Similar to last season, the Los Angeles Rams started their preseason in the LA Coliseum against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys entered their second preseason game and rested many key players (Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, etc.) while the Rams also rested some key players who were nursing injury or holding out (Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Tavon Austin).
Many were curious to see how different the Rams would be under the new coaching staff. Offensively, fans were hoping to see glimmers of hope of progress while defensively, seeing the Rams line up in a base 34 defense for the first time in a long while was going to be interesting.
The Rams stormed out the gates with a three and out. Todd Gurley found minimal running room with the reconfigured offensive line. Thankfully due to a muffed punt, the Rams got the ball back with favorable field position. A nice playaction bootleg pass to Cooper Kupp set up a slant-fumble touchdown connection from new Rams Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. A very Rams-like, Jared Goff led touchdown drive.
For the rest of the game, the Rams had trouble moving the ball although there were some very nice flashes from Pharoh Cooper, Justin Davis, and Gerald Everett. Negatively speaking, the offensive line was fairly poor throughout the game with Pace Murphy, Austin Blythe, and Darrell Williams struggling a bit with the Dallas defense. In addition, the Rams fumbled the ball five times which definitely did not make Sean McVay happy.
One key note, the Rams didn’t throw an interception last night. Ball security is a high standard from McVay and LaFleur and it was nice to see Goff and Mannion practice what the staff preached.
Rams did not throw an int last night. They didn't throw a pick in the StubHub scrimmage either. May not have had one in second LAC practice.— Joe Curley (@vcsjoecurley) August 13, 2017
The defense (without many key players) was solid in their first action under Wade Phillips. Seeing the Rams lineup in the 3-4 alignment is different considering how long the Rams have been a 4-3 team. With Quinn and Donald out in the front seven, many expected somewhat of a drop off but key reserves like Morgan Fox and Matt Longacre really stepped up.
Matt Longacre looking good ... https://t.co/lmoFVKf09R— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) August 13, 2017
With many new faces due to the scheme fit, it was nice to see the younger players step up and play well. From the eye test, Marqui Christian, Tanzel Smart, Carlos Thompson and Kevin Davis looked to be best of the young pups.
CB Kevin Peterson, S Marqui Christian and LB Kevin Davis led the Rams with four tackles last night vs. Dallas.— Joe Curley (@vcsjoecurley) August 13, 2017
Barring injury and an even more prolonged holdout, the defense will still likely be the bedrock of this Rams team. If I had a concern, it’s how thin the secondary is after the top players depart, which is pretty true across the NFL but somewhat more alarming is that literally every player in the secondary is a free agent.
Started with a bang with the 27 yard return and muffed punt return. Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, and even Travis Coons played a solid kicking game. I’m happy the Rams are doing right by Coons and giving him plenty of kicking opportunities for him to possibly have a job or at least be considered as an emergency option.
The Rams are entering a new era and while the preseason isn’t a direct indicator of how great a season will go, it’s nice to see the coaches implement more player-focused schemes and catering to the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. With Sammy Watkins also in the fold, look for the Rams to continue their improvement.