Quarterback: B | Jared Goff, Blake Bortles
Goff unfurled some of the league’s most beautiful passes in the season’s first three months, only to backslide following Cooper Kupp’s season-ending injury and Los Angeles’ thrilling 54-51 victory over Kansas City in mid-November. If his disturbing Super Bowl LIII performance raises doubts about the upcoming season, the presence of play-calling savant Sean McVay should allay the darkest fears of Rams fans.
Backfield: B+ | Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, John Kelly
The 2017 Offensive Player of the Year found himself back in the MVP discussion early last season, operating as the game-breaking focal point for McVay’s attack. Neither Gurley nor the Rams’ offense was ever the same, however, after a knee injury he suffered in Week 1 flared up in the final month of the season. Now he’s facing whispers about a potential arthritic condition, a decreased workload and more two-back formations going forward. Even with third-round draft pick Darrell Henderson around for insurance, Gurley’s durability and explosiveness are two of the biggest question marks in the Rams’ quest for another NFC title.
Receiving corps: B+ | Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Gerald Everett (TE), Tyler Higbee (TE), Josh Reynolds
While Cooks is a dangerous deep threat, Woods has developed into one of the finest all-around receivers in football. As productive as that tandem was in 2018, Kupp’s November ACL injury left Goff without a safety blanket in key situations. McVay’s quarterback averaged roughly 330 yards with Kupp in the lineup, compared to 256 yards without benefit of the chain-moving slot receiver.
Offensive line: B+ | Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein, Austin Blythe, Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen, Bobby Evans, David Edwards
Similar to New Orleans, the Rams’ offensive line was dominant for three months before springing leaks once the weather took a turn for the worse. Veteran guard Rodger Saffold priced himself out of Los Angeles, while 33-year-old center John Sullivan was put out to pasture. That savvy duo is expected to be replaced by 2018 draft picks Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen, offering younger legs but little NFL experience. This unit could go either way in 2019.
Wesseling’s top five includes the New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons ahead of the Rams. I may have a bit of issue with the Eagles being in front of the Rams, but his position grade is perhaps more grating.
He gives the Rams’ QB combo of Goff and Bortles a “B” but the Eagles’ trio of Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld and Clayton Thorson gets a “B+”. That’s a bit more egregious than the overall team ranking, IMO.
And I’m not sure how the Rams’ receiving options only got a “B+”. It’d be a pretty easy argument to make that a Cooks-Woods-Kupp trio is the best wide receiver trio in the league.
As good as they were last year, I’m not sure the offensive line is deserving of a “B+” already moreso than a “TBD”, but I understand that’s not an option. Noteboom and Allen pulled just more than 100 snaps combined last year, so I find it really hard to assess them before they play more meaningful football.
One thing that’s incredibly strange? I might not be eager to cape for someone else’s team, but the Kansas City Chiefs were the #1 offense in yards gained and points scored...and they’re in 6th in these rankings. While I’m griping on others’ behalf, I’d also suggest an “A-” for the Colts’ line is probably too low.
In any case, it’s a strong indication of just how good the Rams’ offense continues to look under McVay with Goff at the helm.