Rams coach Jeff Fisher had an extremely general goal for what he wanted to see from his team from game one of the preseason to game two.
Fisher said he wanted improvement “everywhere” and undoubtedly wanted to see his first team offense and defense make strides.
Just five minutes into the first quarter against Kansas City at the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday night, Fisher got a resounding response from his top group as the Rams jumped to a two score lead on their way to a 31-17 victory.
“What happened tonight was directly related to what happened last week,” Fisher said. “We had a really good week of practice. We got some more things in and things started to come together for us during the week. I was pleased with the outcome all around.”
In the preseason opener against Indianapolis, Fisher cited the Rams’ inability to finish drives as one of the biggest areas of concern. The opening drive against the Colts saw quarterback
After that, the Rams never visited the end zone.
This week, though, Bradford and the top unit seemed set on righting that wrong as fast as possible. On the game’s first play, Bradford floated a perfect pass down the right sideline to receiver
Bradford faked the handoff to Jackson and found a wide open tight end
Just one minute and 58 seconds into the game, the Rams seized a 7-0 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
“It felt really good to get our feet under us and get our confidence built up in what we’ve been doing in practice for the last two, three weeks,” Jackson said. “We wanted to come out and get a quick start so we could get the running game and the passing game established.”
On the other side of the ball, Fisher hoped to see crisper tackling and a defense that will take advantage of its opportunities. Much like the offense, the defense wasted no time in bouncing back as well.
On second down from the Chiefs 21, quarterback Matt Cassel hit receiver Jonathan Baldwin over the middle for 7 yards but he was hit immediately by cornerback
“The defense came out fast, (a) turnover helps a lot,” linebacker
“This week, after a good start we need to come out and practice even harder and make sure we’re getting better.”
Bradford led the offense back on the field and went right back to work, hitting Amendola for a gain of 15 to the Chiefs’ 16.
Jackson gained 3 on first down but a false start penalty seemed to doom another drive as Fisher voiced his displeasure from the sidelines. Two plays later, Bradford hit
Much like last week, Fisher didn’t hesitate to put his trust in the offense. Although Fisher indicated that those decisions might not be the same as what they’d be in the regular season, he left the offense on the field without a second thought.
Bradford and Amendola rewarded Fisher’s faith as Bradford floated a pass to left corner for Amendola, who turned back to adjust to the ball and came down with it despite a pass interference flag.
A second under five minutes into the game, the Rams held a 14-0 lead, a drastic improvement on their start from a week ago.
“It felt great,” Bradford said. “Obviously last week we came out moving the ball but weren’t able to put any points on the board. We wanted to come out tonight, put the ball in the end zone and that’s what we were able to do the first two drives.”
The first team offense got one more opportunity and pieced together a drive that ended near midfield when Jackson was stopped on third and short.
All told, the first unit gave Fisher exactly the improvement he was looking for as it rolled up 151 yards in the first quarter.
Bradford finished six-of-nine for 102 yards with the two scores and no interceptions for a rating of 144.4. Perhaps more important, Fisher saw improvement in another area of concern: the pass protection. Bradford was not sacked and only hit once.
“Coach (Schottenheimer) did a good job of mixing the run and the pass together to keep the Kansas City defense off balance,” Jackson said. “When we had a chance to run, we had some open lanes due to the offensive line.”
The first-team defense also did its part, shutting down the Chiefs save for a touchdown allowed early in the second quarter.
Against a Kansas City team known for its running ability, the Rams were most pleased with their ability to slow the run. Kansas City rushed eight times for 33 yards against the Rams top defensive unit.
Despite giving up the score, the defense was pleased with the strides made from last week.
“I’m excited about the way we played first team (defense),” linebacker
There wasn’t much drop off as the Rams called it a night with the first team after one quarter and went to the backups.
There, they would score on a 4-yard touchdown run from rookie back
The Rams grabbed four takeaways – Dahl’s fumble recovery, an interception by defensive tackle Matt Conrath and fumble recoveries by linebacker
In the end, the Rams did a little more scheming and took a slightly more advanced approach to Saturday night’s game. More than anything, they gained some confidence from a solid performance but just as they kept last week’s loss in perspective, they’ll take this week’s win in stride as well.
Such is the nature of the preseason.
“The preseason you just want to fine tune,” cornerback