Rams Report Card vs. Texans
By Bill Coats
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Here’s one blogger’s grades for the Rams after Sunday’s 16-13 loss to the Houston Texans:

QUARTERBACK: In his second start, rookie Keith Null took a step forward. He was intercepted on a ball that he should’ve thrown away, he fumbled two snaps, and he got the Rams into the end zone only one time. But he managed the game better and finished 18 of 27 for 173 yards, including a 2-yard TD pass to WR Danny Amendola. Null’s passer rating was 81.2. GRADE: C

RUNNING BACK: Productive once again despite a bad back and a bout with flu-like symptoms late in the week, Steven Jackson finished with 123 yards from scrimmage. He led the team in rushing (82 yards) and receiving (41). GRADE: B+

RECEIVERS: Amendola got his first NFL touchdown pass. But he and fellow WRs Brandon Gibson, Donnie Avery and Ruvell Martin aren’t doing a good enough job of getting open and totaled just 88 yards — less than half what the Texans’ Andre Johnson amassed. The TEs were targeted only two times. GRADE: D+

OFFENSIVE LINE: Despite operating with two new guards — John Greco on the right side in place of the departed Richie Incognito and Mark Setterstrom on the left for the injured Jacob Bell – the Rams protected Null fairly well. The run blocking was just OK. GRADE: C+

DEFENSIVE LINE: Houston’s anemic ground game mustered only 52 yards, but the Texans shredded the Rams through the air. A big part of that was the failure to pressure QB Matt Schaub, who never was sacked. Leonard Little, out with a knee injury, was sorely missed. GRADE: D+

LINEBACKERS: Sore-shouldered rookie James Laurinaitis had perhaps his quietest outing of the season. Not much from David Vobora and Paris Lenon, either, although the Rams did a better job of containing the perimeter. The unit continues to have some coverage issues. GRADE: C-

SECONDARY: Johnson had a big day — but, then, he often has big days. CB Justin King had a rough outing, both covering and tackling. S Craig Dahl is a hard hitter and a sure tackler, but he lacks a bit in coverage. CB Ron Bartell and S James Butler had a couple of nice breakups. GRADE: D

SPECIAL TEAMS: Amendola’s 55-yard kickoff return, plus a 15-yard facemask penalty, set up the Rams at the Houston 25, leading to their only TD. Amendola averaged 31.8 on five kickoffs and got 12 yards on his only punt return. Josh Brown was true on three FG tries, including a 52-yarder that made in 13-13 late in the third quarter. None of Donnie Jones’ four punts (average of 43.5 yards) was returned. GRADE: A-

COACHING: Questionable decision by HC Steve Spagnuolo to punt on fourth-and-10 near midfield with 2:39 to go. The Rams, who had two timeouts left, never got the ball back. OC Pat Shurmur showed an unusual bit of flair, ordering a pass (good for 16 yards) on fourth-and-inches. Play calling overall was OK. DC Ken Flajole showed a number of different looks, trying to disrupt the Texans’ potent passing game. Didn’t do much good. Personnel groupings on the line were hard to figure in a couple of situations. Special-teams coach Tom McMahon had another impressive performance. GRADE: C