It’s preseason week 3 and this week’s lineup gave us the Rams vs Colts. This game gave the Rams their first home game against a very good team with solid players to try and match up with. Even better, week 3 is also the week that most teams tend to give fans a glimpse of what the team is projected to look like once the regular season starts.
More about preseason week 3 games
Week 3 is also when a lot of coaches are finishing up player assessments for who will be on the initial cuts and evaluating those fringe players who are fighting for a roster spot once the final cuts come. The players know this too, so it gives those not guaranteed a spot on the roster a little more incentive to stand out while they can. Any chance those destined to get cut have to make an argument for another team to possibly grab them during the waiver process is worth taking and this may be the last chance they have to make a statement.
Teams giving more attention to game planning and opening the playbook a bit more are also typical in the week 3 games. Starters get more time on the field and it starts to feel more like a game instead of a glorified scrimmage. It’s more like a dry run to shake out and identify areas that still need work. A win is nice, but wins in preseason are simply added bonuses. The important thing is for teams to be able to go out and accomplish goals that the coaches expect and for players to perform well.
The Rams did a lot better overall this week and looked much improved over what we’ve seen in the previous preseason games. One noticeable change was the moving of ROG Jamon Brown to LOG in place of the injured Roger Saffold. The interesting part of this was the introduction of Demetrius Rhaney at ROG. Rhaney had been serving as a rotation at the Center position up until this game. Rumor is that the Rams want to keep Brown on the left side and move Saffold back to the right once he is well enough to return to action.
A costly offensive pass interference call against Tavon Austin negated his 25 yard reception and added another 10 yards ultimately stalling the first series and forcing a punt. Unfortunately for the Rams, this was just the beginning of things not going well early in the game.
The defense came out and looked much better. Robert Quinn deflected a pass and the entire team was completely decimating the Colt’s running game, but a couple of nice passes and field goal later and the Colts were on the board leading 3-0.
Things continued to go bad for the Rams when the Colts caught them flatfooted and successfully executed an on-side kick. Again, the defense was doing well stopping the run and T.J. McDonald was consistently in the Colt’s back field attacking the ball runner. That too would be short-lived and once of the Rams secondary blew their coverage which left Colts’ Andre Johnson all alone deep in the middle of the field. Janoris Jenkins saw it, dropped off his man in an attempt to stop it, but was not able to stop it. He did get there in time for a hit, but didn’t wrap up and Johnson made his way to the endzone. Colts now led 10-0.
The Rams would eventually find some rhythm, but not without a healthy dose of palm to face moments. They had a few nice plays on offense and even made it on a 4th down conversion. Trey Mason had a couple nice runs, but unfortunately would leave the game after suffering what appeared to be a right leg injury, possibly a hamstring. A couple more penalties, to include a personal foul for face-masking on Demetrius Rhaney. Rob Havenstein got burned which ended in Nick Foles getting sacked. The nice part was that they did get their first score by the starting offense this preseason and it was a beauty! A 44 yard TD pass from Nick Foles to Chris Givens got the Rams on the board. More misfortune as rookie OG Jamon Brown went down on the play with an ankle sprain. It was later said that the sprain wasn’t bad and that he could have returned had they needed him to. Score is now 10-7, Colts leading.
The rest of the first half would continue and finish with flashes of greatness contrasted by the glare of bad play and costly penalties. Janoris Jenkins had a nice interception which almost assuredly would have ended in more points on the board negated by a holding call. Isaiah Pead would continue his course of nice runs only to miss his blocking assignment shortly thereafter and getting Foles sacked for the second time in as many quarters.
The Colts would get the ball back and marched down the field with a series of short passes that seemingly picked on rookie Trovon Reed who was a late addition CB when E.J. Gaines was injured and put on IR. After marching down the field fairly quickly, the Rams got the stop and limited the Colts to another field goal. The score going into half time would be 13-7.
The second half started off with the Colts fumbling the kickoff and losing the ball after Bryce Hager of the Rams recovered it. Foles’ day being over, it was time for Case Keenum to take over at QB. Keenum would go on to have a nice pass to Cory Harkey (who got tackled just shy of the goal line) followed by a hand-off to RB Trey Watts who managed to get into the endzone virtually untouched. The TD put the Rams up for the first time in the preseason, 14-13, but it wasn’t to last.
Once the Colts had their hands on the ball again, they seemed to be running at will against the defense who was now mostly second, third, and fourth stringers, but doesn’t score. Austin Davis gets a few reps in place of Keenum. This was one of Keenums shorter outings. Prior to this game, he was getting approximately 50% of the snaps during the preseason. Davis has a couple more nice plays with Givens who actually had a solid outing and was the most productive of all the WRs. Roberson had a nice pass breakup for the defense. Davis exits quietly and Sean Mannion comes in at QB for the Rams.
Sean Mannion has had a pretty impressive preseason thus far–until this game. Mannion starts off with a nice pass to WR Damian Williams, followed by a poorly thrown one behind Williams, to his first interception. The Colts would capitalize on a string of missed tackles that would lead to their second TD of the game. Instead of kicking the extra point after kick, the Colts decided to attempt a 2-point conversion which was successful making the score now 21-14.
The Rams next series would consist of some really nice work from the RBs Malcolm Brown and Trey Watts. Both had some nice runs and the Rams were on the move once again. WR Emory Blake dropped a pass that would most likely have resulted in a TD. The drive would end up stalling and the Rams turned the ball over on downs when they failed to convert on fourth down, their second attempt of the day.
The game would end with the Rams mostly stopping the Colts from scoring, but like how they started, every time the Rams got moving, they had a dropped ball, or costly penalty. The penalty which negated the late game 1st down was courtesy of OT Isaiah Battle who was called for holding. Battle, a rookie who many knew was raw, but thought he’d do alright, has struggled all preseason. Colts got the ball back and finished with a field goal to make what would become the final score of 24-14.
The Rams did have another drive, but weren’t able to score. Colts final possession had a bit over 1:30 on the clock and ended the game by downing the ball. The Rams had timeouts left, but chose not to exercise them. They were content with what they saw and let the clock run it’s course.
Positives from the game
- The Rams definitely have a defense that can get after the run
- The first team finally scored
- Much better tackling this week
- Chris Givens producing in numerous ways
- Rhaney did surprisingly well at OG and had numerous plays where he was seen down-field blocking
- The kickers and punters seemed to be back to normal this week
- T.J. McDonald was a little bit everywhere this game and destroying the run
Negatives from the game
- Penalties have been and still are one of the most significant problems facing the Rams. Not just the amount, but they are typically costly and come at the worst possible time. These usually negate large pass plays, happen on a second or third down, stall the drive, and in a lot of cases it keeps points off the board.
- OL still needs to gel, create better passing lanes, and open run lanes
- Secondary gave up another TD due to blown coverage
- Starting RB still struggling
- Although improved this week, still too many missed tackles
- Lack of sacks by the defense
- Offensive Center position is still a huge concern
Although the Rams made huge strides compared to the other preseason showings, there is still much work to be done in order for them to be prepared to face division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, week 1 of the regular season. We’ve talked about how the offense still continues to struggle to maintain drives, the defenses’ secondary continue to give up costly plays due to blown coverage, and of course the penalties. None of these issues are new to the Rams, as they have had the same issues for years now. Even though head coach Jeff Fisher claims they’ve been working on the penalty situation, the team is still averaging between 9-10 penalties per game.
This team has all the parts to make it really special. You can see watching the defense how crazy good they have the ability to be. Even the offense has those sparks that show they are or can be a capable bunch. Once again, thank you for reading. Please let us know how you feel the Rams are doing this year in the comment section. Look forward to seeing you there.