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Los Angeles Rams: 2ND DOWN—2ND GUESSING

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Observations from the Rams’ win against the Raiders on Saturday

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Face it Rams fans, beating the Raiders is great fun but after the dust settles you know its just a preseason game. That’s the problem, it doesn’t count for much. Still, many Rams fans (this author included) can say will authority, “sometimes its not that you win, but how you win.”

The Rams’ offense showed life compared to last year’s death warmed over. Jared Goff led the team well. He’s my top performer of the game. Sean Mannion, once again, (although he didn’t play as well as last week) hit the come-from-behind game winner to Josh Reynolds; proving once again he’s one of the best back-ups in the league as a safety net in the event of catastrophe to Goff.

Its time again for 2nd Down—2nd Guessing;

THAT’S JUST DUMB:

Playoff teams have that kick ’em when their down attitude. Up and coming teams learn to develop this over the course of season. The problem with the Rams in the Fisher era, more often than not, is that the Rams were on receiving end of the kick.

When a team like the Rams (who are looking to shock the league with their new found offense capabilities) scores on the very first drive of the game, you don’t kick the ball out of bounds on the kick-off. Its not only dumb, its frustrating. All the kicker has to do is aim for the uprights. Instead Greg Zuerlein decides he’d rather try for corner of the end zone. This kind of dumb mistake cost the Rams an unnecessary penalty because instead of forcing the opponent to work for a score, you put the Raiders on the 40 yard line. As a result, the Raiders didn’t have to move the ball that much to get a score — putting them right back in the game.

That’s why what Greg Zuerlein did was dumb and inexcusable. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Substituting for Johnny Hecker may be okay with Coach Bones, but its not when the game is on the line and you need to put the hated Raiders down deep in their territory late in the 4th quarter. If the Raiders earn a victory by marching down the field, so be it. But when the substitute punter makes a 15 yard net punt and everyone knows he’s not going to be on the final roster, you have to scratch your head wondering what’s up with that. Does Johnny’s leg need the rest for the upcoming regular season?

In addition, although Coach Bones will ultimately get “his guys” on the field, right now special teams for the Rams is far from special.

MISSED BLOCKS:

The sack on Goff was the result of Khalil Mack splitting a TE double team on the right side of the O-line which was better than last week. This is still the weakest part of the Rams’ offense. Mack just schooled the Rams on that play. His technique was professional football at its finest. Hopefully, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett learned from the experience. We’ll let this slide this week, but never let that happen again, you’ll get Goff killed!!!

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Hard to complain about the crew. They did the job. Once again Cooper Kupp demonstrated why he’s quickly become a fan favorite. One should also compliment Sammy Watkins.

For coming in so late, Watkins was the attention getter the Rams needed opening it up for the 2nd and 3rd options to make critical plays. It will be interesting to see how Tavon Austin fits into the equation once he gets healthy.

GOFF:

Jared Goff played his best game as a Ram. He looked like the QB Ram fans envisioned last year. What a difference a offensive-minded Head Coach can do.

On the negative side, he needs to become more polished. When he’s making the throws he should be less hesitant. He will become more sure of his reads as he gains experience. Nonetheless, he had a confidence building performance.

RUN GAME:

Better on both the left side and right side. After last week, the right side of the line has nowhere to go but up. And although they did a better job this week, it’s still a work in progress. A team like the Rams can’t become one dimensional in the run game by always running to the left or middle for yardage. There’s only two weeks left to get this fixed. With that said Todd Gurley, is beginning to look like the RB he was in 2015, solid but still was unremarkable performance.

TROY HILL IS BURNT TOAST IN THE 3-4:

The Raiders have weapons at WR. There’s nothing wrong with losing a battle for a pass to them. However, the least you can do is look good at doing it, like it was close. On the other hand Troy Hill, he not only looked bad on the throw, he was worse on the run after the catch—he lost his shoes, his socks and his ankles. He’s better in a zone orientated 4-3 defense. His man-to-man coverage skills are insufficient for 3-4. Nice knowing you.

The Rams played better in this game as opposed to last week against the Cowgirls. The game for the fans was an emotional one—its the Raiders, the soon to be Las Vegas’ newest losers...because no one comes away from Vegas a winner.

IF the Rams can keep improving ,they will win a lot games this year. Fans must keep in mind this is just preseason; it doesn’t count. But the Rams are showing life, and fans are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.