, but the total amount of “good” is scarce today.
— Austin Pettis was pretty solid for the second week in a row. He caught a nice touchdown pass in traffic from Sam Bradford.
— TJ McDonald has came along well. He got beat on a touchdown pass and didn’t get his head around, but he hits hard and tackles pretty well. I think McDonald and Rodney McLeod have played as well or better than what could be expected from two very young and inexperienced guys so far.
— Bradford showed tremendous courage today and made some really nice throws. Of course, he can only throw it and he can’t catch it. While the outcome of the game was mostly in doubt, he had almost no chance to get the ball down the field.
— Nice fumble recovery on the first punt of the game (which, of course, the Rams did nothing with)
— Benny Cunningham appears to be ahead of Isaiah Pead on the depth chart, but I thought Pead showed at least some burst from time to time. I’m not giving up on the guy.
— I like how Janoris Jenkins battles — he made a number of tackles and he fights hard, but I want to know if he is being coached to stand 8 yards plus off the receiver on third and six.

The Bad
— Where was the hurry up offense when the Rams got behind? It worked well against Atlanta, and I don’t understand why the Rams didn’t use it, especially to try and tire out the Dallas defense and slow down the pass rush.
— The Rams were hurt pretty badly on the first coudhwon by a terrible non-call on the Dez Bryan push-off. A harbinger of things to come on a very bad day for the squad.
— I don’t mind the fake field goal try (I called it); I think Johnny Hekker’s pass was high and Stedman Bailey wasn’t wide open, but he had no chance to catch that ball.
— The Rams had ZERO third down conversions until complete garbage time.
— Let’s hope that Jake Long was only out at the end to get Max Starks some reps. The Rams are certainly going to need the guy on Thursday night.
— Joe Barksdale had a tough day (so did the rest of the offensive line).
— Lousy tackling on many of DeMarco Murray’s long runs.
— Where in the hell was Chris Long today? Dude was invisible.
— Will Witherspoon got torched on that last touchdown and was late getting on the field in the confusion when Trumaine Johnson went to the sidelines (let’s hope he’s not hurt)
— William Hayes was hurt, went off twice. Condition unknown. Kendall Langford left with what appeared to be a leg cramp… hopefully that’s all it was. Daryl Richardson barely played.

— I don’t know how much uglier it can get than the Rams’ first half of play on offense. 22 plays, 18 total yards, one first down, 4 sacks and countless hits on Sam Bradford. Idiotic penalties were a factor once again.
— The defensive line was just awful all game. I am more disappointed in the Rams’ lack of a pass rush out of the front four than any other element of the season to date. This is supposed to be a strength for the Rams and Tony Romo had enough time to order pizza, while DeMarco Murray had holes to run through that were simply enormous. Murray alone ran for 175 yards on 26 carries and plenty of those yards were in big chunks.
— Scheme wins, I don’t understand why the Rams didn’t adjust sooner and put another guy in the box to stop the run when it was very clear they could not match up against the Cowboys’ offneisve line.
— The Rams get the ball after the turnover and go backwards five yards!
— The offensive line gave up 6 sacks and 16 quarterback hits, almost getting Bradford killed multiple times.
— The Rams had more drops from the receivers again, and a terrible fumble from Chris Givens killing any chance of getting back in the game.
— The penalties in the return game, leading to a horrible field position, are simply out of control.

It’s really gut check time for the Rams, who simply failed to show up at all today on either side of the line of scrimmage, which is a good way to guarantee that you aren’t going to win an NFL game and a recipe for getting the quarterback killed, which would effectively end the season. Digging these deep early holes has got to stop. The Rams made a nice comeback at home against an average at best Cardinals team in game one of the season, but on the road against good teams, the Rams are just not going to win much if any at all when they shit the bed in the first half. They better find a way for the supposed excellent defensive line to step up their play and they better find a way to dramatically improve their pass blocking or else they are going to see more of the same against the 49ers. They sure better hope that Jake Long isn’t injured.

Against all logic, I actually expect a strong showing at home on Thursday night. The Rams can close the book on this one and move on. If they beat the Niners, they’ll be 2-2 through a very tough schedule and the season is very much alive for a chance at real success and not just mediocrity. If they don’t improve from how they played today, they will obviously be a bottom feeder in the league just like they’ve been for the better part of the last decade.


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