McNeal: The Rams have plenty to figure out before they truly can move forward

BY foxsports • September 24, 2013

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams have not proven to be that adept at playing football this month but they appear to be very proficient at forgetting about it. At least when it comes to Sunday's 31-7 humiliating loss to the Cowboys.

While Rams fans still are recovering from their team's total breakdown that wasn't supposed to happen with Jeff Fisher as coach, Rams players have moved on. Barely two days later, the debacle at Dallas no longer is a topic of conversation at Rams Park.

"We've got a resilient team," defensive end Chris Long said Tuesday inside a Rams' locker room that clearly wasn't dwelling on the debacle at Dallas. "Nobody's happy with the poor performance but we moved right past it. We corrected things and moved past it."

I get it. The Rams must have short memories because they play again so soon. With the defending NFC champion 49ers at the Dome Thursday night, dwelling on Sunday would not be a good idea.

Still, it bugs me. After their alleged big off-season and all the talk about Sam Bradford getting to run the same offense for a second straight year -- whip-pee! -- these Rams are playing a lot like the team that went 2-14 in 2011.

Some forthright answers would be appreciated about now. Why haven't they been able to score in the first quarter? Why isn't Bradford throwing the ball downfield? Why is a defense that was supposed to be top 10 -- "Minimum expectation," Long said in preseason -- ranked 26th?

Maybe it's not only about moving forward. Maybe they don't have any answers. Bradford admitted as much Tuesday when asked about the slow starts.

"We're trying to figure that formula out ourselves," he said. "If we knew it, we would have done it the past couple of weeks."

Trying to provide a little insight, Bradford added, "There is some importance to doing what you do well, trying to get everyone in a rhythm and go from there."

Well, you would think the Rams would have been trying to do that from the opener. If they were, they might want to try something a little more imaginative in the early going against the Niners. Perhaps then, they wouldn't be looking at third-and-long so often.

"It's hard converting third-and-8, 9, 10 in this league," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer revealed. "So, again, if we can get ahead of the sticks a little bit (on first and second down) and then you have the whole playbook at your disposal, that certainly helps."
Whatever it takes to get an early lead would be advisable.

"The past two weeks, we've seen what it's like playing behind and it's not a whole lot of fun," Bradford said. "It would help not only ourselves but it would help the defense out if we started fast and played with a lead."

The defense knows what is coming Thursday -- quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore rushing behind a strong offensive line.

"After the show we put on Sunday, I'd run the ball, too," Long said. "But it's our job to fix those things and we're moving on and we're looking forward to meeting the challenge.

"If you have a subpar performance one week, there's nothing you can ask for more than to have a great running team like San Francisco to see where we're at. They're going to come in, try to run the football like they always do. That's how they're built. It's up to us to try to be up for the task."
If they're not, they'll have three extra days to think about what happened before their next game. That might not prove so easy to put in the past.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at

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