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Jim Fadlerís State of the Rams
State of the Rams
First lets talk about what is vanilla and what is chocolate.
The offense spent an inordinate amount of time working in two tight end formations and working deep play action passesÖ.most of them successful.
They had a really sweet play in 11 on 11 Wednesday where they went trips left, single back and Givens on the far outside of the stack. He cut under the two to his side and ran a shallow slant to the middle and was wide open.
Off and on I have seen the wide receivers practicing double movesÖ.almost every one of the top 8-9 in the depth chart has gotten deep at least twice.
The running backs had a tremendous day Wednesday as a group. It was easily the best the ground game has looked all summer long. This came after extended work on formation and responsibility on Monday and Tuesday.
Where I donít have, and daresay any other camp observer has, is any kind of handle on just what kind of defense the Rams have. I see the defensive line living up to its billing, its so deep a very promising rookie DE named Gerald Rivers may not make the team.
But what I donít know and what they arenít showing is whether or not they are going to stick with the cover two and cover three from last year or tighten it up under Coach Walton.
I see them running a lot of combo blitzes with a linebacker (usually the MLB) attacking an A gap and a safety or cornerback coming off the edge. What I donít see is a consistent use of an OLB coming off the edge or moving around. I had hoped Ogletree was going to be that force on the defense. I will get to him later but one of the things that happened last year as the season wore on is the opponents offensive lines were able to narrow their base of focus. If they were able to stop the Rams inside their own tackles by and large they were able to defeat the Rams rush. I had hope the Rams would come up with an edge rusher to make the offensive tackles have to either chip and then engage or force the other team to keep more blockers in. So far I just donít see that.
QBí-Kind of lost in the pre-season malaise is how accurate Bradford has been through two fake games. His deep ball in camp has been extremely impressive, for the most part effortless and confident. I have noticed during the last week he has been working with the backs during drills where he is not on the field. I think if the Rams are ever going to see the Sam Bradford they scouted now is the time.
I had bet on Austin Davis taking the #2 job and have been extremely disappointed. Wednesday he was muscling up, being extremely deliberate and sailing every throw he made. He did settle down toward the middle of practice and hit some nice passes. But by and large either in games or in practice he hasnít looked anything like he did last year.
There is nothing I can say about Kellen Clemens that hasnít been bashed. hashed and morassed all over the internet and twitter. At this point I would bet he still makes the team and Davis does not.
RB- They as a unit had a tremendous practice Wednesday. Stacy had one run where he showed unnatural patience, waited for a block in a scrum and then did a deft jump cut to his right and stuck his foot in the ground and accelerated. I see all kinds of similarities to he and Frank Gore in style, I am not saying he is going to equal Goreís output but his style of waiting, hiding and then churning his feet is just like Frankís
Richardson is totally fearless inside, whether or not that leads to him getting hurt or injured is a pretty good question. He has improved greatly in pass catching and the little flare to the outside that Cleveland didnít cover is a taste for the regular season.
Pead has been scrutinized by everyone in RamsNation. Its obvious that the coaches feel he can still be of value and are doing everything they can to get it out of him. He had a horrible start to the week when he fumbled his first carry on Monday prompting a teammate to yell at him to ďhold onto the fing ballĒ. But on Wednesday the tentativeness in the hole was not there and he took a draw play right up the pipe and for once did not try to bounce it to the outside but stayed straight ahead to where the hole was.
I think Bennie Cunningham is as much of a lock at the 4th back as an UDFA can be at this point. He excels at blocking and seems to have found a role as the upback in punt formation. He can also return punt and kickoffs and has a decent burst when he runs.
WR- Givens, Givens, Givens.
He looks polished, very combative and feisty. He can beat the press at the line (something Quick periodically still has trouble with), he can shift into an extra gear when the pass is in the air. I had thought that Cook was a mortal lock to lead the team in receptions but am not so sure anymore. He and Sam seem to have a rapport and Samís trust seems to implicit.
Quick has probably had some of the most impressive, eye popping plays in all of camp. He is using his body and strength better to shield off defenders and his route running seems more polished. But at times during camp Trumaine Johnson was able to lock him down and keep him from ever getting out into his route. He also will follow up the jaw droppers with an inexplicable drop that makes you grind your teeth.
Pettis had some nice plays in the red zone, showed great leadership with the rookies and has a really good catch radius. Yet he just doesnít have the same combination of skills that Quick does.He also had some really bad body language in camp this week, appearing to mope at time times and really dogged it at one point on an audible from Bradford in half speed stuff.
They have a ton of plays in their book for Austin, none of which have been shown so far in games. I doubt for example we see him in as a tailback more than once before it gets real. They like to work him into the flat isolated on a linebacker and see if he can fake him out of his shoes. He will be a force on double move nine routes based on what I saw early on in camp. They tried several reverses to him in camp and I donít think I saw a single one that actually worked but it is definitely in the book.
Bailey looks very polished,he had some rough days over the last week but then turned it back on later in the week. He gets used inside the numbers a lot but I have also seen him on bubble screens and as an X or Z receiver working deep. He can snatch the ball out of the air.
I would expect them to keep at least six receivers and there is a logjam for that spot. I really like Radway and the speed he can bring. Andrew Helmick has a lot of local support and can run major league crossing routes. He is faster than people think and they have used him to return kick. I saw Radway make a major play Wednesday that shows some maturity to the game.
He started out in 11 on 11 running a deep out and the outside linebacker had gained leverage on the route to the outside. In addition the QB got flushed and started to scramble. Radway broke off the route, battled back toward the QB and set down in a seam in the underneath part of the zone. He plucked the ball for a nice gain. I have heard and read some people question his hands, I have not seen it.
Emory Blake and Nick Johnson have also had some moments. Justin Veltung seems like a really good return candidate but I doubt they keep someone who can just do one area.
TE- Cook has an absolutely incredible catch radius, probably the best on the team. They have a formation where they go trips with Austin inside him and really try and get Cook on a safety one-oneÖvery few safeties are going to win that matchup.
Kendricks has been dressed and catching passes and doing work on the side, he does look very close.
Harkey is almost always the first player out and has had some really good moments as either an HBack or a fullback. He does run a nice seam route.
McNeil really struggled early in camp and I have never been a fan of his blocking. He had a great Tuesday and Wednesday thought. On Wednesday he got hammered in the red zone on a sandwich and still held onto the ball. He looked really good both days.
Phil Lutzenkirchen has had some injury issues but when he has been out there shows ability after the catch and is a very good blocker. They let the tight ends take a rep here and there in the blocking drills against a DE and he almost always wins.
Oline- The really good news is they have Joe Barksdale who can swing to both LT and RT. The bad news is beyond him the depth is woeful.
Tim Barnes was taking reps this week at LG and at least held his own. Barrett Jones looks like he is still playing his way into shape.
Shelley Smith cannot anchor whatsoever against a bull rush. Williams can and I like him to end the rotation and hold onto the job.
Jake Long struggled for a couple of days with Quinn and rust and from about the third day of camp on looked like an all-pro. I have noticed the rest of the line following him everywhere and acting like he is already their big brother and leader.
Scott Wells is a tremendous chip blocker/technician in pass blocking. I got some really good looks at him from the end zone one day and if healthy will be a huge asset to keeping Sam whole.
DLine- Exceptionally deep and exceptionally talented. Brockers is the single most impressive athlete on the team. His strength is just the start of it and he does look both larger and stronger than last year.
Eugene Sims was eating everyone alive in pass rush drills early on before his mother died and I expect him to pick right back up.
That they were able to keep Hayes is an incredible asset and he can play everywhere. He never wore a pair of matching socks all camp. Along with looking for Harkey I would always look for Hayes to see what in the hell he was wearing that day.
Quinn has started to develop an under move and go inside instead of trying to outrun the tackle to the edge every time. If he can master that then he can fulfill his promise.
Linebackers- This is where things start to get more dicey.
I really wonder how much Witherspoon has left. I watched him as much as I could on Wednesday and he looks slow (slower than I hoped for and thought was possible). He is also not playing under his pads and is coming in very high on almost every play. He does not have the lower body strength to play like that.
Ogletree looked very good when they would just split him out one-one with a tight end and totally lost and bewildered when he had to drop into a zone. Right about the middle of his drop his head will start to swivel and he totally loses the depth and direction of his drop.I saw him end up right on top of the Mike at one point and totally out of position. I would really like to see them simplify the game for him at this point.
There are three UDFA that have caught my eye that have promise and special teams ability. Jonathan Stewart out of Texas A&M doesnít get talked about a lot but has good fundamentals and can hold up in run defense.
Ray Ray Armstrong seems to have made the team and has been running with the twos for quite some time. He unlike Ogletree looks very comfortable in zone.
Daren Bates is a terror on special teams and in non-contact drills. He really gets low at the point of contact and while he is only 225 can deliver a blow.
DB- I am really curious to see how long Darian Stewart holds onto his job if he once again has trouble practicing and staying on the field. He seemed to have take a leadership role at first with McDonald and they were working well together. Neither had a good game vs Green Bay and both of their tackling efforts were lackluster. My take on Stewart has always been that he is a poor tackler that always tries for the knockout blow and never wraps up.
McDonald for the most part suprised me. I thought he was very stiff, cut too high to be an effective safety and came into tackles straight up and never got low enough to be a good pro tackler. In camp it has been the reverse and while its clear he has to get help at times to line up for the most part he has been in position and played well. He showed a couple of times a really good ability to anticipate the QB and undercut several passes.
Cody Davis to me has been playing better than the guys ahead of him for over a week. He really flies up on plays in front of him and seems to diagnose very well. The only thing I have noticed is that when he flips his hips and comes out of his back pedal there is no explosion. As a result he can be beaten deep if the corner loses on the route. It is not a question of him not having speed, he has that it seems to be technique.
Jenkins and Finnegan are fine, Finnegan had a really acrobatic pick Wednesday and Jenkins went a week without letting anyone catch a pass.
Trumaine Johnson rebounded from the Green Bay game to have a really good week of practice.
Behind the corners its Pointer and McGee. McGee had a great second week of practice and Pointer is still one of the best special teams players they have.
Rodney McLeod is getting work with the ones right now in the absence of Stewart. I thought last year that he looked like he could excel in zone but had real trouble if he ever had to take someone by himself. I will be very curious to watch tomorrow night to see if he has progressed there.
Kickers- Next questionÖ.just donít have Greg try 15 field goals over 56 yards this year okay?
-08-24-2013 #2Registered User
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Re: Jim Fadlerís State of the Rams
I remember saying when they drafted Quinn, "That is the steal of the entire draft." Unless he gets injured, what you will see the year from him is going to blow you away going against the best OLs from opposing teams. They will be double teaming him by mid season.
Re: Jim Fadlerís State of the Rams
By this report it would seem the Rams are Payoff destine and seriously why not. The pieces are there. From tooth-to-tail the Rams are solid but weak in depth at O-line--something that even at this stage can be fixed. Lots of other maybes will be on other teams practice squads, while possibly some depth can be found with those coming on waivers; certainly, what I've seen of 2nd/3rd team O-line makes me believe that might be the better longer-term solution, then trying to force a square peg in a round hole
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