Last week, I was unable to present my preview of our Los Angeles Rams opening the preseason against the Oakland Raiders. I was too busy practicing my yellow handkerchief throwing. In fact, I practiced so hard, I injured my throwing arm making it virtually impossible to write anything.
Having waited six months for the NFC Champions to take the field, I was wrought with excitement an overwhelming need to see my Rams play football again. What I watched is evidence of the continued decline of the value of preseason games.
The Rams played few potential starters, a Sean McVay trait since he’s been head coach of the Rams. The younger and inexperienced players so excited to see action made mistakes. Plenty of them.
Every season brings new insight. Every season is different. But in my 60+ years of watching football, I’ve never seen a penalty flag thrown with 28 seconds left in the first half on a kneel down play. Making it worse, it was against the Rams.
There was no flow to the game. Each time our Rams did something good, it was called back for a penalty. Each time the our Rams did something bad, it was made worse by penalty making second-and-long, into third-and-a-mile.
It was horrible to watch, and I don’t think things are going to get much better this week.
What to watch for
Since few of the starters are going to play again, what fans should look for is how these backups perform in game-type situations. The bench players will never know when opportunity will knock, and the coaching staff must have confidence in the bench players’ abilities. The only reference points are practice, control scrimmages and most importantly preseason games as there’s no substitute for in game situational play.
I was impressed with rookie RB Darrell Henderson. He’s very fast, hits the hole quickly and will be a good complement to starter RB Todd Gurley with the need to cut down the number of plays Gurley plays during the regular season due to his knee issues. The line will need to give Henderson more room to operate, though.
I was also glad to see WR KhaDarel Hodge looks like an improving product. Besides the starting wide receivers in Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, the Rams can count on Josh Reynolds and Hodge. Double the pleasure, double the fun.
On the defensive side of the ball. rookie S Taylor Rapp is a can’t miss. He’s got all the skills I look for in a safety: fast and lights out hitting.
I was also impressed with CB Kevin Peterson and ILB Micah Kiser.
Unimpressive and concerning was the lack of depth on the defensive line especially the edge rushers. The drop-off between the starters (Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler, Jr.) was clearly noticeable as Oakland’s offensive line dominated giving Raiders backup QBs Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman too much time to throw.
This has to improve and that’s what I’ll be looking for this week against the Cowboys.
As for the offensive line, I’m sure that there were some “pancake” blocks, but given the number of penalties, as a unit, the backups were mediocre at best.
I’ll also be looking for improvement in this area.
What to expect this week from from Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys have completely revamped their offense scheme. From what I saw in their game against the San Francisco Whiners, it’s their intention to run playaction to the tight end a lot which is the reason they brought back TE Jason Witten to teach the younger ones how to run the routes, catch the ball and play the position.
Forget about Dallas not having RB Ezekiel Elliott for now. Just plug in your mind him being back there and you get a sense of what their offense will look like.
Now, let me make a few comments about the current issues facing the Cowboys...Jerry Jones don’t screw this up for the Rams. Stick to your guns. Don’t pay QB Dak Prescott the tens of millions he’s asking for. Instead, continue to play hard ball in contract negotiations! Let Prescott know how you really feel! “You’re not worth it! You’re not that good!”
As far as Elliott goes you should employ the same strategy,! “You’re not better then Todd Gurley! We’ll never pay you that kind of money!”
Dysfunction and the Cowboys are synonymous. Nothing pleases me more then seeing Dallas in total disarray as they deserve it having the most obnoxious fan base in the NFL and every year the most overrated team in the league.
If there’s one place where Jones should spend the money, since management is not limited by a salary cap, is to sign Head Coach Jason Garrett to the biggest and longest deal in NFL history. Pay him to stay with the ‘Boys for another ten years. Nothing would please me more. It would be money well spent as far as Rams fans are concerned.
So enjoy the Hawaiian preseason exhibition game spectacular.
Get your in-time game action by throwing yellow handkerchiefs in the air, and toss your red challenge flag on yourself when there’s pass interference called.