The Los Angeles Rams lost their footing against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon and slipped to 2-3 on the season. Cooper Rush and the Cowboys downed LA 22-10, and Dallas had a comfortable lead for most of the game.
Sean McVay’s team fell behind early after yet another Matthew Stafford turnover, a strip sack by Dorance Armstrong, that recovered and taken to the house by Demarcus Lawrence. Stafford had three total turnovers on the day - two fumbles lost and an interception.
Some portion of Stafford’s struggles should be attributed to the offensive line as well as members of the wide receiver room not named Cooper Kupp.
The Rams’ offensive struggles are multi-faceted, which is why it’s so concerning that the team has struggled for several weeks now. Should we just accept that this is who the 2022 Rams are?
Overall offensive improvement must follow incremental gains on an individual level, so which players stood out in good and bad ways against Dallas?
Aaron Donald, DE
Donald spent the majority of his day playing as an edge defender, which is one way to fill the void left by Von Miller. LA was hoping to exploit a matchup against rookie left tackle Tyler Smith, and that idea seemed to work in LA’s benefit.
The star defensive end notched two sacks on Cooper Rush, including a strip sack that was recovered by Dallas. The Rams defense wasn’t bad against Dallas, but few individuals stood out in a significant way outside of Donald.
Cooper Kupp, WR
The only seemingly reliable part of the Rams offense so far in 2022 is Cooper Kupp - and the dependable receiver snagged 7 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys.
Kupp’s best play of the day was a 75-yard catch and run where he just outpaced everyone on the defense. Allen Robinson and Ben Skowronek played important roles as blockers on the play. It was truly a heroic effort where Kupp was able to turn a routine short completion into an explosive score, which is the Rams’ only touchdown in the last two games.
A’Shawn Robinson & Greg Gaines, DL
The Cowboys jumped out to an early lead with the scoop and score sack and blocked punt, and they seemed content to lean on their running attack for the remainder of the game.
Robinson and Gaines did an admirable job containing the run game. Sure, Tony Pollard did rip off an explosive 57-yard touchdown run, but this was the result of poor tackling by safeties Terrell Burgess and Nick Scott. LA lined up with six down lineman on that play, which means they were trusting the second level defenders to make the stop.
If you strip out the big run, the Cowboys managed just 107 yards on 29 carries (3.70 average). When you take into account that Rush passed for only 102 yards, this was a winning effort by the defense - the offense just failed to complement that effort.
Tutu Atwell, WR
Atwell got behind the defense on two occasions in Week 5 - Stafford missed the first throw but the two connected for a 58-yard catch on the second attempt.
Atwell was probably the best offensive player for LA not named Cooper Kupp, and it’s puzzling why the coaching staff did not involve him more often. We still have not seen the speedster touch the ball on gadget-type plays such as jet sweeps or screens.
The Cowboys defenders were giving Atwell a ton of cushion, and I have a hard time believing he couldn’t catch a 5-yard pass and turn it into much more with his legs.
It was only one play, but it’s more than Allen Robinson has put on tape all season.
Matthew Stafford, QB
Yes, Stafford’s job has become much more difficult in 2022 with the struggles on the offensive line, but you still have to expect more out of a franchise quarterback. Stafford has comfortably been a bottom-10 passer in the league this season. The backbreaking mistakes are one thing - Stafford has now thrown seven interceptions this year - but he’s left a lot of meat on the bone with missed throws, especially when the windows get tighter in the red zone.
The bottom line is that a franchise quarterback is supposed to elevate his supporting cast, but all Stafford has done in 2022 is elevate the opposing team’s turnover ratio.
Should Sean McVay consider benching the quarterback in order to prove a point on the turnovers? Enough is enough.
Malik Hooker PICKS OFF Matthew Stafford late in the 4th quarter— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 9, 2022
Cowboys currently lead 22-10 with less than 4 minutes to go!pic.twitter.com/2w1tC6kW1H
David Edwards, LG
The Rams sorely missed Edwards last week against the San Francisco 49ers - he sat out of that game with a concussion.
But Edwards was more of a liability against the Cowboys than a boost, and was consistently facing backwards after giving up near-instant pressure in pass protection.
With that said, Edwards is still head and shoulders better than his replacement - Bobby Evans.
Terrell Burgess, DB
Starting safeties Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller both missed this game due to injury, so the Rams needed Burgess to step up in their absence.
For the most part, the third-year safety had a quiet afternoon; however, he missed a key tackle on Pollard’s long touchdown run. Los Angeles did a good job botting up the Cowboys’ offense, but this mistake stands out as one of the biggest defensive errors from this game.
Tony Pollard breaks loose for the long touchdown - 57 yards!pic.twitter.com/eJeeLb0tGl— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 9, 2022
Matt Gay, K
With the Rams down 9 points and hoping to build momentum for a comeback, Gay chose an inopportune time for his first missed field goal on the season. It was a 51-yard attempt.
Allen Robinson, WR
At this point it feels unnecessary to put Robinson on this list week after week; however, the veteran receiver seemed especially ineffective in this game.
Robinson was targeted by Stafford 5 times, catching 3 passes for 12 yards. Most of his targets came within just a few yards of the line of scrimmage.
Does Robinson still have the juice to serve as a vertical threat, and will he ever emerge as a key part of the Rams’ passing attack?
I feel absolutely disgusting saying this, but it might be time to start sacrificing some Allen Robinson snaps in favor of Tutu Atwell.— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) October 9, 2022
Just the truth.
Rob Havenstein, RT
As the veteran leader of the offensive line you’re supposed to set an example for the rest of the unit.
With the Rams’ comeback attempt all but over, Havenstein failed to block explosive edge rusher Micah Parsons - the result was a sack and Stafford’s second lost fumble of the game.
When the team needed their veteran leader at his best, he contributed to the problem and allowed another hit on his quarterback.