The Los Angeles Rams traveled cross-country and beat down the New York Giants 38-11. LA got off to a bit of a slow start, but once things started clicking they never really stopped. The Giants are dealing with a barrage of injuries, especially on offense, but the Rams get credit for taking care of business in such a convincing fashion.
LA now returns home with a 5-1 record. The Matthew Stafford era is off to a red-hot start, but there were a number of individual contributors that also played an important role in Sunday’s domination of New York.
Matthew Stafford, QB
The Rams’ signal caller did not have the most effective start to the game, which flashed shades of his prior two outings against the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks (first half); however, the running game started clicking and the offense was off to the races.
Stafford finished 22 of 28 passes (78.5%) for 251 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception (thrown as the clock ran out on the first half). The Rams were able to push the ball down the field and rip off chunk plays almost at will.
A nit picker would note that Stafford did come close to throwing multiple interceptions that instead were dropped, but this level of performance will get the job done far more often than not.
LA has now played three games without starting OLB Justin Hollins (pectoral injury). This is the first week in this stretch where the Rams were able to apply pressure on the edge opposite of Leonard Floyd.
Second-year player Terrell Lewis recorded a sack for the third game in a row. Obo Okoronkwo had a strip sack on Daniel Jones that gave the Rams the ball deep in Giants territory.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo forces the fumble on Daniel Jones. pic.twitter.com/PO5PDRD9OT— Justin (@hobokenjustin) October 17, 2021
Veteran Leonard Floyd recorded a strip sack on the first play of the game and then recorded another 0.5 sacks on the day. Jones is an effective running quarterback, and there were a number of occasions where Floyd was able to leverage his own athleticism to keep contain on Jones and prevent an off-schedule play. This is a positive development considering the quarterbacks the Rams face in NFC West divisional matchups: Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Trey Lance.
It is also notable that Jamir Jones, Jr., who the Rams recently claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh, was given reps on defense before the game was out of hand. It seems that Los Angeles has more confidence in Jones than rookie Chris Garrett, who was inactive for this game.
Taylor Rapp, DB
Taylor Rapp has struggled in coverage at times this season, but the third-year safety was around the ball all day on Sunday - he recorded 2 interceptions on Jones but had opportunities for more. The LA secondary will be tested over the next two games with corner Darious Williams out with an ankle injury, which makes Rapp’s surprise performance a welcome development.
Darrell Henderson, RB
Darrell Henderson has grown into an every-down back during his third year in the NFL - and he had another strong outing in New York. Henderson recorded 78 yards on 21 rushes for 1 touchdown. He also added 2 catches for 29 yards and 1 touchdown, with his most impressive play being a 25-yard touchdown reception on a slant-and-go route from Stafford.
The Los Angeles offensive line struggled at times with pass protection, particularly on 3rd down, but Henderson had room to run on the ground.
Donte’ Deayon, CB
Donte’ Deayon had a strong performance against his former team after spending the last couple of years off and on the back-end of LA’s roster and practice squad. While the veteran has shown promise during training camp and preseason in recent seasons, the Rams have seemed reluctant to give him a chance - which is likely a result of Deayon’s slight frame.
It is noteworthy that Deayon was in the game early while David Long, Jr. was not, especially considering that the coaching staff cited Robert Rochell’s size and length when addressing the benching of Long in favor of the rookie.
David Long, Jr., CB
Long did not make it onto the field for the defense in a meaningful way until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach and LA begun pulling starters. This is quite a fall from grace for a player that was tagged by the team early in the offseason as a starter and up-and-coming player.
There is still plenty of time for Long to turn his career with the Rams around; however, his opportunities to do so may be limited if Rochell and Deayon continue to play in front of him.
Decision to not take starters out earlier
Stafford was still throwing passes in the fourth quarter when the outcome of the game was all but decided. Star Aaron Donald also recorded what could be considered a garbage time sack.
Sean McVay could have pulled the starters a lot earlier than he did, but this is something we’ve seen from him in the past. This approach has not yet been detrimental to the Rams in a significant way, but the potential risk is too great to take these kind of chances with key players.
One legit criticism of McVay since taking over?— Bukayo Saka Liker (@3k_) October 17, 2021
He can be very hesitant to pull his starters. Will be interesting to see how he manages the end of this.
If I had to predict, Stafford and Donald gonna play well into the 4th and people here are going to be quite vocal...
John Wolford, QB
The Rams did not seem to intent on upgrading at backup quarterback this past offseason, but based on John Wolford’s performance filling in for Jared Goff a year ago and the team’s salary cap situation, it makes some sense.
Wolford attempted 2 passes against New York, with his only completion going to the other team (interception). Has LA’s backup shown enough to warrant confidence should he be needed in a meaningful scenario?
Injuries - Jake Funk, Johnny Mundt
With Los Angeles pulling starters and giving playing time to young players in the fourth quarter, it would have been interesting to see rookie Jake Funk and Johnny Mundt in expanded roles. Unfortunately, both suffered injuries and were ruled out mid-game.
Funk seems to be dealing with a lingering hamstring issue, so it’s unlikely his injury keeps him out for too long.
On the other hand, the Rams seem concerned that Mundt suffered a serious knee injury. This could be an opportunity for second-year tight-end Brycen Hopkins to step up.
Sean McVay says it doesn’t look good for tight end Johnny Mundt’s knee injury. Mundt has been No. 2 TE behind Tyler Higbee.— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) October 17, 2021