St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Roster Report Card Grades for St. Louis

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIISeptember 22, 2013

St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Roster Report Card Grades for St. Louis

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    DeMarco Murray continues to haunt the St. Louis Rams.

    In 2011, a rookie Murray ran for 253 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries at home against St. Louis. The Dallas Cowboys won 34-7 that day, as the Rams were completely overwhelmed and outmatched.

    Two years later—and after a ton of roster turnover—the Rams were only marginally better, losing 31-7 in Week 3. They were worse against Dallas than they had been in either of their first two games, and it was evident that a comeback wasn’t in the cards as in weeks past.

    The Rams outscored their opponents 28-7 in the fourth quarter en route to 1-1 before meeting the Cowboys, who shut them out in the final frame.

    St. Louis was in trouble early, though: At halftime, the Rams had gained 18 yards from scrimmage.

    Dallas had 12 first downs.

Quarterback

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    Spoiler alert: Sam Bradford didn’t get much help. After staying clean for two games despite holding the ball longer than most other NFL quarterbacks, he was drilled repeatedly and saw several passes get dropped against the Dallas Cowboys.

    He still held the ball for too long too often, though, so he wasn’t completely blameless.

    Bradford finished with 240 yards and a touchdown on 29-of-48 passing.

     

    Grade: C

Running Back

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    Daryl Richardson wasn’t listed as an inactive on Sunday against the Cowboys, but he was nowhere to be found soon after kickoff. He left the game so early that he didn’t record any stats. Benny Cunningham took the first running back carry, and Richardson never got a touch. Cunningham rushed for 16 yards on four carries.

    Isaiah Pead led the team in scrimmage yards in his second game back from suspension. He rushed six times for 20 yards and caught all seven of his targets for 43 more.

    Pead showed a concentration on ball security and made it out of Week 3 without a fumble.

     

    Grade: C

Wide Receiver

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    Tavon Austin (6-of-7) is the only St. Louis Rams wide receiver who caught more than half of his targets against the Dallas Cowboys. Chris Givens (2-of-8), Austin Pettis (2-of-5), Brian Quick (1-of-4) and Stedman Bailey (0-for-1) combined to grab five of their 18 looks.

    There were some errant Bradford throws, but most of the disconnect between QB and wideouts was due—directly or indirectly—to drops.

    The wide receiver position group finished with 11 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.

     

    Grade: D

Tight End

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    Jared Cook’s two appearances since his breakout St. Louis Rams debut (seven catches, 141 yards and two touchdowns) have been disappointing. He added five grabs for 44 yards to the one catch for 10 that he put up in the Georgia Dome last week.

    Lance Kendricks caught all five of his looks for 36 yards, including 18 on one reception.

    In total, the Rams’ tight ends were targeted 13 times and caught 10 of them for 80 yards.

    Cook left at least one play on the field, but a 76.9 percent catch rate by the position group isn’t bad, especially when the wideouts hauled in just 44 percent of their passes.

     

    Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    The St. Louis Rams are already used to playing without Rodger Saffold. They lost him for portions of each of their first two games.

    Their offensive line was just outmatched against the Dallas Cowboys defensive front.

    Sam Bradford was bludgeoned to the tune of six sacks and multiple other hits by Dallas’ front four. DeMarcus Ware finished with two sacks, and four other players finished with one. Those six sacks were also the first six that St. Louis has allowed this season.

    If it wasn’t a defense headlined by an elite pass-rusher who posted those stats, this unit would be deserving of a failing grade. Ware’s presence always allows for an afternoon like this to happen, though.

     

    Grade: D

Defensive Line

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    The Dallas Cowboys neutralized the St. Louis Rams’ biggest advantage in Week 3 by running the football. DeMarco Murray received more carries than Tony Romo had passing attempts for the first time since…the Cowboys’ last home blowout over St. Louis.

    Robert Quinn and Chris Long both failed to get to Romo. Kendall Langford notched the Rams’ only sack of the day. Quinn forced a Murray fumble, but Murray recovered it.

     

    Grade: C

Linebackers

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    The Dallas Cowboys averaged 5.7 yards per rush on 34 carries. Murray averaged 6.7 on 26. Murray’s assault on the Rams in Week 3 eviscerated St. Louis’ yards per carry allowed on the season.

    Before Week 3, the Rams allowed 2.9 yards per carry to running back. Factoring in the Dallas game, they’re allowing 4.1 per tote.

    The Cowboys ran for 58.2 percent more yards (193) on St. Louis than the Rams allowed in their first two games combined (122).

    Will Witherspoon recovered a fumble, as a bright spot for an extremely poor performance for the Rams—including the linebackers—overall.

     

    Grade: F

Defensive Backs

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    It wasn’t in the Dallas Cowboys’ game plan to test Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan on a regular basis. Romo threw three touchdowns, but two went to peripheral targets Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris.

    Dez Bryant’s touchdown catch came after an uncalled shove on Finnegan—which should have been an offensive pass interference penalty. It followed a flag on Trumaine Johnson for defensive pass interference, basically because Johnson read the ball too well and closed on his receiver too quickly.

    I can’t knock the defensive backs for bad calls (or no-calls); if they keep up that kind of play, they’ll eventually be rewarded.

    Bryant finished with just four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown (on six targets). The Cowboys were able to move the ball on the ground with such ease that it wasn’t necessary to chuck it around all day.

    St. Louis’ defensive scheme left much to be desired, but the defensive backs were busy. Three of the Rams’ top four tacklers were defensive backs.

    That’s not necessarily a good thing. But it’s not their fault that Murray could get both outside and upfield at will.

     

    Grade: B

Special Teams

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    Another week, another string of St. Louis Rams special teams penalties.

    Bryant incurred an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following his touchdown catch. Normally, that type of thing enables the return game to be more of a factor. In this case, Benny Cunningham ran the ensuing kickoff to the 30, but it was called back due to a Ray Ray Armstrong holding penalty.

    That effectively made it a touchback.

    But wait…there’s more.

    Tavon Austin showed off his electric ways by taking a punt 84 yards to the house, only to later learn that his return, too, would be called back. Rookie defensive backs Brandon McGee and T.J. McDonald each drew flags.

    The third return penalty was also on McGee.

    Greg Zuerlein only had one extra-point attempt. Johnny Hekker averaged 47.6 yards per punt (five total) and failed to complete a pass on a fake punt in the first quarter.

     

    Grade: D

     

    Jamal Collier graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and is now a law student who covers the St. Louis Rams in his spare time. His work also appears on Yahoo!Follow him on Twitter: