Report Card: Rams Flunk Test Vs. Niners
By Joe Vastola
Coming off a 24-point loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, the Rams had the opportunity to bounce back at home against the 49ers in Week 4. They didn’t. Despite a strong start and edge in time of possession over the first quarter-and-a-half, the Rams were embarrassed last Thursday night in a 35-11 rout.
The Rams jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and seemed to be in control midway through the second quarter. However, San Francisco started moving the ball and the 49ers were able to find the end zone twice before halftime. The Rams' offense wasn’t able to generate anything in the second half and two costly turnovers proved to be too much for them to overcome.
Here are the grades for the Rams Week 4 performance:
Sam Bradford, D+ — Bradford started the game like a man on a mission. After having only two first downs in the first half against Dallas, the quarterback guided the Rams on two solid drives and an early lead. Unfortunately, the wheels quickly fell off. Bradford faced constant pressure, as the Rams once again weren't able to run the ball effectively. Coming into the third quarter — trailing by 11 — Bradford tried to get St. Louis back into the game, but ended up turning the ball over twice leading to San Francisco points. Overall, he was 19-of-41 for 201 yards, with a touchdown, a pick and a fumble lost.
Daryl Richardson, F — The Rams' starting running back turned in another dreadful performance, amassing only 16 yards on 12 carries. Richardson’s lack of production, along with the Rams' other running backs, has led to Bradford leading the league in pass attempts.
Defense, C- — While the Rams did give up 35 points Thursday night, the defense didn’t play as poorly as the score suggests. In the first quarter, they were dominant and didn’t give up much. In the second quarter, they had a blown coverage and allowed Frank Gore a few long runs leading to 14 points. In the second half, Frank Gore had a field day and ended the game with 153 yards and a touchdown. That being said, if Bradford didn’t turn the ball over the score wouldn’t have been as lopsided. On the bright side, they held Colin Kaepernick to only 167 passing yards.
Special Teams, D — For the Rams to have pulled off this upset they were going to have to play a strong game on both sides of the ball, and on special teams. They didn’t play well enough on offense or defense to get the win, but their special teams play also gave them nothing. Tavon Austin looked tentative on his kick returns and fumbled one inside his own 20 (luckily, the Rams recovered it). In addition, Jeff Fisher's team had multiple penalties on punts, one of which negated a lost fumble by San Francisco.
Coaching, B — Jeff Fisher did everything he could to keep his mismatched Rams in the game. Right before halftime, Fisher challenged the spot of a Frank Gore rush and the call was reversed. This set up a big fourth-and-inches play, but the Rams couldn’t get the stop, and the Niners ran it in for a score. The play-calling by Brian Schottenheimer could have been better, but when you’re playing from behind — and your starting back is only averaging 1.3 yards per carry — it handcuffs you.
Next Up: The Rams will host Jacksonville in Week 5, in a game that they have to win if they even want to think about the playoffs. The Jaguars, regarded by many experts to be the worst team in the league, are 0-3 already and the anticipated betting line for their Week 6 matchup against Denver is up to four touchdowns.