Up until the first preseason game, the Rams’ off season was spectacular, something close to perfect. The highlights have included the arrival of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead, the trading of the number two pick overall to the Washington Redskins for two #1 picks in the 2013 & 2014 NFL Draft, acquiring several key free agents to fill hot spots and the drafting of youth to help in the building of a championship foundation. Yesterday’s game, however, was imperfect in many ways.
I stood in the tunnel and watched the Rams gather at the edge of the turf as a team, there was excitement. Emotions were over flowing, players buckling their chin straps and others shouting and chanting with high energy as they took the field. Something was missing, it just didn’t feel right, almost like several individuals were ready but this young team was not. The Rams captains (Steven Jackson, Sam Bradford, James Laurinaitis, Brit Miller) headed out to midfield to greet their opponent’s captains for the coin flip.
The Rams offensive line looked good in spots, Steven Jackson ran hard, Sam Bradford threw some good balls and several receivers (tight ends and wide receivers) made solid plays. But then there were the stalled drives, a failed fourth down conversion and an inability to get the ball in the endzone.
The defense was inconsistent when applying pressure in their base front, they gave up too many passes underneath that were not contested and tackling was inconsistent.
Some bright spots on Sunday;
The special teams did a lot of good work. Punt and kickoff return duties were handled by Isaiah Pead, Janoris Jenkins, Chris Givens and Chase Reynolds with solid production. Rookie punter, Johnny Hekker had two punts for 111 yards with a 52.5 net and both landed inside the 20 yard line. His average on the day was 55.5 yards with a long of 67, which was a booming spiral as if it came out of a jug machine.
Third team quarterback Austin Davis showed some ability to run the offense with very little hiccup. He completed 12-of-18 passes for 84 yards. Austin Pettis carried his outstanding camp production into the first preseason game by snatching several balls and leading the team in receiving with 25 yards on three receptions.
The imperfect start Sunday was an eye opener for this young team and it was obvious they have a lot of work head of them, not to mention some growing pains. The second preseason game against cross state rival Kansas City should show big improvement in every phase of the game.