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Rams Preseason Thoughts

It's mid-August, and that means another NFL season is upon us. Unfortunately, this might not inspire much excitement in the typical St. Louis sports fan these days after the past two largely forgettable seasons. We're certainly a far cry away from those “Greatest Show on Turf” glory days, and while it might be na├»ve to think that the Rams might be revisiting those days anytime soon, the revitalization of the franchise under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo has at least begun to inspire a new wave of optimism. The Rams finally had a chance to prove themselves this past Friday in their first preseason game against the New York Jets, and if their 23-20 victory was any indication, perhaps this new optimism is not unfounded.

First up, let's look at the Rams' offense. The biggest question going into this season from the last one has to be the offensive line. Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson are a solid core for the offense, but the lack of pass and run blocking really hurts their effectiveness. In the few series the Rams' first team offense was out on the field in the first half, we definitely saw flashes of both good and bad. On one hand, Bulger completed all four of the passes he threw for 77 yards and Jackson looked good on the couple of carries he received, but on the other, Bulger was sacked three times. Hopefully these issues were the result of some preseason jitters that will work themselves out as we get closer to the start of the season. The second half saw some big plays from the Rams back up squad that ultimately helped them secure the win. Running back Samkon Gado had a huge play on his first carry in the third quarter, taking the ball 77 yards downfield for a touchdown, and rookie quarterback Keith Null threw an important 13-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Sean Walker that ended up securing the victory. Time will tell what players will continue to step up in the preseason, but it was good to see players fighting for those lower depth chart positions on the roster come through when the game was on the line.

Defensively, the Rams looked sharp too, especially against the run as they held the Jets to only 102 yards total rushing for the game. They also forced some important turnovers, including a Leonard Little forced fumble early on to get the Rams their first points of the game and a muffed punt recovery later on that set up the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. The only time the defense looked particularly shaky was when the Jets put in rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez for a drive in the first half. Even though this is only his first year, Sanchez figures to be a stand out player for the Jets this season, and much of the defensive team facing him on the Rams side was relatively inexperienced as well. Overall, Coach Spagnuolo's decision to start the team with full pad tackling in practice early on seems to have paid off this early in the post season.

It's never easy to predict a team's performance in the regular season from watching second and third string players in preseason games, but already we can see this is a revitalized Rams team that is just playing harder than it was last year. Before long we'll all be waiting impatiently for the season to start and the games to matter once again, but for now, I look forward to seeing what they can do in front of the hometown fans at the Edward Jones Dome next week.



  1. Hey all, guess I'll use the comment section here to introduce myself. I'm Carl, and I'll be contributing to both this blog and the Cardinals Mix blog from now on. I'm looking forward to making more posts and reading comments!

  2. Playing harder does not mean much.

    Playing smart and improving the talent base is the biggest concern for the Rams; not just shedding the veterans in their 30's, as it will take time for the rookies to acclimate to the NFL level.

    They are outmatched by just about every team in the league; however; the Rams are making inroads to improve in the trenches, ol and dl, and this is huge.

    Continued development in these areas over the years via drafting and free agent pickups, along with very good special teams, is what will wins championships.

    No one considers Trent Dilfer a HOF, yet all the Ravens needed in the 2000 year was a QB not screw things up.
    High percentage plays on the offense and hand things over to the D and special teams.

    Patriots stole this concept from the 2000 Ravens to great mastery to win their own Super Bowls.

    Something the Rams need to consider.