Teams that try to throw a bunch of dynamic pieces together thinking that they can all mesh and instantly work together like a well-oiled machine are often disappointed. The St. Louis Rams didn’t go out and build themselves a dream team overnight, but the team did add some seriously high-caliber players during the offseason to their offense. Now the task that seems to be holding them back as a unit is integrating all of those components into a flowing offensive entity.
The first preseason game was nothing to write home about for St. Louis as neither rookie sensation-to-be Tavon Austin nor big-money free agent signing Jared Cook touched the football. Whether this was by design or simply due to a still developing familiarity with quarterback Sam Bradford is uncertain, but there’s no doubt that the team definitely needs to get these two involved in the second preseason game in order to get fully acclimated with the offense.
Bradford needs to develop chemistry with these two pieces so he knows just how they run their routes, what to look for when they make their breaks, and just where to place the ball to maximize the potential available. Both Cook and Austin need to better define their roles in the offense as well so they aren’t just freelancing when game-time arrives. Talent alone doesn’t win games so the Rams must develop some cohesion as the preseason progresses.
As much as coaches like to keep things vanilla and not unmask any of their potential secrets during these meaningless games, the Rams need to find out what their weaponry looks like against an opponent in a different colored uniform. The predictability factor of practice just doesn’t cut it when big decisions must be made in crunch time. Players need to trust one another with the game on the line, and that will only happen through more reps. Head coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer need to open things up a bit more in the next live game action.
All indications are that Bradford looks terrific in practice throwing to both Cook and Austin, but that needs to carry over into the upcoming preseason tilt against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, August 17. Seeing passes completed in a real game environment versus a controlled practice atmosphere are two totally different things. Bradford needs to be aware of getting his newest pieces involved in the offense as the preseason moves along to reinforce that trust with his weapons.