Football is almost here. Just four weeks from now the country can resume its weekly obsession of the National Football League. But first we must get through the typically boring and useless preseason. Unless you are a die-hard fanatic, worrying about who the third string running back will be or who will win that “all-important” fifth receiver spot on your team; then the NFL preseason is basically worthless. It is nothing but a tease. In fact the preseason is so pointless when it comes to determining what will happen during the regular season that only 42% of team’s that go undefeated in the preseason actually even finish with a winning record.
So yes there are NFL games with professional players and it is on television but it resembles nothing what you will see once the regular season arrives. So what are fans to do over these next four weeks to keep from feeling like they are just being teased? Fortunately for Rams fans this preseason should actually be interesting for several reasons; even outside of the meetings about possible relocation.
By the way if you are looking for a good laugh about the whole NFL relocation topic our podcast recently imagined what it would be like if The Rock interviewed Rams owner Stan Kroenke. You can check it out HERE
So back to what Rams fans can look for during the preseason. First the Rams offensive line is going to be the key to the team. Coach Fisher has gone to what he knows best, power running football, and built his team towards that scheme. The Rams will have just one seasoned offensive lineman starting this year in Rodger Saffold. In fact last year’s top pick Greg Robinson has the second most starts along the line. The Rams will be breaking in two rookies, Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein, with Barrett Jones, who is in his third season but battled numerous injuries, currently top on the depth chart at the center position. With all of the youth and inexperience along the offensive line it is likely that Fisher will, or should, play this starting group quite a bit of time. More than any other position the offensive line needs to work together. It is vital for them to know each other’s tendencies and how to work with each other. They still may not get an abundance of playing time in the preseason but it should be enough that fans, and coaches, can get an idea of what they will look like.
Along the same lines with the Rams making a move towards a power running team fans should get a sense of the offense. Usually team’s keep their plays very plain and simple, not revealing much of their playbook during the preseason. However since the Rams are a power running team the plays are already simple enough. Therefore we should get an idea of what their offense will look like during the regular season. The Rams did bring in a new offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti, and I am sure he will have his own spin on things but it is clear that Fisher wants to be a power running team. The whole offensive playbook will not be shown but I would assume a majority of the plays will stick to the ground just as in the regular season.
Outside of the offensive line and the offensive scheme though this preseason won’t give much of a look into who the Rams will be this year. There aren’t many positions up for battle, it will be mainly fighting for second and third string players to make the roster. But there are some individual guys to keep an eye on: Chris Givens, Nick Foles, Isiah Pead, Chris Long, and Janoris Jenkins. Can Givens return to the threat he was as a rookie when he set an NFL record for consecutive games with a 50-yard reception? Foles probably won’t see too much action, we have seen quarterbacks go down before in the preseason right? But still watch for how he throws the ball and makes reads. He is coming from the Chip Kelly system so it’s a completely different scheme. While he won’t have the full playbook to use you can still see his progressions and timing. Isiah Pead is still on the team. He was just starting to show signs as a return man last year before getting hurt and could be a third down option for the team if he can put his talent together. And speaking of putting talent together this will be a big year for Jenkins, who is entering free agency. At times he can shut down the opponents top receiver but then two plays later he will get burned. He is a risk-reward corner back but must be more consistent.
Just remember that you can never truly take what you see from individual players in preseason games because as already stated many time the offensive and defensive schemes are generic and nothing like what they will see in the regular season. You also have to figure into whether they are competing against starters, back-ups, or guys just filling training camp rosters.
So sit back and enjoy the next four weeks. Try not to over analyze or put too much faith into what you see, but let it just be that warm up tease to what we hope will be the long-awaited breakthrough season for the Rams.