The Los Angeles Rams entered the 2020 offseason and regular season with more skeptics than believers, I imagine. This could be my own faulty point of view of the football world, having spent the year covering this team and falling for the coaches and many of the players, but I can’t recall many predictions that they’d finish higher in the standings than the San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks. And some also had them below the Arizona Cardinals.
After five weeks of real football, the Rams are 4-1 and on Sunday night they have the opportunity to put three games of distance between them and the 49ers, the reigning NFC Champions who are gasping for air at 2-3.
As one of the most efficient teams in the league at passing the ball and defending the pass, LA has done two things extremely well, and those two things are vital keys to reaching the Super Bowl. Can they keep it up? Going a bit deeper in the numbers could reveal those odds a little more clearly.
Jared Goff, QB
vs Washington: 21 of 30, 309 yards, 6.3 intended air yards/attempt, 9.1 yards after catch/completion, three “bad throws,” 9.4% pressure rate
Despite facing a front seven that includes Chase Young and Montez Sweat and is generally considered to be the Football Team’s best unit, Goff faced a season-low 9.4-percent pressure rate, getting sacked once and hurried twice on 31 dropbacks.
Goff had one game all of last season with three or less bad throws, but he already has three such games in 2020. Goff’s worst game was six bad throws against the Eagles and last season, all but three of his starts resulted in at least six bad throws. Ten of his starts had eight or more bad throws.
Goff’s 6.2 iay/a remains the second-lowest in the NFL, ahead of Drew Brees.
Malcolm Brown, RB
vs Washington: eight carries, two broken tackles, 30 yards, one first down
Cam Akers, RB
vs Washington: nine carries, one broken tackle, 61 yards (49 after contact), two first downs
Darrell Henderson, RB
vs Washington: 15 carries, no broken tackles, 38 yards (two after contact), three first downs / 3 of 4 targets, 30 yards, two first downs, 29 YAC, one touchdown
Obviously Akers got all of his yards after contact on a single play. We’ll see if more opportunities lead to more broken tackles for Akers. Maybe that’s not that important either. But Henderson has only two broken tackles on 58 attempts — is that because his offensive line is doing its job to the best of their abilities? Poor defensive schemes against? Going down on first contact easily? Could be a number of factors.
But Joe Mixon, Kareem Hunt and Raheem Mostert are three backs who have an even lower broken tackle rate than Henderson. It’s only been a few games and the running back situation should have a much clearer picture by the end of the season.
Malcolm Brown had five broken tackles against the Panthers in Week 1 of 2019, then five the rest of the season. It’s too early to say what trends will continue this season.
Cooper Kupp, WR
vs Washington: 5 of 8 targets, 66 yards, 50 YAC, 6.4 average depth of target
Robert Woods, WR
vs Washington: 4 of 5 targets, 71 yards, 29 YAC, 11.6 ADOT, one drop, one touchdown
Gerald Everett, TE
vs Washington: 4 of 4 targets, 90 yards, 71 YAC, 4.8 ADOT, three broken tackles, four first downs
Josh Reynolds, WR
vs Washington: 2 of 4 targets, 46 yards, 9 YAC, two first downs
Tyler Higbee, TE
vs Washington: 2 of 2 targets, 12 yards, 4 YAC, no first downs
Woods had an average depth of target of five or lower in three of his first four games, but Goff looked deeper down the field for him against Football Team. They connected four times and he has three games over 70 yards this season. His 42 yards before the catch was a season-high.
Coincidentally, Everett’s season-high for yards after the catch in 2019 was also 71, that being against the Seahawks when he caught seven of 11 targets. He only needed four targets on Sunday to get all those extra yards. He also had four broken tackles against Seattle. Is there a way to tap into this consistently with Everett?
I personally won’t be touching the PFF grades here, but happy to direct you to an insightful and informative fanpost that will!