On Saturday, August 18, the St. Louis Rams will host their cross-state rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, in their annual meeting for the Governor's Cup. With the Rams coming off a 38-3 loss in Indianapolis last week, plenty of improvement is needed if the team is going to be competitive this season.
Here are three things to look for as St. Louis takes on the Chiefs:
Sam Bradford in the pocket
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has faced criticism for developing happy feet in the pocket after taking a beating from opposing defenses in 2011. The team will need him to settle down and read his progressions if it's going to have a successful passing game this season.
Bradford showed some signs of progress against the Colts. For example, in the second quarter of last week's game, Indianapolis pass rushed to Bradford's left side while the Rams' Lance Kendricks ran an out pattern. Bradford faced the rush and got the ball off despite knowing that he was about to get hit. That's something that we didn't see much of in 2011.
I'm looking for more progress from Bradford against a defense much stronger than what the Colts put on the field last weekend. It will be interesting to see if he can hold onto the ball long enough for some longer routes to develop. That's not something the Rams focused on with Bradford in the game last week.
Offensive line help
The Rams still have a lot of work to do with the offensive line despite giving up only two sacks last week. Many of the team's problems protecting the quarterback were covered up by an offensive plan which relied on the running game and short passes.
Still, there were multiple examples of the Rams' line getting beat off the edges against the Colts, even though Bradford was getting the ball out quickly. Keep an eye on the St. Louis offensive line against a tough Kansas City front seven. In particular, pay attention to former Chiefs right tackle Barry Richardson. He's competing with former first round pick Jason Smith for the starting job.
I wasn't concerned when defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended by the NFL, but maybe I should have been. The Rams defense was awful for all four quarters in Indianapolis last Sunday. St. Louis has a lot of defensive talent, but that's not going to mean anything if the players continue to miss their assignments. Hopefully, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher got the team back on track during the week.