Rookie franchise QB Jared Goff lit up the first half. The final 30 minutes though saw Fisherball resort to its old ways of requiring very few passes beyond 10 yards.
For his part, I thought Goff did a fine job of running the system. The two-minute drill he oversaw to end the first half was very, very impressive.
Overall, if you’re offering 20/32 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and a pick, I’m taking it every time in this offense.
RB Just Todd Gurley finished with 50 yards on 13 carries. The quality of his work was above the line. The quantity? Left wanting. Those 13 rushes mark the second-lowest carries of his underwhelming 2016 season. That’s not Gurley’s fault.
Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin combined for nine receptions, 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 targets. It’s not great, but it’s hard to get great out of this system. It’s worth pointing out that Tavon was targeted four times and each ended with a successful reception. Given that Goff is going to be the team’s signal caller for years, it’s good to see he and Austin, who signed a four-year extension this offseason, get into a groove like they did yesterday. The Rams’ first touchdown yesterday, the first of Goff’s nascent career, was a thing of beauty.
On the other side, WR Brian Quick is on a one-year deal and not playing himself onto a new one unless Jeff Fisher remains at the helm. He was targeted three times yesterday finishing with a single catch for three yards that coming on a 3rd and 4 situation.
Lance Kendricks put in a solid day with four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown.
I wonder how confident the staff (current and hypothetical future) is in the personnel here. Kendricks re-upped last season on a four-year deal and we’ve got two Day 3 rookies in support on the roster. I don’t know that it’s a spot that won’t require a bigger draft investment at some point soon.
Fisher not only benched LT Greg Robinson yesterday. He left him inactive. In his stead, OL Rodger Saffold moved back to the position he manned in his first few years in the NFL. Saffold, somewhat predictably, got injured and couldn’t return which meant Andrew Donnal was the next man up.
Donnal hasn’t played left tackle since high school. He admitted the unfamiliarity with the move:
Donnal says he felt like "a fish out of the water" at left tackle today. Said he hasn't played LT since possibly high school— Dani Klupenger (@daniklup) November 27, 2016
It would seem like a bad idea to play someone in a position in which they feel like “a fish out of water”, in a position which they haven’t played since high school. But with Robinson set to illogically return next week, it’s the kind of bad idea that perhaps Fisher won’t need to have again...for now.
If I’m grading things on a Fisherball curve, I can’t give the line a passing grade for yesterday. They were continually flushed out in the running game and struggled to attack the passing game even with extra support from the blitz packages. DT Aaron Donald made a few plays, but overall the unit really underwhelmed.
If I could give an F- here, I would. Yesterday really exposed LB Alec Ogletree’s limitations as a 4-3 MLB. Much like Gurley’s usage, it’s hard to blame Tree for that. The Rams have had years to appoint a successor for former Rams (and Saints) MLB James Laurinaitis. That they never picked up a quality option and shoehorned Tree into the spot is a great example of how woeful Fisher’s personnel planning has been for years.
This unit’s job was made much, much harder due to the failures from the front. And it’s fair to at least acknowledge that the Saints’ offense is very good. Defending them takes a comprehensive effort from all three units. For the Rams to fail up front led to the kind of day the defense had yesterday. The secondary was called up too often to close down the running game and to defend passes that took far too long to develop.
K Greg Zuerlein didn’t have to kick a single field goal. P Johnny Hekker was his usual self, though perhaps there’s a criticism to be had here though that’s only possible because the bar Hekker has set is so damn high.
Let’s be real. In a game where you give up 49 points, special teams don’t matter all that much.