In their first preseason game, the Los Angeles Rams scored one touchdown and two field goals against the Dallas Cowboys. Several big name players sat out, but that meant that a lot players had a chance to turn some heads.
And because of that, fans were given a chance to see if the Rams are the team that they expected them to be. So, let’s take a hard look at their performance against the Cowboys.
Expected: The Rams Defense was a major strength in the first half
Wade Phillips had his defensive unit flying all over the field, creating several 3 and outs for the Cowboys’ offense in the first half. CB Nickell-Robey Coleman was a solid presence at the corner, making yesterday’s departure of E.J. Gaines a little less painful. Lamarcus Joyner looked right at home at safety, getting in on a solo tackle.
Unexpected: The Rams Defense has some depth
What’s always intriguing about the preseason is the extended looks you get at the backup players and tonight was no exception. Several defensive players shined tonight, including DE Matt Longacre showing some moves, LB Carlos Thompson logging 3 tackles and one for a sack, and DE Morgan Fox looking like a beast at times. The rookie DE Ejuan Price also seems to be ready for prime time with his speed off the line.
Nice pressure from #Rams rookie Ejuan Price pic.twitter.com/WS07Gpga4i— Brandon Bate (@NoPlanB_) August 13, 2017
Expected: The Rams offense showed off with explosive yet uneven moments
With all the off-season tinkering with the offensive roster, something exciting was bound to happen. The Rams’ first drive did exactly that, showcasing the new toys at Coach McVay’s disposal, even though it was uneven, it led to a fumble recovery/touchdown. RB Justin Davis was probably the best example of uneven brilliance -- his ability to cut through defenders was absolutely electric, and then he fumbled the ball twice on the same drive. Not helping things was OL Jamon Brown getting owned in such a way that it was kind of hard to watch, but not exactly surprising.
Unexpected: Justin Davis was dominating at times
Yes, yes, yes... Davis can’t hold onto the ball, but being a Rams fan means you have to make compromises. With 70 yards on 9 carries, Davis was silky smooth.
Aaaaaand Justin Davis earns himself some more time on the team pic.twitter.com/ZROslOHsL6— Brandon Bate (@NoPlanB_) August 13, 2017
Expected: Cooper Kupp lived up to the hype
Even after dropping an easy pass early in the game, WR Cooper Kupp still grabbed the spotlight with only 2 receptions. His heads up fumble recovery in the end zone on their initial drive was a great way to indoctrinate himself to the Rams faithful.
Unexpected: Robert Woods looked a little rough
WR Robert Woods was billed as a guy with strong fundamentals, but with only 2 targets, one reception, and 5 yards, his first impression was a little shaky. To be fair, Woods had a very small sample size to really make much of a judgement. However, his fumble in the red zone raised some eyebrows.
Not how I envisioned the first NFL TD for Cooper Kupp. This was the most Rams/Jared Goff touchdown ever. #CowboysRams pic.twitter.com/tBXJotyD0u— Sean Labar (@SeanLabarACC) August 13, 2017
Expected: The special teams for the Rams made a big impact
John Fassel’s group started off the game with a nice fumble recovery by LB Josh Forrest off a muffed punt. It may not be sexy, but the Rams special teams constantly gave us a huge advantage.
Also, the official Twitter account for the Rams seems off, don’t you think? Like, has anyone checked on the person behind it? I’m not saying we have to arrange an intervention, but we should at least bring up the possibility.
Josh Forrest with the recovery!— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 13, 2017
1Q 13:29 | #DALvsLA pic.twitter.com/Ks3XD3jB3A
Unexpected: McVay’s offensive play calling was rather conservative
Maybe McVay wants to keep his offensive scheme under wraps until it counts, but the play-calling seemed rather low stakes. Given that it was a preseason game, I wanted Jared Goff or even Sean Mannion to takes some chances. But instead of that, we got some really impressive punts by our man, Johnny Hekker.
So, what does it all mean? The Rams still have a lot of work to do. They have dozens of young players in a new system led by a 31 year-old coach. The expectations are low, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for pleasant surprises. And against the Cowboys, the Rams showed that there is defiantly a reason to believe.