Preseason football is typically viewed in a love/hate sort of light. For some, the preseason is simply the mirage of football, following the drought of NFL-less news after the draft in April. To others, the preseason is a welcomed event, allowing the first glimpses of their beloved team in live action. Some will spend countless hours breaking down the film, analyzing roster battles, and trying to predict the eventual 53-man roster. Others will not watch a single down, skipping over the “preseason analysis” on their favorite sports team in favor of the newest parody of “Call Me Maybe.” Regardless of your feelings for the preseason, one things remains the same; come Aug. 31, it is all wiped away and the regular season begins. So, in celebration of the midpoint of the the 2012 preseason, here are 6 interesting facts from the first two game that you probably didn’t know and that do not really matter…
1. In two games, the Rams’ defensive signal-caller, James Laurinaitis, has a grand total of 1 tackle and 1 assisted tackle.
Laurinaitis has gotten his fair share of first team reps, but not apparently not enough to start tallying up the tackle totals. Last season Laurinaitis amassed 142 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions on what should have been the first Pro Bowl appearance of his young career. I am sure Animal Jr. is simply allowing the rest of the linebacking core to get some practice tackling before he takes over in the regular season.
2. The Rams’ offense has better 4th down conversion efficiency than 3rd down efficiency
Need a reminder that this is still the preseason, look at the 4th down attempts that Coach Jeff Fisher has pressured the offensive units to convert. Although I am a fan of the game, I pray that I do not see the Rams going for is on 4th and 3 in the 1st Quarter of any game. Like Fisher has repeatedly said during his press conferences, the Rams are taking this opportunity to “try out situations.” So far, the Rams have cashed in on 3 out of 6 of their 4th down tries, with an impressive .50 efficiency rate. On the flip side of that, the Rams have converted a mediocre .36 of their 3rd down tried, moving the chains only 9 out of 25 attempts. Look for that mark to improve once the season begins, especially considering that the starters will be on the field for the entirety of the game, as opposed to the first two drives.
3. Steven Jackson is pounding away for 6 yards every time he has been handed the ball
If there was ever a shining light in Rams Nation it would be our beloved Steven Jackson. In extremely limited time on the field, Jackson has rushed 11 times for 66 yards, an average of 6 yards per carry. He has been a monster on the field, bursting through the enormous holes the offensive line has made, and pulling would-be tacklers with him for a couple of extra yards on each carry. Jackson was the catalyst in the Rams’ gorgeous first drive against the Chiefs, starting with the play action fake that led to a 35 yard bomb to Amendola, and following with an 18 yard blast up the middle of the field.
4. The offense has amassed the second fewest penalties yards
Only the Minnesota Vikings’ offense has been less penalized, in terms of total yardage, so far in the preseason. For all the talk about the Rams’ untimely false start penalties, in the grand scheme of things they are doing just fine. The offensive has committed 8 penalties for a total of 50 yards, which are primarily composed of false starts and delay of games. To put that number in context, the Atlanta Falcons have committed 21 penalties for 242 yards. From the start of camp, Offensive Line Coach Paul Boudreau has hammered into the line the importance of keeping the snap count. Boudreau has been notorious for his ability to get the most out of players, even some of the less skilled lineman, and is renown for the discipline he instills on the line. Fisher talked about their strategy during camp for reinforcing that disciple, “If it (false starts) becomes an epidemic, instead of coming out then they’ll take a trip around the field. That was kind of our philosophy, so Boo’s (OL Coach Paul Boudreau) got that pretty much under control.” We also heard reports about Jason Smith getting sidelined in practice for false starts, leading the way for Barry Richardson to snag his starting job; for now. Theoretically, we would like our penalty line to read “0 penalties for 0 yards” at the end of the game, but I can definitely live with staying at the bottom of the league.
5. Sam Bradford has yet to be sacked in the preseason
Contrary to what you might have thought you saw in the Colts game, Sam Bradford has yet be be “officially” sacked in his limited time. Bradford was rocked pretty hard on a couple of plays in Week 1, but the statistics gurus have Bradford chalked up for zero sacks and one rush attempt for zero yards. Call it what you want, but it is a relief to see Bradford staying on his feet, especially with the heat that his offensive line has taken this off season. Bradford himself seems pretty pleased claiming, “I don’t think I got touched once. Anytime that you come out of a game and you’re not sore, it’s a great feeling,” following Saturday’s game against the Chiefs. Arrowhead Pride, the Chief official SB Nation fan site, took it upon themselves to disprove Bradford’s statement, but we all get what he meant; he is not getting murdered at the end of every play!
6. Greg “the Leg” has only seen one of his kickoffs returned for more than 25 yards
The man of many nicknames has shown Rams’ fans why he was taken so early in the draft this year. He put on a show for the crowd at the Fan Fest scrimmage and boomed a 52-yarder against the Chiefs last weekend. More impressively, the man is making sure the opposing offensive is getting no help from him in terms of field position. Zuerlein has been sending the ball deep, deep, DEEP into the endzone on kickoffs. During the regular season, 99.9% of them would not see a return, but with fringe players attempting to make a name for themselves on special teams, several have attempted to run it out from 5 yards deep and most all of those attempts have ended poorly. The Rams lost a couple of heart-breakers as a result of poor special teams play last year(I still have nightmares about the Arizona game), so whether it is punt return, kickoff, or an extra point, the Rams need to be firing on all cylinders once the real games begin