After a frustrating loss to the Seattle Seahawks the Los Angeles are looking to get their offense back on track against a tough Jacksonville Jaguars defense. With the Jags having a top pass defense but yielding the highest yards per rush, the game plan should be an obvious one. Here’s my five Rams to watch.
RB Todd Gurley
Gurley couldn’t get much going against Seattle. It looked like he would have a productive day early on but the game plan kind of got away from the Rams as they threw the ball 47 times while Gurley had his lowest touch total on the year with 16. This game features two recent high draft picks at RB and Gurley and Leonard Fournette have been two of the more productive backs in 2017. The Jaguars are allowing 5.4 yards per rush, the highest in the NFL. Gurley needs 25+ touches this game.
S John Johnson
In a bit of a shocker, the Rams cut former starting safety Mo Alexander during the week. The emergence of John Johnson was the primary factor for that move according to the Rams and Johnson did have a good first start last week against Seattle in which he recorded his first interception and was involved in a couple of deep pass breakups. With Lamarcus Joyner getting ready to return, the Rams and Wade Phillips would seem to have their ideal safety trio of Johnson, Joyner and Cody Davis playing deep while Joyner can slide to the slot. Johnson’s tackling ability will get a test this week, something Alexander struggled mightily with, against a run heavy team. He played every snap last week with Joyner and Alexander inactive.
WR Sammy Watkins
It was drama week for Sammy Watkins. He discussed frustration with his role in the offense after the loss to Seattle and its hard to blame him after a 0 catch performance with some confusion and uncatchable balls being the theme of his targets. This week could be one of his toughest tests with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye manning the outside CB spots for Jacksonville. I don’t expect a huge game from Watkins but I’m really interested in looking for him to get back on the same page with Goff and if McVay shows an effort to involve him more to put this little saga to bed.
TE Tyler Higbee
Higbee was tied for the team lead with 8 targets last week and hauled in four catches for a team leading 98 yards. Gerald Everett has been pretty invisible since his 3 catch 95 yard performance against Washington in week two. Part of that could be attributed to Everett battling a thigh injury but Higbee is doubling him in snaps in recent weeks. The Rams have featured a healthy dose of play action in the early weeks of the season and should continue the trend this week as the defense is likely forced to key in on Gurley. This is a possible way the Rams can try and exploit the Jags LBs with up the seams.
MLB Alec Ogletree
The newest Ram with a contract extension surely will have the spotlight on him this week and any missed tackle is going to be even more magnified now. He now has the 2nd most guaranteed money among all NFL inside linebackers, trailing only Luke Kuechly. Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars league leading rushing attack will be there to greet Ogletree and the Rams defense this week. Ogletree has been an effective blitzer this season but I expect the Jaguars to try and run straight down the throat of the Rams defense. This would be a great game for Ogletree to provide us with a bunch of those splash plays the Rams paid him for.