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LA Rams At Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Report Card

Grading the Rams after their nailbiting 37-32 win over the Bucs.

Los Angeles Rams At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Rams At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images


C plus grade

The pick six hurt, but Keenum did throw two touchdowns.

Again, the curve here applies. For most offenses, a 14/26, 190-yard, two-touchdown, one-interception (and a costly one) day wouldn’t be anywhere near this grade. For Fisherball, it’s about as good as we could ask.

The context to remember here: Brian Quick scored on that early 44-yard touchdown, and Tavon Austin added his later with the 43-yard turn-and-trot. That means that outside of those two throws, Case Keenum was 12/24 for 104 yards. That is an unbelievably bad line for 99% of the game. Cherish those two throws, because the line between a win and abject failure is THIN for this offense.



C grade

Prepare yourself to get barraged with the Todd Gurley sales job coming this week. It’s already started.

Yes, Todd Gurley finally got in the end zone. Twice.

But is that the Todd Gurley everyone was expecting? Two one-yard touchdowns? A heavy workload of 27 carries that produced just 85 yards?

Eight running backs had more than 85 yards in Week 3, and that’s before tonight’s Falcons-Saints game. Of those eight RBs who outgained Gurley, only one had a higher workload: Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott who rushed the ball 30 times for 140 yards, the most in the NFL in Week 3.

Again, #itsnottoddgurleysfault. That’s worth pointing out.

It’s also worth pointing out that the standard for the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year who the Rams hyped as much as any player in the NFL this offseason should be higher than the output we’ve seen from him through three weeks.

Much higher.


A minus grade
Rams-Bucs WR box score
Rams-Bucs WR box score

If you offer this to me before every Rams game, I’m taking it every single week.

Sure, the Kenny Britt fumble is the kind of play that could lose other games like this. But this performance is as good as it likely can be for the Rams’ WRs until we see what effect Pharoh Cooper and/or Nelson Spruce could actually have on this unit.


D grade

Lance Kendricks and Tyler Higbee were largely absent for most of the game. Kendricks didn’t register a reception on his four targets, and Higbee’s only relevant action was a false start penalty.evant action was a false start penalty.

At this point, I think it’s fair to ask if the growing irrelevance of the tight end position for Fisherball is by design and not necessarily a reflection of the performances of Kendricks and Higbee.


C plus grade

The line created a semblance of a passing game. The Buccaneers’ one sack came on blanketed coverage downfield, not a breakdown in the line. Case Keenum routinely had time and space to operate the Rams’ limited passing offense.

In the running game...well, it just wasn’t pretty. And for Week 3, you’d like to have gotten at least one positive performance from the line in the running game to this point.

The Rams are 2-1 in spite of their offense. At some point, this is going to bite back. Hard.


B grade

The line played beyond well enough to excuse DE Eugene Sims’ ejection early on. DE Robert Quinn and DT Aaron Donald were dominant. DL Ethan Westbrooks scored his first NFL touchdown.

On the other hand, they didn’t terrorize QB Jameis Winston over four quarters. He found a comfortable vein between Quinn and Donald to operate.

For a team that’s limited on personnel elsewhere, the D-line simply can’t afford to let opposing QBs find that safe space.


D plus grade

Winston did what Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson didn’t, either by skill or by design: pass through the middle of the Rams’ defense.

Between WRs Mike Evans and Adam Humphries and newly added TE Cameron Brate, Tampa routinely abused the soft spot underneath the secondary.

Case Keenum threw for 190 yards by working the sidelines and the short, short Rams passing scheme. Jameis Winston threw for more than double that by working the intermediate spaces in front of and around the linebackers.

Throw in RB Charles Sims’ solid night averaging more than four yards, and this was a poor showing from Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron.


B plus grade

I thought the secondary performed admirably overall. Winston’s numbers came largely at the expense of the defensive line and linebackers. CB Troy Hill stepped up in a big way yet again. CB Lamarcus Joyner has put in a very impressive start to 2016. And even Maurice Alexander looked positive.


A plus grade

Teams remain stellar on all fronts. P Johnny Hekker and K Greg Zuerlein have been, well, perfect. Coverage has been stellar. And RB Benny Cunningham flipped the field with a 44-yard kick return.

Easily the best Rams unit of 2016.


D minus grade

Both teams did nearly everything they could to lose this game.

For the Rams, Jeff Fisher’s unbelievable decision to go for a two-point conversion after the late Tavon Austin TD nearly gave Tampa Bay the opportunity to win the game in two possessions instead of requiring three.

The use of Todd Gurley, instead of looking confident and validated, feels stubborn and contrived. The passing game is wholly truncated. And the defensive approach remains willing to surrender a wide segment of the field all for the purpose of what exactly? Limited risk? Discipline? The Rams gave up 472 yards and 32 points, though one touchdown was from the Buccaneers’ defense. In fact, that should have been 36 were it not for K Roberto Aguayo’s continued misfortunes.

I’m still not entirely sure how the Rams were able to pull out a win.

That they did so remains an outcome in spite of last night’s sideline management, not because of it.