Without a preseason game for nearly every starter on the Los Angeles Rams, most fans were prepared for a sloppy week 1 matchup in Carolina and that’s exactly what was delivered. Getting their first win of the season in a 30-27 slugfest over the Carolina Panthers, the Rams can feel good going back home to face the New Orleans Saints in week 2. Right?
Here are the grades for your LA Rams:
Our highly paid superstar QB, Jared Goff, was a bit rusty on Sunday. He’s never been great on the road and without a preseason, it was understandable that the timing of his throws would be a little off. That’s exactly what happened. With a QB rating of 69 (nice), Goff was 23/39 for 186 yards. He was late on a throw to WR Robert Woods that led to an interception and he missed on some easy passing attempts. However, Goff was able to move the offense with his security blanket, WR Cooper Kupp, and even threw a touchdown pass to his BFF, TE Tyler Higbee.
The game started in a way that made me assume that I’d be giving the running backs a failing grade, but then something strange happened... RB Malcolm Brown reminded us why he’s on the team. He’s a great blocker, yes, but he can also thrive in red zone situations. With 2 touchdowns off of 11 carries for 53 yards, Brown was a very valuable hand-cuff for RB Todd Gurley II, who actually turned in a solid performance once the game got rolling. Did he seem like his knee issues were behind him? Not at all. But his 25 yard run was a sight for sore eyes. I’ll take it.
The passing attack was quiet, but the pass catchers still proved that they are deep, fast, and sneaky good. WR Cooper Kupp started off the game as if he never injured his knee last season, and Woods was, well, he was Robert Woods. WR Brandin Cooks had a nice grab for 24 yards. These guys are just getting started.
Higbee, aka “Hygz,” is quickly becoming one of my favorite Rams. His blocking was solid and he was able to get into the end zone for a touchdown. Yeah, he didn’t dominate, but what can I say? I'm in the tank for the guy.
The big beefy boys up front had a rough game, but ended up on a stronger note. C Brian Allen, in his first starting job, looked inconsistent and was man-handled at times. However, he was facing a very strong Panthers defensive line.
They did allow RB Christian McCaffrey to do this thing, running wild for 128 yards. However, DE Aaron Donald was a beast aaaas usual, setting up the EDGE rushers like Dante Fowler Jr. to get a sack. He was disruptive all game and was a big reason why the Panthers struggled to move the ball in the first half. DT Michael Brockers was also his reliable self as well, securing two solo tackles.
This was difficult to grade because ILB Cory Littleton played out of his mind, but the EDGE rushers were pretty ineffective. Did they get sacks? Sure. But were they gifts wrapped by the Panthers’ offensive line? You bet! Props to Littleton though; he balled out for sure.
S John Johnson III had another solid game to add to his resume, but veteran and new LA Ram S Eric Weddle had a rough one, getting a nasty laceration on his head that sent him into the concussion protocol. S Taylor Rapp looked fast and smart on the field, which was to be expected.
Woof. There are days and then there are days. P Johnny Hekker had a blocked punt, K Greg Zuerlein missed an easy field goal and had a kickoff go out of bounds. Coach John Fassel’s special team’s unit just looked... off.
Coach Sean McVay made some adjustments in the second half that really improved the run game and provide some much needed points when the game got tight. His use of Gurley seemed measured and smart.
Was this game ugly? Not really. It was just a bit rough around the edges. Nothing that can’t be cleaned up.
And they better do it quick because the Saints are coming to town.