St. Louis Rams: Grading the 27-23 Loss to Detroit

David Heeb@@DavidHeebCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 18: Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams looks on during a pre-season game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome on August 18, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images


Sam Bradford (17/25, 198 yards, one TD, no INTs, 105.1 QBR)—Bradford played well. He just doesn't have the same kind of weapons that Matthew Stafford has. If you give Bradford one elite receiver like Calvin Johnson, it would make every other reciever on this roster better. GRADE: B+

Steven Jackson (21 carries for 53 yards, four catches for 38 yards, no TDs)—Jackson battled hard against a tough defensive front. It's obvious the Rams have a long way to go if they are going to be the smash-mouth running team they hope to be. Jackson was simply above average in this game. GRADE: C+

Rams Receivers—Danny Amendola had five catches for 70 yards. Brandon Gibson had a nice second half, catching four balls for 51 yards and the Rams' lone TD. Outside of those two, the Rams' best receiver was Steven Jackson.

The tight ends managed only three catches, compared to 12 from the Detroit tight ends. Highly touted rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens combined for a goose egg.

To be fair, Givens did get about seven yards behind the defense only to have Bradford miss him. Quick didn't even get on the field. This group looked only slightly better than the pathetic group the Rams had last year. GRADE: D+

Offensive Line—Considering that the starting center and left tackle went down with injuries, and the starting left guard had to slide over to center, they didn't play that badly. Bradford was sacked three times and hit a few others, but the line did a decent job against a really good defensive front. GRADE: B-

Defensie Line—This group managed only one sack, as the Rams opted to rush three and drop eight for large chunks of the game. It's hard to argue with that strategy, since it worked for three-and-a-half quarters.

But the line didn't live up to the enormous hype it received in the preseason. The NFL all-time sack record looks safe after all. GRADE: C


Linebackers—Jo-Lonn Dunbar had an interception, and James Laurinaitis was all over the field. Since the Rams were in so much nickel coverage, they rarely had three linebackers on the field. They struggled to cover the tight ends, which has been a theme throughout the preseason.

Overall, it was a "big play, big miss" type of game from this group. GRADE: C+

Secondary—Sure, the Rams picked off Stafford twice. But they also gave up 355 passing yards. The Rams' secondary is easily the most improved part of this team, but I believe it still has miles to go before we really see it play its best football. GRADE: B

Special Teams—Greg Zeurlein made all three of his field goals. Jonny Hekker booted a 57-yard punt that pinned the Lions inside their 10-yard line. Isaiah Pead had a 25-yard kick return. The Rams' special teams were bright spot. GRADE: A

Coaching—I love the blueprint for this team: Pound the run, keep it close, play it safe, kick field goals and try to to steal wins in the fourth quarter. With 17 rookies on the roster, a paper-thin offensive line  and a pedestrian receiving corps, that's how the Rams are going to have to play.

Having said that, when you find yourself against a team with a depleted secondary like Detroit had, I think you have to take chances in the passing game. The Rams figured this out, just a little too late.

The blueprint is spot on for this team. But the in-game adjustments in this game should have come quicker. GRADE: B+