New season, same St. Louis Rams

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Oh how the mighty have fallen. After a resounding come from behind victory in Week 1 against Seattle, the St. Louis Rams were asleep at the wheel in their Week 2 loss to the Washington Redskins. A sobering 24-10 defeat has taken the elation this team had to start the season and turned it into bitter serving of humility.

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Two weeks into the 2015 regular season and the Rams now find themselves at 1-1. A record most thought they would achieve up to this point. However, they’ve reached that record in a fashion most would not have guessed. An exciting overtime victory over Seattle to start the season provided a glimmer of hope for a Rams team that needed a quick start to the year. Knowing the Redskins, a team trending in the wrong directions, was up next on the schedule one couldn’t help but already pencil in 2-0 for the first time since 2001. Oh, but how you would be wrong.

Washington came out strong at home and put up some serious numbers in the first half. Quarterback Kirk Cousins would finish the game 23 of 27 for 191 yards and one touchdown. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Something he did twice against Miami in Week 1 leading to a loss. Cousins looked controlled and calm through out the game. He led his offense quickly, but methodically down the field to the tune of over 19 minutes of possession time in the first half.

Sep 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) celebrates with quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Adding to the methodical approach Washington head coach Jay Gruden took to the game was the run game. Running backs Alferd Morris and rookie Matt Jones split carries almost evenly, but it would be the rookie’s day. Jones amassed 123 yards on 19 carries including a touchdown. That touchdown would open the scoring for the Redskins in the first quarter on a 39-yard rush up the sideline. Morris would tack on an additional 59 yards on 18 carries.

The Rams offense started slow and was inconsistent all day. Quarterback Nick Foles would finish the first quarter with just 33 passing yards. He would finish the day 17 of 32 for 146 yards and one touchdown. The score came in the third quarter on a play action pass to Kenny Britt. A wonderful 40-yard pass where Britt was able to beat DeAngelo Hall, but Britt would cap it off with a 15-yard taunting penalty. That was just the kind of day St. Louis was having.

It seemed each time the Rams were able to put something together, they would follow it up with a deflating penalty, botched play, missed assignment or dropped pass. St. Louis was hoping to see some more out of their running game, but inconsistency reared its ugly head there as well. Tre Mason returned for his first action of 2015, but could only muster 26 yards on seven carries.

Tight end Jared Cook was once again the Rams leading receiver. Cook would catch five of his seven targets for a total of 47 yards. Jordan Reed, the tight end on the other side of the field, would go a perfect six for six including a deep ball on third down late in the fourth quarter that would keep the Redskins final touchdown drive alive. Washington was 8/16 on third down. The Rams were a mere 2/12 after converting on third down last week to the tune of 55 percent.

Defensively the Redskins shut down the Rams running game and conceded only 213 total yards and 11 first downs. They kept Foles on the run all day long including one sack late in the game and 11 hits. St. Louis averaged 4.6 yards per play on offense and took nine penalties for 80 yards. Foles was never able to match his consistency from Week 1 and give credit to Washington’s defensive line for that.

Sep 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) strips the ball from St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason (27) during the second half at FedEx Field. The Washington Redskins won 24 – 10. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis may have had a better day defensively if they had not been called upon so often. Washington ate up almost 40 minutes in time of possession. However, even a tired Rams defense was still able to put up two sacks and hold their opponent under 25 points. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson dropped an almost sure interception in the first half. Robert Quinn also forced a fumble that would lead to the first scoring drive for the Rams in the third quarter.

The Redskins were a desperate team, and the Rams looked unprepared at best. The pressure Washington put on Foles caused a serious disruption in the passing game and the red jerseys were constantly buzzing around in the St. Louis backfield shutting down run plays before they even started. A rejuvenated cousins looked sharp throwing with purpose and accuracy.

Inconsistency has been the monkey on the back of this franchise for quite some time. St. Louis cannot expect to compete for a playoff spot if they continue to lose games like this. What should have been a victory over a less talented team turned into a humbling loss.

Next up on the schedule will be a return trip home and the Pittsburgh Steelers. A high octane offense that will see the return of running back Le’Veon Bell. Let’s hope the Rams defense puts down their own Kool-Aid and re-focuses because they will need to play nearly perfect if they expect to compete with the Steelers.