The Los Angeles Rams made their way to Ohio to play the upstart Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night Football and it was a choppy road to the victory, beating the Browns 20-13. The game got real close at the end, with the defense saving the day.
Here are the grades:
QB Jared Goff’s first interception didn’t bother me much because it’s the consequence for threading the needle. However, his second interception (and third turnover) was a bad pass that was forced to WR Robert Woods. Yet, he was able to led his team to victory with some big-time throws to WR Cooper Kupp on 3rd down. Goff continued to show a shaky sense of pocket awareness, but the O-line didn’t do him any favors with his fumble.
RB Todd Gurley II was very tentative on Sunday night and didn’t really get going until the second half and even then, it was just a glimpse of what we’ve seen from him in the past. The run game wasn’t enough for the offense to be dominant and if anything, Gurley’s performance brought up more questions about him moving forward. He was non-existent in the passing game, which changes the complexion of their offense.
Another game, another case for the wide receiver unit being the strongest part of the team. Kupp was obviously a potent weapon that was the heartbeat of the offense, but WR Brandin Cooks provided a steady spark that kept the boys moving down the field. WR Robert Woods had some drops early on, but he still had a solid game with his blocking and had an awesome 17-yard run on a reverse jet sweep.
TE Gerald Everett showed up in spurts, but wasn’t more than a decoy and a somewhat helpful blocker. But that’s the usual, no surprises here. It’s hard to give young Gerald a failing grade because the expectations aren’t too high for him. TE Tyler Higbee was missed, for sure.
Not a disaster, but not a triumph. RG Jamil Demby struggled to help RT Rob Havenstein with DE Myles Garrett and made Rams fans miss OL Austin Blythe something fierce. C Brian Allen also had rough game, missing some assignments that put an easy target on Goff. At times they provided Goff with a comfy pocket to operate, but mental mistakes often caused the protection to crumble.
While DE Aaron Donald had a monster game (finally got that splash play sack), NT Sebastian Joseph-Day could have be better. His got exposed on a hard-count by QB Baker Mayfield, resulting in a penalty. Luckily, Donald and DE Michael Brockers swarmed Baker as if they were outside linebackers and played like legends.
The inside play was solid, keeping the middle of the field contained in passing situations. OLB Clay Matthews filled out his stat sheet, but it wasn’t really representative of how he and the other outside linebackers played, which was... fine. They needed to put more pressure on Mayfield and they were kept in check mostly. However, they still got the job done by putting the clamp down when it mattered.
The biggest story of the defense was their ability to keep WR Odell Beckham Jr. contained while putting a lid on the playmaking abilities of Mayfield. S Taylor Rapp had himself a rough game until the final series of the game where he stepped up on made an incredible stop in the end zone. And S John Johnson III put the game on ice with his clutch interception.
Is WR Jojo Natson the guy for punt returns? He misplayed a punt return early in the game that gave the Rams terrible field position. And K Greg Zuerlein missed an easy kick at one point and barely made a 37-yard kick.
There were some questionable moments by Coach McVay during the game. Challenging a play that was clearly not pass-interference turned out to be a waste in hindsight and McVay’s timeout in the 4th quarter eliminated a fantastic throw by Goff to WR Josh Reynolds. On a macro level, his offensive scheme was successful enough to put points on the board, but showed such a lack of confidence in the run game that the play-action proved to be non-factor at times.
The LA Rams were clearly the better team on the field, but their win wasn’t as dominant as it could have been. Is that too picky? Can’t Rams fans just be happy with a win?
What Rams fans can be happy with is the way the defense played. With more games like that, it will be tough for teams to beat the them this season, even with an uneven Rams offense.