Ten observations from Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings in Week 4.
But first, the snap count distributions.
1. Leaders galore. The majority of Week Four games have yet to be played, but Los Angeles currently has the NFL leader in passing yards (Jared Goff), rushing yards (Todd Gurley), three of the eight top receivers (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp), and the top tackler in the NFC (Cory Littleton).
2. Kirk Cousins had a field day, but the Vikings couldn’t run. It’s no secret that Minnesota’s offensive line has struggled, but Minnesota’s rushing attack was still listless. Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray combined for only 22 yards on 12 carries. The Rams have now held opposing rushers to under 100 yards in three of four games to start the season.
3. Averaging a first down is anything but average. Among the ridiculous stats of this week, the Rams offense racked up 10.1 yards PER PLAY on offense. Los Angeles is second in the league so far in yards per play (7.38) and passing yards per play (9.81) behind Tampa Bay so far this season.
4. Sacks in bunches. Cousins was getting the ball out lightning quick, but the fourth quarter was big for the previously sagging Rams’ pass rush. Aaron Donald picked up two sacks, Ndamukong Suh snagged one and John Franklin-Myers had the decisive sack-fumble to secure the win.
5. Secondary struggles. Marcus Peters gutted out all 74 defensive snaps and Sam Shields stepped in admirably, but both had a hard time containing Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. All three of the Vikings touchdowns were assessed to Peters’ and Shields’ coverage, according to PFF, including the first score, where Peters gambled on an interception and was beaten by a tremendous throw from Cousins to Aldrick Robinson.
6. Goff is historic. The “system quarterback” conversation surrounding Goff seems like it happened a millennia ago. Goff became the first quarterback in NFL history with three straight games of 350 passing yards and a 75 percent completion percentage, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
7. His weapons are historic too. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Rams Thursday night became only the second team in NFL history to have three wide receivers gain at least 100 yards and each score a touchdown along with the 1995 Detroit Lions.
8. Fun rhyme, bad results. Kickin’ Sam Ficken is struggling and the Rams had better hope a long layoff will be enough for Greg Zuerlein to return. Ficken missed a chip shot 28-yard field goal that could have put the game out of reach to get him to 1 of 3 on the season. This historic offense is papering over the kicking game problems, but the Rams may have to look elsewhere if Ficken struggles again.
9. Andrew Whitworth is human. “Big Whit” was beat for a sack in the third quarter by Danielle Hunter, but the Rams still have the fourth best sack rate in the league with sacks surrendered on only 3.7 percent of dropbacks.
10. On the way up. Gerald Everett played 23 snaps, by far his largest total of the season, after Tyler Higbee briefly exited for an injury. The tight ends are still an afterthought, but the Rams’ first three tight end set of the season yielded a touchdown when Woods roasted his defender for a 31-yard score in the third quarter.