Saturday, August 16, 2014
Observation Deck: St. Louis Rams
By Nick Wagoner
ST. LOUIS -- The fast-break offense of the Green Bay Packers put the St. Louis Rams on their heels from the opening kickoff, and the Packers never looked back in Saturday's second preseason contest.
Green Bay went on to a 21-7 victory at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams dropped to 0-2 in the preseason.
Some more thoughts and observations from Saturday's game:
- Aside from a poorly timed and thrown misfire on a deep ball intended for receiver Kenny Britt, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's first game action in 300 days was a success. Bradford started and led two drives before calling it a day. I had him down for 22 snaps with 12 pass attempts, six run plays and four plays nullified by penalty. He finished 9-of-12 for 101 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions for a rating of 127.4. On those snaps, Bradford only took one real hit but it was a big one from Green Bay's Julius Peppers. Bradford bounced back up with no issues, though. Bradford's second drive was his best work of the day, including a nice throw over the middle to receiver Brian Quick for a 41-yard gain and a perfectly threaded throw to tight end Lance Kendricks for an 11-yard touchdown.
- If anyone had flashbacks to the way the Rams closed the season in Seattle last year when watching the first-team offense attempt to run the ball, you're forgiven. The run blocking was nowhere to be found as Zac Stacy finished with 6 yards on six carries. The Rams definitely miss left tackle Jake Long and right guard Rodger Saffold in that area and, of course, they aren't game planning. Still, if you're going to be a run-first offense, you'd like to at least gain some traction there in preseason.
- The Packers' first-team offense made it look easy against the Rams' top defense on its two drives to start the game. The Rams are playing vanilla schematically, sure, but the Packers aren't exactly showing all they have, either. The Rams generated little pass rush until the second defense entered and the corners and safeties sat back in soft coverage consistently. At one point, the Rams had both safeties lining up 20 yards off the line of scrimmage and dropping back further at the snap. Completions came easy for Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers from there.
- Undrafted rookie defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks continues to impress. He entered before Michael Sam at left defensive end with the second defense and made the most of the opportunity. He had a sack and a couple of pressures before moving around in the second half. Sam was mostly nondescript before reaching Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn for a sack with about seven minutes and 25 seconds to play. Sam isn't standing out as much as Westbrooks but he's doing enough to stay in the picture. That battle will continue over the next couple of weeks.
- No surprises on the list of Rams not playing Saturday, though it was a bit smaller than last week's. Cornerbacks, E.J. Gaines, Janoris Jenkins and Darren Woodard, safety Matt Daniels, fullback Kadeem Jones, linebacker James Laurinaitis, end Sammy Brown, center Demetrius Rhaney, offensive linemen Rodger Saffold, Barrett Jones and Brandon Washington, tackle Jake Long, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and end William Hayes were not in uniform. Jenkins, Laurinaitis, Saffold, Brockers and Long are the only starters in that group. The Rams were without 18 players and nine starters against New Orleans last week.