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LA Rams-Green Bay Packers: 2nd Down, Second Guessing

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It’s over in more ways than one.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The fourth preseason game is finished as the Los Angeles Rams lost to the Green Bay Packers, 24-10, leaving the Rams to finish .500 in the preseason.

As preseason games go, this wasn’t as bad a game as one would’ve expected especially if you tuned in to see what the final 53-man roster might look like.

This is last chance to make the team for many young men. The fulfillment of their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. Their one last shot at demonstrating to Head Coach and General Manager they should make the cut.

Watching the game itself reminds us of our own childhood dreams of wanting to be a NFL player and that moment, we realized it’s a lot tougher than we thought it was when we were watching it on TV, or at the stadium.

We were either too big, too slow, too dumb, too skinny or just couldn’t handle the physicality the sport entails. We tried but learned it time to hang up the cleats and helmet; yet we stayed connected to game we love, by just being fans.

For others, who had the talent in high school and college, being on the Rams squad up to now has been a temporary respite for the hard reality that’s coming—we as fans learned long ago.

As a result, from the heart let us say, as fans, to those men that don’t make the final roster, “Thank You.” Thank you for enriching our lives even if you played for only one down or series because in that one moment you were a “professional football player.”

But reality is that football is a business, time to breakdown the game:

The Offense:

The starting QB was Dan Orlovsky, a pick-up who’s most famous for playing for the Lions. He tried his best to make the squad, by impersonating the expected starting QB Jared Goff of last week. He threw two passes that he shouldn’t have leading to interceptions and 14 points for the Packers, although Green Bay had to earn it on offense.

He had a bad game; but as mentioned last week, these kind of mistakes result in losses, not wins. Enough said about a 3rd string QB.

McRoberts v. Reynolds

Since the fourth preseason game is about evaluating talent and if the time has come to make a choice between keeping WR Paul McRoberts or WR Josh Reynolds, let’s breakdown what we learned from the game.

McRoberts was targeted 9 times and caught one throw against the Packers.

Reynolds has caught two TD’s in prior preseason games—the game winner against the Raiders and the other to put the Rams within striking distance of beating the Chargers.

The debate boils down to this: Is the lack of production by McRoberts in the Packers game his fault or the fault of QB play? Since McRoberts was being thrown to by Orlovsky and Reynolds was catching balls from Mannion, the Rams steady backup, this warrants context.

One must also factor in this: If a WR gets his hands on the ball, he’s paid to catch it, not drop it.

From observing both, it appears that Josh Reynolds should stay on the roster. Reynolds made the plays when it counted and he looked good doing it. McRoberts didn’t get perfect passes from Orlovsky in the Packers game, and indeed made a great effort in the end zone, but the bottom line is “your paid to catch the ball.” He dropped it.

I think that based on his preseason performance Reynolds can be an impact WR in the games that count.

Davis v. Green

RB Aaron Green was hampered by an injury during training camp. He’s only played in the last two exhibition games. But if his performance in the Packers game is the difference between making the squad and not, RB Justin Davis wins.

There’s just something about the way Davis hits the hole, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and the capability to pick up yardage beyond the line of scrimmage either after making the catch or hitting the hole that makes him the favorite.

Davis did it again against the Packers picking up 55 yards running on 17 attempts for a 3.2 average v. Green, who had 7 carries for a mere 12 yards and 1.7 average per carry.

It’s true that Davis missed his blocking assignment leading to a sack, but that’s a correctable mistake, because on the very same play he demonstrated his willingness to put his head in there and take the punishment from the inside defensive lineman, even though he should have blocked the outside blitzer. Additionally, the mistakes that plagued him in the first preseason against the Cowboys, (the fumbles) have not appeared since, evidencing his willingness to learn and act on it.

Davis may in fact be wind up being a steal. He compliments both Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown. There appear to be no concern about a drop off when either needs a rest and he may in fact be utilized by McVay in more plays then just sitting on the bench due to his versatility.

He’ll do fine as long as he doesn’t catch again that dreaded and worst disease a RB can have: fumble-i-tis.

The Defense

Heading into the game without DE Aaron Donald, the Rams D-line is in trouble going into the real games. Nonetheless, the play of Tyrunn Walker at NT was one of the best of the preseason. Not only is he BIG, he’s fast. He put pressure on the Packers QB(s). He also made tackles for losses and he ran down the pass catchers.

Sure, its the last preseason game, but from appearance in the is game against the Packers, the question is: “Where has this man been hiding?”

He’s no Michael Brockers or Donald, but he can play! With that said, he still might not make the squad.

Other Notables Contribitions

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my player of the game: Johnny Mundt (the TE from Oregon). He had a great game invariably raising the same question as before: “Where have the Rams been hiding, this guy”

He caught a tough ball to catch, broke the tackle and scored the only TD for the Rams.

If this was his last game in the pros, he should go out with his head held high.

When it counted and given the chance to play, he made the most of the opportunity. The pats on the back, the love he received from the teammates, his smile, its what makes these moments in preseason so memorable; however, at this point its strictly a numbers game. Maybe he makes the practice squad.

Nevertheless, for one shining moment, he was a professional football player, the kind of player, all of us Rams fans can be proud of.

The Game

The fourth preseason played itself out as expected. TOO MANY PENALTIES by both the Packers and Rams to be considered “watchable” unless you’re a true football fan who has nothing else to do on Thursday evening in L.A.

But penalties can also cost you a spot on the team as well.

Get them in bunches and you’re likely not going to make the squad.

CB Carlos Davis got three unnecessary penalties on critical “you’ve got to stop the Packers here” plays, rewarding the Packers with a new set of downs. That’s unacceptable at any level and destroyed any hopes of the Rams winning the game.

The Future is Now

The preseason is ove. It’s time to play the games that count. Each week, a new article will appear under this byline, called “What the Rams Need To Do To Win” along with the regular “2nd Down, 2nd Guessing” article.

This week the Rams play an Indianapolis Colts team that’s likely to be without their star quarterback. It’s an important game for the Rams, so pay attention to my Thursday article.