Rams vs Titans Game Recap: A focus on the starting team


In the second week of the Preseason, the Rams traveled to Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee to face the Titans in a game where both teams were coming off a loss. A special mention should be made to Jeff Fisher, who was given a standing ovation from the Titans crowd. Fisher previously coached the Titans for 16 seasons, and this was the first time since departing from Tennessee that Fisher returned.

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Looking at the starting line-up on the 4-3 defensive formation:

Chris Long – DE

Aaron Donald – DT

Ethan Westbrooks – DT

Robert Quinn – DE

Jo-Lonn Dunbar – LB

Jame Laurinaitis – LB

Alec Ogletree – LB

Trumaine Johnson – CB

Janoris Jenkins – CB

T.J. Mcdonald – SS

Rodney McLeod – FS

Aug 23, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey (20) is tackled by St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Rams played defense on the first drive of the game, where Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota proved to be a lot safer with the football than his first preseason game. During the opening drive from the Titans, Bishop Sankey found space on multiple occasions, with the Rams’ defense struggling to overcome the run blocking from the o-line in Tennessee.

Moreover, Mariota connected with his receivers on multiple occasions. The Titans showed great pass protection, testing the Rams’ defensive strength, as they found it hard to get to the QB. The Titans offense totaled ten points against the Rams’ starting defense.

Looking to the starting line-up in the offensive scheme:

Greg Robinson – LG

Brandon Washington – LG

Demetrius Rhaney – C

Jamon Brown – RG

Rob Havenstein – RT

Lance Kendricks – TE

Jared Cook – TE

Kenny Britt – WR

Tavon Austin – WR

Tre Mason – RB

Nick Foles – QB

Aug 23, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason (27) is tackled by Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Avery Williamson (54) and Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Rams began on offense with a hand-off to Tre Mason, who struggled to gain any decent yardage, running to the right side of the offensive line. Although it this was the first play, what is important to highlight here, are the two rookie offensive linemen and the possible weakness on the right side.  Both Brown and Havenstein could be the weekly starters for St Louis in their rookie seasons.

Foles then targeted Britt on a pass play for a short gain of eight yards, before Mason carried the ball for three yards and a 1st down. Following this, Mason took the ball to the right side of the offensive line once again for a short gain of about three yards. However, Havenstein committed a holding penalty, resulting in a 10 yard deficit. Foles then threw an interception to Perrish Cox due to a miscommunication between Britt, and this this was returned for a touchdown.

During Foles second drive, he handed the ball off to Benny Cunningham for two plays gaining six yards. He followed that up with a seven yard pass to Britt for a 1st down. On the next play, Cunningham ran for no gain, with Foles then attempting two passes, one to Tavon Austin and the other to Stedman Bailey, both equaling two incompletions and a punt.

Foles then returned to the field for his third drive, resulting in an incomplete pass to Austin, followed with a hand off to Mason for a three yard gain. Foles finally completed another pass when he hooked up with tight end Jared Cook for a short three yard gain. However, the drive fizzled and resulted in another punt.

The Rams were backed up in their own 15 yard line during Foles fourth and final drive. Cunningham would carry the ball three straight times for a total of nine yards. Once again the Rams would be forced to punt and that wold end Foles night on a sour note.

Aug 23, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Titans won 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

So, what can we gain from this performance from the starters in St Louis? What are the points of emphasis?

The Rams were out muscled on the line of scrimmage in Tennessee, which showed in their rushing numbers per attempt, and during times where the pocket was collapsing on Foles. Despite this, Foles showed great skill, working the pocket under pressure in many cases. In this West Coast offense, it is essential for the offensive line to successfully run block and in turn, provide a comfortable pass protection, if the team is to consistently reach the end zone. It is obvious that Fisher wants to run the ball often, mixing the play up with a pass play when needed.

The Rams once again committed poor errors, resulting in 5 or 10 yard penalties on both defense and offense. Defensive end Robert Quinn was flagged for unnecessary roughness, along with Havenstein who was flagged for holding, both in the first quarter. These penalties are an undesirable trait that the Rams have demonstrated over the past few seasons. These need to be cleaned up if this football team is to compete for a playoff position.

LeMarcus Joyner was impressive, with multiple defensive plays that stopped the Titans from completing passes, along with Case Keenum, who is making a strong case for some first team action in 2015. However, improvements are still needed, as Mason will need better lanes to run through if he is to gain any serious yards on the run play, and Austin is still yet to contribute in a way that Rams fans are hoping. Austin was targeted only twice when Foles was on the field.

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