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  1. #1
    HornIt's Avatar
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    HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    I watched it on-line last night and then against this morning. Nice that the NFL Network is showing these preseason games in HD now. I appreciated that.

    Offense first:

    OL
    First thing that was notable was that Romberg started at C. So the starting unit was Pace, Setterstrom, Romberg, Incognito and Barron. McCollum started with the 2nd unit, which was Steussie, Terrell, McCollum, Brown and Goldberg.

    Both the 1st and 2nd units played very well I thought. Neither allowed a sack. Both did a good job in the running game. It seems to me the Rams 2nd unit is as good as some team's 1st units. Yes, this group for the Rams has come a LONG way in a short time. The trap blocking by Steussie, and pulling Brown and Terrell with some help from Hedgecock, that opened the hole for Leonard on that TD run was a thing of beauty. Picture perfect. That was the 2nd unit and many of the Vikings starters were still in there.

    The interior starting group of Setterstrom, Romberg and Incognito once again did a great job of neutralizing the William's Bros for the Vikings, proving last year was no fluke. Pace got beat once, which has been happening more and more it seems, but it didn't result in a sack. Barron didn't have any false starts and looked very good actually. Good news.

    I thought it was interesting that Brown played almost the entire game at RG. He came in for Incognito after the first couple series and then never left. He played with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th groups, so they must be taking a good, long look at him. And Brown played well with the 2nd unit but not as well with the 3rd unit once Fry came in and replaced McCollum and Strojny replaced Steussie. This is where things all went bad actually. The 3rd unit consisted of Strojny, Terrell, Fry, Brown and Goldberg. Strojny was the main culprit here. He was just embarrassing. Ray Edwards and Brian Robinson took their turns abusing him. I can't imagine he makes it through the first cuts after that performance. But the Rams also started getting pressure up the middle at this point too and I seemed that Brown started cheating to the A gap to help out Fry for some reason, even thought I'm not sure Fry really needed the help. This allowed blitzing LB's and DB's to come up through the B gap pretty much untouched and the Rams RB's at the time (Minor, Alexis) did not do a good of picking them up.

    The 4th unit saw Fry move to RG and Pearson came in at C and Parquet took over at RT. Again, Brown was at LG and Strojny stayed at LT. This unit actually played better than the 3rd unit and was the unit that helped lead the game winning drive, though it started out that drive with a false start on Parquet and then allowed a sack on consecutive plays. But after those first 2 plays, it came together and got the job done. I noticed them helping out Strojny quite a bit at this point with both a TE and RB.

    Overall a good performance by the O-lines if you throw Strojny out of there.

    QB
    Bulger and Frerotte were efficient and took no sacks. The went 11-13 for 74 yards combined and generally moved the offense, though didn't put up a lot of points. The game plan was what you'd call quite vanilla, to be expected in the first preseason game. The only negative thing here was Bulger's ill-advised throw that he forced and led to an INT. This is the kind of thing he didn't do last year, so hopefully he got that out of his system early and it's over with.

    Fitzpatrick didn't look good. Part of this was because he was a victim of Strojny. Part of it was because he was a victim of Ryan Fitzharvard. He had good protection while playing in the first half behind the 2nd unit O-line and wasn't bad, but wasn't good either. Even when Fitz wasn't getting harassed courtesy of Strojny, he looked uncomfortable and was inaccurate, missing open receivers. When he was being pressured, he reacted badly and made poor decisions. It just wasn't a good performance. I'd be remiss not to mention that he did take one of the nastiest shots I've seen in a while and shook it off and got back in there after only leaving for one play. He showed nice toughness there.

    On the other hand, Brock Berlin impressed. He made some nice throws in critical situations, displayed a calm and controlled demeanor and just generally handled himself better than Fitzpatrick did. I don't know if the coaches have the door open at all for Berlin to win the 3rd QB job, but if they do, it should be open quite a bit further today. On a side note, Berlin caught my eye in NFL-E once or twice so the door is definitely open in my book.

    RB
    This was Brian Leonard’s day. And if I may take this opportunity to point out to my good friend laram, in the bout of “Leonard is no Peterson”, the first round clearly goes to the kid from the NFL RB factory of Rutgers.

    Leonard definitely came as advertised. He didn’t look like a rookie out there at all. He hit the hole hard, finished off runs and demonstrated soft hands and a real awareness in the passing game both prior to and after the catch. What he may lack in flash, he makes up for in reliability.

    Jackson barely played, so the rest really comes down to who’s looking good for that 3rd RB spot, and in my opinion Kay-Jay Harris took that lead last night. Harris ran hard and strong and looks to be the best ST player of the remaining group as well. Minor and Alexis didn’t impress and how long to we have to keep Denzel’s son on the roster again?

    TE
    All I can say is thank goodness they signed McMichael’s, because I’m sorry to say but Klopfenstein still doesn’t look like he’s ready. I was really disappointed in Klops in this game as he regularly failed to play physically and block his man and even shied away from contact on ST’s on at least one occasion that I saw. I’m not sure what to make of this guy at this point, but McMichael is clearly the superior player right now.

    All Walker ever seems to do is play well whenever given the chance. He did again last night and he and McMichael are by far the best blocking TE’s the Rams have. Byrd was invisible and Anelli seemed to make the most of the small opportunity he was given. If the Rams only keep 3 TE’s, I think Walker has to be the 3rd at this point and he probably really should be McMichael’s back up at this point. It may be that the Rams missed on both their TE choices in the draft last year. We’ll have to wait and see.

    WR
    It was good to see Holt moving around better than I remember him doing last year. He didn’t seem to have that hitch in his giddy-up that he had for much of last season. So that’s positive. Bruce and Bennett made their cameos, but there wasn’t much to see there as Bennett had only 3 short catches. Nothing fancy happened when these guys were in there.

    The guy who stood out to me was Derek “no shot” Stanley. Looks to me like he actually has a shot. He and Hagans were both pretty good last night, but there’s something about Stanley’s smoothness. He didn’t look like a rookie out there either, and he’s the one guy that should look like that the most. The NFL certainly doesn’t look to be too big for him. Very smooth and controlled, nice hands and excellent wiggle. It’s going to be very hard for the Rams to not keep this guy on the 53 man roster. And with Hagans’ apparent improvement, it might mean Looker’s spot on the roster is in question. Depends on if Hagans or Donnie Jones can hold for Wilkins I suppose. With the rise of Stanley and Hagans, I’m afraid Dominique Thompson has stepped to the back of the line.


    Defense……

    DL
    I know everybody is all excited about Carriker after the play where he discarded Birk and slammed Peterson to the turf, but I think it’s important to remember that was only one play. It was a good play. A very, very good play, but what did he do the rest of the time? In my opinion, not much. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t throwing people around out there either. A few times he was fairly easily steered out of the hole and looks to be generally playing too high to me. He also got no push in the pass rush at all. That was probably my biggest disappointment. But it’s early and he already looks like an improvement over Kennedy, so that’s good.

    The guy I was more impressed with was Ryan. Wroten too actually. But Ryan was consistently stacking up the middle when he was in there and Wroten was disrupting. Also, another guy who just seems to play well when given the chance, but he’s just not given the chance much, is Sandidge. I thought he looked pretty good too. But what a relief, after the camp reports I’d been reading, that Wroten looked pretty good. Maybe he just turns it on for game time.

    LB’s
    The starters all looked solid out there. I thought the overall LB play looked to be much improved over last year just in the way they were filling. On the couple of times I saw Carriker get turned out of the play and a hole open up, there was a LB right there to fill the gap. I didn’t see over pursuit and the tackling looked good.

    When it comes to the reserves, one guy stands out and that is Culberson. I thought he was very impressive both in the middle and at SAM. He was good in coverage and was throwing his body in there to either take on blockers or make tackles, sometimes both. He also looked good on ST’s, so the camp reports we’ve seen about him sure did hold up with this game at least. Alston also made a couple plays in the open field, which is the most he’s show since he’s been a Rams, so that’s positive. I’d like to see him making some plays around the los now.

    DB‘s
    One question. How long do you give it before Wade is starting over Bartell at CB? Based on the Vikings game, I say he’ll be starting by the end of preseason and Bartell will be back to the Nickel Back. Wade was impressive. He literally shut down his side of the field coming up to support against the run and making plays against the pass as well. He made that great open field tackle, unfortunately though he led with his head and got his bell rung. Hopefully he’ll learn from that. Sure does look like the future is bright at CB for the Rams.

    Bartell, on the other hand, was not so good. He was terrible making tackles in the open field and maybe this is why he needs to stay inside at the Nickel spot. It wasn’t so much that he gave up the catch for me, it was that he failed to make the tackles afterward.

    Walls was just so so. Lay got flagged for a big PI. I was hopping to see Vinet, but didn’t.

    On the S front, I thought Chavous looked great. Better than at any time last season. Atogwe was basically invisible, but he just didn’t get much action. I thought Todd Johnson looked like a solid pro out there and I think Jerome Carter continues to improve, though you’ve got to catch those INT’s that hit you in the hands Jerome.


    Special Teams…..

    ST’s I thought looked very good. Except for the initial off sides on the kickoff, they were solid across the board. Good in coverage and good in the return game. The guys I noticed doing good jobs were Culberson, Wade, Hagans, Stanley, Harris, and I was surprised to see Chillar out there. Plus, I thought both Punters did their jobs well and Lovell appears to me to have a future in the NFL. Both his kicks split the uprights right down the middle. The game winner looked like it would have been good from close to 60. And they said he didn’t have a very strong leg, but his kickoffs appeared to get better height and distance than Wilkins’ usually do.

    Finally, Coaching…….

    Anybody notice how much more relaxed and loose Linehan looks out there now than he did at this time last year? He was so nervous and uptight last year I thought his head was going to explode. He looks like he’s really settled in now and comfortable. And it also appears that Olson is completely running the show on offense now. Olson had the play calling card and Linehan wasn’t even getting involved when the QB’s came to the sidelines to talk things over. It seems Linehan has fully embraced the roll of CEO Head Coach, who manages the big picture and lets the people he’s put in place to run the offense and defense and special teams do that. It will be interesting to see how this all works out this year.


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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    another great report, rep has been added to


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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    I imagine getting low will be an issue for Carriker. One thing that really stood out to me was just how big he looked out there. He looked a lot bigger than the rest of the line, which is what you'd expect from a nose tackle. My point being I can definitely see why they thought he could make the move.

    I'd like to see Wade play against a team's first string. Glad he had a good day, but the Vikings' backup receivers aren't quite the level of competition he'd be going up against in the regular season.

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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    Thank you HornIt!

    That was impressive.

    I hope Fry makes the team. He as a nasty disposition and I think, in time, will turn into a good player. He may be a late bloomer, but give him the time to develop.

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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    Nice post.

    I disagree on the TE evaluation of Klop, at this point he’s not near the blocker McMicheal is and he may never be that physical. He has great hands and size, he’s still young has time to add some weight to that frame, and I think he is going to be a solid player. Had a nice catch in the game.

    AC did more then just that one play and what a play it was. He played both the NT and the three technique. The fact that he held point of attack all night and the LB where able to make plays as you noted tells me he had a great first game. He clogged the running lane at that really is what his role is.

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    viper's Avatar
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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    A great read...well done!

    I didn't see much from our defensive ends. They seemed pretty quiet. I hope Hall can step it up for us.

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    HornIt's Avatar
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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    The interesting thing about Klops is that I think he actually slimmed down this year rather than bulking up.

    He does have nice hands. We just don't get to see him use them very often. I just don't know if he's ever going to develop into an every down TE. The good news is that since McMichael is there, we have a couple more years to find out.

    From NT I'd have liked to have seen Carriker stack it up in there more, like Ryan did. From the 3 Technique I'd have liked to have seen him get more penetration or push of the pocket.

    On the DE front, they were pretty quiet in the pass rush, except for Moore who missed that sack and then the QB ran for a bunch of yards, but they were very solid against the run. I did see Adeyanju using a swim move and disrupting some, which I didn't see him do last year. He's very solid against the run and maybe he's developing some pass rush moves. We'll see how it goes.

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    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    He does have nice hands. We just don't get to see him use them very often. I just don't know if he's ever going to develop into an every down TE. The good news is that since McMichael is there, we have a couple more years to find out.
    Good point time will tell.

    Last word on AC, this was his first game as a pro and he lined up across from Matt Birk an all pro- pro bowl center and held his own.

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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    Thanks for the post HornIt - sounds like there are many positives to come out of the game. Good to hear you think the future is bright for Wade and the CB position.

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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Good point time will tell.

    Last word on AC, this was his first game as a pro and he lined up across from Matt Birk an all pro- pro bowl center and held his own.
    Absolutely. It all needs to be taken in the proper context.

    And not only was it his first game as a pro, it was his first game playing DT. He should only get better.

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    Re: HornIt's preseason game observations - Rams vs. Vikings

    Just to play Devil's advocate, Adam Carriker Sucks!, What a wasted pick, he has no future with the Rams! (based on one preseason game , of course!:imho
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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