In the last notes and recap, I suggested that everyone relax, because it's only the preseason. That still stands. Understand it's more about evaluating the individual talent than the record. However, I will say that during this last "dress rehearsal", when the starters have more time on the field and a better opportunity to develop some rhythm - and there is some actual game planning taking place - if you see struggles as a team, then "a little" critique may be warranted.
- Jamon Brown continues to impress me. From practice to live competition, I am more and more buying into the notion that he may be a pro bowl talent. For the second week in a row, he has been by far the best lineman on the field. He moves bodies at will, and has been surprisingly strong in pass protection.
- Rob Havenstein had a much better night this week. That's not to say last week was bad by any means, but he was dominant on this night. Defenders got zero push on him, and like his partner in crime Brown, he was moving bodies like they were children. It's odd and rare, but this rookie right side of the line looks like it will be better than the veteran left side. They have been extremely consistent and have had zero blown assignments. They communicate extremely well, and have shown the ability to adjust mid-play. I will continue to watch this duo very closely.
- Demetrius Rhaney was beaten and abused. From the first play of action he was getting "body-ed". He plays way too high, and in this game low man wins. In fact, he was literally driven back 3-4 yards and pushed completely to the side. The end result; his face in the dirt and his man making the tackle for a two yard loss. He also blew a few assignments, and gave up a few pressures. Brandon Washington was no better, and took some ugly punishment. At one point he was literally put on his ass, and his guy caused a massive over-throw, as Foles did not step in to the throw.
- Greg Robinson had a solid night. He was solid in pass protection, but really did a good job moving bodies in the run game. There was one play I noticed that needs to be critiqued. It all has to do with his ability to react and adjust. At times he sets his eyes on his target and just goes full speed ahead. The issue with that is, if that target moves at the snap, you are now going to whiff. This happened on a run by Benny Cunningham. Cunningham cut it back, as he should have, and was tackled by Brian Orakpo, also known as the guy Robinson should have blocked. It was a zone play, which means Robinson doesn't have a player to block, but an area that's his. The issue was the defensive end was in his area and he locked onto him pre-snap. At the snap of the ball the Titans ran a stunt with the end going out and the backer coming in. When that end went out, Robinson was too fast to the point of attack and whiffed. Had he made that block, Cunningham may have had about a 20 yard run, as there was no one in sight.
- Nick Foles has looked erratic and inconsistent to me all camp, and I saw more of this against the Titans. Starting with his first interception, Foles threw a ball that should have never been thrown. Kenny Britt was running a dig, and the corner was in man and sat on it. There was literally no window at all to throw that ball. At no point did it even look like Britt would be able to catch it. That was just a terrible decision. Later, on a third and seven, the Rams came out in a trips 11 personnel to the left. Pre-snap, Foles chose to audible. On the backside Britt was running a go route, which he left the same. But on the front side, he signaled a one man route - which was an arrow - for Jared Cook with Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin blocking. There were multiple issues with this call. The first was the down and distance. The second was the route of choice for that down and distance. And the third was the defense was in man. An arrow is a slightly elevated flat route which usually gains about two yards in elevation by the time you get to the sideline. Meaning this route was not deep enough for the down and distance. Even so, if the defense is in the right coverage, you might be able to get seven yards, but man coverage is not the right defense as the defender will be right on top of the receiver for a tackle at two yards. And that is exactly what happened.
- Lamarcus Joyner should make everyone in the Rams' organization miss E.J. Gaines that much more. This is not for negative reasons, but because of his obvious improvement. A healthy Gaines would have given the Rams four quality starting corner backs which can do wonders for a scheme. Joyner was the best defensive player on the field last night. He made great tackles, had solid coverage, and was all over the field. He has been another guy that has stood out throughout camp.
- Chris Long looked extremely fast off the ball last night. He has said that he lost some weight in an effort to get faster, and it looks like he might have succeeded. I have not seen this type of speed off the snap for Long, since the 2012 season. He could be a candidate to return to double digit sacks.
- Bradley Marquez continues to impress. He only had one reception on the night, but it was a beauty. He went up and took the ball, broke the tackle and picked up 26 yards. He also had 2-3 very nice routes that left him wide open, but Case Keenum didn't see him.
- Speaking of Keenum, he had another inconsistent showing. This has been a common theme for all of the quarterbacks all camp long. He had some really great throws, but the lack of consistency with those throws was nerve wracking. There was some really horrid throws mixed in there. The QB group as a whole has a lot of work to do before the games start to count.
- I said it in my Bold Predictions, and I will say it again: I think Isaiah Pead makes the team, and not only makes it, but stays all season. He had a solid night, and ran very hard. He was also by far the best returner on the field.
- The linebackers and T.J. McDonald did a horrible job filling lanes. There was continuously big runs to be had for Tennessee, as the players in the box routinely were not filing the holes like they are supposed to. I counted this occurrence five times between McDonald and Alec Ogletree, with 'Tree' being responsible for three of those. There was also a head scratching amount of missed tackles. Players were simply not wrapping up. Everyone was going for kill shots. Also, players were not setting the edges. There was a lot of attempts to finesse their way around the block rather than taking them on head up, resulting in running themselves out of the play and giving up good runs. These are all basic fundamentals. If you don't do the fundamentals correctly, you will have struggles.
- From a coaching stand point, it looked like Gregg Williams wanted to get a look at his blitz packages. No, there was no real game planning here, evident by his blitzing on downs when you should never blitz. This was all for gathering film for coaching purposes. From the looks of it, he has some really good blitz packages in his pocket for the season that should give teams some fits. Frank Cignetti was really focused on getting some looks from the outside zone. The offense ran more zone in one half, than they did in five games last season. Last week the defense focused on zone coverage, and the offense focused on power and intermediate passing. It will be interesting to see what they decide they like and what they will take out.
That's all for this week. There was a lot to really dive into from last night. Overall still not enough diverse or intricate play-calling to get a real feel for where this team stands. Next weeks game should be a bit more telling. I will continue to watch the offensive line very closely, but I will also be watching the linebackers and box players. In the mean time, R.E.L.A.X.....