St. Louis Rams fans shouldn't be concerned about the outcome of last night's 19-7 exhibition loss to the Green Bay Packers. Exhibition wins won't even get you a cup of coffee. Nor should they be concerned with the lack of scoring. The Rams turned the ball over on downs three times last night, each eschewing a field goal attempt.
No, what Rams fans should be concerned with is what Jeff Fisher is concerned with: the process. In the preseason, the coaches are looking for progression from week to week. Last night's performance was hardly that. The Rams were severely flawed in several fundamental areas that absolutely must be cleaned up before heading to Denver next week.
Tackling Outside of some nice plays by Ray Ray Armstrong and Gerald Rivers, the tackling was atrocious, particularly among the first team defense. On the Packers' first drive, rookie running back Eddie Lacy shredded the Rams defense trying to bring him down with arm tackles. Granted Lacy is a load, but the Rams half-hearted attempts to tackle him made him look like Earl Campbell.
When DT Gerald Rivers, who took full advantage of his reps with the first team, stood up Lacy and allowed the linebackers to come in and clean up, the Packers drive stalled and they settled for a field goal instead of what looked to be a sure touchdown drive.
After the game, Jeff Fisher was his usual low-key self, saying, "we've got to do better than we did tonight," but rest assured, tackling will be a point of emphasis heading forward.
Penalties You expect a certain number of penalties in the preseason as the coaching staff is mixing and matching personnel groups, new players get acclimated and the veterans shake off the rust. The Rams' nine penalties for 52 yards were more than last week in Cleveland. That's not progress.
Red Zone execution The Rams had two great scoring opportunities within the Packers' five yard line. The first came with the first team offense on the field. Sam Bradford badly misfired to a wide open Tavon Austin in the flat and then fumbled a snap on a fourth down play.
Kellen Clemens had the Rams in the red zone in the third quarter when he threw an interception to DT Johnny Jolly of all people.
All things considered, it's certainly not time for anyone to panic. The fundamental breakdowns are cause for concern, but certainly not for alarm. And there were positives: big plays from the first team offense, Bradford had time to throw and the red zone defense clamped down when it had to.
So I imagine the film watching of this game is going to be unpleasant for a few players, and Fisher certainly has the team's attention as they prepare for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos this week. That's not a bad thing.
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