It's always hard to come away with positives after the beating that we just took in Dallas, but here goes.
OL Play - After giving up 0 sacks for two consecutive weeks, it appears that the coaching staff actually did try to open things up a little bit more... This obviously ended up being a dismal choice, but it does show that they perhaps aren't quite as stubborn as they appear... The Rams flat out couldn't block the Cowboys without going to a max protect scheme; and even then we missed at times.
That being said... until the OL proves that they can handle pressure without much help from TEs and RBs, this offense can not and will not live up to its potential... Whether or not this issue can be corrected with the current personnel on this roster remains to be seen, and unfortunately we may be at least 1 more year out... I remember two specific plays in which the left side of the OL ended up on their respective backsides... Long got absolutely demolished on one play, and Williams on another. LG is a spot that MUST be improved.
Run D - The problem that plagued the Rams this week is the same problem that has plagued them for years in run support... They simply over-pursue, and therefore allow huge holes. This is a discipline problem, not a talent problem... which is a great thing. Our defensive line can perhaps be the best in the league with the 4 guys we have. This issue was also a result of how well they played the past two weeks against the run. We absolutely shut down Atlanta's running game, and held the Cardinals to a very modest game as well. Therefore, with overconfidence we tried to do just what we did in the past two weeks, and were gashed. Run defense shouldn't be a problem for us, and I doubt it will be.
Pass D - Holding Dez Bryant to the numbers we did could be seen as a win for our defense... but when you give up the ridiculous amount of rushing yards that we did to Murray, it isn't. Something is wrong with our defensive play calling... However, the coaches obviously aren't idiots... They've been around football for far too long to continually allow these cushions without some sort of reason... However, the question is what that reason is. Although improved, our safeties still have to be seen as a liability... McDonald could be a staple of the defense for years to come, and I like McLeod... But he doesn't appear to me to be a long-term answer. This is the problem that scares me most going forward, because I don't have an answer to the problem.
Run O - The long-term solution for the Rams at RB doesn't appear to be on the roster... Unless he's being covered up by our terrible OL play. I love the effort and ability I've seen out of Richardson, and even Pead! However, who are we confident in to score in the red zone? Perhaps our corps of running backs will progress, but with RB being one of the easier positions to transition from college, I don't see it.
Pass O - The talent is all there... Pettis has showed in the last two weeks why he is getting playing time... Reliability supersedes ability, and Pettis once again showed his reliability on his 4th and goal catch vs the Cowboys. While Quick is still making some mental errors, he's starting to come around... progressing through this year, and ultimately blooming in next year, he can still be great. Unfortunately, Givens hasn't made the progression at this point that we expected going into his second year. That being said, he's still a phenomenal big-play guy. Austin still has a lot to learn, and is struggling to find the space he needs, but there's no doubting his potential. And while Bailey doesn't see the field yet, he has the reliability and potential upside to make an impact as well...
Also, we have a wonderful TE tandem... Cook is explosive, and Kendricks is reliable... I believe that's the way it will continue to be throughout the year. Cook isn't Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski... He's Jared Cook... an athletic freak who wins with size and speed rather than technique... Take it for what it is, but I'd still prefer him to 85% of the other TEs in the league.
And Bradford is the man. His accuracy is wonderful. He's played 3 wonderful games by my observations at this point. Both of his picks were flukes, and he's done what you want in a spread system... He's gotten the ball out quickly and accurately... We're finally seeing why the coaches are so confident in him. (now if only he could get a throw power boost on Madden... I'm tired of underthrowing Givens for picks on go routes)
Anyways, this is wordy, and probably doesn't say anything that hasn't already been said... but remember, all hope is not lost. This year we appear to be a team that could sneak into the playoffs, but we're still 1 or 2 pieces away from being able to compete with elite teams on a weekly basis... (Those pieces being a competent LG, more athletic coverage LB, and better center-fielder FS)