Frederickson: With no-show performance in Dallas, Rams turn optimism into skepticism

Was all the preseason chatter about the Rams just hollow hyperbole?

The Rams were hoping for some answers when they boarded a Texas-bound plane before Week 3.

Yes, this offense could fire all cylinders before a double-digit lead was hanging over its head. Yes, this defense could present a decent pass defense. And yes, there was still so much reason for optimism when it came to Jeff Fisher's team.

Welp ...

As Fisher and his squad headed home following an embarrassing 31-7 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, the baggage they towed was a whole lot heavier. Those issues mentioned above remain while a bigger, grimmer question looms.

Was all this preseason chatter about the Rams just that -- hollow hyperbole bound to make everyone who bought in to it seem foolish?

Maybe that's a bit strong. And if the Rams (1-2) simply lost to the Cowboys, it would be uncalled for. But it wasn't that they lost. It was how.

"I can't explain it," Fisher told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the game.

Where to start?

The Rams defense, led by first-year coordinator Tim Walton, needed to show it could stop an air attack. Instead it got ripped on the ground. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray will haunt this team's nightmares after he totaled 175 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Meanwhile, Tony Romo completed 17 of his 24 throws for three touchdowns, one to Dez Bryant, the star receiver the Rams had desperately wanted to keep quiet.

The Rams offense, led by coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, needed to show it could perform consistently instead of relying on a late-game surge like the past two weeks. But a better-now-than-never comeback would have been better than what happened in Arlington, which was pretty much nothing. The Rams' only score came on a face-saving touchdown late in the third quarter; they trailed 24-0 at the time.

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who had not been sacked once this season, hit the turf six times. Enter concern about this offensive line's strong pass rush.

Rams running back Daryl Richardson, who has been favoring an injured foot for a while now, was on the field for just one play. Enter worry about an already thin backfield being without its starter.

If there was something positive to address, we would do it. But there really isn't. This was the kind of loss that turns lingering optimism into skepticism. If things don't change, this could get ugly. Oh, and don't forget, the San Francisco 49ers come to town Thursday.

Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at