*If you're looking for the videos, read the note at the bottom of this article.
The Rams finished the preseason on a high note, beating the Baltimore Ravens 27-21, and obtaining a 3-1 record for the preseason. The team looked sloppy against Cleveland, and had some low points against Minnesota (they also had a lot of positives against the Vikings). But the team looked very dominate against the New England Patriots, and dominated again against the Baltimore Ravens. Here is a look at tonight's game; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
Is there any question about who will be starting at quarterback week 1? If Sam Bradford's performance against New England didn't seal the deal, then his game against the Ravens did. Bradford was perfect on the night, going 6-for-6 passing, with 68 yards, and a TD pass to TE Billy Bajema. If coach Steve Spagnuolo does not start Bradford after his sharp performances this week and last week, then it'll be clear that the coaches predetermined (a while ago) that Bradford won't be the starter, for at least the beginning of the season.
DT Fred Robbins continues to look like a solid addition, at a position that needed some help. He was able to get some pressure tonight, something that Rams fans have not seen out of the DT position for a while. And the defense as a whole was finally able to create pressure, and even create some turnovers (something we haven't seen a lot of in the preseason).
As I suspected, star RB Steven Jackson was held out of the game completely; but back-up RB Kenneth Darby was able to move the ball just fine; he averaged over 6 yards per carry. Keith Toston continues to look decent, he had 10 carries for 47 yards (4.7 average).
The success of the passing game, and the running game, can be attributed to the offensive line. The front five looks light-years ahead of where they were against the Vikings three weeks ago. The o-line will likely be 100% healthy come week 1, and if they stay healthy the whole season, then it will be the first time in three years that the majority of the line has been healthy for most of the season.
Even though the pass defense look slightly improved, they still did not do a good enough job. Bradley Fletcher had a good night overall, but the rest of the unit needs some more work. Troy Smith was able to put up 237 yards passing, but lucky for the Rams, Smith is a little erratic, and blessed them with two interceptions.
Chris Ogbannaya continues to look useless out of the backfield. He has yet to average even 2 yards per carry in the preseason. He started as the primary back-up in the first preseason game against Minnesota; but by the end of the preseason tonight, he was only used in garbage time.
Also on the "bad" side... The coaches' upcoming decision for a third-string QB. Keith Null and Thad Lewis have both looked good in the preseason, but they can only keep one of them. Null comes with some regular season experience, but he didn't play very good in the games he appeared in. I could go on the field and play QB for the Rams in a real game, and do terrible, but why would I get any credit for that? Lewis lacks the experience, but I think he should be the pick, given his potential as a wild-cat QB.
Chris Chamberlain's speed. The last play of the second half, the ball was tipped when leaving QB Troy Smith's hands, was grabbed by Chamberlain, and he was off to the races. It was a great play, and the only reason I'm putting this play in the "Ugly" section is because there was really nothing else to put here. He had about a 15 yard head-start on number 34 for the Ravens (RB Jalen Parmele), and made it to about the 15 yard line, but Parmele was able to save the TD. It was much more entertaining than disappointing, but I probably wouldn't feel the same way if that happened in the regular season (last play of the half), and the Rams were losing.
Rams fans have to be encouraged by the team's performance during the preseason. The rookie franchise QB is performing better than anyone could have possibly expected at this point. The defense is looking like a unit that can win some games. Steven Jackon is running well, despite his back surgery this past off-season. The offensive-line is looking much better than three weeks ago. And to top it all off, they have an easy schedule. You know things are good when the Rams are generating more buzz than the St.Louis Cardinals.
*NOTE: Thanks to the fine people at KRBK, who listed the movie "Changing Lanes" in the Rams' time slot, I did not know the game was on TV until 30 minutes into the game (the only thing their station has that's worth a crap, and they don't know what to do with it) So therefor, the video of Bradford's performance won't be up until tomorrow night.