Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis (9) reacts in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Another weekend, another loss. At least the Rams are picking higher in the Draft, right? No need to waste any time. Here are our quick thoughts on the St. Louis Rams loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
1. First off, we want to extend our condolences to the Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer. While technically rivals, the Rams and Cardinals are “birds of a feather” in the NFC West, battling to shake off years of media stereotyping and claw back to the top of the NFC. Rams fans, players, and coaches, alike, understand the importance of the quarterback position and the heartache that ensues when “your guy” is lost for the season. Here’s to hoping that Arizona can fend off the Seahawks and 49ers and take the NFC West crown this year!
2. Tip of the hat to the St. Louis Rams defensive unit, who will once again be wrongfully denigrated for the transgressions of the Rams’ pathetic offense. Not only did they hold the Cardinals rushing attack to 28 yards on 22 carries, they kept Palmer and his band of top-flight receivers in check for most of the game. That doesn’t even count the Rams pass rush…
3. Heading into the game, the Cardinals had allowed only seven total sacks in eight games. Yesterday, the Rams managed three, including one from Robert Quinn (i.e. his fourth-consecutive game with at least one sack). #SackCity appears to be back on the map, with an ever-growing population that now includes T.J. McDonald and Mark Barron. If the Rams win anymore games this year, it will be on the back of this defense, which should be considered Top 10, despite one glaring deficiency on the backend.
4. Speaking of deficiencies, we have regularly bemoaned the fact that Rodney McLeod is considering a starter in the St. Louis secondary. Last night, he once again allowed a heart-crushing deep ball to sail over his head and into the waiting arms of an endzone-bound receiver. The one-time special teams ace is largely responsible for one secondary mistake on a nearly weekly basis, whether it be directly or indirectly. Until the Rams draft a competent free safety, their defense will never take the “next step”…
5. However, we cannot mention the defense without a special shoutout to Alec Ogletree, who appears to finally be settling in to his new role in the Rams defensive scheme. After his best performance of the season last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Ogletree nearly topped it yesterday, with four tackles, two defensive stops, and a critical (sort of) interception and subsequent return. Something tells me Mark Barron is going to have a positive impact on Ogletree in that second level.
6. The offensive line struggled last night against constant pressure from the Cardinals top ranked defensive unit. Arizona regularly brought more rushers than the offensive line could handle, and the running backs and tight ends provided little-to-no relief on the outside. While the performance was certainly nothing to write home about, it would be unfair to pile on the grouping, considering some of the actions taken by their leader and signal caller. More on that in a minute.
7. Why was Lance Kendrick flagged for his block during the Jared Cook catch-and-run…?
8. Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham were still impressive on the ground, despite their lack of touches. Even facing a defensive front that had allowed fewer than 79 yards per game, the duo managed 60 yards on 18 attempts, which was good for an impressive 3.3 yards per carry. In fairness to Brian Schottenheimer, he did appear to be continuing to run the football in the second half… that is, until Austin Davis imploded.
9. Austin Davis is done as a starter in St. Louis. Yes, he may finish the year in the starting lineup, but he should now (if he wasn’t already) be considered a mere placeholder for whoever the Rams select in the opening rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. Davis single-handedly knocked the St. Louis Rams out of that game midway through the fourth quarter. In 169 seconds on offense, Davis threw two interception and lost a fumble, two directly leading to touchdowns for the Arizona Cardinals.
Some will blame the offensive line, or the receivers, or the coaches. However, Austin Davis has shown over the last three weeks that he is incapable of adjusting his game to increased pressure from the defense, continuing to a) ignore checkdowns in favor of forcing the ball down the field, b) fail to recognize blitzes and get the ball to hot reads, c) hold the football for far too long, d) make horrendous decisions in critical moments. When Davis was quick and decisive with his throws (i.e. under 2.5 seconds), he was never sacked and completed 67% of his attempts, including the touchdown to Jared Cook. When he held the ball for longer, he was sacked six times and had three turnovers. Understanding your supporting cast and what the opposing defense is attempting to do is critical to playing the position at quarterback. Davis just doesn’t “get it” at the NFL level.
10. Need something to make you smile? How about this…