Jared Goff was simply incredible tonight. 26-33/465/5 TDs and nothing even resembling an interception en route to a perfect passer rating. It’s fair to say that our signal caller has arrived. You want deep balls? Screens? Touch passes? Pocket presence and poise? This is the kind of performance his critics questioned if he’d ever have. This is the kind of performance that firmly puts Goff in the conversation as one of the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks. His rollout throw to Cooper Kupp in the corner of the end zone was one of the best throws you’ll see all season.
Once again, Todd Gurley was the straw that stirred the drink. He tallied 83 yards on 17 carries for nearly 5 yards a pop, and tacked on another 73 receiving, most of which came on a nifty play action dump-off which he turned up-field for big yardage. He continues to show incredible patience, and helped the Rams eventually start to use some clock when it counted most. He’s no longer the entire focus of the Rams’ offense, and he’s kind of making this look easy.
After Tyler Higbee went down with a knee injury in the first half, it looked like second year man Gerald Everett might finally get his moment in the sun (and according to Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, this was the week McVay would turn his TEs loose). One catch and 13 yards later, that obviously didn’t happen. Higbee came back and helped keep Goff clean, and the rest is history. When your WRs catch everything in sight and your QB is playing lights out, having a position group that does what’s asked of them is good enough.
When all three of your WRs go over 100 yards and score TDs, well, yeah. I mean, is that good? Prettay prettay prettay good, I’d say. Cooper Kupp had a career night with 9/162 (“Hey Adam Thielen, I’ll see your 8/135 and raise you a catch and 30 yards.”), Brandin Cooks chipped in 7/116 and hauled in another deep ball, and Robert Woods “quietly” notched 5/101. Along with Goff’s stunning performance, these guys are amazing, catching everything thrown their way and simply setting the NFL on fire. I’m a little pumped post-game, but maybe some of these GSOT comparisons are legit.
Best in the NFL? You decide. But we’re protecting our QB (save for one sack, which Goff could have avoided by stepping up in the pocket), opening holes, and getting to the second level downfield and helping create chunk plays. Austin Blythe remains a revelation at RG, and the rest of the line is really showing very few chinks in the armor. Everson Griffen might make things interesting, and Von Miller’s on the schedule soon, but right now this line is playing as well as any team’s in the league.
If I’d started writing this in the 3rd quarter, this could have been a D. Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins had too much time all night long, and pressures were few and far between. The Rams were fine against the rush, but then Minnesota tends to give up on it about 8 plays into the game. When it counted most, though, our big-money players made big-money plays, as Aaron Donald notched two second half sacks, and Ndamukong Suh had one of his own. Minnesota had a chance to tie it late, and rookie DL Jonathan Franklin-Meyers came through with a huge strip sack which the Rams recovered to seal the victory (note: JFM is coming on!).
Mark Barron, we miss you. Cory Littleton was fine tonight — he was in on 9 tackles and defended a few passes, but overall the unit remains a real weakness for the Rams. One of my 5 Rams to watch, Samson Ebukam, had me watching through my fingers, as he whiffed on a handful of tackles and was unable to generate much pressure off the edge. Ramik Wilson should probably think about the CFL. This unit simply can’t cover, and the entire NFL knows it. Eventually, the death by papercut dink and dunk offenses we face make mistakes, or our pass rushers make some plays, but we need to see better play from this unit or we’ll be in shootouts all year long. Did I mention we’re 4-0?
Kirk Cousins torched us for 422/3 TDs. And, honestly, it could have been worse, as it seemed like he was taking his pick of open receivers. Marcus Peters was on one leg, and got picked on in the first half (props to him for playing, but glad he’ll be getting 10 days to get right). Nickell Robey-Coleman was stout in run support, and held his own in coverage, but, yeah, Sam Shields did his best to make us consider Troy Hill as perhaps a more viable option than the former Pro Bowler. He just missed on an INT, but otherwise missed a handful of tackles and made Adam Thielen’s job easy. I don’t want to be too harsh, but at 30 and coming off a few years away from the game, the rust showed. John Johnson was in on 11 tackles, but likely because the CBs weren’t covering (or he was targeted), and LaMarcus Joyner’s disappearing act continues.
Bye bye, Sam Ficken. It’s been an adventure, but the Penn State product missed a 28-yarder (after a bad game last week), and his days in LA are numbered. He’ll cost us a game we can’t afford on the road, and that’s just not OK. Johnny Hekker had a rare off night punting the ball, and while his throw to Josh Reynolds looked to be somewhat catchable, not sure what McVay and Bones were even DOING there. Plus, Reynolds, technically a special-teamer at that point, barely made an effort to come back for the ball and the fake punt fizzled mightily. Coverage units appeared fine, but you can’t miss chip-shot field goals, and hit 35 yard punts and expect anything above a D here.
Yes, Sean McVay is an offensive genius. We’ve got zero problems on that side of the ball. Still, the aforementioned fake punt was a head-scratcher and appeared greedy. Wade Phillips was able to make halftime adjustments as always, and the Rams D held Minnesota to 11 second-half points, but I find it hard to believe that the absence of Aqib Talib and a less-than-100% Marcus Peters have this defense looking so porous. They’ve got to find ways to shut down the dink and dunk offenses, generate pressure, and limit YAC. They didn’t do any of those things tonight. Still, McVay’s time management, run/pass mix and overall head coaching have all seen marked improvement over last year, and it’s showing up where it counts: 4-0, headed to Seattle.