I promised myself that I would not overreact to the results in the St. Louis Rams final preseason game on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens and their second- and third-stringers. Still, you have to be pretty cynical to find much negative about how the Rams played in the 31-17 win. It was a great way to wrap up the preseason and start getting ready to play games that count.
Let's break it down.
The basics were lacking in last week's turd against the Cowboys. Missed tackles, blown coverages, missed assignments, etc. Clearly Jeff Fisher drove home the message in a short week of practice since then. It was hard to find flaws in the most basic football skills, especially the Rams' starters. The tackling was solid, and we even saw some nice work in zone coverages, something that had been a problem in recent weeks.
Janoris Jenkins had a bounce back game. Not just with his pick six, either. Fisher said last week, after the rookie corner's rough night in Dallas, that the key was how well he shook it off and played this week. I think we have an answer.
The offensive line has been a big concern, but there was nothing to be worried about this game. Yes, they were playing the Ravens' backups, not the starters that make it one of the best defenses in the league. Nevertheless, they were in sync as a unit, and held off three and four-man rushes without a problem.
Three touchdowns, 11-for-16, 175 yards, Bradford reminded the weary fans that he is very healthy and very accurate. He mostly had a nice pocket to work with, and his timing was nearly perfect, except for an incomplete to Steve Smith early. He was pressured on the deep ball to Smith, but made a perfect 46-yard strike.
Again, the preseason/backup players caveat applies here. Bradford's fundamentals are solid. Now, he has to do this in the regular season, with Cliff Avril and Ndamukong Suh sure to bring some heat in Week 1. He's going to get pressured and hit some, no matter what, how well he keeps his composure is the key.
Running Back Roundup
Notice how much better this offense is with Steven Jackson?
They might be that good with Daryl Richardson, who chewed up the Ravens' backup starters. He had 36 yards on nine carries. He hits the hole with authority, and might have confused a few folks for Steven Jackson with the way he was running.
Isaiah Pead was the real winner. Whatever they told him at practice this week, it worked. Gone was the dancing and the needless effort to bounce runs outside. He ran hard, made contact and looked more like the player the Rams drafted him to be. Pead averaged 5.8 yards a carry, 10 carries for 58 yards. He entered the game averaging two yards per carry.
Greg The Leg
Give it up for Greg Zuerlein. He made a 59-yard field goal, and nearly had a 62-yard field goal, missing by a yard or two. The Rams might never be out of field goal range inside the Dome.
Michael Brockers & The DTs
Brockers is not seriously injured, by all accounts. He could miss some time, but how much is unknown until tomorrow. GM Les Snead told the guys in the broadcast booth that he was already in the process of looking for more help at the position. The Rams are thin at tackle, especially with Trevor Laws on IR.
We'll have more analysis and reaction tomorrow. Let us know your thoughts on the game.
Don't forget, Friday is cut down day, as team go from 75 to 53 players. We'll have complete coverage of that as well.