So week one has come and gone. The Rams came out victorious, but created a lot question marks, when in actuality this game was suppose to answer a lot of questions. I was not too happy about a lot of things but first lets cover the good.
Bradford looked just the way I thought he would. He was sharp, composed, and confident. He was very accurate and made great decisions all day. He should have had three touchdowns after hitting Jared Cook with a perfect pin point accurate strike that he fumbled away on the five. That fumble not only kept him from having 3 touchdowns, but also eclipsing 300 yards. He finished with 299 yards. His lone interception came from a ridiculous play call (more on that in a moment). Can't really fault him for that one. He did an excellent job working through his progressions all day, and not forcing many throws and taking what the defense gave him. Truth of the matter is Bradford actually played a perfect game. As I had been saying all off season, Sam Bradford is the least of my worries. In all fairness I did see him force one throw to Cook, other than that you have to tip your hat to the young man.
Outside of the bone head fumble, have to carry that ball high and tight and cannot slow down when you get to the endzone, sprint across the line, cook played extremely well. That might be an understatement. What I saw from him was everything that was expected. When we first signed Cook I had this to say;
"I don't believe Bradford has the most pressure him, I think that belongs to Cook. Cook has not come anywhere close to playing up to his freakish potential in his four year career. Honestly his combine numbers and measurements strongly resemble that of Jimmy Graham. Graham 6'6" 260, 10" hands, 35" arms, 4.53 40. Cook 6'5" 250, 10" hands, 35" arms, 4.49 40. And Graham didn't even play for real in college (one season 17 rec). Cook on the other hand 4 years of PT starting 15 games. Cook has been an utter disappointment. But a lot of that his been blamed on QB play. Sam is the best QB he has EVER played with. Should be a quality season, if not he will BUST. This truly is a make or break season in my eyes."
I think it is safe to say, if the first game is any indication, he has definitely made it! Cook played wonderfully running much improved routes, showing very nice and consistent hands, allowing no passes to get into his body. Cook looked like he had been playing this way for years. I was very pleased to see Cook perform at the level that he performed at.
Richardson looked really good in the first quarter before Arizona clamped down and stacked the box. He showed even better vision than last year, and ran fearlessly between the tackles. He did a very good job coming out of the backfield. His added weight from the off-season showed well on a few 2nd and 3rd and short run, he pushed the pile a few times to pick up first downs. He also looked a lot more quick than he did last year. Last year Richardson had three qualities to hang his hat on, his burst, vision, and decisiveness. But he was never an amazing lateral runner. But I saw an improvement in that area. I did not, much like the rest of the world, expect him to receive every carry except two (Zac Stacy got one, when D. Rich came out for 3 plays to get his toe looked at, Tavon Austin got one on an end around). If he never leaves the game to get his toe wrapped no other back would have touched the ball. He was treated like a bell cow, and Fisher may keep it that way through out the season.
The Offensive Line:
The line was everything I thought it would be. It was beautiful. My brother, an avid Ram hater, text me saying, "Rams line look 10s better than last year". My response was simple, "that's because they are ten times better". The only issue I have with the line is Roger Saffold. His inability to stay healthy drives me insane. Glad he came back though. But nothing got more hype during the game than when Jake Long got his ankle rolled up on, and he refused to leave the game for even one play. I got so pumped, and I think that encouraged Saffold to toughen up and get back in there. That showed he was not all talk, most guys are, when saying how important this line is to him, and protecting Sam. He got over it and shook it off and went back in and took care of business. And he had a flawless game. I love everything Cook did yesterday but the real steal of the off-season was without question Jake Long. With all due respect to Cook, he will never be mistake for the best tightend in the NFL, Jake Long has carried and earned the title of best left tackle before and it looks like now that he is healthy its coming back. The possibly best left tackle in the league and we signed him to a contract for just $34 million, oh yea that's highway robbery. This unit as a whole might be a top five unit in the league, and as I always say it all starts in the trenches.
Phenomenal. That's the best way to describe his performance. He applied consistent pressure recording 3 sacks and two forced fumbles. He is going to be a force to reckon with. He is without question our most natural pass rusher and he is an athletic freak who starting in the final weeks of last season begin to tap into his true potential, and it has carried over into this season.
Those were the positives. Now for these negatives. I am not going to list them all because it would take to long. Yea, there was that many. Honestly it made me sick to my stomach to see some of the stuff that happened yesterday. I was not pleased with some things moreso than others though.
I have been bringing it up non stop, "Can Schotty prove to be creative enough to exploit his weapons?" Well if yesterday was any indication, the answer is a resounding, no! He was the same old vanilla Schotty boy I have been questioning non stop. He gave me no reason to feel any different. I actually feel that he was more Vanilla this game than any other game last year. He barely even ran play action. It looked exactly like the preseason. And no, that piss poor effort on the Tavon end around was not creative. It was highly predictable and he didn't even try to set it up with anything, which is why it went fro negative one. The only two reasons I am holding out hope that he can right the ship is for one; it's only one game, and we have 15 more. And two, Sam Bradford has been truly genuinely excited about what this offense will do this year. So there are clearly somethings he is hiding, for what I don't know. Also don't forget, that Austin was lining up in the backfield during camp. I just can't figure out what he is waiting on. There was no creativity with any of the players, not just Tavon.
The Pass Defense:
The pass defense was atrocious. In my Off-Season Review, Season Preview post, I had this to say;
"We finished the preseason 5th in rush yds allowed and 32nd in pass. Good enough for 28th overall. Again we will improve when we complicate things, but how much will we improve. If we were 15th in pass defense then one could say if we are in the middle of the pack now wait until we open the playbook. But when we are dead last and looking to be a top ten defense, will we make a jump from 32nd to 12th when it matters? Something to think about."
Safety play was really bad against the pass as expected. T.J. is going to get us a lot of penalties in the future as well as give up a lot of big runs. As the safety you are the last line of defense, and I didn't see him wrap up once. Just going for the knockout blow EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!! I like his aggressiveness and the tenacity he brings to the back end but you also have to be smart. We are going to get flagged a lot as he got away with some in this game. And the not wrapping up is not going to work against Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, or Arian Foster. Hell, it didn't work on Mendenhall. We played the same dumbass soft coverage we played in the preseason and it allowed them to move the ball at will. We have to make some serious changes.
Here's the thing. Jeff Fisher was so positive that the penalty issue in the preseason had everything to do with it came from the guy that won't make the team, and it was mostly young guys. Then in the first game that matters one of our oldest and most experienced players gets hit with three flags two of which were personal fouls. And every flag we got in the game came at the absolute worst times. Not that there is a right time for a flag, but getting them on third and long or when the offense is picking up momentum and we get a holding or false start, that's just ridiculous. And it was not even the youngsters messing up. That's what burns me up the most. Our vets were effing up big time in that area. That's just a lack of discipline and that falls on the shoulders of the head coach. Fisher needs to get these issues fixed quickly.
I saw some ridiculous play calling on both sides of the ball. Back to the interception Bradford threw. Who the hell calls a boot backed up in their own endzone. That was such a bone headed play. You don't have the space to run it successfully. The thing about the bootleg is when the quarterback rolls out he has to roll wide because the only way for the O-Line to sell it is to leave the backside end unblocked. That's why when this play is ran the QB gets so much depth, because if he doesn't one of two things will happen.
- He takes the sack, and in this case would have been a safety
- Or, he tries to throw it with the defender right there and it gets either tipped or intercepted, in this case it was both.
A complete bone headed play call. A really bad play call on defense was the nickle blitz on third 6. That's to short of a distance to run that kind of blitz because the safety has to cover the slot guy now, but the blitz is disguised so the safety is still 12 yards deep, meaning the slot guy will have about 8 yards of free space after the snap. Any half way decent QB will make that hot throw and the receiver now has space to not only pick up the first, but also has space to make a move and get extra yards. The end result a 13 yard gain to keep the drive alive and allow the team to go down and score a touchdown.
Let's just say there is no one I am less happy with than him. He play horrible. And that is all I am going to say about this. I have to remember this is a family site.
With all of this being said it is only the first game. I have been preaching patience with a young team for months now. But everything I have listed here, with the exception of me mentioning the safety play, had nothing to do with the young guys. This was all on the veterans and coaching. I was actually very pleased with the rookies and second year players. But we clearly have a long way to go. But it is still early and I am just happy to be 1-0. It has been a long time since we could say that. So let's enjoy the win, pray for improvements this week, and get ready for a tough road match-up against the Falcons!