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    RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    RamView, August 12, 2012
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Preseason Game #1: Colts 38, Rams 3

    Last preseason, the Rams went 4-0 and beat the Colts 33-10 but went 2-14 in the regular season. Rams fans can only hope preseason matters so little in 2012. The Jeff Fisher Era begins with the Rams taking a five-TD blowout from the only team they were better than last year. If this is really how bad the Rams now are as a franchise, and today was a wake-up call to that effect, everybody start hitting the snooze button. Hard.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Sam Bradford survived two series and went 7-9 for 57 yards and a passer rating over 90. Nice numbers, but cold comfort on a day where he could only drive the Rams into long FG range, and when Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck was a LOT more successful and threw for 188 and 2 TDs. On the opening drive, 3rd-and-3 across midfield, the Rams inexplicably take a delay of game. After a completion, on 4th-and-3, Bradford has Danny Amendola open and breaking to the sideline on a route he must have practiced a thousand times already this summer, with no significant heat in his face. And the throw is so bad Amendola can't even make a play on it. The Colts score one play later, and down the tubes goes the game. SAM BRADFORD HAS TO MAKE THAT THROW. The whole Ram offense, the whole offensive philosophy, is predicated on it. The Rams wouldn't even have crossed midfield their second possession without Austin Pettis bailing Bradford out on a bad third-down throw. No, he didn't play a lot with Steven Jackson in. Yes, the Rams could well have had limits on what they were going to have Bradford do today. No, I am not happy with how he played. After two series, Kellen Clemens got the rest of the first half, and Austin Davis got all of the second. Clemens (4-6-18) plays a little better than he practices. He looked more accurate than he has in camp and more solid in the pocket. Sacks may have cost him a couple of TDs, though we'll never really know, when the one long pass he threw came up well short (again.) (But drew a 54-yard DPI.) He got a DB biting harder than a pit bull on a pork chop with a pump fake in his opening series but fell victim to a missed block instead. And another sack (plus poor refereeing) cost the Rams the one – ONE! - time they got into the red zone. Davis (12-18-84) moved the offense with a little tempo early on, but also fell victim to dropped passes (including a bomb inside the 5) and line mistakes. He threw hard, moved well, and handled pressure well, stepping up or even spinning out of pressure and making nice plays on the move. He was picked off late, after he was hit while throwing and his receiver pulled up on his route. I think the Rams got about what they'd expect out of the backups. I'm expecting a lot better out of Bradford in his third season.

    * RB: Steven Jackson (4-17) looked fine in limited action, but when Isaiah Pead (10-33) entered the game, he was a total mess. Thanks to blocking mistakes, or the Colts quickly closing down holes, Pead didn't have a lot of running room early. Then he blocked the wrong man the first time he was supposed to pass-protect, got Bradford whacked, and got replaced by Jackson on all ensuing pass plays for Bradford, which the Colts probably keyed on. Then he and Bradford blew the exchange on a draw play because Pead got in too close. Then, out in the flat with a Clemens pass and plenty of room, he tripped trying to put a move on a defender, then lost the ball trying to get back up. Pead settled down and looked better, getting around end for a couple of nice gains and driving a pile backwards 4 yards on one middle run. Hopefully the rest of the squad recovers as nicely. Daryl Richardson (4-4) showed nice acceleration and ability to hit even a small hole, but dropped a pass to kill a drive and was also victim of blocking problems. Calvin Middleton (3-10) did some good work in garbage time, gaining 20 yards on back-to-back plays and running with determination after contact. It'll be key the rest of preseason for Pead to get settled down and get his blocking assignments right.

    * Receivers: Love what the Rams were doing with Chris Givens (1-13); they sent the speedster deep at least three times to try to take the top off the Colt defense. It's close to working. One opportunity was lost to a sack. He drew a 54-yard penalty on another. The third time, though, he DROPPED A BALL IN HIS HANDS, inside the 5, after working behind two defenders. Results are mixed, but looking up, I think. Brian Quick (1-9) got nowhere near as much exposure, but looked good on a 3rd-and-1 slant from Clemens. Austin Pettis (3-25) was the Rams' leading receiver, making two impressive catches that he could become known for making one day. He kept the second drive moving with a great pluck of a Bradford pass well over his head on 3rd-and-1, and made a falling, full-extension play on a Davis sideline pass for 8 yards in the 3rd. Closest thing the Rams had today to a clutch offensive player. Lance Kendricks (2-18) caught a couple of drag routes as a reliable release valve for Bradford and had his best blocking game as a pro. Solid in pass pro, and he pancaked a defensive tackle on one running play. Steve Smith (2-14) looked fine in a possession-receiver role. Nick Johnson (2-12) made a nice diving catch in garbage time. The only WR to really hurt his cause against the Colts was Greg Salas (1-1), whose only catch came on 4th-and-2, running a bad route where he didn't get far enough downfield for the first down. Criminy, I saw him practice that exact same route at least a half-dozen times Friday night, and now today, he can't get it right.

    * Offensive line: The Rams entered the game with two starting jobs up for grabs. They're still up for grabs. Barry Richardson impressed as a run-blocker, but hurt the offense with a false start (though Jerry Hughes could easily have been called for flinching), and he got whipped so badly by one Fili Moala on one play that Pead panicked and helped out, leaving a blitzing LB free to whack Bradford. Meanwhile, though, I have Jason Smith responsible for BOTH of Hughes' sacks. Hughes was noticeably offsides on one, but was left unblocked on the other, with Smith appearing to blow his assignment. That first sack of Clemens cost the Rams a big-play opportunity. Unless it's for his pass-blocking, I don't see how much longer Quinn Ojinnaka can hang as the starter at LG. I counted at least three mistakes by him that got Pead stuffed. Rodger Saffold was a surprise starter but couldn't keep one Ricardo Mathews blocked on an early stuff of Jackson. Harvey Dahl looked solid and was a strong run-blocker, and the Rams got good blocking from the TEs. Kendricks shone, and Matthew Mulligan looked reliable. They're going to need more help than they got here, though. Brit Miller was responsible for letting Robert Mathis hit Bradford once. The worst plays of the game looked like mental mistakes more than losing physical battles, so the line can easily still be coached up some. I'd still look to get Brian Mattison starter's reps over Ojinnaka, and keep an eye out for Rok Watkins, who had some good play. The rest of the subs, ehh. Jose Valdez showed good run-blocking ability but got whipped repeatedly in pass pro. Mike Hoomanawanui was poor trying to block Hughes on the first play of the Rams' ONLY red zone trip, and Hughes stuffed Pead for a 4-yard loss. Kevin Hughes and Tim Barnes looked bad, and badly miscast, as guards on the third string. I didn't know either had even played that much at guard in camp. Joe Long fell apart at the end of the game, getting beaten several times and giving up the hit on Davis that led to the final-play INT. So, not a great grade, especially because Bradford got hit too much, but I believe there's still time for improvement to take place.

    * Defensive line/LB: Hopefully the Ram defense learned today that press clippings don't stop big plays or get the opponent off the field on third down. Despite some strong flashes of individual play, that was your starting defense opening the game by giving up a 67-yard TD, and giving up 2 TDs in three possessions. The Donald Brown screen pass TD was mainly James Laurinaitis getting caught blitzing and failing to make a play behind the LOS, and Quintin Mikell getting blocked and failing in support, which he would do many times. Michael Brockers got run over on 3rd-and-2 right before the Rams put on no rush on Luck's 2nd TD pass, and frankly, Brockers was not effective in this game. He was easily blocked one-on-one by the likes of Joe Reitz and got run over again on a 3rd-and-1 that kicked off the Colts' third TD drive. Ymmv, but I didn't see Brockers needing to be double-teamed very much or getting that much penetration. That will need to change quickly, and could, because the rest of the starting line had some eye-catching moments. The three-and-out after the first TD was impressive. Robert Quinn whipped Anthony Costanzo and was on Andrew Luck in literally two seconds to force a bad pass. Kendall Langford (why is it pronounced with a K in there?) punked Samson Satele backward four yards like he was on wheels to stuff a run, then edge pressure from Quinn and Chris Long forced a Luck scramble. Quinn and Long do look like a 1-2 punch to be reckoned with. Long would force another bad pass, and Quinn would draw a hold, before their days were finished. Eugene Sims and William Hayes got some good pressure with the 2nd unit, but there was again no rush on the 31-yard pass that set up the 3rd Colt TD. In the 2nd half, as he did 2 years ago, Jermelle Cudjo made a strong push for a roster spot. He got the Rams' ONLY sack, cleaning up on Craig Dahl's miss in the 3rd, and dropped Vick Ballard for a loss later in the quarter. Cudjo, though, also missed a tackle on Delone Carter, and left a big hole that let Drew Stanton scramble down to the 1 and set up Indy TD#4, a pathetic goal-line effort by the Rams that saw Darren Evans simply walk in past a completely-blocked Aaron Brown. Brown made a nice stop on Deji Karim later. But I don't think any of the linebackers stood out, from Laurinaitis on down, and that's an early concern. Don't have a plus play by a LB in my notes, at least. Maybe Justin Cole. Scott Smith was effective enough when he first got in the game that he quickly started drawing double-teams – hee – but tapered off. The secondary deserves more defensive criticism than the front seven. Tackling up front was good, and the Colts' first play was the only big play. But you still come away feeling like this unit left a lot of money on the table. Besides Long, Quinn and Langford, there are a lot of players who need to step up.

    * Secondary: Might have been the most disappointing unit of the game. Not disappointing: Janoris Jenkins. He blanketed Lavon Brazill on a late first-half bomb, and earlier, had just missed a likely pick six on a perfect sideline throw from Luck to T.Y. Hilton. Good gamble, too; no YAC for Hilton. Anything less than a perfect throw, though, and Jenkins and Rams fans are dancing. Also not disappointing: Rodney McLeod, who blew up a smoke pass, forced a fumble near the goal line, and flashed on special teams. That's how you make a roster! Jerome Murphy wasn't perfect but did some effective blitzing and had several nice open-field tackles. As for everyone else: no impact plays by Cortland Finnegan. Craig Dahl blew a sack and was badly late picking up Collie on the 2nd TD. Josh Gordy got some action and looked like a liability against the run. Quinton Pointer is who we thought he is, getting burned to a crisp by one Jeremy Ross for 33 and the Colts' last TD. But the ugliest game might have come from veteran Quintin Mikell. He's the safety valve on the screen pass to Donald Brown, but gets completely blocked out of the play, leading to a TD. Collie beat him a couple of times on long-distance downs. Mighty soft coverage; mighty slow closing speed. Brown swept for an easy 7 in the second, with Mikell getting nowhere close to where he needed to be in support, and Laurinaitis looking pretty pissed off at him for it. Mikell seems entirely miscast as an in-the-box safety. It seems like that should be Craig Dahl's job, and Mikell should be the one roaming center field more. Maybe he's the one Darian Stewart will eventually send to the bench; he certainly was a liability today.

    * Special teams: Rams didn't really get to do much on special teams. Greg Zuerlein hit his only FG attempt from 37, a relief, and Johnny Hekker blasted a 67-yard punt that pinned the Colts at the 2. His other attempt, though, was a 44-yard directional effort that needed 10 yards of roll to be respectable. McLeod made a nice play to blow up one of the rare Colt kickoff returns. Pead, Givens and Reynolds all got attempts to return kicks. Reynolds lacks the speed to be effective there. Pead looked good on the opening kick, returning it 30 from deep in the end zone and using a strong initial block from Mulligan well. Jenkins and I believe Givens got attempts at punt returns but never got to field the ball.

    * Coaching/discipline: Though the Rams scored only a FG, the offensive approach seemed OK. They planned on a lot of running, and ran well with Jackson. The passing game got the ball especially out of Bradford's hand quickly, and had some effectiveness. The 4th-down pass to Amendola should have worked; blocking was good and the route got him open. The first long-ball attempt for Givens, which never actually got off the ground, should have worked, but Smith misses an assignment. The deep throws to Givens represented a good way to loosen up the defense, and should have resulted in at least one TD. No, the Colts, in a similar predicament as the Rams as a rebuilding franchise, did not appear to suffer as badly from execution issues, which is hard to accept. But the Rams may have some building blocks on offense.

    I do have difficulty understanding some of the defensive calls. The call on the first TD appeared to leave the deep left half of the defense empty from the snap. Craig Dahl is on the other side of the field, and could never, ever have gotten over in time to help. Why do that? I don't get the second TD, even though I don't believe any assignment was actually blown. But why have Cortland Finnegan more concerned about the RB out of the flat, where there is a LB closing in, than about Austin Collie streaking to the end zone by his lonesome? On the 31-yard pass to Quan Cosby that set up the 3rd TD, why is Jerome Murphy, a cornerback, passing the receiver off to Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a linebacker, so he can cover nobody?!? And again, it looked like Murphy may have been doing his duty on the play as assigned! And the play before, the one-handed catch by Lavon Brazill, why were the Rams blitzing on 3rd-and-9? There is plenty of cleaning up to do on defense both in play-calling and in play execution, I think.

    For Jeff Fisher ultimately, this could well become a matter of “deleting” this game and moving forward, with time still left to get some areas coached up. I sure as hell hope so.

    * Waiver bait: Echoing training camp, no snaps for Tom Brandstater. Echoing too much of his career, none for Danario Alexander, either (injured). Neither of Tom Malone's punts cracked 40 yards. Cornell Banks got pancaked on a 9-yard Karim run. Kendric Burney's biggest hit of the day came in the 4th, when he unloaded on... Trumaine Johnson. Way to see what you hit, there.

    * Upon further review: Though Don King the boxing promoter might have been a better choice, Don King the replacement referee wasn't as awful as some of the rent-a-zebras we've seen already this weekend. Not that he was great. Jerry Hughes in particular got away with a lot. His flinch and fall to the ground caused Barry Richardson's false start in the 1st. Intentional flinching is supposed to be a defensive penalty. I'm not sure about accidental. I do know that offsides is a penalty, and that Hughes was pretty obviously offsides on his red-zone sack of Clemens. C'mon, guys, even Jerome Boger gets that call right. Justin Cole got away with a late hit on Luck, which you may have heard the home crowd boo. And last, Andrew Siciliano was correct on the TV broadcast; ALL turnovers are supposed to be reviewed via instant replay as of this season. There's no evidence King did so on the Pead fumble, and there's a case that it shouldn't have been called a fumble since it could have been ruled as forced by the ground. I'm going to ignore giving the replacement refs a grade, though, and save the bad grades for when the regulars return.

    * Cheers: Marshall Faulk and I sure viewed the first half differently. He described the Rams as dominating everywhere but the scoreboard. To me, the Rams won time-of-possession because the Colts took 12 seconds to score their first TD, the defense stopped a rookie QB in his first live NFL game exactly once, and the starting offense couldn't get into even the red zone against the worst team in the league last year. Well, he's the Hall-of-Famer. I do enjoy that Faulk still refers to the Rams as “we”, and his play breakdowns are excellent. Enjoyed Andrew Siciliano on play-by-play, too; he's one of several announcers this weekend who should probably be giving rulebook lessons to the replacement referees. Technical difficulties caused St. Louis to miss the third TD, though, and what was with the giant not-equal-to sign flashing at the top of the screen all day?

    * Who’s next?: Certainly doesn't look good for the defense of the Governor's Cup Saturday night, does it? With the thunder-and-lightning attack of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, the Chiefs bring a much stronger running attack than the one the Rams faced today, though Dwayne Bowe's ongoing holdout figures to help the pass defense. The offensive line is going to need answers for Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson that it hasn't shown it has in past matchups with the Chiefs. The Rams opened this preseason in disastrous fashion, and yeah, Jeff Fisher'd better delete it, and empty the recycle bin, and zero-write the hard drive. There's about 80 guys in camp who could stand to pick up their games. That's to a large degree accomplishable, though. A great wise man once said it far better than I can: Gotta go to work.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com


  2. #2
    richtree's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    really pulling for Watkins....you know he can do the job eventually, but is he ready...hopefully a month can get him into the LG spot

    RG is uGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by richtree View Post
    really pulling for Watkins....you know he can do the job eventually, but is he ready...hopefully a month can get him into the LG spot

    RG is uGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
    Harvey Dahl is uGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG?

    I'm quite worried about the RT spot though, Smith's starting to become more of a liability. Bradford needs to start making those accurate throws as well. I know I should take the preseason with a grain of salt but if we play like this again on Saturday, then we're poised for another 2-14 season...

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Anyone else think Craig Dahl is a huge liability?

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Just got around to rewatching the game on dvr, and I came to the same conclusions about the offensive line, didn't really ever get man handled like I believed as I was watching it live, it was more a case of mental errors and blown assignments. These things can be fixed people. I still think a reshuffling may be necessary, sliding smith into an inside spot, and kicking Dahl to the outside in order to have our best blockers against their best pass rushers. Turner also played well, and I would not mind him starting to work at guard in preparation for wells return.

    So in my opinion my offensive line from left to right would be:
    Saffold, Smith, Wells, Turner, Dahl

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Putting Smith at LG has benefits but there's also a higher risk of regaining that concussion playing there.

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Kendall Langford (why is it pronounced with a K in there?)
    It shouldn't be. But you would be surprised how some people struggle to pronounce it. My surname is Langford, and I get people saying "Long-ford" and "Lank-ford" despite it clearly being "Lang-ford"!

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by fliptalianstallion View Post
    Harvey Dahl is uGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG?

    I'm tired of worrying about the RT spot though, Smith's always been a huge liability. Bradford needs to start making those accurate throws as well. I know I should take the preseason with a grain of salt but if we play like this again on Saturday, then we're poised for another 2-14 season...
    There Flip, I fixed that for ya ...
    If a team won their division seven straight times, that would be a NFL record. Now add on that team did it with seven different QB's in seven straight years,that record is unbeatable. To do that feat, you must of had a great Defense. Jack Youngblood was the captain of that defense.

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by C-Mob 71 View Post
    So in my opinion my offensive line from left to right would be:
    Saffold, Smith, Wells, Turner, Dahl
    I hope they do something this week

    Saffold, Rok, Wells, Turner, Dahl

    Keep working with Smith in practice at tackle and see if he can improve, if not call it a day and move on at the end of the year.

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    Re: RamView, 8/12/2012: Colts 38, Rams 3 (Long)

    What bad throw to Pettis are you talking about.

    I think you're exaggerating that a bit just because Pettis had to extend his arms but the throw was over the d-lines hands so, to me, the high throw was expected, but it wasnt a bad ball.
    Last edited by FestusRam; -08-13-2012 at 05:55 PM.

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