I expected nothing else other than a hard fought game between two teams that desperately needed to keep pace in the NFC standings when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday night.
This game was far from clean for the Rams as the offense was still stuck in neutral through the entire first half, only scoring three points. The defense was okay, though it still shows obvious cracks. Nonetheless, LA came out on top 26-17 in a crucial divisional win. The Rams and Cardinals have established themselves as the divisional front runners, while the 49ers and Seahawks are left scrambling with QB injuries.
Up next: an east coast trip to New York at Metlife. For now - let’s look at the grades for each unit after passing the 1/4 mark for the season.
Matthew Stafford: 79.1 (-1.6)
Tale of two Staffords in this one. In the 1st half, Stafford was still missing throws like in Week 4 vs ARI. From my viewpoint, it seemed like he was getting underneath the football on some of his throws; causing them to sail high. His 1st half stats: 13/19, 133 yards, 1 INT. And the INT was an ugly mistake. Goff-esque. His 2nd half stats: 12/18, 232 yards, 1 TD. The 2nd half still could be cleaner on his part, but to bounce back out of halftime to lead the offense to 3 TD drives of 96 yards, 82 yards, 73 yards is what you want to see from your QB. Another prime time win for Stafford.
Week 5 Grade: B, Overall: B+, Trend: Neutral
Darrell Henderson: 66.2 (+0.1), Sony Michel: 59.9 (+3.8), Jake Funk: 63.6 (DNP)
Darrell Henderson was fun to watch Thursday. He ran to the tune of 82 yards on 17 carries; adding a TD - bringing his total to 3 on the year. His average of 4.9 yards/carry on the season ranks 12th among RBs. He took a screen for 17 yards on his only reception. His only fault was none of his own and that Sean McVay could have fed him with the rock more. But perhaps that’s because Sony Michel snagged 11 carries, 37 yards, 1 TD. Maybe McVay would rather keep both guys in the teens for carries to keep them fresh week in, week out. Michel is also the better pass pro RB, though Henderson had a couple good pickups to spare Stafford an extra fraction of a second.
Week 5 Grade: A-, Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Upward
Robert Woods: 74.0 (+8.0), Cooper Kupp: 84.5 (+1.9), Van Jefferson: 68.2 (-3.7), DeSean Jackson: 76.3 (+4.2), TuTu Atwell: 60.0 (DNP), Ben Skowronek: 60.0 (DNP)
McVay is now 2 for 2 on his commitment to get certain WRs more involved going into a matchup. Going into TB it was to use DJax more. Check. Going into SEA it was to use Woods more. Check. McVay immediately called a screen to Woods on the first pass play of the game. It got blown up. But props to McVay/Stafford/Woods to keep the connection alive all game. I do think the offense clicks more when Woods is used. Woods had a monster night - 12 rec, 150 yards, but Kupp still had a big game as the “2nd option”; pulling in 7 rec, 92 yards. 19 rec (24 targets), 242 yards between those two dawgs puts a lot of stress on a defense in the intermediate field which opens up downfield with DJax. Bam! DeSean Jackson hauls in a 68 yarder to steal momentum in the 3rd Q. Teams just can’t defend everything the Rams throw at them from the WR position if they are using Woods (“using” meaning 7-9 targets as a minimum).
Van Jefferson was quieter in this one like against IND; catching 1 ball for 16 yards on the opening drive and dropping a slant in the redzone (possibly for a TD) which preceded the INT thrown by Stafford on 2nd down the very next play.
Week 5 Grade: B+, Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Upward
Tyler Higbee: 60.5 (-3.8), Johnny Mundt: 64.3 (+1.6), Brycen Hopkins: DNP, Jacob Harris: 60.0 (N/A)
Is Higbee just really struggling because of blocking? His overall PFF grade in the SEA game was 49.4 despite catching his 2 targets (1 for a TD). It’s weird that his grade is so low, because usually McVay uses TEs as extra blockers for his LT and RT on Edge Rushers. Is Higbee responsible for more 1:1 blocks now? I’ll try to keep a closer eye on this in the NYG game. Higbee’s PFF grade has significantly dropped since the tail end of the 2019 season when he was in the upper 70s and low 80s. Johnny Mundt meanwhile continues to spell him pretty often (42% of the offensive snaps). Yes, there is some 12 personnel, but Higbee’s health/nagging injuries brings Mundt onto the field more often than you think.
Week 5 Grade: C+, Overall: C+, Trend: Neutral (again...)
Andrew Whitworth: 75.6 (+1.1), Joe Noteboom: 60.0 (N/A), David Edwards: 69.5 (-7.2), Brian Allen: 74.4 (-3.8), Austin Corbett: 68.9 (+0.2), Rob Havenstein: 75.9 (-0.8)
Still only great things to say about this group. The running lanes are there. Stafford is being kept clean. Collectively as group: 4 penalties (1 - Whitworth, 3 - Allen) + 3 sacks allowed (1 - Whitworth, 1 -Allen, 1 - Havenstein). What a phenomenal job. BUT. The Giants DL made them look below average/average last year. Let’s see if they can get a job done in Week 6 at Metlife. (Worth watching: field conditions. Chance of rain before game).
Week 5 Grade: A-, Overall: A-, Trend: Slight Upward
Aaron Donald: 91.2* (-0.1), Sebastian Joseph-Day: 65.4 (+3.3), A’Shawn Robinson: 68.1 (-0.2), Greg Gaines: 75.0 (+0.1), Jonah Williams: 66.6 (-1.8), Mike Hoecht: 46.7 (+3.9)
Allow us to take a moment to honor Aaron Donald for becoming the Rams franchise leader in sacks. 88.5 and counting. Next milestone: 100. Which he is on pace for by season’s end. Overall the defensive line played well, but it does need to finish their plays when they collapse the pocket. Sure - credit given to QBs like Murray & Russ for their scrambling ability and speed, but the Rams need to hit on more of those pocket-collapsing opportunities (caused by AD99) to ultimately prevent explosive plays against the secondary. The run defense bounced back only allowing 59 yards on 20 carries by the SEA RBs (< 3.0 yards/carry).
Week 5 Grade: B, Overall: B+, Trend: Neutral
Kenny Young: 59.0 (-3.4), Troy Reeder: 70.3 (-4.5), Ernest Jones: 60.5 (DNP)
Young didn’t record a single solo tackle and Reeder only recorded 1 solo tackle. It does seem that that these have peaked; recording three straight declining PFF grades. And that there is a weakness against mobile QBs. Ernest Jones is waiting in the wings.
Week 5 Grade: D, Overall: C-, Trend: Slight Downward
Leonard Floyd: 65.2 (-1.6), Justin Hollins: 71.4 (DNP), Terrell Lewis: 52.7 (+0.7), Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: 58.4 (+4.7), Chris Garrett: 53.8 (INA), Justin Lawlar: 63.8 (DNP)
TLewis recorded his 2nd sack in as many starts which is a positive sign with Hollins still being 6-8 weeks away. He looks a little more lively with his first step off the ball and his pursuit looks good. It was rewarded with a snap share increase of 63%. Obo, meanwhile, played 17% of the snaps - but still played well via eye test.
Week 5 Grade: C+, Current Grade: C+, Trend: Neutral
Jalen Ramsey: 74.1 (-3.9), Darious Williams: 61.3 (-3.1), David Long Jr.: 62.0 (+0.7), Robert Rochell: 69.2 (-4.8)
This was a rough game for the CBs. Ramsey got beat by Metcalf on a slant route for a Metcalf TD. Metcalf caught both of his receptions while squaring off vs Ramsey. Ramsey, overall, had a rare off game, yet he still was the reason for a Troy Reeder INT with his PD in the 2nd Q right after Stafford threw an INT. He, Williams, and Rochell were each flagged for holding/DPI. Rochell’s was a 40+ yard penalty, but probably a wise decision since he was beat by Lockett for a would-be TD. DWill meanwhile left the game at the end with an ankle injury - which has landed him on the IR for the next 3 weeks. Expect to see more of Long Jr & Burgess moving forward.
Week 5 Grade: D-, Overall: C+, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Downward
Jordan Fuller: 58.5 (+1.9), Taylor Rapp: 53.7 (-4.3), Terrell Burgess: 60.2 (DNP), Nick Scott: 41.1 (-13.6), JR Reed: DNP
Another week, another question mark at the stability of the safety position. Time is running out for Rapp to make his mark as a starter. Its just not been good. Though Metcalf beat Ramsey for the slant TD, Rapp was the high safety who was late getting there in help. Which is a reoccurring theme for Rapp these days...LATE.
The chants for Burgess are getting louder and louder by Rams nation, will McVay/Morris act like they did with Long Jr/Rochell last week?
Week 5 Grade: C-, Overall: C, Trend: Very Slight Downward
Johnny Hekker: 65.7 (+2.6), Matt Gay: 64.0 (-4.7)
A rough night for Matt Gay as he missed an XP and knocked two kickoffs out of bounds. BUT. Before Rams fans get up in arms, he did come thru when up 6, to extend the lead to 9 pts; a huge kick in response to a rough night.
Hekker was an unsung hero as he launched 5 punts for an average of 46.4 yards while placing 4 of them inside the SEA 20.
Atwell gave the Rams a small stroke when he slipped on the opening kickoff; fumbling on his own fall, which narrowly went out of bounds. He did also return a punt for 11 yards; coming close to breaking one loose.
In kick/punt coverage, the Rams held Deejay Dallas to 23.0/return and Swain to 1 punt return for 13 yards.
Week 5 Grade: B- (I give MG the benefit of the doubt with a clutch kick), Overall: B-, Trend: Very Slight Upward
MCVAY AND CO.
McVay’s play calling was solid. Its good to see a consistency with the run game and the OL playing at a high level (shoutout to Carberry). The slow start was more of Stafford/WRs route running issue than a McVay issue.
Raheem still needs to figure out his starting 11 but I’m not sounding the alarm yet on the defense. I’d rather it slowly gel and peak at the right time.
DiCamillis has a better unit than what we saw in 2020, and Hekker is playing better than he did last year.
Week 5 Grade: McVay: B+/Morris: C/DiCamillis: C, Overall: B+, Trend: Neutral