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Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders: Report card shows team effort making the grade

So, the LA Rams won big on Monday night, but how did each unit perform? Was the offense rusty? Were the corners sharp? The grades are in!

Los Angeles Rams v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Quarterbacks

I hate being negative on QB Jared Goff. He’s my favorite player on the team — I’m seriously in the tank for this kid. However, he was 18-33 and those throws that he missed on could have been completions if he was just a bit more accurate. His timing was off. Goff just needs to get on the same page with his receivers, as he underthrew both WR Robert Woods and WR Brandin Cooks several times. Goff had some encouraging moments though, tossing a nice touchdown pass to WR Cooper Kupp in the red zone. The baby pass to RB Todd Gurley was nice, but feels like a gift to his stat sheet since Gurley did most of the work. However, giving Goff a “C” for 233 yards and no INTs seems harsh, but it’s tough love — he’s better than this.

Running Backs

My biggest complaint about the running game was how often it was used, which was not enough. RB Todd Gurley racked up 108 yards rushing and the wide receivers even had moments with the jet sweep gadgetry, which was fun to watch because it was driving Coach Gruden nuts. I wanted more of that. Back to Gurley: he really showed excellent patience out there, exploiting gaps like the superstar that he is.

Tight Ends

This grade may seem insane since the tight ends were basically invisible, grabbing zero catches. However, TE Tyler Higbee was a positive presence on the field, basically acting as an offensive lineman during the game, sealing some key blocks to let Todd Gurley loose. There are a lot of weapons on this offense, and it’s impressive that Higbee is carving out a valuable role without the ball.

Wide Receivers

WR Brandin Cooks was targeted eight times and caught five balls. Great! WR Robert Woods was targeted nine times and caught three balls. Not great! I thought WR Cooper Kupp played well. The whole unit just needs to get on the same rhythm with Jared Goff because they are VERY talented.

Offensive Line

The stars of the game were led by LT Andrew Whitworth and company. They gave Goff hours and hours to throw the ball and blew up ginormous holes for Gurley — they just needed their defense to get off the field so they could dominate, which they did. Shout out to Austin Blythe who filled in admirably for Jamon Brown.

Defensive Line

The Oakland Raiders gave up 155 yards in penalties, and a lion’s share of those came from the Raider’s offensive line doing everything they keep DE Aaron Donald from eating QB Derek Carr. DE Michael Brockers got the first sack of the year for the unit, with many more to come. Though their effort didn’t result in a handful of sacks, it was very clear that Derek Carr was getting very frustrated by the 4th quarter.

Linebackers

This was a confusing unit to grade, because the stats for Cory Littleton were pretty impressive: 11 tackles, an INT (which was basically a Christmas present from Derek Carr), and a pass deflection. However, he got scorched by TE Jared Cook several times in the first half, along with ILB Ramik Wilson. It’s the tackling that was rough, which I’m hoping was due to the players still getting used to the speed of the game. Once Wilson was replaced by FS Marqui Christian, things settled down a bit. Let’s just say the absence of ILB Mark Barron was felt greatly. On the outside, LB Matt Longacre failed to provide consistent pressure. LB Samson Ebukam was slightly more effective, but the whole unit just played like an unfinished experiment.

Defensive Backs

CB Marcus Peters and CB Aqib Talib did their job by locking down the wide receivers like Amari Cooper. Derek Carr only threw the ball nine times out of 40 attempts to the corner positions. And the highlight of the game was most likely the pick 6 by Peters, which will hopefully be a reoccurring joy this season to watch. S John Johnson III had a clutch INT that was a huge sigh of relief as the Raiders were in the red zone. Yet the tackling was still very raw, as they allowed RB Marshawn Lynch to treat them like nerds getting hazed in an 80s sex comedy. The visual of John Johnson III getting dragged five yards by Lynch into the end zone will be difficult to erase from my memory. Lynch only ran for 41 yards, so this isn’t too big of a concern, but the optics were troubling. There were moments in the first half where the defensive backs just looked way smaller than the Raiders, like it was JV against the varsity team.

Special Teams

Not much punting in this game, but K Greg Zuerlein went 4/5 with a 55 yard kick that was good, but even a miss by Greg the leg is disappointing. We have high expectations now, Ramily. We’re a Super Bowl caliber team! We can't miss makable field goal attempts. On the return side, WR Pharoh Cooper was effective, running back a kick return for 26 yards and a punt return for 12. Nothing crazy, but definitely helped with the field position aspect of things.

Coach Sean McVay and company did a masterful job with their halftime adjustments, coming out in the 3rd quarter with a completely different look on defense. Once CB Aqib Talib was placed Jared Cook, the defense was able to lock in and get off the field, allowing the offense to take over. What was also impressive was the decision to rely heavily on the play-action in the second half when Oakland was expecting a lot of Todd Gurley since the Rams had the lead — the gambit works and kept the Raiders’ defense off their game. Also, McVay didn’t have any timeout issues. Yay!