STL Rams vs. TEN Titans
Most of Rams Nation had their head in the clouds all week but it all came crashing down when the Titans brought the Rams back to earth with their aggressive defense and surprising running game despite the absence of their star RB, Chris Johnson.
The St. Louis Rams still came away with another victory last night. But it wasn’t nearly as tidy as their preseason week 1 performance. They were flagged for 7 penalties for 64-yds.
Were the Rams just that much better or were the Colts just not trying very hard?
Let’s go over the key points from my preview and see if my questions were answered.
Tonight’s game should give us a closer look into the continuing battle for the last couple of roster spots for the WR position.
My locks for WR’s are: Danny Amendola, Mike Sims-Walker, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas, Brandon Gibson, and Danario Alexander.
My “WR Locks” had a ho-hum night. Amendola only caught two of four targets for 18 yds., MSW had one of three for 26 yds., Pettis only had one catch for 6 yds but he did get lots of reps with special teams throughout the game, Salas got extra time on the field catching three of four targets for 25 yds., and Danario’s lone one target, one catch yielded at 15-yd gain.
Brandon Gibson only had two targets all night but he made the first one count. Right out of the gate Bradford throws a 83-yd long ball to “Gibby” who took it to the house and ignited the entire dome.
This leaves the likes of Mardy Gilyard and Donnie Avery on the bubble if the Rams want to carry more than 6 WR’s. Then there’s Joe West, Greg Matthews, Jared Jenkins, and Dominique Curry on the outside looking in.
Gilyard’s strength comes in his versatility as a special teams contributor and Donnie Avery, if he can show he still has the speed, will give him a leg up.
Gilyard and Avery must have read my post before the game, right? Wow, did they come to prove doubters wrong.
Gilyard did double duty on special teams (kick returns and punt returns) with 111 total return yards. But the highlight of his night had to be the monster take down of the Titans return man, Mark Mariani. BAM! I haven’t seen Sports Center yet but I would love it if that hit made the highlights.
The stats for Donnie Avery don’t tell the whole story. 2 out of 5 catches for 26 yds and 1 TD. I’m sure we saw some of his sub-4.3 sec 40 speed on a few of the routes he ran. It was great to see him step it up and show the coaches and fans that he’s back.
I’m looking to see who they will utilize to stretch the field and how effective they’ll be. My eyes will be on Mike Sims-Walker, Danario Alexander, and Donnie Avery.
MSW had three targets and only reception for 26 yds. and Danario only had one pass/one reception for 15 yds. Hardly much to go on but maybe this tells us Spags and McDaniels have already made up their minds about them.
Another position I will be keeping an eye is the secondary.
Veteran (Ok, I think they could call him Grandpa Al…) CB Al Harris is slated to play tonight probably rotating in between Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher.
Al Harris didn’t get a lot of playing time and recorded only one tackle all evening. The biggest contributors from the secondary came from the safety position.
S Quintin Mikell led the Rams with 6 tackles and made key plays to hold down the Titans’ momentum and S James Butler recorded the Rams’ only INT of the night from Titans QB Jake Locker and brought it back 33 yds to set up Rams A.J. Feeley’s 19-yd TD pass to Donnie Avery.
Look for Spags to be aggressive in going after Matt Hasselbeck with plenty of pressure from the D-line.
This is where things sort of went down hill and showed the Titans had a better O-line than I had imagined.
The Rams front four only got two recorded hits on the Titans’ QB’s: DE George Selvie and DE Eugene Sims. The other two take downs were courtesy of LB’s Josh Hull and James Laurinaitis.
But it clearly wasn’t the showing Spags probably had envisioned for his defense. Especially, the run defense. Here’s a snap shot comparisons of both teams rushing efforts. Might want to look away, Rams fans. It isn’t pretty – on either side of the line for the Rams.
Rushing Numbers for Titans at Rams 08/20/11
Yeah, I told you it was ugly. I can’t even lie and say I know who the Titans’ RB’s are. Harper, Johnson, and Donaldson? Household names, I’m sure. The Rams D will have plenty of tape to go over this week and Spags will not be happy with what he sees – lots of gaping gaps in the line and bad tackling.
I think rookie DE Robert Quinn will chalk up his first NFL preseason sack tonight. I’m calling it now.
Hmm, think I gave Robert Quinn a kineahora? I might have jinxed him for the game by predicting a sack from our first round draft pick. Quinn played mostly with the second and third team defense and wasn’t used much to pressure the QB. Most of his work was done on the line.
One Titan we need to look out for is Cortland Finnegan. He could be wreaking havoc down field.
TEN Titans Defensive Stats 08/20/11
Finnegan plays a whole lot bigger than he appears. Like a pesky bug that hovers in your ear he was buzzing about in the Rams backfield and took down Sam Bradford in the 2nd quarter.
Bradford got sacked twice in that quarter and a couple of hard shots from the Titans D. He spent way too much time picking himself off the turf for my liking. This means no $1,000 bonuses for his O-line come Monday.
I’d like to see a repeat of last week’s “almost no penalties” by the Rams. For the most part they played a clean game.
So much for that wish. The Rams finished the game with 7 penalties for 64 yds. A delay of game, a few false starts, a personal foul by #70 Foster for excessive pushing, etc. This will be another sticking point for Spags as he reviews the tape and tries to get his team ready for the trip to KC next Friday.
It looks like back to the drawing board for the next game. The WR corp battle might have gotten a bit clearer after last night with Gilyard and Avery making their case for a roster spot. But with so many able guys who do you cut? Do you keep more than 6 WR’s?
I would be amiss if I didn’t give Mr. Demoff another shout out today for the amazing seats last night. It pays to follow him on Twitter, folks. His handle is @kdemoff.
Thanks again, Mr. Demoff!