Halfway through the preseason program, the St Louis Rams are 0-2. While this is obviously disappointing, there have clearly been a number of positives to take from the first two games. Sam Bradford’s performance is among the highlights from Saturday, finishing with 9/12 passes completed, 101 yards and the inch-perfect touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks. Bradford was also not afraid of going for some deeper passes, and seeing the big frame of Brian Quick being targeted downfield is hugely welcome. The former second round draft pick out of Appalachian State has been hopelessly underused since being selected by the Rams, and it is to be hoped that 2014 is the year his talents are finally utilized to the full.
Just as Chase Reynolds took advantage of his opportunity last week against New Orleans, rookie defensive end Ethan Westbrooks did his chances of making the final roster no harm at all against the Packers. Westbrooks looked sharp, finishing with four solo tackles including a sack. While clearly Robert Quinn and Chris Long are cemented into the starting positions on the edge, as a squad rotation player or a replacement if (heaven forbid) either starter gets injured, Westbrooks certainly looks capable of doing a good job for the Rams. Depth on the roster is essential for such a key positon and the former West Texas A&M man could provide exactly that.
Now the negatives. Coming off a success rate of 92.9% in 2013, Greg Zuerlein missed another field goal and is now 1 for 4 in total during the preseason. Admittedly it was a 55 yarder, but in the dome, Rams fans have come to expect more. Isaiah Pead also went down with a knee injury on a first quarter kick-off return. With Zac Stacy, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham and Chase Reynolds all in the fold, it is quite conceivable that play may prove to be Pead’s last as a Ram.
The Rams were also hindered – again – by penalties. Being flagged ten times for 76 yards represented the second consecutive week of double-digit penalties after conceding 14 for 118 yards against the Saints in the first game. In 2013 the St Louis Rams were the league’s second most penalised team with 123, in 2012 were top of the pile with 129 and were seventh in 2011 with 112. It is understood that having such a young roster can bring problems in terms of ill-discipline and newcomers struggling to adjust to the speed of the NFL. However, this is definitely an area the coaching staff will need to address if the efforts of a seemingly rejuvenated Sam Bradford are not to be undone.
Week 3 against Cleveland will present a very different challenge. Fans of the St Louis Rams have, for years, bemoaned the lack of recognition the team receives in the national media – something shared with the Browns until the arrival of Johnny Manziel. We learned in Week 2 that Sam Bradford is healthy, motivated and coming into form. We learned that the discussion over running back positions is unlikely to include Isaiah Pead. We learned the Rams are still giving away far too many penalties. But we don’t yet have all the answers on a number of important points. Can Michael Sam do enough to make the roster? Is Greg Zuerlein’s form just preseason rust? Can the offensive line hold together to keep Sam Bradford upright? We may be a little closer to getting these questions answered by this time next week.
Tags: St. Louis Rams