The Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams show similarities after the first 2 weeks
With the first loss of the season out of the way, the Cowboys can now go about assessing how they respond to it. During the past two 8-8 seasons, the team has never lost more than two games in a row, but they have lost two in a row on six different occasions.
The Cowboys’ ability to run the ball – or lack thereof – is going to dominate the discussion all week after the loss to the Chiefs. Regardless of anything else, 37 rushing yards probably won’t beat many NFL teams.
Coach Jason Garrett stressed early in the week that the running game has to improve, and perhaps a large role from Brian Waters could help that. Perhaps the Cowboys can rediscover some of the 2011 magic that helped then-rookie running back DeMarco Murray set the franchise rushing record of 253 yards against the Rams three seasons ago.
The Rams haven’t been quite as careful with the ball as the mistake-free Chiefs. St. Louis has given the ball away three times in two games – the same as Dallas. The Cowboys’ defense is going to have to find a way to take a ball or two away, as everyone saw last week how tough it is to win with a negative turnover margin.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer received a good amount of playing time against Kansas City, and he was moderately effective. It looks likely that the 2012 Pro Bowler will follow the same routine from last week and look to suit up again Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys might be hoping they run the ball like they did against the 2011 Rams, but these are not the 2011 Rams.
For starters, they can stop the run, as they held Atlanta to 36 yards on 16 carries in a close loss Sunday. The Rams have only allowed 122 rushing yards on 42 attempts through two games, which is sixth-best in the NFL and a far cry from the average of 152 yard per game they allowed in 2011.
These Rams also have Sam Bradford, who missed six games, including the Cowboys game, in 2011. Bradford is off to a hot start and with the help of free agency acquisition Jared Cook and rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin, he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns.
Bradford’s 352 yards against the Falcons helped St. Louis rally from a 24-3 halftime deficit, though it wasn’t enough. His efforts were much more effective in Week 1, when he led the Rams 50 yards in the final two minutes to down Arizona with a 48-yard field goal.
Just like the Cowboys, though the Rams’ passing attack couples with a lackluster ground game. Leading rusher Daryl Richardson has just 98 yards on 30 carries – sound somewhat familiar?
Also like the Cowboys, St. Louis looks relatively strong against the run, but the secondary looks vulnerable. The Rams are allowing 330 yards per game through the air, which could open the playbook up for Tony Romo and Co.