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Los Angeles Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons: Pro Football Focus game notes show Rams strengths despite loss

Here’s the PFF perspective on the Rams Wild Card loss

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Here are Pro Football Focus’ notes on the Los Angeles 26-13 Rams Wild Card loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Their Rams-specific Twitter account (@PFF_LARams) is the best place to find PFF intel on current Rams.

​​Wild Card Rams Offensive Stats:

Wide receiver Robert Woods capped off his inaugural season with the Rams catching nine of his 14 targets for 142 yards and a wide receiver rating of 97.9. He finished Saturday’s contest with an overall game grade of 82.5, which would have been even higher had he not been flagged two plays in a row. Six of his eight targets came against PFF’s 12th highest graded cornerback, Desmond Trufant. Woods caught six of those for 108 of his yards, including 27 after the catch. With his performance in the playoffs, Woods has the fourth highest wide receiver rating in the league among receivers with at least 82 targets with his 118.4 on 94 targets, as well as, eighth in average yards gained per route run at 2.28 yards on 405 routes ran.

Left Guard Rodger Saffold finished Saturday’s wild card game as the highest graded offensive lineman for the Rams with his 80.0. He was responsible for two quarterback pressures for his second straight week after allowing one or less for five straight weeks heading into Week 16. Saffold’s 78.3 run blocking grade was the highest on the Rams’ offensive line, while Gurley averaged 11.7 yards when running to the right of Saffold on seven carries. The 2017 season saw Saffold earn his highest graded season as an NFL pro at 84.9, seventh highest among all guards. He especially stood out in the run blocking game where he had the third highest run blocking grade at 87.9. From week 11 through the wild card game, Saffold was tied for 10th fewest quarterback pressures allowed with seven and owned the 13th highest pass blocking efficiency at 97.9.

Running back Todd Gurley was solid in the run game against the Falcons with his 82.2 running game grade, though his 27.0 receiving game grade brought his overall game grade to a 73.3. For the fifth time in six games, including the wild card game, Gurley was able to force at least three missed tackles in the run game and gain at least 50 yards after contact. Over that same span, Gurley finishes as PFF’s number two running back in terms of elusive rating at 82.6. His 22 forced missed tackles in the run game were tied for first, while his 11 in the passing game were second. In the passing game, Gurley was targeted eight times, but could only haul in four of them for his third lowest yardage output at 10 yards. After dropping only two passes all season, Gurley dropped three in the wild card game to bring his season total to five. Despite that, Gurley currently sits as the highest graded running back with his 91.8, and is second in receiving grade at an elite (90.0+) 90.1.

Quarterback Jared Goff’s first playoff game saw him finish with an overall game grade of 73.9. Goff was under pressure on 31.3 percent of his drop backs against Atlanta, where he went just four of 12 for 57 yards and a passer rating of 49.7 while being sacked three times. When kept clean Goff was able to complete 20 of his 33 attempts for 202 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 88.2 (he had three passes dropped by receivers when no pressure was present). Much has been the same throughout the season where Goff owns the fourth highest passer rating when facing no pressure at 109.8 and has thrown 3,039 of his 4,063 total yards. After his less than stellar rookie season (45.6 season grade), Goff finishes 2017 with an overall grade of 80.2, 17th among quarterbacks and owns the second highest quarterback rating when throwing the ball in 2.5 seconds or less at 109.8.

Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth had a game to forget against the Falcons on Saturday, finishing as the lowest graded player on the Rams’ team at 36.8. He gave up a season high six quarterback pressures, five of which were quarterback hurries. In his first nine games as a Ram, Whitworth had five such games where he didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure, something he has not done since Week 10 of the season against the Texans. With his game against the Falcons, Whitworth drops down to his lowest grade since the 2008 season where he finished with a 76.1, as compared to his 79.4 this season (20th among tackles). Overall, the offensive line saw five more pass blocking snaps in 2017 than they did in all of 2016. They surrendered 22 less quarterback pressures this season (165 vs. 187) while decreasing quarterback sacks by 10 (20 vs. 30) and increasing their pass blocking efficiency from 75.1 in 2016 to 78.5 in 2017.

​​Wild Card Rams Defensive Stats:

Interior defender Aaron Donald has outdone himself, yet again, for his performance against the Falcons. After setting a new career single-game high in quarterback pressures with 10 this season (he did it twice), Donald generated 11 on Saturday and set a new bar. His 10 pressures in the first half tied a PFF record for most first half quarterback pressures, though he had 10 less pass-rushing snaps than JJ Watt had in 2014. He finished the game as the highest graded Rams player with his 97.8. He also became only the second player in the last 10 years to generate 100 or more quarterback pressures in a season with his 102 he now has. On top of his pass-rushing abilities, Donald notched three defensive stops against the Falcons for an 83.8 run defense grade. Donald finishes the season with a pass-rush productivity of 15.4 on 517 pass-rush snaps, while the next closest interior defender (Geno Atkins) sits at 11.8 on 468 pass-rush snaps. For the season, Donald finishes with his highest grade in his career with an absurd 99.5, including a 99.9 pass-rush grade.

Cornerback Troy Hill played a total of 35 coverage snaps against the Falcons, seeing five targets. He allowed zero catches on those five targets while breaking up two of them, both against Mohamed Sanu. He earned an overall game grade of 91.7, the highest grade of his career. On top of his performance in the passing game, Hill added four defensive stops, three of which were in the run game. Hill now has the fourth highest amount of stops among cornerbacks since taking over for Webster in Week 14 with 10. In that same span, no cornerback has seen as many targets as Hill has with his 35. He has allowed 16 of those to be caught for 211 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 74.8. Hill finishes the 2017 with the highest grade of his career at 78.4.

After interior defender Michael Brockers went out for the rest of the game, teammate Morgan Fox came in and stepped up, finishing the game with an overall grade of 78.3 (fifth highest on the team). He generated two quarterback pressures while adding a career high the defensive stops. That brings his total over the last two weeks to four quarterback pressures and five defensive stops, both would be career highs had he not even played a single snap before then. Fox’s 376 snaps played this year were 301 more snaps than he played in his rookie season in 2016. He was able to produce sixteen quarterback pressures and 16 defensive stops. His 6.7 pass-rush productivity ranked 14th among 44 second-year interior defenders.

Safety Lamarcus Joyner finished Saturday’s playoff game with an overall grade of 77.5. He played in 33 coverage snaps, though was only targeted once. The lone target came against All-Pro Julio Jones, who caught it for 12 yards (five after the catch). Adding to his solid coverage game, Joyner recorded two defensive stops. On 439 coverage snaps, that was only the 13th catch allowed all season by Joyner. His pass rating when targeted currently ranks fourth among safeties with at least 437 snaps played at 34.1. Meanwhile, he allowed a measly 0.36 yards gained per coverage snap on his 439, 12th highest on the season. As of now, Joyner is PFF’s third highest graded safety with his 90.3 season grade, while his 92.2 coverage grade ranks second to only Harrison Smith of the Vikings.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson played his first career game against Julio Jones on Saturday and was asked to shadow him across the game. Johnson saw four targets against Jones, allowing all four to be caught for 55 yards, 27 of which came on a single catch. His other lone target came against running back Devonta Freeman, which went for three yards, his lone defensive stop. He finished Saturday’s game with an overall grade of 75.4. On the season, Johnson saw a career high in targets with 94 (ninth most), while allowing the second lowest catch percentage in his coverage at 59.6, though the 814 yards allowed were 152 more than his previous career high. Speaking of career highs, Johnson set a new career high in passes defended with the nine he recorded in 2017, on his way to allowing a passer rating of 82.5 into his coverage. After two straight seasons with an overall grade above 80.0, Johnson finished 2017 with an overall grade of 75.2.