NFC West: St. Louis Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As Greg Robinson attempted to adjust to playing left guard for the first time during the preseason, he often found himself bouncing back and forth between his new position and his old one.

Robinson was less than a year removed from playing left tackle, the only position he's ever really known, for SEC champion Auburn. Robinson was so dominant on the edge that the St. Louis Rams made him the No. 2 overall pick. With Jake Long already entrenched at left tackle, the Rams had long-term plans for Robinson to eventually take over at left tackle while contributing right away at guard.

When Long suffered the second season-ending ACL injury of his career last week against Kansas City, the future accelerated into the present. After just three starts at left guard, Robinson is back home.

[+] EnlargeGreg Robinson
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesJake Long's injury has forced Greg Robinson to be the Rams' starting left tackle earlier than planned.
"In some ways it is natural," Robinson said. "I just feel more comfortable out there. It’s going to be a learning process, also, but I don’t think it’s going to take me as much time as it took me to get used to guard."

In theory, Robinson is correct. Left tackle is his normal position, the one he knows best. And it took him a while to get used to playing in tight space at guard while also taking reps at tackle. Robinson didn't make his first start until the team's fifth game, the first meeting against San Francisco.

Now that Robinson is moving back outside, he should be able to adjust quickly to playing in space and having less to worry about in terms of communication and combination blocks with the center and tackle.

That doesn't mean that Robinson won't have his share of bumps along the way, though. Of the 178 snaps Robinson has played this season, only 21 of them came at left tackle, all coming last week against the Chiefs.

For the most part, Robinson held up OK but he also had his share of mistakes. His most impressive moment came when he ran down Chiefs safety Ron Parker to make a tackle after an interception.

"He had some issues, they had outstanding rushers, but he was strong and stout," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "That’s what he does. He’ll have a week to work on the footwork and things like that this week. He went out there and knew what to do and came out of the stack on a screen and executed a block. You can see his athletic ability when he made the tackle on the interception. At the tackle position, he’ll be fine.”

Big picture, the Rams hope that Robinson will be more than just fine, but it's no secret that it will take him some time to nail down the nuances of pass blocking at the NFL level. By Robinson's own admission, pass rushers are faster and more athletic in the NFL, and Robinson comes from a system at Auburn which didn't ask him to do much pass blocking.

After learning of Long's injury, Robinson said he and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau devised a list of what he needed to nail down and work on this week in practice. At the top of that list were notes on footwork and understanding angles. His trademark aggressive approach to run blocking is one of his greatest assets, but it's also something Robinson knows he must monitor so he doesn't get out of control.

"I have just got to have good sets every time I go out there to block somebody," Robinson said. "And don’t be too aggressive and try to get my hands on guys as much as possible."

Sooner or later, Robinson was going to become the Rams left tackle regardless of Long's status. Clearly, all parties would have preferred that it didn't happen as quickly or in the way that it did, but this is where the Rams currently stand.

For what it's worth, fellow tackle Joe Barksdale believes Robinson is up to the task.

"As a rookie, the hardest thing is coming in and learning the offense," Barksdale said. "You’ve been in the same offense for a number of years, same coaches and all of that. Then you come in and everything is new. The terminology, the people, from the feet up, everything is new to you. I think he’s done a really, really good job of overcoming that kind of shock and pretty much having to start your freshman year all over again. I think he’s coming along really well."

Robinson was drafted to be the Rams' left tackle of the future. That future is now.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The San Francisco 49ers enter Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams with the inherent advantage of coming off a bye week and a number of players returning to health.

The Rams, meanwhile, head toward that meeting with 13 players on their injury report, eight of whom were listed as non-participants in Wednesday's walk-through. They are also coming off a 34-7 drubbing at Kansas City in the middle of a three-game road stretch.

Needless to say, the 49ers don't need any more advantages, whether real or perceived. So as rumors swirl about the potential early return of 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith from his original nine-game suspension, Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it clear Wednesday that he doesn't expect Smith to be available this week.

More to the point, Fisher believes if the NFL was going to make Smith available this late in the week, it should have done so earlier since the game-planning that his team has already done hasn't accounted for Smith.

"He’s a good football player," Fisher said. "I would expect it to be unlikely this late. I think I would have liked to have known about it earlier in the week from a game-planning standpoint, but we can’t control what happens at the league office. If he’s reinstated and plays, we’re going to have to block him. So we’ll just wait and see."

Smith has two games left on the nine-game suspension he received before the season for violations of the league's personal conduct policy and substance abuse program. The rumor mill has indicated a possible reduction in that suspension based on apparent good behavior.

So far, nothing has come from those rumors and it doesn't appear a reduction is imminent. That doesn't mean it won't happen, as the league has made similar unexpected decisions on such matters before.

Even without Smith, the 49ers sacked Rams quarterback Austin Davis five times in the first meeting on Oct. 13. Adding Smith, who has 42 sacks in 43 regular-season games, would make things tougher on a Rams team that will give rookie Greg Robinson his first start at left tackle Sunday.

"I’ve got a pretty good left tackle out there right now that’s going to get better and better," Fisher said. "So we’ll see."

Mark Barron excited for fresh start

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- New St. Louis Rams safety Mark Barron missed the telephone call informing him he'd been traded on Tuesday afternoon, leaving him to get the news via media reports.

Of course, nobody can blame Barron for missing a call that he never expected in the first place.

"I was definitely in shock," Barron said. "I had no idea that any of it was going on. I was most definitely shocked but I am excited about the situation [in St. Louis]. I had no idea I was even available for a trade."

As it turned out, Barron was indeed available for trade, even if the team trading for him was also surprised to learn that Barron could be had. According to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, the deal came together in the moments leading up to the deadline because the Rams never suspected that 2012's seventh overall pick was even an option for a trade.

“We obviously liked Mark coming into the league," Fisher said. "He was an outstanding college player. We thought he had a lot of ability and whatever the reasons are down there, we had an opportunity to take advantage of getting a good football player."

After finding out that he'd been dealt and then making his way to St. Louis, Barron arrived at Rams Park on Wednesday afternoon as the Rams were about halfway through their walk-through. He emerged from the locker room in his white No. 26 practice jersey, shook hands with special teams coach John Fassel and then set about getting familiar with his new surroundings.

At that point, Barron and Fisher had only spoken briefly after the Rams acquired him and Barron still hadn't been told what his role could be not only this week but moving forward. Barron has long been regarded as more of a "box" safety, who is at his best wreaking havoc near the line of scrimmage. That would seem to overlap with the skills of current Rams safety T.J. McDonald but Fisher said the Rams have plans for Barron but don't want to discuss them yet.

"We’ll find a way to fit him into our system at some point," Fisher said. "I don’t know whether that’s a week for six weeks or next year. But we need depth at the position and we’re banged up a little bit. It was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.

“I’m not going to speculate the moves and things like that. We got a good player. I’m going to spend some time with him and talk about where and how he fits at some other point.”

For his part, Barron's excitement to be in St. Louis stems largely from the chance to fit into a scheme that better suits him. While Barron stopped short of saying that he didn't fit in Lovie Smith's scheme in Tampa Bay, he did make it clear that he felt he could've done more and been used better.

"Did I think we could have been doing more, using me more? Yeah, I do," Barron said. "But I wouldn’t say it played against my strengths. It was just the way the system was ran.

"[Tampa's system] is passive. That’s kind of the only thing I didn’t like about it. A lot of times I had to sit back and I couldn’t really be as aggressive as I wanted to in that system."

Fisher acknowledged the possibility that Barron could even play this Sunday against San Francisco as Rodney McLeod (knee) and Cody Davis (concussion) recover from injury. What his role will be remains to be seen but it wouldn't surprise to see he and McDonald on the field together and the Rams turning to three safety sub-packages which put Barron on the field with McLeod and McDonald instead of another of the team's linebackers in third-down situations.

As for the characterization of him as a box safety, Barron said he is capable of playing in coverage on the back end and that it's something he did a lot of before arriving in the NFL. With that said, he also made it clear he prefers to be near the line of scrimmage.

"I feel like I’m an athletic guy and I can do whatever I’m asked to do," Barron said. "I just like to get involved so it’s easier to get involved when you’re in the box. It’s easier to get involved earlier in the game."

Wounded Rams take it easy Wednesday

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With so many injuries and a familiar opponent waiting on Sunday, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher took it easy on his team Wednesday.

Instead of a normal midweek practice, the Rams went through an hour-long walkthrough before heading inside for a team activity believed to include some yoga.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said the different approach was taken as a direct result of the team's lengthy injury report.

"I had 13 people on the injury report and I felt like we needed to back down today," Fisher said. "Our focus is having them ready at 1 o'clock on Sunday."

The 13 players on the injury report is in addition to the season-ending losses of left tackle Jake Long and receiver Brian Quick earlier this week.

Fisher said he felt comfortable going with the different Wednesday approach because of the team's familiarity with the 49ers and the short turnaround between games. The Rams and Niners just met on Oct. 13.

"We're familiar with them," Fisher said. "They've had a week off. We've basically had a day off. We're gonna get going tomorrow and go play."

Because the team participated in a walkthrough rather than a practice, it would seem to make filling out an injury report a tricky proposition. Some players can walk but might not have been able to practice.

Fisher explained that league protocol requires the team to estimate how much practice a player would have done had it been a normal practice. The result was a group of eight players listed as not participating and five more listed as limited participation.

"Because you don't practice full speed, you have to estimate had you had a full practice, what would they have done?" Fisher said. "We went ahead and did that and were accurate with that and we'll get some players back tomorrow I'm sure and then more and more players back on Friday."

Here's the team's full Wednesday injury report:

Did not participate: DE William Hayes (foot), G Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder), S Rodney McLeod (knee), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), C Scott Wells (elbow) and S Cody Davis (concussion).

Limited participation: CB Trumaine Johnson (knee), C Tim Barnes (shoulder), WR Kenny Britt (hip), CB Marcus Roberson (ankle), CB Lamarcus Joyner (hip).

What Mark Barron brings to the Rams

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As NFL trade deadline deals go, the swap between the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers qualifies as the closest thing to a blockbuster that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rams dealt a fourth- and sixth-round pick to the Bucs in exchange for safety Mark Barron, who was the Bucs' No. 7 overall pick just two years ago.

With that in mind, I asked ESPN Bucs reporter Pat Yasinskas to provide a little insight on what the Rams are getting in Barron.

Obvious question first, why didn't it work out between the Bucs and Mark Barron?

Yasinskas: Barron was not a bust by any means. He just never did the special things the previous regime thought he would. The coaching change from Greg Schiano to Lovie Smith hurt Barron's stock significantly. If Barron would have spent most of his time in the box, like Schiano wanted, things might have worked out. But new coach Lovie Smith brought in the Tampa 2, which didn't play to Barron's talents.

There was a lot of talk that Barron was miscast in Tampa Bay's defense. Do you agree with that assessment and do you think he has the upside to become a valuable piece if he's used different in St. Louis?

Yasinskas: Absolutely. Barron just wasn't fitting in Tampa Bay's new defense. But this is a guy who was a first-round pick only two years ago. He still has first-round talent and can be a big success if he's used the right way.

What are the Rams getting in terms of intangibles and leadership with Barron?

Yasinskas: Barron was a captain in college on a team that won two national championships. He knows how to win. He's not the most vocal guy, but he can lead by example. He's a hard worker with lots of talent. Put it all together and the Rams could end up with a very good player.

Rams need to learn to finish

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29

ESPN Rams reporter Nick Wagoner talks about the team starting fast but falling apart in the second half.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- That the St. Louis Rams made any moves at all before Tuesday's trade deadline was a bit of a surprise. That they were buyers rather than sellers was even more of a surprise.

So it was that the Rams shipped fourth and sixth-round picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for safety Mark Barron, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Scheffer. In making the trade, the Rams add the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

[+] EnlargeMark Barron
AP Photo/Scott A. MillerMark Barron, the seventh overall draft selection in 2012, started all 37 games he played in with the Buccaneers.
On paper, adding any talent to a secondary ranked last in the league in opponent completion percentage is a good move, and Barron has long been considered an emerging talent with upside. The Rams liked him coming out of Alabama but passed on him to move down in the 2012 draft before selecting defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the 14th pick.

But the question the Rams must now answer is where, exactly, Barron fits within coordinator Gregg Williams' defensive scheme. At first blush, one would think that Barron could slide in and play alongside T.J. McDonald while the Rams keep tabs on injured safeties Rodney McLeod (knee) and Cody Davis (concussion).

That might be the case until McLeod returns, but Barron and McDonald seem to have similar skill sets. Both are considered "box" safeties who are at their best when they play near the line of scrimmage.

Tampa Bay parted with Barron in part because they clearly preferred not to use him in that role. In two-plus seasons with the Bucs, Barron lined up within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage on only a quarter of his snaps (606 of 2,434 snaps including penalties). Left to roam the back end, Barron was often left in coverage, where he has had his share of ups and downs during his career.

If the Rams are to best utilize Barron, Williams will have him spend more time near the line of scrimmage, a job that has thus far been McDonald's. In seven games this season, McDonald has spent half of his snaps within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage, which is double Barron's percentage.

Theoretically, the two could play together, but the question then becomes which one will retreat to more of a free safety role? Barron has obviously done it more and, in fairness, is third among safeties in pass breakups since 2012 with 17.

On the rare occasions McDonald has been tasked with coverage responsibilities, it hasn't worked out too well. For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus grades McDonald as one of the worst coverage safeties in the league with a grade of negative-11.0.

One other option is to use Barron or McDonald in a nickel linebacker role which would allow Williams to devise blitz schemes with both McDonald and Barron and McLeod (when he returns) on the back end.

Giving up a fourth- and sixth-round pick likely won't have any sort of damaging effect on the Rams' future and Barron is under contract through next season with an available fifth-year option after that. Taking a flier on Barron in an effort to get better now while thinking about the future. It makes this a relatively low-risk, high-reward move for the Rams.

But for them to realize that reward, Williams and Co. will have to do something they've so far failed to do: Make the pieces fit together.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher watched helplessly as five starters departed his team's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with injuries. He said at the time he'd never been a part of anything like it.

Much to his chagrin, Fisher got to see something else he hadn't seen before in Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, when he watched as six key players -- left tackle Jake Long, receiver Brian Quick, guard Rodger Saffold, center Scott Wells and safeties Rodney McLeod and Cody Davis -- depart with various ailments that did not return. Defensive end Williams Hayes was also spotted leaving the locker room on crutches.

“No, it’s not happened to me before," Fisher said. "It was highly unusual, just losing the number of players that we did in the game.”

Fisher offered updates on the status of Long and Quick, both of whom were lost for the season with knee and shoulder injuries, respectively. But from the sound of things, none of the other issues were serious enough to offer an update.

The Rams spent Monday doing additional tests on the rest of the players, including a deeper inspection of Saffold's shoulder and Wells' elbow. Fisher did acknowledge that Davis would go through the concussion protocol after suffering that injury in Sunday's game.

Otherwise, all Fisher would allow is that the Rams will have some players missing practice this week as they prepare for this weekend's trip to San Francisco.

"We’re going to have a number of players that will not be available for practice in the middle of the week, so we’ll just go kind of day-to-day with them," Fisher said.

The Rams also will make some roster adjustments this week, as they will have to replace Long and Quick on the active roster and might have to tweak the practice squad in order to have enough bodies at certain positions for practice.

On a better injury note, Fisher said cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins might be able to return this week.

“There’s a chance, yeah," Fisher said. "(Johnson) made progress last week. Matter of fact, in the pregame, well before pregame he had a really good workout with (secondary) coach (Chuck) Cecil. So, there’s a chance he could come on back. I think Janoris has a chance as well.”

The Film Don't Lie: Rams

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
A weekly look at what the St. Louis Rams must fix:

The San Francisco 49ers just played the Rams in Week 6. Colin Kaepernick & Co. had plenty of success throwing the ball in that game, as he finished with 343 yards while completing 62.9 percent of his 35 pass attempts.

But if Kaepernick spent his bye week watching the Rams lose to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, he will see that he can actually be more efficient and take fewer risks against the Rams. The key? Keep it short.

In the Rams' latest loss, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith attempted 28 passes. He completed 24 of them for 226 yards. Of those 28 passes, just one -- a 14-yard completion to Dwayne Bowe -- traveled more than 10 yards in the air. In the process, Smith became the first quarterback to win a game without attempting multiple passes of more than 10 yards in the air since Week 8 of 2012.

And Smith's approach is nothing new. The Rams are 12th in the league in passing yards allowed per game at 231.71, but that number is wholly misleading. Because teams have had such success running the ball against the Rams, they haven't had to throw much -- but when they do, they are having a lot of success. The Rams rank 29th in the league in passer rating allowed (106) and last in completion percentage allowed (70.2) while facing the fewest passing attempts in the NFL (205).

Getting third-year starters Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson back from knee injuries would be helpful, but the Rams must also find a way to be more aggressive in coverage or teams will continue to nickel and dime them up and down the field.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Before taking questions from the media in his weekly day-after-game news conference Monday afternoon, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher took a moment to acknowledge the tragedy that reached St. Louis on Sunday evening.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, 18, died Sunday in a car accident in Taveras' native Dominican Republic. The tragic news reached Fisher on Sunday night when he returned home after the team's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I’m going to start off by offering on behalf of Stan Kroenke and our entire organization our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Oscar Taveras and to the entire St. Louis Cardinal baseball organization and [manager] Mike Matheny," Fisher said. "It was such a tragic loss that we all learned about late yesterday. He was 22 years old. Such a promising young man. The future that was ahead of him was unbelievable, so we’re very, very sorry. It just shows you how precious each day is and how precious life is."

Fisher said he had been in touch with Matheny after learning of the accident and expressed confidence that Matheny would handle the tragedy on behalf of the organization as well as he can.

Matheny released a heartfelt and heartbreaking statement on Taveras' death Monday afternoon. Taveras was 22.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Losing a key player at an important position to a torn anterior cruciate ligament has become an unwanted custom for the St. Louis Rams.

After watching Sam Bradford bounce back from a torn ACL to return as quarterback only to have it taken away by another ACL injury to the same knee, the Rams are experiencing a nightmare case of deja vu with left tackle Jake Long.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher confirmed Monday afternoon further testing of Long's injured knee revealed their worst fear: a second ACL tear in as many seasons.

Long's injury comes on the heels of suffering the same injury in Week 16 of last season. He had worked his way back from that injury in time to start the regular season.

The timing of Long's second ACL tear in relation to Bradford's raises some questions about the surgeries, the rehab process and how quickly both players returned from the injury.

Aside from the injury itself, Bradford and Long's recovery process had three other common denominators. First, both surgeries were done by Dr. James Andrews. Long suffered his second injury 308 days after the first one. Bradford's second ACL tear came 307 days after his initial tear.

Bradford turned to Andrews again after re-injuring the knee in August. The surgeon for Long's second operation is still to be determined. Andrews also repaired Long's torn left triceps in 2013.

Known for his work with pitchers' elbows and Tommy John surgery, Andrews also operated on Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III's torn ACL last year.

After Bradford suffered his injury on Oct. 20, 2013, he was back participating in organized team activities in June and did most of the work in training camp. Long's first ACL injury came on Dec. 22, 2013, and after sitting out the offseason program, he was back on the field within the first two weeks of training camp.

Asked Monday whether he had any concern over the rehab process the Rams use for players recovering from ACL injuries, Fisher expressed confidence in his medical and training staff.

"No, it's just a coincidental thing," Fisher said. "Our guys are top shelf. They know what they're doing. They worked really hard. The guys are fine. Both knees had braces on them as well. It's just kind of unusual."

That it is, and if there's not something wrong with the process, it's then fair to wonder if the Rams hurried both players back before they were ready.

"No," Fisher said. "There's no second guessing there whatsoever. They were both ready to play."

Perhaps the whole thing is just an unusual coincidence. Perhaps it's not. Either way, the Rams are now without their starting left tackle and quarterback for the rest of the season.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missed the team's Friday practice because of the flu. Two days later, he missed a 38-yard field goal and mishit a kickoff that led to a 99-yard touchdown for Chiefs returner Knile Davis.

"No matter what, if you’re going to be in this you still have to come out and perform and do your job," Zuerlein said. "There’s no excuses for mishits or missing field goals or anything like that. How sick I was is irrelevant."

[+] EnlargeGreg Zuerlein
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsGreg Zuerlein's kicking woes contributed to the Rams' blowout loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.
What wasn't irrelevant in the Rams' 34-7 loss to the Chiefs were the two big miscues that came off Zuerlein's right foot.

Midway through the second quarter, the Rams had just missed an opportunity to score a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead after getting a fumble recovery at Kansas City's 8. But Zuerlein trotted onto the field with the chance to at least knock a short field goal through the uprights to give the team a three-point lead.

That surely beat the alternative but the alternative is exactly what the Rams got as Zuerlein left the kick wide right from the right hash.

"I think I just didn’t hit it solid," Zuerlein said. "Basically that’s all it was. I rushed at the ball a little bit and didn’t get my plant foot set properly. If that doesn’t get right then the leg swing is not going to be proper and you saw the results."

The result was a field goal for the Chiefs and a six-point swing which manifested into something much worse when Zuerlein failed to execute the opening kickoff of the second half.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher and special-teams coach John Fassel called for that kickoff to go deep and to the left side. But Zuerlein mishit the kick and it didn't get much hang time, leaving plenty of room for Davis to scoop it up and take off down the right sideline. By the time Davis was done running, he had a 99-yard touchdown, the Chiefs had a 17-7 lead and were well on their way to 34 unanswered points and a blowout victory.

"It was a bad kick," Fisher said. "We were trying to get a deep left kick and he just shanked it and they got off and running. I haven’t seen it. Usually when that happens, you are going to get potentially a hold or two but it’s uncharacteristic of our cover team not to make that play. But that was a key play. It’s what they needed to win this game. We didn’t get that."

The mishit kickoff and the missed field goal are part of a disturbing trend for Zuerlein, who just two years ago was considered one of the most dangerous young kickers in the league as he converted his first 15 field goal attempts. But since Week 6 of 2012, he's 44-of-57 on field goal attempts, a 77.2 percent conversion rate. He only missed two field goals in 2013 but both came at the most inopportune times in losses to Seattle and Tennessee.

So far this season, Zuerlein is 8-of-11 on field goal tries. And though two of those misses have come from 50-plus yards, his ability to make long kicks was a big part of his appeal in the first place. He's made just five of his past 14 attempts from 50 yards or further.

It's not time to give up on Zuerlein just yet -- a 27-point loss certainly isn't all his fault -- but if his struggles continue, it's fair to wonder how much longer his leash extends.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have made a habit of starting as the hare and ending as the tortoise in 2014, but for all of those slow finishes, many of them can be directly linked to a series of missed opportunities.

After the Rams' 34-7 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, the 2-5 Rams appear headed down the path to another disastrous season.

And there will be no sequence of plays that better sums up this year's team so far than what happened midway through the second quarter of Sunday's loss.

In a 7-7 game with the ball at Kansas City's 8-yard line after a fumble recovery by defensive end William Hayes, the Rams somehow managed to come away with no points. Not a touchdown, not a field goal, nothing. Instead of at least a 3-point Rams' lead, Kansas City got the ball back and promptly drove for a field goal of its own.

It was a six-point swing that turned more painful as the Chiefs rattled off the next 24 points of the game. They scored all 34 of their points after the Rams' opening touchdown.

"We clearly got outplayed the second half of this game in all three phases," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "It probably started before half when we had the turnover, got sacked, got no points and then gave up points. So this team is going to have to learn to play consistent through 60 minutes."

Really, the most consistent thing about this Rams team is the repeated use of that final sentence. Talk of finishing a game, playing a full 60 minutes and other such cliches are staples around the St. Louis locker room, yet nothing seems to change -- with rare exceptions like last week's win against Seattle mixed in.

Sunday's failure came at all levels, but the steamroller didn't really fire up until after the missed second-quarter chance.

The Rams' offense had put together an impressive opening drive for a touchdown, and though it hadn't scored since, had at least moved the ball. On first down from the Chiefs' 8, running back Tre Mason ran up the middle for 1 yard. On second down, the Chiefs blanketed a Rams receiver corps as pressure came through the Rams' struggling offensive line and forced quarterback Austin Davis to scramble for a yard.

Third down is when things really took a turn for the worse as Davis felt pressure, escaped the pocket to the right and instead of throwing the ball away or hanging in the pocket to find receiver Chris Givens in the back of the end zone, took a 14-yard sack.

"That was a big point in the game," Davis said. "Obviously you get the big turnover. At minimum, you’ve got to come away with three, but, really, you need to score a touchdown. I’ve got to throw it away. We’re even closer and it would have been more of a chip shot for Greg so I have got to do a better job of throwing the football away and managing the situation. You get the field goal and everyone feels a little bit better. Those types of plays are critical in a close game, as it was at that point."

In fairness, Davis had thrown a touchdown earlier in the game on a similar play when he rolled out and found tight end Lance Kendricks in the back of the end zone. Taking a sack isn't a good play but it still left kicker Greg Zuerlein a 38-yard chip shot. Or so it seemed.

Zuerlein, who has developed a knack for missing kicks at crucial times, said he rushed the kick and didn't set his plant foot properly.

"Anytime you go out there they expect you to make the field goal, obviously you should, being that close," Zuerlein said.

Once again, there are a lot of simple enough things the Rams should be able to do to help them win games. They're the things that winning teams do and losing teams don't. And for as long as the Rams don't do them, they'll continue to get the same result.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the St. Louis Rams' 34-7 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs:

Walking wounded: For much of Sunday's game, it seemed the Rams couldn't go without suffering an injury every couple of plays. By the time the day was done, the Rams lost center Scott Wells (elbow), offensive tackle Jake Long (knee), guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder), receiver Brian Quick (arm) and safeties Cody Davis (concussion) and Rodney McLeod (knee). None returned after departing, and end William Hayes also left the locker room on crutches.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered no specific updates on any of the players but acknowledged that some of the injured would "miss some time."

Mishit kick: Fisher said kicker Greg Zuerlein's short kickoff to open the second half was a result of a mishit ball. The ball was not supposed to be a line drive. Instead, it was supposed to be high and angled to the left corner. But Zuerlein didn't hit it as he was supposed to and Kansas City returner Knile Davis took it 99 yards for a touchdown. Fisher also expressed disappointment in Zuerlein's miss on a 38-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

Governor's appearance: There has been speculation about the Rams' future in St. Louis, and some of that has centered on the efforts of Gov. Jay Nixon to help keep the team in the state. Nixon was spotted walking through the corridor near the Rams locker room after the game.

Rapid Reaction: St. Louis Rams

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 34-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium:

What it means: The Rams' victory over Seattle last week offered a short respite to forget about all that ails the Rams. But it took only a week for many of those problems to come bubbling to the surface again. The Rams had plenty of chances to jump out to an early lead and make Kansas City work for this one, but instead they reverted to their usual M.O. of self-destruction. Never was that more evident than a second-quarter sequence in which the Rams recovered a fumble at Kansas City's 8 and came away with zero points. The Chiefs scored 34 unanswered points, and that was that. At 2-5 with road trips to San Francisco and Arizona the next two weeks, things such as silly penalties, missed tackles and shoddy pass protection remain at the forefront for this team. Until those things change, the results will remain the same.

Stock watch: Down -- The offense, all of it. After an impressive opening drive, the Rams were wholly ineffective with the ball, with plenty of blame to be spread. Start with ineffective play calling that offered little in the way of creativity or adjustments, then go to an offensive line that was leaking from almost every position to a quarterback who forced a bad interception in the first quarter to receivers failing to create separation. You name it, the Rams did (or didn't do) all of it. All told, the Rams mustered 200 yards of offense, including just 20 in an atrocious third quarter.

Injuries pile up: Speaking of the offensive line, a group that has mostly held up on the injury front finally had the issues that seemed imminent from the start of the season. Guard Rodger Saffold, center Scott Wells and left tackle Jake Long have been injury-prone in the past few years, and it seemed to be a matter of time before it happened again. It happened all at once against Kansas City as Saffold (shoulder), Wells (elbow) and Long (knee) left the game and did not return. Receiver Brian Quick left with an arm injury and also did not come back. The Rams also took major hits at safety, where Rodney McLeod (knee) and Cody Davis (concussion) departed and did not return.

Game ball: Defensive end Robert Quinn. In an ongoing theme this season, there wasn't much to choose from here, but Quinn had his best day of the season, posting back-to-back sacks in the second quarter and forcing an Alex Smith fumble from behind in the opening quarter. After going without a sack in the season's first five games, Quinn has three in the past two weeks and seems to be coming to life.

What's next: The Rams head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers for the second time in four weeks. It will be the second game in a three-game road trip.