It’s early, but this team is young and promising. Here is what caught my eye Sunday afternoon…
Thoughts on Offense.
The Rams' improved firepower in the red zone.
One of the most frustrating things about this team last year was the Red Zone offense. Under Shurmur last season in the red zone, it seemed as though we ran more 2 and 3 yard crossing and pivot routes than any team in the league. It some points it looked like amateur hour down there. We couldn’t run the ball in and we couldn’t throw.
At first I thought perhaps I’m cherry-picking a few lasting frustrating moments from last year, but then I looked at the stats and it turns out, my memory serves me well. Only the Carolina Panthers were worst than the Rams in Red Zone scoring last season. This is alarming stat considering the success of Bradford, the amount of money/drafts picks spent on this offensive line and the power of SJ39. This perhaps is why Billy Devaney added 6’2 - Austin Pettis, 6’1-Greg Salas, 6’2 Mike Sims Walker, 6’3-Lance Kendricks, 6’7-Schuyler Oordt.
Sunday’s scrimmage showed a very different offense in the Red Zone. The Red Zone drill started with Billy Bajema making a leaping grab over Josh Hull in the back of the endzone. It was followed up with touchdowns by Amendola and Gibson (which may have received a red flag challenge in the regular season). Later, Lance Kendricks was found wide-open off of a play action fake for a four-yard touchdown. This was a very successful couple of series for the Rams’ offense.
The Offensive Line looks stronger
It’s tough to fully evaluate an offensive line in this scrimmage, but the addition of Dahl and the growth and progression of the two young tackles have improved this group thus far. Dahl is a bully, he’s tough and physical. (Think Richie Incognito but better and with his head screwed on right.) There were some noticeable mental mistake but those should be worked out during the preseason. It’s early, but this could be a significant change in the 2011 team.
Competition at Tight End
While, the competition at wide receiver has garnered a lot of attention (and rightfully so – it’s very crowded there) the competition at tight end looks to be an exciting one as well. The rookie, Lance Kendricks, is very athletic and with his size and speed he is going to be trouble for linebackers and safeties all year.
It was noticeable during the 2-minute drill towards the end of the scrimmage. Kendricks was running down the seam (even outrunning safeties on some places) with Amendola in the slot running underneath picking his spots. Kendricks also had a 3-yard run from the H-position. In addition, Bajema had a touchdown and another catch that may have been the best catch of the entire scrimmage.
I think Schulyar Oordt definitely passes the eye-ball test. At 6’7, 260 he is a huge target. These three along with Fendi and Illinois Mike will make for a fun competition throughout the preseason. Considering the important roles the tight ends will play in this offense, this competition is definitely worth keeping an eye on.