Rams vs. Cowboys: Live Game Grades, Player Analysis for St. Louis

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 25, 2012

Rams vs. Cowboys: Live Game Grades, Player Analysis for St. Louis

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    The St. Louis Rams wrapped up their third preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys with a disappointing 20-19 loss. 

    The starters were completely overwhelmed and sloppy, but the backups were able to show some promise and score a few touchdowns, which made the game interesting. 

    There's certainly plenty for the Rams to work on this week as they prepare for the preseason finale against Baltimore on Thursday, August 30. 

    But for now, read on for grades and analysis from the Rams' performance against Dallas

Quarterbacks B-

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    Q4 Kellen Clemens/Austin Davis—A

    Kellen Clemens and Austin Davis split time in the final quarter and were able so excel. 

    Clemens threw a touchdown pass to Austin Pettis to keep the Rams in the game, but an injury forced Clemens out of the game and put Davis into the action. 

    Davis was phenomenal. He scrambled, completed passes and flat out charged down the field for a touchdown. 

    I talked about it last week and I'll say it again—Davis is challenging Clemens for the No.2 job. No one is talking about it now, but it's happening. 

    Q3 Kellen Clemens—C+

    Kellen Clemens was pretty pedestrian in the passing game. He hit Brian Quick in stride for a nice 39-yard gain, but that was the only real highlight. 

    Clemens was efficient, going 5-for-8 in the third quarter, but wasn't able to consistently move the chains and score points. 

    We'll see if he picks up momentum in the final quarter. 

    Q2 Sam Bradford—D

    Sam Bradford was able to maintain some level of production in the first quarter despite some errors by his teammates, but Bradford began to contribute to those errors in the second quarter. 

    Bradford was missing open receivers, taking too long to release the ball and he flat out looked ineffective. 

    Q1 Sam Bradford—A-

    Quarterback Sam Bradford has been effective throughout the entire preseason and has continued that success against Dallas so far. 

    He found Brandon Gibson for a first-down completion on the first drive and hit Lance Kendricks for a 26-yard gain during the second drive. 

    Bradford was hurt from a dropped pass by Kendricks on a short pass, and he was also sacked after left guard Quinn Ojinnaka was beat. 


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    The offense was pedestrian throughout the first three quarters, but the backups were able to dominate the final quarter with two touchdowns. 

    Running back Chase Reynolds picked up 19 yards on four carries, including a touchdown, while tight end Michael Hoomanwanui was a solid bailout option for the quarterback. 

    It was very encouraging to see the backups perform at a high level. 


    The offense was unable to score any points in the third quarter, so it's hard to give them much credit. 

    On the bright side, Daryl Richardson is running with a lot of heart and had 51 yards on 10 carries by the end of the third quarter.

    Rookie receiver Brian Quick took a thunderous hit and his return was considered questionable, but he came back into the game and caught a pass in stride for a 39-yard gain.

    Overall, the Dallas defense kept the offense contained for the entire quarter.  


    The offense was once again unable to punch in a touchdown, but the final drive of the second quarter saved the grade. 

    Daryl Richardon dropped a pass in the red-zone, but he is running hard and displaying dangerous speed. Richardson is a seventh-round pick, but he is looking like a far superior back in comparison to second-round pick Isaiah Pead, who continues to struggle. 

    It's also frustrating to see the receivers incapable of getting open inside the 10-yard-line. The Rams spent a high second-round pick on the 6'4", 220-pound Brian Quick. Why is he riding the bench while the tiny starting receivers are being jail pounded by the Dallas secondary? 


    Steven Jackson did not carry the ball in the first quarter but did see action on passing downs, but there's no reason to risk injury to Jackson by having him pound it away. 

    In Jackson's absence, the Rams have been forced to utilize rookie Isaiah Pead, who has struggled to gain yards throughout the preseason. Pead has three carries for only five yards against Dallas. 

    The offensive line has struggled to create run lanes for Pead, while they also allowed a sack and committed a false start penalty. 

    The offense has made several nice plays, but they are playing with no rhythm whatsoever. 


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    The Rams defense forced a three-and-out in the final quarter and allowed just two first downs in what was a solid effort. 

    Their performance in the fourth quarter was worthy of an "A", if not for the 16-yard quarterback scramble they allowed on the final drive, which prevented the Rams offense from getting another chance to go for the win.  


    The St. Louis defense prevented Dallas from scoring in the third quarter, so they got the job done. 

    They forced a punt on the first drive and then got a three-and-out on the second drive. They certainly improved in the third quarter, but the second-string defensive linemen were completely incapable of applying pressure. 


    The defense once again gave up too many yards and far too many completions, but the Rams were able to shutdown the Dallas offense in the second quarter and prevent them from scoring outside of a last-second field goal. 

    Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar came up with a huge hit on Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton and forced a fumble, which really saves the defense's grade, but we still saw poor coverage and ugly tackling.


    The defense struggled against Indianapolis and are once again incapable of keeping the opposing offense in check. 

    Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has been generating nothing but positive reviews up to this point, has been poor in coverage and has displayed consistently pitiful tackling. 

    The rest of the secondary has been allowing the receiver to make completions way too easily, which has been a common theme this preseason. 

    The defensive line has created pressure at times, but they have been anything but consistent. 

    Overall, the two long touchdown receptions the defense gave up to Dwayne Harris is inexcusable. 

Special Teams —A-

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    The tackling and coverage was once again solid, but backup kicker Garrett Lindholm missed an extra point, which counts for a significant loss of points on the grade scale. 


    Nothing overly exciting occurred in the third quarter with the special teams unit, but they continued to get the job done at a high level. 

    Special teams remains the only true positive for the Rams in this game. 


    If the Rams can take one positive away from the first half, it's their high-quality special teams play. 

    The tackling in coverage continues to be solid, while Zuerlein nailed a 52-yard kick for his third 50-yarder of the preseason. 

    But the highlight of the first half came when they faked a punt and Matt Daniels ran for a 30-yard gain and a first down. 


    Isaiah Pead has two nice kickoff returns so far this game and kicker Greg Zuerlein was able to nail a 55-yard field goal for the Rams' only score. 

    The coverage has been solid with physical and effective tackling. 


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    Before the final offensive drive of the game, quarterback Tom Brandstater was warming up on the sidelines, but Jeff Fisher was smart to stick with Austin Davis. 

    The decision to keep Davis in the game resulted in a touchdown and a shot at winning the game. 

    Also, some might criticize Fisher for not going for two after the final touchdown, which would have tied the game, but Fisher made the right call by not allowing the game to go into overtime.

    There's no need to risk injury in the preseason thanks to overtime. 


    Jeff Fisher removed the starters in order to give them some rest for the regular season, which was a solid move on his part. 

    It's also encouraging to see some players, like Daryl Richardson, remain in the game for extended reps. Some of these guys will be depended on, but they need more game experience. 


    Jeff Fisher was wise to take center Scott Wells out of the game and preserve him for the regular season, which is a courtesy he also offered to Steven Jackson, who didn't carry the the ball once in the first half. 

    On top of that, Fisher made another veteran decision when he called a timeout during the final two minutes in order to give the refs a chance to review a fumble by Dallas. 

    The fumble was never called, which was a major mistake on the ref's part, but it was a smart decision nonetheless. 


    Jeff Fisher called a challenge early in the game that gave the Rams defense an incompletion, so it was a good call on his part. 

    Other than that, there have been no noticeable coaching decisions that have effected the game.