It’s hard to stop an offense with efficient passing and effective running and that’s exactly what LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has built through the first two games of the 2020 season. This is practically the ideal start for the 2-0 Rams and in some ways they’ve already ranked first in passing with a top-five rushing offense and no less than an above average pass defense against two quarterbacks who were thought to be quite good.
We’ve spent over nine months speculating how in the world McVay and Les Snead would be able to “fix” the 9-7 Rams “without any money” and while it is best to temper excitement from a two game sample size, the off-field and in-game reply from the team has been the second-best EPA/play through two games and new contracts for Andrew Whitworth, Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey and Robert Woods.
Because Los Angeles was only able to score 20 points in Week 1 and Goff was kept out of the end zone you might not expect this, but through two games the Rams (and in turn Goff) are first in net yards per pass attempt. Higher than Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Those quarterbacks have scored more points this season and the Rams are in a four-way tie for sixth in points with the Chiefs, Cowboys and Jaguars. (Yes, and Jaguars.)
But there’s good reason to be optimistic about LA’s chances to move up and stick in the top-five on offense.
Rams team stats
Passing - 69-percent completions, 527 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 9.3 Y/A, 8.8 NY/A, 9 ANY/A, 2 sacks, 108.5 rating
Goff’s 9.3 yards per attempt ranks third in the NFL (behind Lamar Jackson, Wilson) and his 8.8 Net Y/A (yards per attempt minus yards lost from sacks) ranks first because Jackson and Wilson are going to take more sacks this season. We know that.
We are now at the point with NFL offenses where 69-percent completions only ranks as the 10th best mark in football. The Seahawks have completed 82.5-percent thus far and the Ravens are at 78-percent, a fraction ahead of the Indianapolis Colts.
Only two starting QBs without a turnover-worthy play in 2020:— PFF (@PFF) September 21, 2020
Jared Goff pic.twitter.com/mU5BICSOBV
Goff has been sacked twice this season and only Rodgers has taken fewer for quarterbacks who have played in two games. The offensive line seems to be in choice condition to start the season and that shows in both the passing game and the rushing game.
Los Angeles has two receivers over 100 yards (Kupp has caught 9 of 11 passes for 121 yards, Woods has caught 8 of 13 for 119) and Tyler Higbee has caught 8 of 9 targets for 94 yards and the three touchdowns he had Sunday. Rookie Van Jefferson has been targeted eight times and caught five passes for 76 yards.
Rushing - 79 attempts, 344 yards, 4 TD, 4.4 YPC, 1 F
Only the LA Chargers have run the ball more times through two games than the LA Rams. SoFi must stand for “SomeFinerushingyou’vedonethere.”
The Giants have Saquon Barkley but can’t run and are last in attempts. The Texans traded for David Johnson and are second to last. The Vikings extended Dalvin Cook and are third to last.
#Rams RB Darrell Henderson Week 2 Recap:— Steve Frederick (@_SteveFrederick) September 21, 2020
12 Rushes / 81 Yards / 1 TD
3 Targets / 2 Receptions / 40 Yards
Led Rams RB in touches (Henderson 14, Brown 11, Akers 3) and was 2nd in snaps (Brown 37, Henderson 29, Akers 3).
Great to see the dynamic back we came to know at Memphis! pic.twitter.com/4bHFV8kBxS
The Rams released Todd Gurley and have had lingering injury issues with both of their “draft day two” running backs but that hasn’t stopped them from running it as much as any team in the league already. Their 4.4 yards per carry average comes around the roughly average mark but that is not a quality way to measure a rushing offense. We’ll have to see what the advanced stats tell us also but considering the conditions, LA should be happy with how Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson have handled the burden of the backfield sans Gurley.
Only two teams have more rushing touchdowns than the Rams right now.
Pass Defense - 62.2-percent completions, 486 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 6.2 Y/A, 5.7 NY/A, 4.9 ANY/A, 3 sacks, 73.6 rating
Brandon Staley’s pass defense ranks eighth in completion percentage allowed and they are one of two teams (along with Staley’s old team in Chicago) who have only given up one passing touchdown through two games.
That’s led to the 73.6 passer rating allowed, second-best in the NFL and only a tiny fraction behind the Bears. They’ve posted nine passes defensed, tied for ninth-most in the league.
Rams starting corner Darious Williams was on target for the biggest momentum changing play of the game! Huge play by #31 pic.twitter.com/apHrn0hs06— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) September 21, 2020
The unsurprising area to look at for improvement opportunities is sacks. The Rams were the only team this week to not record a sack and their three ranks a hair below the average mark.
Run Defense - 53 attempts, 257 rushing yards, 3 TD, 4.8 YPC
Maybe the surprising area is tackles for a loss, but that could be any number of reasons. As a reference point, the Pittsburgh Steelers have an NFL-best 22 tackles for a loss through two games. The Bucs, Jets and Football Team have 14 or more TFL. The Rams have three tackles for a loss — all coming via their three sacks. Only the Raiders have fewer and they’ve yet to play their Week 2 game.
Otherwise, there is nothing especially encouraging or concerning about LA’s run defense. The Packers ranked 31st and the Chiefs ranked 30th in run defense efficiency in 2019.
I don’t have any good special teams stats through two weeks but this is an area of concern.