The Los Angeles Rams vs Chargers preseason game to officially kick off football being back for the fans in Los Angeles was mostly successful despite the crowd drama that ended up on social media. The conservatively played game itself was moderately uneventful but not uninformative. While Rams players and fans may have came away with disappointment in the outcome, there appears to be more to look forward to in next week’s hosting of the Las Vegas Raiders. Let’s look at obvious needs as well as not-so-obvious and possibly unexpected changes in the Los Angeles Rams depth chart heading into their preseason match-up with the silver and black.
Possible Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart Adjustments, Surprises Prior to Second Preseason Game
The Obvious: What Goes Without Saying Needs To Be Said Louder
The Rams offensive line, especially the interior, needs major improvement. The Chargers looked dominant in the trenches defensively the majority of the time. Backup running backs were largely ineffective. Jake Funk is more talented than he appeared in Week 1. This is unfortunate because time is valuable this time of year. Decisions will be made based on what the coaches have to work with. Xavier Jones showed elusiveness and good vision, talents much more critical with each play that breaks down too soon. Funk is a much-needed Malcolm Brown replacement with arguably more versatility. He is likely to see less playing time in the coming weeks through no fault of his own with poor line play. Sean McVay made a valiant effort to include him in the passing game but that, too, failed.
The collective performance of the offensive line also increases the value of quarterback Bryce Perkins long-term. In his first major opportunity to shine and show the NFL he belongs, he did just that. Perkins finished with a quarterback rating of 111.3, completing seven of 10 for 42 yards. Much more important, in his very first red zone scoring opportunity, he nailed it easily. He also led all but one opposing player in rushing yards.
Additionally, the Rams do not need two backup quarterbacks to moderately, if not poorly, mimic the starter. Perkins’ talents give opposing defenses something new and different to consider when facing this team. The ultra-potent NFC west teams are already too familiar and two other teams have at least three talented dual threats.
However slight it showed — because it was only Week 1 of the preseason — Chargers defensive hesitancy did show nonetheless. Especially crucial when the blitz isn’t being picked up very well at all.
Post-Week 1 Promotions Ahead of Their Time
Three players on the Rams depth chart, in this writer’s opinion, impressed enough to move up on the roster, at least for Week 2 but perhaps beyond.
Bryce Perkins: At quarterback, Bryce Perkins needs to be considered as the Rams primary back-up. Crazy, for sure at this time. Still, looking ahead, his upside is noticeably higher than currently projected primary back-up John Wolford’s for all the above reasons. Throw in Aqib Talib’s in-game mention that Perkins has the mentality of someone after anyone’s starting job. It becomes doubtful that another year of practice squad duty isn’t in his plans. Others are bound to take notice now that Perkins has NFL footage. Too many NFL teams are in need at the position not to.
Jacob Harris: The Rams offensive coaches need to stop toying with us and bump rookie tight end Jacob Harris above Kyle Markway and Kendall Blanton, as well as Brycen Hopkins and Johnny Mundt — Mundt keeping blocking duties, of course. Either that or quickly re-label him as an additional receiver just below everyone not named Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, Cooper Kupp, or Van Jefferson. This especially with Ben Skowronek currently out of the picture. Harris is raw but his talent is both evident and inevitable.
John Daka: Possibly a hidden jewel, defensive lineman John Daka captured attention more than once. Early in the game, his subtle tenaciousness made him noticeable in penetration. Mid third-quarter on a Chargers fourth and short, rookie running back and ground game leader Larry Roundtree III exploded around the entire defensive line. He found himself clear of defenders and appeared to be streaming towards a score until Daka caught him from behind. He is someone you might also want on your roster prediction radar.
Larry Rountree III too quick ⚡️ @chargers
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 15, 2021
What To Expect From the Rams Versus the Raiders in Week 2 of the Preseason
Don’t expect much improvement from the Rams offensive line but be pleasantly surprised if or when it appears to happen. Visually-speaking, the Chargers defensive trench work was slightly more talented than the Raiders. This should help Rams third-string quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges have a better showing. Tutu Atwell’s second appearance with more responsibility should also prove fruitful as McVay plans more around his speed and talent.
The same might be said for Xavier Jones if the Rams blocking is atrocious and Jake Funk is ineffective. That being said, McVay will definitely attempt to get Funk some quality snaps.
The Rams should benefit from returnees defensive lineman Bobby Brown III (thumb) and defensive back Robert Rochell (wrist) more than last week’s loss of receiver Skowronek (fractured arm).
Week 1 appeared to be a feeling-out point. Coaches seemed to want to observe what they have more than risk much to win. Week 2 should offer more risks. Mainly, the Rams offense stretching the Raiders defense with imagination and longer pass plays. Bryce Perkins should get the reins let out a bit more on foot as well.
One thing is for sure. After two weeks, the Rams notebook should be a little fatter. The Rams weaknesses in Week 1 were a glaring reminder that Matthew Stafford or no Stafford, the Rams going far in the postseason will take more than a mere change at quarterback.
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