The day in St. Louis started with flames that grew out of control. This was something I totally expected. However, I though it would be the Steelers lighting up the turf inside the Edward Jones Dome, not the literal fire from the Rams’ pre-game introductions.
When the blaze was subdued and the turf repaired, Pittsburgh began to light up. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connected 6 times for 71 yards in the first quarter, and I was ready to see the scoreboard begin to shine. Yet, St. Louis was able to bend, not break and only allow a field goal in the first stanza.
Despite what appeared to be contrary, the Rams even controlled the Steelers running attack, not only in the first quarter, but the entire game. What made that seem impossible was that Le’Veon Bell, who made his first appearance of the season due to a suspension, was all overt the field catching 7 balls for 70 yards.
With a halftime score of 9-3, due to Pittsburgh’s failed two-point conversion, the game seemed available for the taking by St. Louis. When Roethlisberger went down with a knee injury, the victory was certainly there for the Rams to earn. However, like so many games before in what is now the second Decade Of Decadence, the loyal St. Louis fans were let down once again, as the Steelers escaped with a 12-6 win.
The Jeff Fisher nostalgic brand of football was almost on full display yesterday, as the Rams had the services of their prized first round pick, Todd Gurley. I use the word “almost,” because Gurley was being eased into the offense. As the weeks progress, he will carry the ball a lot more than the 6 attempts in his NFL debut.
The problem is Fisherball isn’t going to work if the play calling remains stagnant. A change in offensive coordinators hasn’t produced any different outcomes.
With a chance to take control of the game, the Rams were boring and predictable on offense. Too many run plays interrupted momentum for St. Louis. That’s hard to believe with the Rams running the ball only 18 times between five different players, but it’s true. The commitment to the run at the wrong times cost St. Louis their second win of the season.
Fisher himself said in his post game press conference that his “biggest area of concern” was scoring, as it should be. One touchdown in the last two games and a 16.7 points per game average (30th best in the NFL) are a disgrace.
Not All Coaching
The greatest game plans ever created are useless without players executing them. Yesterday, the Rams certainly let down their coaches with poor execution. Lance Kendricks dropped the ball twice, including one that would’ve likely been a touchdown, and Jared Cook dropped a pass on the final drive for St. Louis. If Kendricks hangs on either of his drops, Cook may not have even needed to be relied upon late in the game. While these two seem to be plagued with stone hands, their teammates continue to share in the blame also, including Nick Foles and the offensive line.
Britt Breaks Out
For just the third time in his two season with the Rams, Kenny Britt had more than 100 yards receiving. The disappointing free agent caught 7 passes for 102 yards and nearly secured an eighth pass that would’ve extended the final drive by St. Louis. I’m not blaming Britt for what was officially called a drop. That was a tough play. If he can carry momentum from yesterday and be consistent the rest of this season, the Rams might get their money’s worth from his signing, which would be a first under this regime.
Three And Out
Yes. This is a way to describe much of the St. Louis offense. More specifically, the sequence is run, run, throw short of the first down marker then punt.
This phrase also prepares us for what’s next for the Rams. They travel to Arizona, to Green Bay, have a bye week then face Cleveland at home. At the end of this stretch, St. Louis will probably be out of any realistic playoff contention. While a win over the Browns is possible, there’s no way the Rams beat the Cardinals or Packers without major injuries to those teams or ridiculous turnovers leading directly to touchdowns for St. Louis.
I expect the Rams record to be 1-5 after that stretch. Even if St. Louis defeats Cleveland, I see the season win total capped at five, unless major changes are made to the offensive approach, and I don’t mean the addition of Gurley running the ball twenty times per game.
Around The Horns
- James Laurinaitis is now the career leader in tackles for the Rams organization (Los Angeles and Cleveland included). The former Buckeye won’t have a bust in Canton, but his consistency and longevity in St. Louis are fantastic accomplishments.
- Copy & Paste: Brian Quick was inactive again. Fisher said he’s concerned about the offense, so perhaps it’s time for Quick to play in a game.
- The Rams were 2-10 on third downs and 0-2 on fourth downs, including Johnny Hekker’s bad throw on a fake punt.
- The penalty total was 7 for 47 yards, including a false start in the Red Zone.
- Tavon Austin had zero carries, but he was about to be given the ball on second and goal if not for the aforementioned false start. That play would have been unsuccessful also.