Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rams @ Jaguars: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The St. Louis Rams completed the preseason with a perfect record, which they have not done since 1979—the year they went to the Super Bowl and lost to Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Rams traveled to Jacksonville to take on Jaguars for the preseason finale, which resulted in a Rams victory by the score of 24 to 17.  

However, the preseason is basically meaningless, and the team is more concerned with what they’ll be bringing into the regular season, which is why there was panic when it seemed for a moment that they would not be bringing defensive end James Hall.

Hall was on the ground early in the first-quarter in what seemed to be a somewhat serious injury, but he eventually got back on his feet and exited the game. He later announced during the broadcast that he left the game with a back injury, but that it was not serious.

So since the Rams dodged that bullet, they were able to successfully escape the preseason with no major injury, which is always a major goal in the preseason.

And with that, here is “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”…

The Good

Once again Sam Bradford was alert and productive. He completed 63.3 percent of his 11 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

There were a few miscommunications on the first drive of the game, but for all we know the receivers are completely at fault. Other than that first drive, Bradford was elusive and made intelligent decisions in the passing game.

However, Sam was not the only quarterback to shine. Thaddeus Lewis had another solid preseason outing, and he’s giving A.J. Feeley a good fight for the No.2 quarterback job. Lewis was 12-for-15 with 164 yards.

Outside of the quarterbacks, rookie tight end Lance Kendricks was clearly the most potent offensive weapon of the game.

Kendricks had three catches for 73 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown reception on third-and-short.

Kendricks is obviously safe for the 53-man roster, but the same doesn’t ring true for everyone.

Out of the wide receivers still fighting for spots, apparently Donnie Avery is the only one who really wants employment this season. He finished with a pair of catches for 42 yards, but this brings us to the next segment…

The Bad

The starting receivers were not good enough tonight.

The running backs and tight ends saved the passing game in the first half, but the wide receivers were almost completely absent.

In the first half, other than Avery’s 27-yard catch within the two-minute warning, Danny Amendola was the only wide receiver to catch a pass in the first half—a modest eight-yard dump from Bradford.   

Danario Alexander became part of the subpar receiver performance after dropping a deep pass from A.J. Feeley that hit him in the hands, but he made up for it later in the game with a 43-yard reception in the fourth quarter, which set up the Rams third touchdown of the game.   

Mardy Gilyard was completely absent as a receiver. He had a dropped pass that should have been an easy catch, and he even fumbled two punt returns (both were recovered by the Rams).

However, Gilyard had a first-down reception midway through the fourth-quarter for his only real positive play of the night.  

The Ugly

The Rams starting defense was getting great penetration against the Jaguars offensive line in the first-half.
Chris Long recorded a sack, while Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was feeling heavy pressure constantly while he was in the game.

In fact, the Jaguars didn’t play first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert in the first-half. 

They went straight from their starter, Garrard, to their third-string quarterback Luke McCown, which suggests that perhaps the coaches were concerned about putting the future of their franchise in against the Rams pass rush.  

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