The Los Angeles Rams lost their second preseason game by the same score that they lost their first, 34-17. While preseason is more about the process than the results, there are some things that we can begin to draw some conclusions on as he get closer to the regular season. After losing to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Rams will have plenty to improve on with just one more preseason game left to be played. Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s loss to the Raiders.
1. Rams Youth Showing Inconsistencies
This is about what should have been expected from a young Rams team and it’ll be interesting to see how much of this carries over into the regular season. Throughout the first two games, the Rams young players have shown flashes where they’ve looked impressive. There will then be mental lapses or lapses in energy that lead to negative plays.
The Rams fell behind 10-0 early on before locking in and tying the game at 10-10. Stetson Bennett then threw a pick-six in a two-minute drill and the defense gave up a quick field goal drive. It’s a lot of peaks and valleys right now. Consistency should come with experience, but the difference is very noticeable.
2. TE Davis Allen Looked Very Impressive
Throughout OTAs and training camp, Davis Allen hasn’t been on the field due to injuries. The fifth-round pick made his debut on Saturday night and looked very impressive. He led the Rams with eight receptions for 53-yards and had an impressive grab and what would be a scoring drive for the offense.
Head coach Sean McVay said after the game,
“I was really pleased with him...I thought he did a nice job being able to run some tough, hard-earned yards, especially when he’s catching some underneath throws and being able to fall forward, but I thought he competed well without the ball also. You can see he’s got a big catch radius, good soft hands, so I was really pleased with him...He was somebody that I know he’s been chomping at the bit to be able to get out there. He had a good look in his eye before the game...I was happy for him to do as well as he did tonight.”
Brycen Hopkins appears to have the tight end spot behind Tyler Higbee locked down. However, there is a competition for the third tight end spot. With his performance on Saturday and Hunter Long still inactive, Allen may have the edge there. He showed flashes of the receiving threat in the middle of the field that he can be in the offense.
3. Tre Tomlinson Looks to be a Steal and Should Start
After the last two weeks, Tre Tomlinson has shown that he should probably have a starting role on the Rams defense. Whether that’s on the outside, at nickel, or rotating with Cobie Durant, Tomlinson needs to be on the field.
The sixth-round pick has been tested in the preseason and has consistently made plays on the ball. Brian Hoyer tested Tomlinson vertically down the left sideline and the cornerback got the pass breakup. He had a penalty later on a new rule that prohibits defensive backs to cut low on offensive linemen. However, it was another solid performance for the rookie.
4. Run D and Pass Rush Still an Issue
Aaron Donald and Ernest Jones should help the run defense. However, there is still a very obvious issue here and it’s fair to wonder just how fixable it is. The Rams are light on the defensive line and that has resulted in them being pushed around. They can bring in players who are released after roster cutdowns, but even then, the impact would be minimal, if at any.
It’s fair to note that the Rams chose this path. Greg Gaines has a cap-hit of $1.6M and A’Shawn Robinson has a cap-hit of $2.5M in 2023. Both players were allowed to walk in free agency. Would it have made sense to try to bring at least one of those players back? The Raiders averaged 5.8 yards per carry on the opening drive. It got better as the game went on, but this is still a major concern.
Aside from the run defense, Brian Hoyer and Aidan O’Connell had all day to throw at times. Byron Young didn't play, but this is another unit where the depth is concerning and the potential starters don’t exude a lot of confidence.
5. Stetson Bennett Shows That He Still is a Rookie Quarterback
Bennett was one of the more impressive players against the Chargers in Week 1. That was not the case against the Raiders. Bennett threw a pick six and didn’t seem in command during the two-minute situation at the end of the half. He simply didn’t look comfortable and from the first drive when he threw behind Tyler Johnson, Bennett just seemed off. After the game, Bennett said,
“I’d say some good learning opportunities and some good bounce back but there’s definitely some moments that you got to improve on...I mean, that was completely my fault. I thought that he was going to run a different route than he did and anticipated it and he ran the one that was called and I threw the one that wasn’t and I paid for it.”
The good part was that Bennett did bounce back on his final drive of the game. The rookie quarterback showed off his mobility and beat the defense to the edge for a touchdown on a read option. It was just a reminder that Bennett is a rookie and the situation that he’s in is a little different than the one he played in at Georgia.