The Los Angeles Rams kicked off the 2019 season with a win on the road against the Carolina Panthers. With Sunday’s game being the first game exposure for the Rams’ starting units, the Rams looked rusty, just as they did in 2018. Mistakes and sloppy play were prevalent, though the Rams still managed to win 30-27, proving that talent trumps all.
Let’s jump into the stock report:
QB Jared Goff
The leader of the team really struggled in this contest. Goff only had 186 yards passing on 39 attempts, registering one touchdown and one interception. Goff nearly threw another interception in the redzone to cornerback James Bradberry. Not only that, but Goff had multiple instances where he forced the ball to a covered receiver, totally missing another wide open option (Cooper Kupp on both occasions). Hopefully this one can just be chalked up to rust.
Punter Johnny Hekker had a shanked punt that only traveled for seven yards. In addition, the unit also allowed a blocked punt which ultimately put the Panthers inside the Rams’ redzone. It was a sloppy day for a unit which is usually among the leagues best.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey abused the Rams on the ground as he totaled 128 rushing yards for 6.7 yards-per-carry. The Rams struggled to contain McCaffrey as a whole as he also chipped in 81 receiving yards. The run defense needs to remain more sound in their gaps, though the Panthers are one of the more creative and dangerous rushing attacks in the league.
ILB Cory Littleton
Littleton had a combined 14 tackles, as well as an impressive (yet easy) interception. Littleton was solid in coverage too as he handled McCaffrey in man coverage on several reps. Littleton was routinely around the ball and actually saved a touchdown on a long gain where a Panthers’ ball carrier broke away from three or four tackle attempts, finally being dragged down by Littleton from behind.
RB Todd Gurley
Gurley only ran the ball 14 times, though that looks to be the Rams’ new deployment of their rushing attack. After a slow start to the game, Gurley eventually started breaking free, totaling 101 yards in the game. And even though he fumbled two footballs, he looked like the old Gurley we all grew to love, explosive and decisive.
WR Cooper Kupp
In his first game back after recovering from a torn ACL, Kupp was the safe blanket for Goff all game. Kupp looked exactly like his old self, running crisp routes, sitting between zones, and plucking the ball out of the air with ease (while also moving the chains). Look for this connection to continue to grow as both Goff and Kupp get more live reps together.