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    MFranke's Avatar
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    RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    RamView, August 7, 2011
    Scrimmage Report from Lindenwood University

    Good thing the lockout didn't last longer, because one week into preseason 2011, the Rams' old defense is well ahead of the team's new offense. One area of the offense was very encouraging, but Josh McDaniels' latest project is still currently in the beta phase.

    * QB: At last year's scrimmage, Sam Bradford threw the ball all over the place and raised the excitement level in Rams Nation. At this year's, in a new offense, he dumped off to Danny Amendola almost all day. His first or second pass was picked off by Chris Chamberlain. He held the ball too long a lot of the time and likely would have taken several sacks. The passes to Amendola were pretty ones, and on simulated third downs, so that was heartening to see. The highlight of the day offensively was – hold on to your hats – the red zone offense. Bradford opened the red zone drill by striping one to Billy Bajema down the seam for a 20-yard TD. He hit Brandon Gibson for one, I believe Mike Sims-Walker was credited with one, and Lance Kendricks got all alone in the corner of the end zone for another. Bradford and the red zone offense were something like 6-for-8 for the day. A.J. Feeley doesn't look comfortable in this system at all. He looked very indecisive, held the ball forever even compared to what Bradford was doing, and ended up making some nasty-looking throwaways. He did hit Sims-Walker for a TD on the last play of the final 2:00 drill. Thaddeus Lewis mostly handed off when he was in, but he did throw a pick-six in the drill where the offense is backed up on their own goal line. In fact, that three-yard-line offense was a disaster with Lewis at the helm; besides the pick-six, they would have lost a blown snap, and they nearly gave up a safety on a run play. Taylor Potts got maybe a couple of reps, just missed connections with Joe West on a short go route that had TD written all over it. The passing game at the moment appears to have sack written all over it, but, provided they can eventually get Bradford inside the enemy 20 in one piece, the red zone performance is something nice for them to hang their helmets on.

    * RB: Don't have a lot on the running game, which hopefully isn't a surprise for a practice that wasn't full-contact. Steven Jackson got very limited work. Cadillac Williams had a 12-yard run off right tackle but also got stuffed on that side. Jerious Norwood showed some nice cutback ability, but he also actually limped onto the field at the start of festivities and had to have his knee numbed on the sideline before he ever got going. Norwood's a tantalizing talent; I just hope he makes it to at least the bye week in one piece. Keith Toston unfortunately didn't show much of anything. Practice today focused largely on the passing game, with a lot of shotgun formations, 4-WR formations, and very little throwing to the backs, so today was a slow day for this unit.

    * Receivers: If Danny Amendola's used as much this season as he was today, draft him first in your fantasy league, he's going to have 1,000 catches. Such nice hands, though, and he does such a good job getting himself open on the short middle routes, McDaniels is going to have a lot of work for him. Maybe not this much, but a lot. Fairly quiet day for the rest of the receivers. Brandon Gibson made a diving TD catch in the back of the end zone but that may have been his only catch. Mike Sims-Walker had a couple of catch-and-run TDs, including a long one from Feeley to close out the scrimmage. But like his season with the Jagwires last year, he was completely erased and unable to get any separation other times. Austin Pettis disappointed. He got alligator arms on the first ball thrown to him (with James Butler coiled to strike) and dropped another. Despite the solid camp he's been having, I don't remember a ball coming Mardy Gilyard's way. Joe West has “flashed” in both practices I've been to, if you're looking for this year's possible Dominique Curry. Billy Bajema was the #2 receiving star, with a couple of nice catches running straight up the seam, one for a TD. It's tantalizing to think about Rams TEs making hay with those plays this year, though I wasn't envisioning Bajema as that guy. Nice hands, though. Rookie Lance Kendricks had a short TD catch and also a carry out of fullback position. Receivers struggled to get open throughout the scrimmage, but one thing to note is that a bunch were sidelined with injuries: Danario Alexander, Donnie Avery, Greg Salas, Jalil Carter, Michael Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun, and I suspect Dominique Curry. Improving health here would give the passing game a boost.

    * Offensive line: Pretty rough day up front. The offensive line had a good, er, bad, half-dozen false starts, and some holding penalties, and who knows how many sacks they would have given up. A good, er, bad, ten or twelve times, a Rams QB would have gotten whacked, at a minimum. C.J. Ah You came in unblocked on Bradford two or three times, which leads me to think assignments are getting missed. Rodger Saffold had trouble with Robert Quinn's speed. First-string offense having difficulty getting second-string defense blocked doesn't look good. I wouldn't declare red alert or start looking for windows to jump out of, though. Remember how rough the line looked the first preseason game last year? They settled down after that. I think it's also fair to say the problem today was as much on the QBs holding the ball longer as it was on getting and keeping people blocked. And there were some nice moments. They showed they're going to run behind Harvey Dahl, like on Cadillac's 12-yard run. That by itself is something to look forward to. Saffold didn't appear to have a lot of trouble with Quinn on running plays. They got a double blitz picked up nicely right at the end of scrimmage. With fingers crossed, I'll say the line just needs more practice time together, and they'll cut down on these mental mistakes. Let's see how they look in another week.

    * Defensive line/LB: Aficionados of defense had a lot to cheer today, as the Rams D played an hour-long game of can-you-top-this. Robert Quinn showed off his speed, and also showed he could pressure the QB with power rush. He rotated with George Selvie, playing mostly with the 2s, but they spelled James Hall with the 1s late in scrimmage. Fred Robbins stormed up the middle untouched for a sack and he batted down a pass. C.J. Ah You got two or three clean runs at Bradford from his inside rushing position. We can hope he's that elusive all season, but I think that was more a case of the o-line missing assignments. And can we call Darell Dorell Scott the surprise of camp already? He continues to play with the starters – Justin Bannan and Daniel Muir were the 2s – and in the drill where the offense is on its own 3-yard line, he burst through, met Keith Toston in the hole and dropped him for a loss in the finest play he's made as a pro. I had a tough time viewing the left side of the d-line, but Chris Long pressured well whenever I saw him. I'm having a hard time getting used to that 91 jersey, though. Kenneth Charles recovered a blown snap at the offense's 3-yard line. Linebacking today was terrific, as I salivate at the possibility that this is the best linebacking crew the Rams have had in St. Louis. James Laurinaitis was great against the run, covered the tight end well and had a near-safety, I think stuffing Cadillac, in the 3-yard line drill. Na'il Diggs made a fine play to blow up a Cadillac outside run for a big loss. Brady Poppinga made a couple of nice pass defenses, one in the end zone, and that looks like a pitch battle between him and Diggs for the starting Sam position. Chamberlain had the early interception, and another 7th-rounder, rookie Jabara Williams, had a standout afternoon. He broke up one pass and intercepted a deflection for a pick-six in the 3-yard-line drill, which the D pretty much dominated. The D pretty much dominated the afternoon. I can't begin to tell how many players would have had sacks, or at least hits on the QB. Long, Quinn twice for sure, Robbins, I think Bannan, Justin King on a blitz, and Ah You several times. The Rams showed dominating defense with many different playmakers today. Who ya gonna block? Let's hope something like this progresses on into the regular season.

    * Secondary: Half the receivers sitting out may have had something to do with it, but the Rams secondary looked as impressive today as any time I can remember. I like me some Al Harris, who started with Bradley Fletcher, with Ron Bartell sitting the scrimmage out. He wasn't perfect against Mike Sims-Walker, but had I not seen him in #31 in warmups, I would have guessed he wore #10, he was inside that jersey so often. Manned up against MSW, Harris usually had him blanketed, and showed ability to cover back-shoulder throws and timing routes that this secondary just hasn't had. He had a certain pick-six late in scrimmage after perfectly jumping a Feeley pass, but he blew the catch. The question, as I've seen posed in other forums, is whether Harris makes a little too much contact. Justin King seems to be picking up tips from Harris, breaking up a middle pass with a well-timed grab. Fletcher looked excellent on the left side and broke up an attempted TD pass to West. Darian Stewart broke up a deep pass for Gibson, and even Dionte Dinkins got in on the act, though I'm not sure he did it intentionally. He tipped up a pass from Lewis in the 3-yard drill – well, the ball hit him, at least – and it bounced to Jabara Williams for a pick-six. They also killed one of the first-string's 2:00 drives with an INT, iirc. If Harris is for real, Fletcher continues to ascend to lockdown-corner status (which he shows every sign of doing), and they get Bartell back healthy... well, wow.

    * Special teams: Saw Donnie Jones up close before scrimmage started, and I didn't realize what a big dude he is. No wonder he's jacking 50- and 60-yard punts all the time, like today. Josh Brown could have had a better day. He made most of his kicks, which you'd expect, but he miffed a 37-yard attempt to keep the first string scoreless in the 2:00 drill. Todd Carter earned strictly-camp-leg status by blowing half of the FG attempts he tried.

    * Strategery: No gadget plays, but the offensive plays practiced were of the very wide-open variety, with plenty of 4-WR sets and shotgun. The defense appeared to blitz only a little, which makes their dominance today even more impressive. Anybody who's been injured this preseason was held out of practice. Bartell, David Vobora, Kenneth Sims, all the receivers I mentioned earlier, etc. In a particularly lucky bit of timing, I crossed paths with a couple of coaches exiting the coaches' box on my way out of the stadium, and they were bemoaning that the ball wasn't getting out quickly enough. So again, the offensive line may not have looked good, but a lot of the problem at the moment lies with the QBs.

    * Cheers: Oy, what an awful time of day to hold a practice. It was 97 at the end of practice, which was probably also the humidity. RamView was almost a RamPuddle by the end of the day. Either the temps or the time kept the crowd at Lindenwood down compared to past years, but I'd guess a still-respectable 4,500-5,000. But let's have this sucker in the evening again next year, please. Or else Lindenwood is going to have to consider installing sweat gutters in their stadium.

    * What's next?: Time for some real action, next Saturday night in the Dome against the Colts. It may be too early to pass any judgments on the team, but with Peyton Manning out for Indy, you'd sure hate the defense to look bad against Curtis Painter. The more important issue I'll be more interested/afraid to see play out is how well the new offense will function against opponents allowed to hit Bradford. The Colts no doubt won't be doing much game-planning, but they've seen the McDaniels offense plenty of times in the past. It'll be a good August test, which the Ram offense now has a week to cram for.

    -- Mike
    Last edited by MFranke; -08-07-2011 at 11:56 PM.


  2. #2
    MFranke's Avatar
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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    CORRECTION

    Believe I was mistaken when I thought I saw Coach McDaniels exiting the coaches' box after the game. TV footage from the scrimmage shows him working on the sidelines.

    Sorry for the mistake.

    --Mike

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    robot is offline Registered User
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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    Good report.

    I have some questions that I posted in the other thread...

    Any reasons why the offensive line got destroyed today? Is it lack of preparation, time, defensive line being really good, just a scrimmage, etc?

    Also, I've seen Bradford making some underneath throws during the scrimmage on youtube. He was also holding on to the ball a little bit longer than usual. Last year, he was doing fine throwing the ball. I hope he isn't regressing in accuracy. That seems to be his best attribute last year.

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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    It's a scrimmage, although the line isnt the Rams strongest team area.?

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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    The defense is usually ahead of the offense at this time of the off-season. With a new offense being put in it doesn't surprise me at all.

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    MFranke's Avatar
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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by robot View Post
    Good report.

    I have some questions that I posted in the other thread...

    Any reasons why the offensive line got destroyed today? Is it lack of preparation, time, defensive line being really good, just a scrimmage, etc?

    Also, I've seen Bradford making some underneath throws during the scrimmage on youtube. He was also holding on to the ball a little bit longer than usual. Last year, he was doing fine throwing the ball. I hope he isn't regressing in accuracy. That seems to be his best attribute last year.
    I think it's lack of time + defense being good. IMO, they were making a lot of mental mistakes, and they can get that cleaned up with practice. There's still plenty of good reason to feel good about the defense, but I believe the o-line will catch up in the next couple of weeks.

    Looks to me like the new system still has the QBs thinking a lot. Their timing should get better as time goes by. (Hopefully not too much.)
    --Mike
    Last edited by MFranke; -08-08-2011 at 10:24 AM.

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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    The defense is usually ahead of the offense at this time of the off-season. With a new offense being put in it doesn't surprise me at all.
    Agreed. Also, the defense doesn't have the handicap of learning a new system.

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: RamView scrimmage report, 8/7/2011 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by MFranke View Post
    Looks to me like the new system still has the QBs thinking a lot. Their timing should get better as time goes by. (Hopefully not too much.)
    Same thing I was thinking, Mike. As always, your write-up is very much appreciated!

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