Aug 24, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cheerleader performs during the preseason game against the St. Louis Rams at Sports Authority Field .The Broncos defeated the Rams 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Thoughts On The St. Louis Rams Loss To The Denver Broncos


 

Last night the St. Louis Rams put on a show for the world, playing their first nationally televised game against the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos. The game was exciting from the opening snap, with some highlight reel plays from the Rams and the Broncos doing their best Chip Kelly impression with their hurry-up offense. While the final score suggests that St. Louis lost the game, it is certainly not indicative of the battle between the “starters.” It is safe to say Jeff Fisher will be much happier with his film than John Fox. Anyways, without further ado, here are Ramblin’ Fan’s quick thoughts on the game…

 

1. First and foremost, let’s have a moment of silence for all those “experts” and analysts that had been ripping on the Alec Ogletree selection after his performances in the opening half of the preseason. “The Tree” was the obvious player of the game last night , making massive plays on the ground and in coverage. Unofficially, the rookie outside linebacker finished the night with: 6 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive touchdown, 2 pass deflections, and 1 interception. The quickest way to make doubters close their mouths is by going out and performing on the football field. Ogletree certainly shut a few nay-sayers up last night.

2. Since Bradford joined the NFL, his confidence has always been in question on the football field. At the start of last season, there were questions about him suffering from “cabin fever,” or rushing due to defensive pressure that wasn’t necessarily there. Between Jeff Fisher, the new pieces on the offense line, and his new offense weapons, Bradford has obviously found his comfort zone. The Rams’ signal caller has been sensational in all three preseason games so far, finishing last night  with a 56% completion percentage, 110 passing yards, and his first touchdown connection with Jared Cook. If this is any indication of how Bradford will play during the regular season, he could certainly move up into the upper echelon of quarterback in the league.

3. Benny Cunningham needs to make this 53-man roster, solely for the purpose of giving the St. Louis Rams someone besides Isaiah Pead to return kickoffs. Pead was not really given the opportunity to show off his potential last night, with most of his kicks sailing over his head. However, we have seen Pead’s success as a returner, or lack of, dating back to last season. Benny Cunningham has been impressive on nearly every return he has taken this preseason. With Terrance Ganaway gone, there is no reason Cunningham shouldn’t see the “first team” snaps at kick return against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, and eventually make the team as a depth running back and special teams player.

4. Having no inside knowledge on the rationale behind the receiver rotation, we all have to be somewhat perplexed by the refusal to given Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey more snaps with the first-teamers. Austin Pettis was abysmal last night, in one case looking over the wrong shoulder on the corner route that likely should have been a touchdown. Both Bailey and Quick have been impressive in practice and during their preseason games. At some point, the coaching staff is going to have to shuffle the rotation. Or, at least, we hope…

5. Whatever Jeff Fisher did at practice to improve on tackling, he should continue to do for the rest of the preseason and on into the regular season. Granted, there was still a fair amount of arm tackles last night, but there were no glaring misses by players in the open field like there had been against Green Bay. James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Cortland Finnegan, and Rodney McLeod all stood out on the defensive side of the football last night simply with their tackling. That is a good sign!

6. Speaking of Rodney McLeod… go ahead and make him the starter.

7. Greg “the Leg” was certainly unleashed last night, getting to attempt a 58-yarder in the notoriously thin-air in Denver. In Ramblin’ Fan’s “bold predictions,” we suggested that Zuerlein would enter the history books with a 60+ yard field goal. We’ll have to settle for a 58 yard make, with about 5 to 10 yards of extra power.

8. With Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs in their primes, opposing punters would try their best to kick the football out of bound, or even sacrifice distance in an attempt to force a fair catch by the return men. Tavon Austin may very well be that type of player, with two excellent returns last night in the punt game. Aside from the Alec Ogletree force-scoop-and-score, Austin’s 81 yard punt return on the Rams’ first drive was likely the highlight of the game. Dynamic…

9. Not to be outdone by the other rookies, T.J. McDonald was impressive last night as well,  getting  his paw on a field goal attempt. Aside from the block, McDonald was also impressive with the first-teamers, recorded 3 tackles next to his new partner, Rodney McLeod. More importantly, we did not hear McDonald’s name for most of the night. Oddly enough, that is a good thing; meaning there was no blown coverage, missed tackles, or penalties that drew attention. Last night was a “coming-out party” for the 2013 rookie draft class. Let’s hope they can keep it up into the regular season.

10. Johnny Hekker was a monster in the punt game last night, with two absolutely beautiful kicks landing inside the 20 yard line. Consistency was  a problem for Hekker last year, with the occasional “shank” during some big moments in the game. So far, the sophomore punter has been nothing short of phenomenal, much like the rest of the special teams-trio.

 

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  • Larry Mabry

    The Rams first team showed poise and patience , they were great.even the D’s vanilla defense was exciting . Can’t wait until Fish unleashes what ever what he has planned.

  • Beer O’Clock

    I must have been watching a different game.

    The starting defense was manhandled by the Broncos. Yes, the Rams were playing a “vanilla” defense but, still, Decker and Thomas dominated Finnegan and Jenkins. The linebackers couldn’t cover. The back seven still gets baited too easily by play-action and the line had multiple encroachment penalties. When an offense has 49 plays and 290 yards of offense in one half (vs. 110 yards for the Rams), you can’t feel good about the defense.

    I’m not one of those Ogletree critics and this game truly showed his athletic abilities. Before you uncork the champagne, he had more plays where he blew his coverage than those he made great plays (and he made several great plays). I have no doubt he’ll be a fine linebacker, maybe one of the best, but I’d hold off on the ticker tape parade for now.

    Ogletree’s forced fumble and return for a TD was legitimate because the whistle hadn’t blown. Still, 50% of NFL refs would have blown the play dead before the fumble because Hillman’s momentum was clearly stopped. This doesn’t take anything away from Ogletree, but it did fluff up the score to make it a little misleading. Call it a fortunate play.

    I’m a Rams fan, but I got to say that I’m a little perplexed by the hypocrisy of it all. For two games, we’ve heard it’s the individual players performance and progress—NOT THE SCORE–that should be the metric of preseason. Then the Ram’s starters finish the half ahead 20-10 with a very poor defensive effort and we’re beating our chests until our nipples hurt.

    BTW–agree with all your points regarding the offense and special teams (especially on Bradford and Hekker).

    There was a lot to like about the game and a lot to be concerned with.

    • ricdram

      I agree Beer O’Clock. Finnegan &
      JJ were toast last night. Did we
      even register a sack? IDK. CGivens missed a blitz in
      front of him & got hit with ball
      in the back.But I feel better
      about Tavon & Cook.

    • seann

      r d was way back and letting them have everything underneath . I think that would have been a fumble any day of the week we will be fine week one is coming soon. we still have some things to work on but we will get there . and that td at the end with #83 I think that should have been 2

      • Beer O’Clock

        Just like they did against New England in London.

        Some fans can rationalize anything.

        • seann

          u have to be able to see the good in things WE R A YOUNG TEAM AND WE HAVE TO GROW . give it till the 1st few weeks of the yr and if u don’t still see thing getting better then u can talk all that stuff. but teams can grow fast in a few weeks time and I think we will to. I will start to worry when we stop improving from week to week .I think some people think that we r going to be this team that comes out and walks mud holes all around the nfl and I think that we will do that in time but we need to grow 1st
          in fisher I trust he will get it done he has not done us wrong yet

          • Beer O’Clock

            Seann,

            I do see the good in things.

            What part of “there were a lot of things to like” did you not get?

            It WAS an improvement over the previous two games.

            Bradford looks like the QB we’ve been waiting for.

            Austin is giving us that punt returner we haven’t had for a very long time, though he’s not delivering much at WR. He will, though, just not at the messiah levels people were driveling on about.

            Cook is showing that he really is the force we were hoping for.

            Jake Long is delivering what we hoped for at LT.

            Ogletree went from totally lost to realizing that he can play at this level. This newly found confidence will serve him well. He has major abilities, which he clearly demonstrated, and still some liabilities. I’m sure the liabilities will be reduced or eliminated with experience. We’re all hoping for sooner rather than 2014. My point is this: we really don’t know when, though this game gave me tremendous hope it will be sometime in 2013. In the meantime, these liabilities will be exploited by good QBs and offensive coordinators.

            Ray Ray shows he will have a role on this defense. Not bad for a walk on.

            The special teams, overlooking the blocked punt, looked spectacular (some reservations being that Denver’s punt and kick return defenses have looked ridiculously poor throughout the preseason and that Mile High stadium is a kicker’s paradise).

            But, it wasn’t all good.

            You’re misreading objectivity as being negativity. Your also confusing concern with worry. I’m sorry that I’m not your typical Rams fan who sees everything the Rams do is either great or, when reality sets in, terrible.

            Preseason is our best glimpse of how the new players are panning out, strengths and weaknesses of individual players and other factors before the season starts until the season actually starts. The first half of the third game of preseason is the best preseason has to offer for these evaluations.

            Of course, the Rams need to grow. They are an extremely young team. Of course, I trust in Fisher. But to walk away from this game thinking the Rams defense in the first half was promising is either a massive dose of rationalization or rose-colored glasses the size of Hoover dam.

            So, you keep wearing those rose-colored glasses. All teams need fans like that, especially young, upcoming 7-8-1 teams in a tough division. I’ll keep being as objective as I possibly can be. I’ll celebrate every Rams TD just as hard as you and be just as proud when they reach the Super Bowl.

            Maybe, even, more so.

          • seann

            I don’t think that they played good but I did see that r cb were about 10 15yds off of the wr. on every play and when u have #18 on the other side he will take that all day .idk its jest the pre season if we still play like we have been come week 1 or 2 then that’s when I will start being judgemental of the things were doing. I think that we will be a 9-7 team this yr and a lot better next GO RAMS

    • Nathan Kearns

      No one said the defense was overly impressive, just that there were a handful of individual performance that obviously “stuck out” and that, overall, the tackling had improved from the past couple of weeks.

      With Ogletree, I only saw a handful of mistakes during the Denver game, even after re-watching it a couple of times. Got juked out of his shoes once, and bit on a play fake once, but, outside of that, he appeared to put together a pretty solid overall performance.

      I will certainly not be popping any champagne, but I am not than happy to celebrate a player who puts on a dominant performance in the face of some critics coming down hard. Over the last week, some “experts” had already thrown in the towel on Ogletree, one suggesting he was a “bust” after having played fewer than 40 preseason defensive snaps. My “quick thought” more more of a shot at them then a crowning of Ogletree as the new savior in the Rams’ defense.

      I do agree that the celebration is a bit hypocritical, but only if individual performances and progress were not still being assessed. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little proud of “winning” in the preseason “dress rehearsal” on national television against the pedestaled Peyton Manning. :)

      There are certainly area to improve on both offense and defense: pre-snap penalties, tackling (still), maintaining gaps on the interior of the line, Janoris Jenkins keeping his footing, etc. Still, I can’t rip them toooooo much… at least not until the regular season

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  • Arnett Counts

    This was improvement fellas…baby steps…Denver is a nice team….So was Green Bay….we played much better…see the difference?

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