National Football League

Ten Takeaways from Sunday’s 34-31 Loss to Dallas

1. There should be no Rams quarterback controversy. Yes, I know Jeff Fisher says Shaun Hill is still his starter. But Austin Davis should be the guy. I don’t know what Hill can do, but I do know that Davis is 25, has played well in his two starts and has a chance to get much better. When you have the youngest team in the NFL, what sense does it make to go with a 34-year-old QB like Hill when you have someone who can ascend with the team? The Rams aren’t going to the Super Bowl this year. Let Davis learn his craft and rise with the rest of the kids.

austin davis
Austin Davis

2. Gregg Williams may be a great defensive coordinator, but his team has allowed more points than everyone except Jacksonville and Tampa. Granted, Davis has thrown a pair of pick-six interceptions, but the defense leaks like a sieve. No team should ever give up a 21-0 lead.

A team that has led the NFL in sacks over the last two years has one sack through three games, none from Robert Quinn. The Rams lost the turnover battle against Dallas, taking the ball away twice and turning it over three times. The statistics of 155 yards rushing allowed per game, and 5.1 per carry, are both in the bottom half-dozen in the NFL.

Fisher and Williams have a lot to work on over the bye week, and as Fisher said after the game, “our defense needs to get better in all areas right now.”

3. Wouldn’t you think that of all items to communicate about with the Cowboys in town, who is covering Dez Bryant would be at the top of the list? I know miscommunications occur, but when Janoris Jenkins came off Bryant and there was no help deep, I was astounded. I think you have to account for him at all times.

4. There are some alarming trends about the Rams’ 2014 draft class. When the offense went to an offset goal-line formation, Tim Barnes joined the fray as an extra tackle, and when left guard Rodger Saffold had to leave with an equipment issue, Mike Person stepped in. The second pick in the draft, Greg Robinson, stayed on the sideline in a couple of instances when the Rams went to a formation the required a mauler.

Their second first-rounder, Aaron Donald, got playing time on the defensive line (one tackle, behind the line of scrimmage), and second-round pick Lamarcus Joyner (two tackles) was a regular nickel back. Third-round pick Tre Mason did not dress while undrafted running back Trey Watts did, and fourth-round pick Mo Alexander didn’t dress, either.

Super Bowl champion Seattle’s top five picks were second-round wide receiver Paul Richardson out of Colorado (one target, one catch in the Super Bowl rematch vs. Denver) and Mizzou tackle Justin Britt (starting right tackle), plus three fourth-round picks: UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh (four tackles on defense), Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood (inactive) and Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (one special teams tackle as a core special teamer).

In rounds one, two, three and five, Super Bowl runner-up Denver took Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby (five tackles vs. Seattle), Indiana wide reciver Cody Latimer (inactive), Michigan tackle Cody Schofield (inactive) and LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow (one special teams tackle as a core special teamer).

greg robinson
Greg Robinson

I would hope that a team that finished 7-9 and had two of the top 13 picks in the draft would get more out of their draft early on than the two Super Bowl teams from the year before. I understand that the Rams had a nice young core coming back, but isn’t it strange that Seattle has a second-round tackle from Mizzou starting, and the Rams can’t get the second pick on the field as a backup? Alarming.

5. The Rams’ 50 penalties through three games are fifth in the NFL, and their 305 penalty yards are second. It’s really hard to win consistently when you give the opposition 100 yards per game. Sunday’s damage: eight infractions for 119 yards. And you can blame the officials, but as Brad Thompson says in “The Fast Lane,” “don’t like it? Play better.”

6. I had no problem with Fisher going for the jugular on the fourth-and-inches at the Dallas 15 midway through the third quarter. To that point, the Rams had run the ball 22 times, and had been stopped for no gain twice, one of those an end-around to Jared Cook. On that drive, the Rams had runs of 7, 7, 5 and one yards. Good call. Bad execution. Speaking of calls, Brian Schottenheimer had a brilliant game plan and called perhaps the best offensive game since Mike Martz was calling plays.

7. I have a friend who would randomly text me to say Brian Quick was a bust. I have yet to hear from him this season. Quick is ninth in the NFL with 16 catches and 10th in average per catch at 14.7. And he’s done it with Hill and Davis, rather than starter Sam Bradford.

8. I was sitting next to Michelle Smallmon in the press box, and she was mortified that Cook would push Davis after he dropped a touchdown pass. I could see me doing the same thing – a little blackout rage. And Davis understands. “On the sidelines we’re all frustrated, trying to keep it together,” the quarterback said. “I mean that’s stuff happens all the time. We talked, we’re fine. I didn’t even think twice of it.”

9. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put Barnes in as the starting center. Scott Wells has not had a good start, and his fumble was inexcusable. He’s smart and has had a great career, but really has had a bad three games. Barnes is likely the future at that spot, anyway.

10. It was great to have owner Stan Kroenke in the house. He was treated to an entertaining contest. I don’t know if Stan was a football Cardinal fan back in the day, but if he wasn’t, now he knows why I hate the Cowboys. Welcome to my world. The story of my youth was watching Dallas (in their blue jerseys) fall behind early, get all the calls in St. Louis and win a game late. So Sunday was just more of the same for me.