The Rams lost to the Packers Saturday night 19-7 in their preseason debut in the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams were down 19-0 with a little over a minute to go when quarterback Austin Davis hit wide receiver Nick Johnson down the left sideline on 4th and 6 for a touchdown to avoid the shut out. It would have been the first time the Rams had been shut out in a preseason game since 1978.
This is one of those games where the score doesn’t tell the story. Bradford and the offense moved the ball well getting in scoring position in all but one of their four drives. In fact the offense played most of the first half reeling in 173 total yards.Fisher wanted to work on scoring touchdowns this week and the offense just could not punch the ball into the end zone.
On the first drive the Rams got inside the 40 and then on 4th and 5 from the 38 Bradford threw to Austin who only came up with 3, even if he had gotten all five, the offense had an illegal formation penalty. On the next drive Bradford hit Givens for 57 yards, but then missed a wide open Tavon Austin that would have gone for a touchdown. On fourth down and goal from the one Bradford fumbled the snap and turned the ball over on downs. On the offense’s third drive they went three and out. The offense then came out for a fourth drive and were driving the ball very nicely, however after a nice catch and run by Richardson, who had a nice day catching the ball, was over turned by a holding penalty on Tavon Austin. That holding penalty killed the drive and Greg Zuerlein missed the 50 yard field goal wide right.
Fisher said that he wanted to score touchdowns, and preseason is a good time to work on that. The offense struggled with it, and when the regular season begins they must improve that stat if they want to get where they want to go. Had the Rams not gone for it on fourth down on the first two drives, the Rams are at least down 6-3 at the half, and potentially tied 6-6 if Zuerlein makes the long field goal on the first drive. At the end of the day though, the offense must score touchdowns.
On a side note for the offense, Isaiah Pead got most of the carries tonight and he may have secured his job. Pead had 11 carries for 19 yards, however 11 of those came on the first carry. Pead did not fumble however and he played a key part in pass protection. Pead also had a reception for 10 yards. We also got our first look at Tavon Austin and Jared Cook tonight. Austin finished with four receptions for 28 yards and Jared Cook had one catch for 37 yards, Cook may be big, but he is fast. The offense may have struggled putting the ball in the end zone, but that isnt the only area where they struggle. The first team offense went 0-5 on third down. The defense did much better on third down this week, now the offense needs to get better on third down next week.
The Rams first team defense was a little sloppy, but they did not give up a touchdown which is always a positive when you are playing Aaron Rogers, even if he was without Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.The Packers gained yards on the Rams in chunks, but did not have much success once inside Rams territory. The Packers really beat the Rams in the seam with Finley and that’s where Ogletree is supposed to make his impact. Ogletree did improve from last week, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. The defense however missed a lot of open field tackles, and it was a problem from the very first play when Darian Stewart missed his first tackle and then Brockers missed a tackle the next play. If the Rams can’t figure out their tackling problem, they will have a hard time winning games, let alone the division. The Rams have to be able to tackle. Brandon McGee could also push Trumaine Johnson for his spot in the nickle as Johnson has struggled at times and played inconsistent. Johnson had two whiffed tackles of his own.
Some side notes for the defense, Rodney McLeod could push Darian Stewart for his starting spot. McLeod played well and had an interception that got called back. It was a controversial call that could have gone either way, but the coaches will still see the play he made, and he could get more opportunities.Witherspoon started ahead of Dunbar as the Rams are preparing Witherspoon for week one. Robert Quinn also came up with a sack, which was the first sack of the preseason for the first team defense.
For the second team players and depth players one thing really stood out. Ray Ray Armstrong is for real and after going undrafted he should make the roster. The Rams may have found a diamond in the rough. Armstrong seems to have a nose for the football and wherever the play is at, you are more than likely going to find Armstrong. Austin Davis seems to have the upper hand right now in the battle for the back-up quarterback spot. The offensive line didnt help Clemons’ case at all as Clemons was sacked numerous times and was under pressure what seemed like constantly. Clemons also threw two interceptions, one of which was in the red zone. Davis however, came in during the 4th quarter and helped the Rams score their only points.
The Rams have struggled at times during the preseason, but that’s just it, it is the preseason. These games dont count and the Rams still have time to work on the little things that they are struggling with, because that’s all it is, the little things. The Rams will be back at it again a week from today, when they will play the Denver Broncos on national T.V. on CBS, so if you havent gotten a chance to watch your Rams, next week will be the perfect opportunity.
Sam Bradford: 8/12, 156 yards,
Benny Cunningham: 6 carries, 19 yards,
Isaiah Pead: 11 carries, 19 yards
Nick Johnson: 3 receptions, 58 yards, TD
Chris Givens: 1 reception, 57 yards
Cortland Finnegan, Josh Hull, Trumaine Johnson, Alec Ogletree: 4 tackles
Rashard Hall: one forced fumble