The Los Angeles Rams wrapped up the 2021 preseason with a 17-12 loss to the Denver Broncos. Again the LA offensive line, started the same five through the preseason (left tackle AJ Jackson, left guard Chandler Brewer, center Coleman Shelton, right guard Bobby Evans, and Tremayne Anchrum Jr. at right tackle). Here are five takeaways from their performance.
The Rams’ backup offensive line played relatively well against Denver Broncos starters
The first series was a three and out and I’m ok with that, given the circumstances. The Broncos starting unit, including Bradley Chubb and a highly motivated Von Miller (who dedicated this preseason game to his son) put in work to start the game.
With that being said, the Los Angeles offensive line bounced back to an extent, with two consecutive 11 play scoring drives (both field goals) of over forty yards. That is going to be some great film for first year offensive line coach Kevin Carberry to assist in the growth of the reserve offensive lineman.
Matt Gay makes an impressive 54 yard field goal. The Rams have taken the lead against the Denver Broncos starters.— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) August 29, 2021
Yes, it’s the preseason. Yes, these are likely vanilla game plans. That’s still a very impressive feat given how this OL was playing two weeks ago.
Tremayne Anchrum Jr. versus Von Miller
Anchrum will go to sleep a much better player than he woke up for the simple fact that he had three drives worth of reps against the future Hall of Famer Von Miller. Miller certainly made his plays, racking up three tackles but could not get to the quarterback for a sack during his return to NFL action.
(23:17) “Overall I think I played solid,” said Anchrum during his postgame press conference. “Just a few forgettable plays out there, but you know, I was going against Von Miller. That’s a Hall of Famer. I couldn’t imagine this three or four years ago.”
The second year pro out of Clemson has played well during the preseason, cementing his spot on LA’s 53 man roster. This contest versus the Broncos, most specifically his time against Miller, will end up being his best game yet, if only for the confidence it will provide going forward.
I expected more against the Broncos second string defense
After doing a decent job against Denver’s starting defense, I unfairly expected the Rams offense to run away with the game in the second half. Sure, there were times when the pocket was much better against the second string but it wasn’t enough. Quarterback Bryce Perkins was still under of duress for much the game.
There were also limited rushing lanes, as the Los Angeles running backs averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. That was with Xavier Jones, who was injured during the third quarter (Head Coach Sean McVay expects him to be ok) creating yards that simply weren’t there.
Sean McVay said he thinks RB Xavier Jones and DL Bobby Brown III will be OK after appearing to sustain injuries in the second half of tonight's game against the Broncos.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 29, 2021
Bobby Evans may not make the roster
Somehow Evans was named as PFF’s top rated Rams offensive player against the Las Vegas Raiders.
I would have to strongly, but respectfully disagree.
Evans’ saving grace is the fact that he has experience playing in the playoffs. At this point, it doesn’t matter. Since he has experience against starters in the post season, he should be critiqued a bit harsher in the preseason. He was beat on the very first offensive snap of the game. His struggles weren’t exclusive to pass protection as he again whiffed a few times in the run game.
When your eye is drawn to a particular member of the offensive line, it’s either very good or very bad. Unfortunately it’s been much of the latter. Even on a big play for the offense, he is getting walked back right into Perkins.
If Evans was inserted into the starting lineup due to injury, I would not feel comfortable with him being responsible for keeping defenders out of the lap of Matthew Stafford.
In fairness, he looked a bit better once he was moved to right tackle, but not by much.
Major improvement in the penalty department
The offensive line accounted for four penalties for a total of 28 yards. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s certainly a major improvement from last week where they were flagged 10 times for 84 yards. Bonus points for none of the four penalties wiping away first downs or taking points off the board.
However, the final penalty of the game was a false start on Bobby Evans with ten seconds left on the clock. Thankfully this occurred while the clock was stopped, due to an incomplete pass on the previous down. Had the clock been running, this would have been a game ender due to a ten second runoff.
A regular season loss in that manner would be tough to stomach, and beyond unacceptable in the toughest division in football where one loss could be the difference between a playoff berth and sitting at home after seventeen games.
With that being said, on to September 12th when the Los Angeles Rams host the Chicago Bears. Real football is back. Let’s go get that Lombardi.
As a bonus, here are a few glimpses of Rams starters and key contributers who dressed before the game in Denver.
That is an odd-looking RB number for Sony Michel. pic.twitter.com/VdLtlQ7RhD— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 29, 2021