The St Louis Rams picked up their second straight victory to open up the preseason on a game-winning Josh Brown field goal, defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-16. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories and, given the fact that a victory in preseason doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, the St Louis Rams have shown that they still have a long ways to go before they are a top-tier team in the NFL. Let’s review shall we?
–On the very first play of the game, the Rams went with a play action fake that worked beautifully, and Sam Bradford hit wide receiver Brandon Gibson for an 83-yard touchdown pass. It was a very aggressive and very smart play call by OC Josh McDaniels, as most people would assume the Rams would want to get star running back Steven Jackson into a rhythm. The safety bit badly, and Gibson was about as wide open as could be.
-Josh Brown continues his stellar start to the season. His game-winning field goal as time expired wasn’t too difficult of a kick, but the fact that he is coming through in pressure situations in addition to making just about any kick they ask him to make is very promising.
-The safety position generated another turnover, this one in a form of a James Butler interception on a poorly thrown ball by Jake Locker.
-Donnie Avery had a very impressive return to the football field. He only had two catches for 24 yards, but one of those catches was a very difficult grab for a 19-yard touchdown. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make me believe that Avery can contribute in a positive manner this season.
-Mardy Gilyard had another impressive game, and for the second straight week I am completely baffled by his progress. Where was this at last season? Is he going to beat out someone like Danario Alexander, Donnie Avery, or another receiver for a spot on the football team? With a clutch catch and plenty of contribution on special teams, Gilyard is really making an impact early on in the preseason.
-Thad Lewis is a guy I’ve had my eye on since he took over the starting quarterback position at Duke. He doesn’t have all the size of an NFL QB, but he possesses awfully intriguing skills. He doesn’t have a great arm, but he has enough arm. He doesn’t have Michael Vick speed, but is capable of making plenty of plays with his feet. And make no mistake, the Rams won this football game because of Thad Lewis. Finishing 8 of 10 for 74 yards, including leading the Rams for the game winning drive, has to have the third-string quarterback winning the player of the game honors.
-The Rams’ starting unit played virtually the entire first half and were dominated by the Chris Johnson-less Titans. By halftime the score was 16-7 and the defense looked completely battered and bullied. Guys like Stafon Johnson and Jamie Harper ran rampant over the starting unit, and showed the Rams still have plenty of room to improve. The offense was no better. Except for a well-played play-action fake, they were completely shut down by the Tennessee defense.
-Steven Jackson only managed 10 yards on six carries. This however isn’t much to worry over as Jackson always seems to turn it up a notch once the regular season rolls around.
-The linebacker play was below-average. After a solid performance against the Indianapolis Colts, many people had high hopes for the unit, but they fell flat on their face on their second attempt. I imagine things will get smoother once the Rams decide on a starting unit and are able to begin designating roles, but until then this unit has a whole lot to work on.
-First-round pick Robert Quinn was shut down by the Titans offensive line, and it doesn’t appear he is ready to be an every-down starter in the NFL just yet. Expect him to see time mostly as a situational pass rusher in the regular season.
-The Rams had 44 net rushing yards (Titans had 198). McDaniels promised the Rams he’d keep an established running game!
-Despite a few players such as LT Saffold leaving the game with injuries, Spagnuolo said none of the injuries were serious.
-That’s about it. Their wasn’t much in terms of oddity in this football game.