I want to make one thing clear before diving in, this was only the first preseason game. So in the words in of Aaron Rodgers, R.E.L.A.X. relax!!
I will touch more on that in my notes below...
I noticed quite a few things in last nights game. Some things are indeed alarming, and others not even close. I also noticed some personnel moves that I found to be interesting.
- Chris Givens was the third receiver to enter the game ahead of Stedman Bailey. Now, this stood out like a sore thumb to me. I can't figure out why the rotation worked this way. He also played through the third quarter which can mean multiple things. One could be that he is in a battle and the coaches are giving him an opportunity to prove himself. Another could be based off of depth issues. Or he simply could be a favorite of new OC Frank Cigetti. It's something I will be keeping a watchful eye on the rest of the way...
- Givens was also first in line for return duties. Now this in no way means that he has taken Benny Cunningham job. In fact it's the exact opposite. Cunningham is locked in as the primary returner. This was more of a who will be behind him move. I did however find it interesting that Isaiah Pead didn't get an opportunity. He and Cunningham was in a very good battle for the duties last season.
- The starting five on the offensive line looked really good. But no one shined brighter than Jamon Brown. He was excellent. He anchored extremely well in pass pro, and was literally moving players relentlessly when run blocking. The Rams might have made one of those picks that was criticized, but will prove to be genius.
- The Rams have little to no depth on the offensive line. Brandon Washington was abused when he entered for Rodger Saffold. Of the second group, there were two players that stood out for all the right reasons. That was Barrett Jones and Andrew Donnal. Jones was not an enforcer and never will be, but he was extremely efficient. Donnal looks like a player that might play for a long time in this league, and I would even venture out as to say he will be a starter down the line for someone. This stems not only from last night, but from what I have seen in practice. Outside of those two there is nothing to brag on.
- Isaiah Battle looked the same way he did in practice. He is a waist bender that doesn't move his feet. I said previously and I stand by it, if the Rams have to turn to him at any point this season they are in trouble. The worst however was David Wang. I actually felt bad that Austin Davis had to play behind that unit. Wang was atrocious. The following was a repeated theme the entire time he was on the field..
The s*** that happens when you piece your entire line and its depth together with bulls***... you make third and fourth stringers look like @aarondonald99 #Rams #NFL#Raiders #Preseason #Beasted #FirstCuts #DavidWang #GetHimOut
- Speaking of Davis, it looks like the coaching staff likes Case Keenum more than Davis. Keenum received all of the reps with the second unit and played two full quarters. There was no mixing in QB's with the twos. Davis only received a hand full of plays with a group that probably consisted of about 70% of first cuts. With that being said, it is only the first game and things could be different later, as the coaching staff may have just wanted to get an extensive look at Keenum since they pretty much already know what they have in Davis.
- Tavon Austin received a screen pass right out the gate. Lance Kendricks was the first target of the game. Something I have been adamant about is that I believe Cignetti when he says that he will use Kendricks more in the passing game and get the ball in Tavon's hands more. In fact my stance has not changed in how the latter will take place. Expect to see Tavon get a lot of screens, and run a lot of deep routes. It will be frequent.
- Do not fear what you saw from the defense. It was about as basic as you will ever see. Gregg Williams was clearly just trying to gather live film and didn't care about anything else. They played two plays on defense and it was cover zero, or cover three. That was it. They switched the formations but stayed extremely basic. So relax, there was nothing to see there. I assume things will begin to get a little more intricate with each week moving forward.
- Trumaine Johnson was a name that Jeff Fisher called out as someone that stayed in St. Louis over the break and had his best off-season to date. I think he was right. Johnson got better. I saw him fighting off blocks, developing good positioning, high pointing the ball, making pre-snap reads, these are all fundamentals. History shows that when you start to hone in on your fundamentals, and bust your butt at them in the off-season, a really good season usually follows
That's all for now. These are just a few things that I will be keeping a close eye on as we move forward with training camp, and into the season. Overall, I was most impressed with the continuity of the offensive line. But I am beyond tired of seeing Saffold get helped off the field...