Rams QB Austin Davis was thrown under the bus (somewhat literally, considering the size of some of the guys on the Eagles' defensive line) often early in the game. The devastating pass rush, a combination of poor blocking at times and poor playcalling that left too few blockers to deal with a higher number of rushers, threw off Davis' timing early. He was sailing throws we're accustomed to seeing him make consistently. He settled into the second half though, and as the pass blocking improved, he rallied to finish with an impressive stat line. Hard not to be hopeful regarding what he might be able to do with the 12 remaining games on the schedule.
I almost gave this an incomplete grade. Zac Stacy didn't get the early usage I was personally hoping for, with just 8 first half carries one of which was just to run out the clock on the first half. Benny Cunningham added just seven rushes even though he averaged more than 6.5 yards per carry. And Trey Watts almost inexplicably is carving out a snippet of playing time without contributing much and certainly not providing anything the Rams aren't already getting through Stacy or Cunningham.
This is the best wide receiver unit the Rams have had since the end of the Isaac Bruce/Torry Holt days. Brian Quick is turning into a real threat. Kenny Britt is good for a sideline option that forces defenses to stay wide. And Austin Davis is sprinkling enough of his other threats in here to make this a very competent passing attack, hitting 10 different receiving targets yesterday. The drops late not only brought the grade down, they're a reminder that you can do 10 good things in the first three quarters but let the team down with one mistake late when a big play is needed most. Still, they put the team in position to actually get that big play when the game seemed waaaaaay out of reach.
The Rams finished with 3,360 receiving yards in 2013. They're on pace to total 4,840. That's not a small improvement.
On one hand, you've got the reliability of Jared Cook as a clear target that Austin Davis favors. On the other hand, you have his emotional outbursts, a bad dropped pass and Lance Kendricks' false start penalties early on that swung the momentum in the Eagles' favor helping them build that insurmountable lead. It's a microcosm for the 2014Rams as a whole -- sufficient football talent, but mental instability and failure of focus that contributes more to the bottom line.
The only reason this didn't get an F is that late in the game, they finally found a groove that allowed Austin Davis to operate...but it took far too long. I am a bit surprised Davis wasn't injured given the contact he faced. On the fumble recovery for a touchdown, Jake Long nearly accounted for knocking a second Rams QB out of the 2014 season. Yesterday was just unacceptable for a unit that should be playing at that 4th quarter level for more of the game. And you have to start worrying about the Scott Wells-Davin Joseph combination. It's dangerous at this point. The fact that Greg Robinson is behind Davin Joseph at this point should have every Rams fan concerned.
I was surprised to see some lower grades here. The linebackers didn't have a huge assignment yesterday, but they contained LeSean McCoy extremely well for most of the game and Ogletree got his splash play.
CB & S -
This was a boom or bust unit yesterday. Far too much inconsistency. Overall, they kept Nick Foles to a limited performance, barely breaking 200 yards. But for all the booms, there were several noticeable busts. This is the second game in a row that a completely busted handoff resulted in a wide open touchdown, this time to Jeremy Maclin. It's week 5. There's no excuse.
As good as Johnny Hekker is, yesterday was an abysmal game from the special unit. Chase Reynolds contributed to the blocked punt resulting in a touchdown and added perhaps the most blatant block in the back you'll ever see. Ray Ray Armstrong added a penalty. Greg Zuerlein has one field goal attempt in his last two games now, none yesterday. The Rams don't get much out of special teams already; they can't afford to help the other team to points and penalty yardage on top of it.
The first half of the game was marked by inexplicable misexecution and a strange offensive gameplan that relied on a passing game without contributing sufficient protection patterns. The Rams are losing to the Rams at this point, and you can't hold anyone more primarily responsible for that than the coaching staff. Mental errors are a reflection of the success or failure in your preparation, and the Rams make so many of them, you can't call it anything but a failure of preparation...ESPECIALLY when you have an extra week to prepare. This is year three for GM Les Snead, HC Jeff Fisher and OC Brian Schottenheimer. The scale of negative impact the unreadiness is having at this point in their tenure is just not acceptable.