They played a pretty darn good preseason football game.
In the teams’ preseason opener, the Rams second-stringers and camp bodies beat the Chargers second stringers and camp bodies, 29-22. The game wasn’t decided until Dan Isom’s interception with 27 seconds left as the Chargers were driving for the potential tying or go-ahead score.
My bet is the Chargers would have gone for two and tried to win the game. There is no preseason in overtime anymore.
Preseason openers are usually ugly. The Saints/Texans combined for six turnovers Saturday night. The Colts and Bills had seven.
The Chargers were hurt by nine penalties, most for pass interference, but that’s NFL football these days. There only seemed to be one injury of note, and that was Rams defensive lineman Bobby Brown III when his leg got caught under a pile.
The replay looked so bad that Chargers color man Dan Fouts shouted during a commercial break that he didn’t want the producers to show the play. (On the NFL app replay, you could watch the game without commercials and see what the raw feed was showing).
It actually wasn’t that bad.
Neither was the game. Here are the questions and storylines coming out of the Rams win.
Easton Stick < Chase Daniel
Right? Easton Stick, the Chargers’ third-string quarterback out of North Dakota State, is big, strong and has a real presence in the backfield. Chase Daniel has been in the NFL since Tom Brady was in his 30s. News flash, he’s not good, and at his age, he’s not going to get better.
Yes, Daniel made a few good throws; he also was lucky a few didn’t get picked. He’s not especially mobile (although his 22-yard scramble in the first half was a huge play at the time) and not especially big.
Listen, if the Chargers lose Justin Herbert for any amount of time, their season is sunk. Chase Daniel isn’t taking anyone to the Super Bowl. Stick’s upside is much more than Daniel’s at this point.
Hardy Har Har
I thought the Rams best defensive player Saturday night was Daniel Hardy, the rookie seventh-round pick out of Montana State. He had consistent pressure coming off the edge against Daniel and finished with one quarterback hit and three tackles. I liked how he showed speed and the ability to “bend” (that’s a common football term now) but basically, it means being able to get low and around an offensive tackle stepping out to block.
Hardy did appear to get tired as the game went on, but he was a factor for four quarters.
Bryce Perkins Is Mr. Preseason
Matthew Stafford isn’t going to play this preseason; you can book it. Rams back-up John Wolford didn’t play Saturday either, so the entire game was a showcase for Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins out of Virginia.
Perkins is a dime store Lamar Jackson, but I mean no disrespect. He threw two touchdowns and was the Rams’ leading rusher with 39 yards. He clearly wants to run too much and doesn’t set his feet and throw with a lot of accuracy, but in preseason football, he’s perfect. He makes plays. Could he win games starting for the Rams? I bet he could, just not many.
Here a P.I., There A P.I.
Fouts kept saying on the Chargers broadcast that the defensive backs had to turn their heads around before the ball gets there to make a play and not get called for pass interference. He was right. The Chargers, specifically Deane Leonard, got whistled for interference a handful of times.
But I’m going to speak up for the defensive backs here for a minute. The game and the rules are all rigged toward the receivers and quarterbacks. If they don’t look back but bat the ball away at the right time….it’s not a flag. If they look back, and the wide receiver slows down and the DB runs into them, it’s a flag.
So, the best – and only – way to play defensive back these days is to wait for the receiver to react to the ball and then hope to stick your hand in and mess it up. Turning back for the ball doesn’t usually work.
Did You Notice?
Isom’s interception at the end of the game was a nice defensive play. He was able to make the grab falling over Chargers receiver Michael Bandy. The ball should have been caught. I had noted Isom earlier in the game when he took out Chargers’ tight end Sage Surratt near the goal line preventing a touchdown.
Rams third round pick Logan Bruss played much of the first half, came out, and then was back in the fourth quarter. When I watched him, I saw good effort, especially on some running plays, but he was overmatched in the passing game at times. He looks like a rotational player at this point.
Bandy may wear the goat horns, sort of, for missing that catch at the end, but he also had one of the game’s best plays on a second quarter touchdown catch. He ran an option route that had Caesar Dancy-Williams way out of position.
Speaking of good catches, Lance McCutcheon had two touchdown catches for the Rams where he used his size to go up and get the ball. We didn’t see Tutu Atwell at all Saturday night. McCutcheon is probably fighting to be the fifth wide receiver on the Rams at this point, but he made his case.
Rams rookie defensive back Cobie Durant had an up-and-down night. He missed a tackle early in the game, and he just isn’t that big. I liked that he contributed on special teams, though. He’s definitely making the team.
Chargers running back Isaiah Spiller looked OK. Nothing sensational.
If I have to hear one more announcer say, “He’s really had a good camp” I may unplug my TV. Everyone has a good camp. Camp is made for players to look good.
Also, at one point, did referee Bill Vinovich call a “back in the black” penalty? He meant block in the back.
The Chargers’ powder blue jerseys are the best in the NFL. The Rams have to take that stupid Rams patch off the chest of the jersey. It looks so weird.
I think Cameron Dicker is going to win the job as punter for the Rams.
Noah Eagle had the line of the night in the Chargers broadcast, but unless you were a long-time football nut, you may not have caught it. The young play-by-play man was referencing the weather inside SoFi Stadium and the pleasant 80 degrees. Fouts commented how 80 degrees was always football weather in San Diego and Eagle responded, “what about the frostbite?” Fouts jokingly said he didn’t want to talk about frostbite, and the conversation ended. It was a reference to one of the NFL’s famous football games, the 1981 AFC Championship Game, the “Freezer Bowl” played by Fouts and the Chargers in Cincinnati with the windchill at -57 (fifty-seven) below. Bengals won 27-7. To this day, the players in that game complain of frostbite.
God, I love football.