The Los Angeles Rams head into Thursday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers looking to get on the right side of the Jeff Fisher Mendoza line. With two games under their belts, we are at the beginning stages of forming concrete evaluations for a number of players. Here are the five I’m watching.
QB Jared Goff
Back to the Bay. Goff has a chance to continue his optimistic start to the season on a national stage. The 49ers are banged up in the secondary and Jared has been throwing down the field effectively and with confidence through two weeks. Goff has thrown balls traveling 15+ yards in the air on 20% of his throws so far and that trend should only continue with S Eric Reid out and S Jaquiski Tartt questionable for Thursday.
MLB Alec Ogletree
I would rather not have to watch Ogletree if he plays anything like he did last week. Whew. You guys all saw it. Tree needs to bow up this game with RB Carlos Hyde on deck or it will be deja vu. Only Kareem Hunt has a higher average YPC than Hyde’s 7.0 yards. Equally concerning is that, per PFF, Hyde is averaging 3.9 yards before first contact, first in the NFL. There is no doubt that the 49ers will try to exploit Ogletree and the middle of the defense until it stops working.
RB Todd Gurley
Man, did he have the juice back last week. Jump cuts, hurdles, leaps and dives. Gurley is emerging as a dangerous receiver in McVay’s offense. The San Francisco defense was able to bottle up rookie RB Chris Carson for most of last week until the 4th quarter. They’re a stingy group up front but they're banged up too. Gurley has rushed for 247 yards and 2 TDs in 3 career games against San Francisco but I’m expecting another big performance through the air from him early on.
LB Matt Longacre
Longacre logged 37% of snaps last week for the Redskins and has been steadily creeping his way into meaningful playing time. He had one of the few run stuffs last week and is making his case to be in on more obvious run downs. With Carlos Hyde heating up, Longacre needs to be eating into Connor Barwin or Robert Quinn’s snaps this week. If the two veterans continue to be liabilities on the edge, look for Longacre’s snaps to increase heavily.
WR Sammy Watkins
Watkins makes this list for the second week in a row. It just feels like a big play is coming. It has to. Watkins has caught every single pass attempt thrown his way through two weeks but he hasn’t been on the end of any of those 15+ air yard passes from Goff that we mentioned before. Sammy Watkins breakout game?