National Football League

Five Takeaways from Saturday Night’s Rams Loss

1. In typical fashion for a good, confident NFL coach, Jeff Fisher uses the preseason to evaluate players and prepare them for the regular season, rather than try to light up the scoreboard and impress the world with a win that counts for nothing in December. The Rams made a concerted effort to see what Tavon Austin could do after the catch against NFL opponents, they took a look at their nickel cornerbacks, and got a good look at the offensive and defensive linemen who have a chance to be on the team. Gerald Rivers showed some interesting ability working with the “ones” at right defensive end, Mason Brodine showed flashes at defensive tackle and defensive end, and Matt Conrath didn’t get moved much inside. Brandon McGee looked better than Trumaine Johnson as the third corner. Brandon Washington didn’t distinguish himself at right tackle, Ty Nsekhe didn’t overwhelm at left tackle, and the Rams’ interior line did virtually nothing in the run game. That being said, what we see in the preseason and what we see in the regular season are dramatically different. You might not like that we didn’t see the defense that tied for the league lead in sacks last year, or aren’t seeing the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf, but Fisher doesn’t care. His focus is Sept. 8 against Arizona.

2. The Rams may want to scour the waiver wire for a veteran backup quarterback. Austin Davis and Kellen Clemens have gone 24 of 55 for 353 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions (all by Clemens). Neither looks particularly accurate this preseason, with Davis hitting on 51.6 percent of his passes and Clemens hitting on 33 percent. The two have a combined passer rating of 47, with Davis at 84.1 and Clemens at 29. The question the Rams have to ask themselves is if Sam Bradford were to go down, could they win with either of these guys? Certainly Davis has room to grow, while Clemens is what he is. There are still two preseason games remaining. I’d like to see one of these guys step up, and if they don’t, have the team keep an eye on who might be out there. There probably won’t be an upgrade available, but it can’t hurt to look. By the way, even though Bradford made a bad throw to Austin at the goal line and fumbled three plays later on fourth down, he has a 65-percent completion rate and a passer rating of 125. The Rams could live with that in the regular season. Points will follow a 125 passer rating.

3. Rodney McLeod will be fine in Darian Stewart’s absence when Stewart is out with an injury. Stewart left Saturday’s game with a tight hamstring and didn’t return, and McLeod stepped in with three tackles, including one for loss. Fisher has a good third safety in the second-year undrafted free agent.

“Rodney is very active,” Fisher said. “He’s active on special teams and he was in the right place and did a nice job. He’s a guy that we can trust to go in the game and play either safety position and be productive.”

4. Terrance Ganaway has fallen way behind in the running back competition. Ganaway got in in the final 2 1/2 minutes, after Chase Reynolds played. It appears right now that he’s behind Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Benny Cunningham, Zac Stacy (who missed Saturday’s game with an injury) and Reynolds. Ganaway has had some moments in practice, but clearly isn’t making headway in the running back competition. After an 11-yard run on his first carry, Pead had 10 carries for eight yards thereafter, although Fisher said, “We really didn’t commit to the run. It was hard because of what they were doing and what we were trying to do. I’m not concerned about it. We’ve got to get better at it, but we didn’t have enough carries in the ball game, as many as you’d like.” Richardson seems to have a huge lead in that competition, and perhaps could see a lot more carries than the player with the second most on the team.

5. Chris Long is anxious. He needs to calm down. Probably needs to get to the regular season. He was offsides once and in the neutral zone another time.  The Rams were called for 13 penalties, with Green Bay accepting nine. The Rams better get disciplined for their dress rehearsal against Denver and the regular season. Those penalties will lose you games. That’s something Fisher and his staff will use as a coaching point this week.