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Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings: Report card does not look good

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After a big loss, let’s take a look at how the team grades out

Los Angeles Rams v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Quarterbacks

Honestly, I thought Jared Goff was solid all game. He didn’t look flustered by the pass rush and routinely made great plays within the pocket to avoid getting sacked. He typically left the pocket at the right time and that in turn allowed him to give his WR’s a chance. Outside of one bad deep throw to Robert Woods that was nearly intercepted, he had a very solid game and showed me more growth and progression. He looked like the complete opposite of the Seahawks game, where he played nervous all game.

Running Backs

It’s hard to knock Todd Gurley here because he was running really hard all day, he just didn’t get enough opportunities. In the first drive, he was routinely ripping off five yard runs, and scored a very impressive TD where he just powered his way into the endzone. As the game went on, the holes diminished and the Rams eventually just scrapped the running game. A 15-37-1 line isn’t ideal, especially since the average was only 2.5 YPC, but that’s what happens when you play arguably the best defense in the NFL.

Wide Receivers

Statistically, the WR’s actually had a decent day. If you missed the game and simply looked at the box score, you may actually be impressed. The issue is the crucial mistakes in the game happened within this group. Sammy Watkins didn’t have have any major plays downfield, though he did get a bit of involvement in the short-intermediate game (3-36 line). Robert Woods was the top dog with an 8-81 line, which I presume was maybe the most quiet 80+ yard game that I can recall. The troubling part was third-round rookie slot WR Cooper Kupp. He was consistently open during the game, though he fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line (Vikings side) and cost the team points which hurt. The momentum completely swung at that point in the game. He also had a big dropped pass which would have put the Rams in FG range (at worst) later in the game. There was potential for him being in his own head at that point.

Tight Ends

This group could not have been more irrelevant if they tried yesterday. Tyler Higbee once again had a chance at a big-time catch but couldn’t secure it, and outside of that this group registered a 2-13 line (1-8 came in garbage time).

Offensive Line

This may seem a little strange with how the running game performed, but I actually think the OL did alright. First, the running game started out strong. So for a part of the game it clicked well. Secondly, Jared Goff was sacked twice in the game. That’s not bad considering how much the Vikings blitz and how terrific their defense is in terms of talent (also, one sack was in garbage time). The OL routinely picked up blitzes and allowed Goff to nimble his way out of the pocket to extend plays, and I have a hard time pinning the offensive struggles to this group.

Defensive Line

This grade is single-handedly being pulled up by Aaron Donald. The Vikings rushed for 171 total yards, on 4.9 YPC. That’s awful, and half of that absolutely falls on the LB’s. The issue is, nobody along the DL not named Aaron Donald did anything memorable yesterday. Routinely gashed in the run and not offering any pass rush is not a good recipe for success. Aaron Donald on the other hand was superb, as always. AD was an inch away from maybe five or six sacks (a few of which would have been strip sacks). He rushed Keenum into decisions or made him bail the pocket early and often.

Linebackers

Horrible. These guys were demolished against the run the entire game, and outside of one terrific stop by Barron in the backfield, it was all downhill. Not only that, but the EDGE’s (Barwin/Quinn) were bad, if not terrible. The Rams applied next to no pressure without blitzing, and this unit has been a problem the entire season now. Shameful:

And no, they did not get this sack. Keenum was sacked zero times on Sunday. Lastly, Ogletree and Barron were exposed in the passing game.

Defensive Backs

Honestly, this unit didn’t do terrible. Yes, Case Keenum did nearly throw for 300-yards, and that’s an issue, but this group lost two CB’s during the game due to injury (Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman). Blake Countess and Dominique Hatfield were pressed into service in return, and it wasn’t a great day for either of them. The major mishap came on a zero blitz where Hatfield was left on an island covering Adam Thielen, and Thielen undressed him on a 10-yard hook that turned into a 65-yard touchdown. Gotta feel for Hatfield though, no backup CB is ready for that time of responsibility.

Special Teams

You know it wasn’t the Rams day when the ST’s weren’t great either. Greg Zuerlein did nothing outside of 1/1 on XP. Johnny Hekker wasn’t his usual self averaging 42.3 yards per punt. Lastly, KR/PR Pharoh Cooper didn’t really have any memorable plays either.

Coaching

The Vikings clearly out-classed the Rams. The issue is, if the Rams could have minimized the mistakes and converted the plays they had in their hands (drops, fumble, multiple sacks, etc) this game would have been completely different. Regardless, that’s what separates the good from the great, overcoming mistakes. The Rams are going to have to regroup quickly and get ready for maybe the hottest team in football with the Saints coming to town on a eight game winning streak.