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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cameron DaSilva

7 takeaways from Rams’ lopsided loss to Broncos in preseason finale

If the Rams were hoping to build some momentum going into Week 1 by finishing the preseason off well, they fell way short on Saturday night. They were blown out by the Broncos, 41-0, in what was one of the worst preseason losses in recent history.

The Rams didn’t play their starters, nor did the Broncos, so we still don’t know what this team will look like when Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and their other veterans out there, but the early outlook isn’t great in Los Angeles.

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Here’s what we learned from the Rams’ 41-0 loss to Denver.

Rams are in rough shape behind Matthew Stafford

John Wolford and Bryce Perkins were not good backups in Los Angeles. Yet, even after letting them walk this offseason, the Rams somehow got worse at the position behind Stafford. Stetson Bennett played his worst game yet on Saturday, throwing two interceptions after tossing four near-picks in his first two preseason appearances against the Chargers and Broncos.

Brett Rypien was slightly better, but he’s not someone the Rams should feel great about handing the keys to if Stafford goes down. Don’t be surprised if Los Angeles puts in a waiver claim for a quarterback after final cuts are made because it’s concerning how poorly Bennett played.

Tanner Brown not eliciting much confidence before Week 1

Because the Rams offense has been so bad this preseason, Brown hasn’t had many opportunities to show off his leg. He attempted just three field goals in the first two games, making two of them while also missing a 46-yarder in Week 1 of the preseason.

On Saturday night, he finally got a chance to put points on the board in the third quarter and he pulled a 39-yard field goal try wide left of the upright. For a rookie kicker, going into the regular season with as little work as he’s gotten this summer is slightly worrisome – especially knowing he missed two of his four field goal attempts.

There’s going to be a steep drop-off from starters to backups

We don’t fully know what to expect from the Rams this year, in part because we haven’t seen many of their primary starters on the field together yet. Yes, they played some starters this preseason, but Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Ernest Jones, Tyler Higbee, Rob Havenstein, Cobie Durant, Coleman Shelton and Brian Allen didn’t suit up in any of the three games.

What we do know is there will be a significant drop-off from the starters to the backups this season. The Rams looked awful all preseason long, and that applies to both sides of the ball. The O-line wasn’t terrible, but the run defense was poor, the secondary play was subpar and the pass rush was as bad as expected. The Rams really need their starters to stay healthy.

Tackling was not nearly good enough

There’s sometimes an adjustment that needs to be made in the first preseason game when it comes to tackling because guys aren’t really hitting each other in practice. But Saturday night was the Rams’ third preseason game, meaning they can’t use that as an excuse.

The tackling was nothing short of abysmal against the Broncos, and that was at all three levels. The defensive line let ball carriers slip through their arms, the linebackers overran plays and missed running backs and the secondary struggled to get players on the ground; Robert Rochell was even hurdled in the first quarterback. Hopefully things improve when the starters suit up in Week 1.

Robert Rochell may be in danger of getting cut

Rochell played deep into the final game, which is never a good sign for a veteran. It’s an indication that Rochell could be in danger of getting cut this week despite being a former fourth-round pick who seemed to have some upside thanks to his athleticism.

He had his worst game of the preseason, allowing a 50-yard reception to Marvin Mims Jr. in the first half and another 49-yarder to Brandon Johnson in the second half. He did have a good pass breakup on third down in the third quarter, but that hardly outweighed the poor plays he made in coverage and as a tackler.

Several players get the night off with roster spots locked up

The Rams rested more players than usual Saturday night, being the final preseason game of the summer. Among those who got the night off – and likely secured a roster spot – were Steve Avila, Ben Skowronek, Puka Nacua, Jake Hummel, Kobie Turner, Bobby Brown III, Jonah Williams and Russ Yeast.

There aren’t any real surprises in that group but at least we got confirmation that Skowronek, Williams and Hummel are going to make the team.


Positive flashes from defensive linemen

The defensive line has been a trouble spot for the Rams this preseason as they search for starters alongside Aaron Donald, but a couple of players stepped up in the finale. Rookie Desjuan Johnson had three tackles and two quarterback hits, while Marquise Copeland also had three sacks, one sack and two quarterback hits of his own.

Johnson is fighting for a roster spot and Copeland is competing to be a starter, so they’re in different situations, but both players needed a strong showing to close out the preseason and they delivered.

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