By Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
The Rams, who gave up 25.4 points per game last season, were supposed to be improved on defense with the arrival of corner Cortland Finnegan, tackle Kendall Langford and draft picks Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins.
The first half of Saturday’s game in Dallas showed how far the team has to go.
Jenkins, Finnegan, safety Craig Dahl and linebacker Rocky McIntosh all missed tackles as the Cowboys built a 17-3 lead. Running back DeMarco Murray converted third-and-10 on a dumpoff by juking three defenders. Backup wideout Dwayne Harris squeezed through Dahl and Jenkins for a 38-yard touchdown when he should have been pushed out of bounds.
“We’re not tackling like we did the last couple weeks,” coach Jeff Fisher said at halftime.
Cortland Finnegan’s transition to the St. Louis Rams has gone smoothly so far.
Finnegan was one of the most sought-after cornerbacks in the free-agent market this past offseason and had several teams interested in him.
Maybe the least likely place for a top-tier player to end up is on a bottom-tier team, which the Rams have been over the past five years with a total of 15 victories.
“I just wanted to be that little piece, that spark plug, to really get this thing remodeled,” he said.
New Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan doesn’t have his own “island” like the Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. But Finnegan will settle for his own peninsula in covering his opponents. Finnegan talks about the art of covering your opponent in the passing game.
One of the fiercest battles in St. Louis Rams camp won’t be for a position on the depth chart.
It’ll be between Danny Amendola, one of the shiftiest slot receivers around, and Cortland Finnegan, the aggressive cornerback brought in to help new coach Jeff Fisher establish his program in St. Louis.
Mentioning the matchup to Finnegan on Monday triggered a flashback to practice a day earlier.
“He got me,” Finnegan said. “The son of a gun got me.”
New Rams coach Jeff Fisher, formerly with the Tennessee Titans, brings a legacy of winning to the Show-Me State. Both he and general manager Les Snead have set the organization up with multiple first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, having orchestrated a trade before the 2012 NFL draft with the Robert Griffin III-smitten Washington Redskins, who were willing to sacrifice a significant portion of their future in order to land the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
While St. Louis has made changes in several areas (personnel, marketing, sponsorship, coaching), the most critical difference entering the campaign ahead boils down to the roster. The Rams essentially underwent a total transformation, going from one of the oldest teams to the youngest in a matter of a few weeks. They enjoyed a lucrative free-agency period, acquiring players like cornerback Cortland Finnegan, and defensive tackle Kendall Langford, and drafted four players with huge upside in defensive tackle Michael Brockers, wide receiver Brian Quick, and cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.