If you didn’t watch the game, Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff’s stats would appear to warrant a higher grade, as he finished a solid 19-for-35 for 295 yards and 3 TDs with zero turnovers. Hurried, harassed and hammered all day long, you’ve got to give Goff points for resilience on a day when his accuracy and footwork occasionally failed him. Eventually, Goff settled down and got into a rhythm, leading the Rams to two critical 3rd quarter TD drives. After absorbing five sacks and countless hits, expect him to spend a little more time in the tub than usual this week. Ultimately, all that matters is the W, and while he didn’t carry us on this day, Goff’s play didn’t cost us the win, either.
What more can you say about Todd Gurley? He’s simply the best player in the NFL, and a huge reason why the Rams are undefeated and will have a chance at a deep postseason run. JTG carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards, and added 6 catches for 81 more — one of which will be on his Hall Of Fame reel, a tip-toe number down the sideline on a grossly underthrown ball. Perhaps his best play? Going down after gaining enough yardage to secure the win on the game’s last play, proving he’s also as heady as they come.
This grade would be higher if Green Bay CB Jaire Alexander hadn’t been making a quilt out of WR Brandin Cooks’ jersey all day long. The Packers’ rookie CB was strong in coverage (as were the rest of the GB DBs, who lived up to their top-5 rank against the pass), but definitely could have been hit with a little more laundry. Still, this WR unit, sans Cooper Kupp, continues to come through, as last week’s forgotten man Josh Reynolds’ got into the end zone twice, and Cooks and Woods were both solid as usual. Cooks’ near-miss on an early Goff deep-ball would have been epic, but he continues to take the top off of the D and also provides an emotional spark.
Mixed bag here. Tyler Higbee had a catch on the game’s first series, but was then called on to help quench the wildfire that was the Green Bay pash rush. Apparently, his bucket had a hole in it, as he really wasn’t much help in preventing Packers OLB Clay Matthews and Co. from getting home all day long. We did have a few Young Gerald Everett sightings on the day — one of which was called back on a marginal illegal shift penalty, where he displayed his legendary YAC abilities. One day, we’ll get this kid more involved — he could be a matchup nightmare if we could keep him on the field.
This was easily our OL’s worst day of the year, as the Green Bay D was credited with 5 sacks and 8 QB hits (and countless pressures). C John Sullivan was absolutely abused by Green Bay DTs Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels. Andrew Whitworth allowed a sack, and Roger Saffold had a holding penalty late that could have cost the Rams the game (if Ty Montgomery hadn’t been so generous). Gurley got his, but was stuffed often, particularly on one goal-line series and a 2-PT conversion which could have tied the game at half. Part of this grade belongs to the coaching staff, who could have changed protections and called some quick-hitters a little earlier than they did, but overall a forgettable day from the OL. Rams win, live to fight another day.
Shredded against the run early, then stout, then re-shredded later (nachos and beer? Did someone say nachos and beer?), the story of the 2018 Los Angeles Rams defensive line is starting to become less about what they do and a lot more about when they do it — as this unit has stepped up time and time again when it counts. DT Aaron Donald’s critical sack (his second on the day and 10th on the campaign) gave the Rams the ball back when they absolutely had to have it. Scoreboard. 8-0.
Rams ILB Cory Littleton resumed his Pro Bowl campaign with an early sack and 7 solo tackles, and Mark Barron returned (at least partially) to form, with a more active and accountable afternoon. Once again, MEHDGE rushers Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre provided very little in the way of pass rush, but as rotational pieces, they kept the train on the tracks. Not a great day, not a bad day for the Rams LBs.
We knew Aaron Rodgers would be a test for this group, and at first blush, his 286 yard, 1 TD day would read as a small victory for the Rams’ secondary. That said, CB Marcus Peters is starting to look like a poor man’s Janoris Jenkins. After two solid weeks without a laugh track, he was back to biting on double moves and staring at the backs of jerseys. Oh and CB Troy Hill also got smoked once for good measure, completely missing his jam on Packers WR Geronimo Allison and surrendering the final Green Bay TD on the day. John Johnson III? Terrible angle on RB Aaron Jones, leading to a 33-yard TD run (I think he plays “safety,” right, which would mean...). Huge room for improvement here, even if Rodgers didn’t put up gaudy numbers. CB Nickell Robey-Coleman was the lone standout on the day.
Is P Johnny Hekker rusty? Well, not anymore, right? But he did have a few uncharacteristic short kicks out of 7 (!!!) on the day. He’s still got a cannon for an arm, though, as he hit CB Sam Shields on a Jeff Fisher fake punt special (with which the Rams did nothing). Hekker’s best kick of the day, however, was fielded beautifully by Shields as he corralled the rock and tip-toed along the goal-line to pin the Packers at their own 1-yard line, which led to a safety and, last time I checked, Rams won by 2. Nothing special from PR JoJo Natson today, S Blake Countess made some bad decisions on kickoffs, and Greg Zuerlein was aces. The play of the day, of course, was much-maligned (by me) LB Ramik Wilson’s forced fumble at game’s end — the Rams’ only turnover on the day, which was, again, crazy timely.
Another rollercoaster ride for the Rams’ coaching staff today. Offensively, HC Sean McVay seemed to fade some of his tendencies, as he abandoned the jet sweeps (and decoys) in the first half, and didn’t use the screen game at all — strange, given how often Green Bay was blitzing. Similarly, he seemed to avoid running Gurley outside against dime packages where the Rams heavier sets could have proved effective. (That sweep at the end of the game? Worked, didn’t it? Better late than never.)
The Rams coaching staff once again earns high marks for halftime adjustments — after stopping the bleeding at the end of the first half, the home team seized (and lost, and seized) control of the game in the third quarter. Whether Green Bay stopped blitzing or the play-action game put them on their heels, we found our way offensively. Defensively, not Wade’s best playcalling effort — why was Mark Barron zoned up on WR DaVante Adams late, and why was Peters so far off the ball?
End of the day, good teams find ways to win, and good coaches have a lot to do with that. There’s plenty to be said for overcoming a slow start and regaining momentum when the Rams got hit in the mouth early on.
Y’all ready for some gumbo?