Is it time for Rams' fans to hit the panic button?
Andrew Luck demolished the St. Louis Rams. The best quarterback prospect in the last 25 years? Heck, the Rams made Luck look even better than that.
As the Indianapolis Colts carved the Rams up 38-3, I could feel the anger boiling up inside me. The Rams looked weak, again. The Rams were getting pushed around, again. The Rams couldn't stop anybody, again.
Are the Rams going to be terrible, again? Not so fast.
When I sat down to write my take on the game, I'll admit it, I was pretty upset at how the Rams played. I've been really optimistic about all of the Rams' offseason moves. I am definitely a "glass is half full" fan. I have no problem admitting that.
So I was harsh in my evaluation of that first preseason game. I thoroughly enjoyed the comments left by fellow Rams fans. Some of you made terrific points. The thing that probably stuck out the most to me was how many people basically said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I'm not upset that we lost. I'm not really even upset that we lost by a lot. I'm more upset how we lost."
Today I offer Rams fans a little hope with this reminder—last year we went 4-0 in the preseason.
That's right, Rams fans, a year ago we were favored by several media outlets to win the NFC West, and that fire was stoked by a 4-0 preseason run. Of course that movie ended where the head coach and GM both got fired. So in the big picture, yesterday's loss doesn't mean a thing.
What are your thoughts after the first exhibition game?
All that really matters is how the Rams play starting in Week 1 against Detroit.
I went back and watched the game again today (side note—I'd seriously recommend NFL Rewind to anybody out there. It's awesome). Here are a few things that stood out to me that we should all take as a positive step moving forward for this football team:
1) Nobody got hurt. Remember last year? I repeat—nobody got hurt yesterday. Enough said. Moving on...
2) I know we just ran skeleton offense and defense yesterday, but I saw some really smart play calls by OC Brian Schottenheimer. I've been hard on Schotty, already, and I probably jumped the gun on that. Blame it on the 12 points per game we scored last year. Seeing us put up three points yesterday, I guess I just had flashbacks.
But yesterday he called a smart screen pass on third and medium that almost worked. He called a draw on another 3rd-and-4 that would have been a big gain if Isaiah Pead wouldn't have screwed up the exchange. These were smart, high percentage calls, or as I like to call them, "the opposite of what Josh McDaniels would do in that situation."
3) Rodger Saffold played pretty darn good. I think we've all been quick to lump Saffold in with Jason Smith, and that's not fair at all. Saffold has actually played good football in the NFL, something we can't say for Smith. Saffold was bad last year and then he got hurt, but as a rookie he did show the potential to be a starting tackle in this league.
What was the biggest positive you took from the game?
Yesterday he was stout against the run, and he was solid against the pass. Keep in mind that the Colts play a 3-4, meaning there is a lot to figure out for the left tackle. I watched Saffold on every snap he was in the game, and he did a good job.
4) Our receivers are better. Steve Smith is going to help us. He can get open. The guy was an All-Pro receiver back in '09, and he's only 27 years old. I've been saying all along, if he's healthy, he is going to help us. Steve Smith looked healthy.
Austin Pettis looked good. Folks, don't just read the box score and see he caught three passes. Roll the game film. Those were hands catches. He plucked the football yesterday. Pettis is going to make this team, and he might just end up being a good player for us before it's all said and done.
5) Our D-line is going to be really good. Robert Quinn lived in the backfield yesterday. Holy cow, is that guy quick or what? Chris Long got 13 sacks last year. Can you imagine what he is going to do playing opposite Quinn, and vice versa? Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers both did an excellent job pushing the pocket backwards.
Think about it this way: Andrew Luck did an amazing job throwing on the run yesterday. There's a reason he was always on the run. This front four of ours collapsed that pocket. Now we just need to learn how to finish the play with a sack.
So to wrap this up, the Rams looked quicker yesterday. You can tell they are more talented. I just want to see them hit somebody. I want them to back up all this big talk about being a power football team. Call me old-fashioned, but I say "don't talk about it, be about it."
After all, this is Missouri, the Show-Me State.
As always, thanks for reading, and I always enjoy the comments you guys leave.