Just like the NFL Network and SportsCenter, we are going to momentarily shy away from our usual Peyton Manning and New York Jets talk by diverting the attention toward everyone's favorite poster child: Andrew Luck. Just kidding. But, seriously.
Well, you got what you wanted. The new era Rams took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium with excitement and energy, finally returning to the wonderful game of football. Unfortunately, though, they did in fact return to the type Ram football to which fans are recently all too accustomed. They were sloppy, undisciplined and downright unprepared to compete in what was the second-to-last game of the first week.
Had the results of this performance been under the tutelage of past coaching staffs and management, there would be a much stronger premature sense of urgency and panic; however, few can question the qualifications of Jeff Fisher and Co. He is, and will remain, accountable for and critical of his team, yet will remain ultra-cool and levelheaded all the while. Necessary adjustments and personnel decisions will be made.
Now, before I flip-flop from my lingering "it will all be okay" attitude, let's talk Andrew Luck with a few sprinkles of Ram news, if you're into that sort of thing...
Andrew Luck scores on first pass - BREAKING NEWS: In fashion similar to that of the great Peyton Manning, No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck scored on his first professional career throw. Albeit it was a screen pass that traveled all of four yards, but, whatever, the Rams' defense got burned. Here was Colts owner, Jim Irsay's take immediately following.
Historic beginning!!!!!!!!!!!!! The legend has begun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) August 12, 2012
Are those 31 exclamation points inadvertent, or was that Jim's subtle way of giving the rest of the NFL notice? Regardless, it's hard to disagree. Luck looked (somehow) better than advertised, going 10 of 16 for 188 yards with 2 touchdowns in the first half. The Indianapolis Colts overall played an impressive game. That other team from somewhere else did not.
Sam Bradford was hit numerously in little playing time, the receivers dispelled zero concerns, and Isaiah Pead was jittery with an obvious case of "rookie butterflies." The defense as a whole did not appear improved. Craig Dahl was caught in poor coverage when he allowed Luck's second touchdown to Austin Collie, while much of the front over-pursued in blitz to allow his first. The Colts exactly doubled the Rams' offensive production with 430 net total yards; however, the team in horns led time of possession by 12 seconds. Greg Zuerlein didn't really get to show off "The Leg" when he saved the shutout, kicking from 37 yards away. Overall, I grade the performance a solid "D-". If you dare, here are the rest of the numbers from yesterday's whooping. Let's move on.
Plenty for Rams to work on after drubbing by Colts - Jim Thomas of the Post Dispatch has some very nice things to say ... of Indianapolis. It's no surprise to think that he had an ominous, concerned feeling in his stomach as he wrote this article, but he's seasoned enough to know to keep a level head. It was the first game of the first preseason under a brand new regime with the league's youngest roster. The learning curve was imminent; it's merely more drastic than most would have liked. Should the Rams leave Ford Field in Detroit on September 9 with a similar outcome and disparity in score, despair may be warranted, but there are three more exhibition games between then and now. Please, no mock drafts.
Jackson pleased with first performance - ...of the Rams. Really, he is. I'd wager that the product on the field wasn't ideal to Steven Jackson's standards, but it wasn't 60 minutes of awful, either. There were a few good things to take away from the game, particularly Jackson himself, who moved the ball well in his limited first action back. The first-team offense moved the ball with familiar, yet effective dink-and-dunk style, crossing mid-field in both of their two possessions. Not a player was perfect, and two dumb penalties erased any possibility for points on those drives, but the potential at least was there. As Jackson said, "I believe we have some good film that we can go over and learn from and continue as an offense to grow." Finally, of course, don't forget the biggest positive of all - the Rams made the trip back to St. Louis without a single addition to the injury report. New era Rams!
Rams don't sweat lack of top receiver - As is currently the case with many positions, the Rams have yet to declare a true starter at wide receiver, and probably won't do so for some time. Although Danny Amendola will likely be seen as Bradford's "go-to guy" in the slot, the battle for first on the outside is as hot as it has been in St. Louis since Torry Holt's second season, but for all the wrong reasons. The team is obliged to a committee approach due to talent limitations. The competition now appears to be narrowed down to Steve Smith and rookie Brian Quick, who have both impressed in camp. Who is your choice?
Fisher instills confidence in Rams - It's nice to have a head coach who knows how to win football games. It's not to have a team that doesn't. Therein lies the problem according to Jeff Fisher, who says, "You have to learn how to win before you win." Obviously, that lesson is still being taught, but the players believe that they have the right tutor. The locker room atmosphere in St. Louis has been immensely improved, and the team is assured that it is headed on the right path. The fans base, which often greets coach Fisher with stand ovations, is noticeably rejuvenated, as well.
Pair of Rams on bubble with suspensions - The only surefire way to earn an NFL roster spot is to perform at a consistently high level both early and often, in both practice and games. When one couples the opposite of that quality with literal unavailability, it makes the odds of cracking a 53-man team nearly impossible. That is the situation in which second-year receiver, Austin Pettis finds himself after testing positive for performance enhancing supplements. He and veteran tight end, Brody Eldridge have been suspended for two and four games respectively in 2012. In Pettis' case, however, he only did himself a favor by having the best outing of any receiver in Sunday's contest, catching 3 balls for 25 yards.