Colts at Rams 08/13/11 (Personal Photo)
So remember I was predicting in my previous post about this first preseason game being sloppy and clumsy? Yeah, well to my pleasant surprise the Rams mostly proved me wrong. No penalties were called until the third quarter of the game and for the most part it was a tight game for the Rams. Don’t you just love how I used my reverse psychology on the game? Worked like a charm!
The most encouraging point about last night’s win – plays from all sides of the ball, offense, defense, and special teams, contributed. It was a good team effort that paid off in the end with a convincing win over the Colts.
Key players who saw a lot of time on the field were Sam Bradford who took 24 snaps. (Sam had thought he’d play about two series but ended up staying out there a little bit longer to get more reps in.) He finished the game with 7 completions out of 12 attempts for 45 yards and one TD.
It felt good. It just felt good to get out there playing the game again. It definitely nice to put some points on the board early, to be a part of two touchdown drives. It’s just a good start to the year.
Sam definitely looked very comfortable and confident on the field. And as you watched the series unfold you got a good idea of who may be starting to emerge in the new offensive scheme.
Second round draft pick, TE Lance Kendricks, got a lot of playing time. Sometimes lined up as a TE and sometimes lined up at flex. Kendricks was targeted seven times and caught five of them for 47 yards and one TD.
I will admit I was not sure about Kendricks as a second round pick. But like I said, he’s doing what he can to prove me wrong. Not bad, rookie – for your first preseason game. Let’s see what else you’ve got.
How competitive is Kendricks? This is what Spags commented about him – and it was sweet news to my ears.
The thing about Lance is, the one he remembers is the one he drops. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s a competitive guy that wants to catch them all.
Other receivers who got some playing time were Danario Alexander (3/43 yards), Mardy Gilyard (2/21 yards), and rookie TE Ben Guidugli (2/18). Third round pick, WR Austin Pettis was targeted twice but no catches.
One position I was eager to see was at RB. Steven Jackson sat out this first game giving his back-up’s Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood some serious playing time.
Williams started the game and was a little slow getting started but in the fifth offensive series of the game caught his stride and got rolling. Cadillac finished the half with 11 touches for 40 yards and one TD.
His counterparts, Jerious Norwood and the second year RB Keith Toston, saw most of the snaps in the second half of the game. Norwood, or “Wood,” as he’s known, looked good out there. He had some wicked cuts and showed quick bursts of speed at the right time. He was effective against the Colts defense and finished three series with eight carries for 37 yards before Toston took over.
Toston played the entire third quarter grinding and pounding his way across the field. He looked like a good workhorse out there. He was the game’s leading rusher with eleven carries which yielded 64 yards and one TD. The most telling stat is his 5.8 yards per carry. The kid was moving the ball.
The first big play came just about three minutes into the game from newly acquired CB free agent, Quintin Mikell. Mikell picked off a Curtis Painter pass and ran it back for 25 yards setting up the Rams offense at the Colts 16 yard line.
That turnover lead to a 6 yard TD pass from Sam Bradford to the Rams second round draft pick TE Lance Kendricks for the first score of the game. And that wouldn’t be the first time the defense made the offense’s job a bit easier.
Just two series later, safety Craig Dahl comes up with an Orlovsky pass intended for C. Brooks at the Colts 34 and took it 18 yards to set up the offense in the redzone once again. The Rams score 3 with a 30 yard FG by Josh Brown.
To finish off the INT hat trick rookie OSU safety Jermale Hines picked off an Orlovsky pass deep pass for Smith at the Rams 22. Hines ran it out 16 yards to the 38.
That being said though, the defense did give up a couple of big yardage plays early on. In their third series they gave up three plays of double digit yardage with the biggest chunk of ground gained when CB Justin King got schooled by Colts WR Pierre Garcon. Garcon had a step (or two) on King, King didn’t have a play on the ball and couldn’t make a play on Garcon either. Result: 41 yard reception.
First round draft pick, Robert Quinn, got some much needed time on the field. I noticed though that he might need some adjusting to the speed of play at this next level. Quinn was just a split second slow coming off the snap. I didn’t see that burst coming off the end and I think that hurt him a bit at the beginning of the game.
I did see a couple of instances where he was getting double teamed so the offensive line for the Colts must have seen something that worried them.
One player stood out in special teams last night: Kicker Josh Brown who stole the show with his 4 field goals. He had a few ho-hum 21, 30, and 53 yarders. But the one that really lit up the fans and the team was the 60 yard bomb to end the first half. Good to see he’s still got plenty left in that leg.
He (Spags) looked at me and (asked) ‘Do you want to kick it?’ Absolutely, why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I want to do this? That’s the thing. He (Spags) was like ‘I can’t say no when you’re already halfway out there,’ so I kept running.
Another thing I was curious to see was how many touchbacks would happen. This would our first glance at how the new 35 yard line kick off rule would play out. If I counted correctly, there were 10 kick offs only 3 in which resulted in touchbacks. 6 of the 7 returns averaged 22 yards. Hmmm… Maybe there really isn’t much to the 35 yard line hubbub.
I’m sure we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of Josh McDaniels’ playbook and that gets me really excited. The first preseason game was much better than I had expected and team can only get better with time.
It’s a great time to be a Rams fan.
It was great to be able to see the game in person last night. There’s definitely something to be said about actually being in the Edward Jones Dome amongst the other fans and to feel/feed off their energy.
And I can’t end this post without giving a huge thanks to Mr. Kevin Demoff (Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations and COO) for holding a trivia contest which made it possible for me to have this first hand experience.
Thank you for thinking of the fans, Mr. Demoff.