Plenty of relationship fluff going into Week 7’s matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford’s reunion with the Lions; Jared Goff’s revenge against Sean McVay; Michael Brockers and A’Shawn Robinson against their old teams; even Brad Holmes sitting in his exec box, watching the franchise that he worked for during almost all of his NFL career.
At the end of the game, it was McVay’s crew that took home a win. But the Lions anticipated a fight and challenged the Rams in all three areas. Offensively, Los Angeles performed well. Defensively, there were highs and lows. And on special teams, concerns were raised.
The result of the game for the LA Rams was a 28-19 victory that sent them to 6-1 on the season. The individual results for each LA Rams player? That’s below in this week’s roster overview following Week 7, a quick rundown of how Stafford, Robinson, and the rest of the Rams did against the Lions, with a PFF grade on the side.
Some interesting takeaways you’ll find below:
- Why Johnny Mundt was sorely missed in the run game
- Where Cooper Kupp ranks among ALL WRs at PFF
- DeSean Jackson’s usage rate is confusing
- Brian Allen has become LA’s biggest extension priority!
- How Aaron Donald is impacting the game without sacks
Let’s dabble for a little while.
OFFENSE (PFF Grade post-Week 7)
Matthew Stafford: 80.4 (+2.9), John Wolford: 40.3 (N/A)
In a game where Stafford wasn’t able to get on the field and build rhythm right away because of some DET trickery, Stafford lead 3 drives in the 1st half. The results: 32 plays, 225 yards, 15:19 TOP (compared to DET’s 14:41 in 1st half), and more importantly 17 pts.
Stafford finished the game: 28/41, 334 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT. He added a 4th Q comeback to his ledger. I think this was one of Stafford’s most polished games in terms of all around QB play. He spread the ball around (5 different playmakers with at least 6+ targets/3+ rec). He was slinging the rock from the side in tight windows. PFF seemed to agree, as this was Stafford’s first improved overall rating since Week 2.
Week 7 Grade: A, Overall: A, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Darrell Henderson: 67.3 (-2.2), Sony Michel: 61.6 (+0.6), Jake Funk: 63.6 (IR)
Rough looking stat line for the RBs. In some fairness, in a game where the offense was playing behind early - it was hard for there to be offensive balance: 41 pass/17 runs. And Sony Michel was nursing a shoulder injury going into this one (only played 12% of team snaps).
Henderson rushed for 15 carries, 45 yards, 0 TDs, but added 3 rec (6 targets), 19 yards. Michel received 2 carries, 4 yards.
I did not notice that Henderson looked a little confused in pass blocking assignments. DET seemed keen at one point to send heavy pressure to get to Stafford. He did have some good blitz pickups, but he also missed on a few.
Week 7 Grade: C-, Overall: B+, Trend: Very Slight Downward
Robert Woods: 75.4 (+2.3), Cooper Kupp: 89.9* (+2.2), Van Jefferson: 65.1 (-1.2), DeSean Jackson: 72.5 (-1.2), TuTu Atwell: 60.7 (+0.1), Bennett Skowronek: 73.7 (+0.2)
Anytime that Woods/Kupp/Jefferson can all get a healthy, shared amount of looks - the offense is likely going to click in the passing game. Such was the case here. Woods: 6 rec (6 targets), 70 yards. Kupp: 10 rec (13 targets), 156 yards, 2 TD. V. Jefferson: 4 rec (7 targets), 43 yards, 1 TD.
Kupp still resides as the #2 WR in PFF. His score contains a 90.2 receiving grade. 56.2 for rushing grade. 65.3 for pass blocking. 61.0 for run blocking. HE’S A #1!
The only disappointment is the DeSean Jackson/TuTu Atwell situation. DJax was definitely brought in for two reasons: 1) to take the top off the defense with his speed and 2) to mentor TuTu Atwell, who would take the same duties in 2022. However, DJax’s playing time is just confusing. He only saw 4 out 65 snaps against DET. In a game that they were forced to pass a lot. Odd. The last time he saw less than 5 snaps in a game (Week 2), McVay made it an effort to feed him the ball against TB. Is McVay going to feel the need to do that @HOU? I’m curious to know DJax’s mental state - is this what he signed up for/is he content?
Week 7 Grade: A, Overall: A, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Tyler Higbee: 66.2 (-1.1), Johnny Mundt: 64.7 (IR), Brycen Hopkins: DNP, Jacob Harris: 58.7 (DNP), Kendall Blanton: DNQ (N/A)
Welp. With Mundt out, Higbee had to play the entire game. As a result, the run game struggled to find its footing in Mundt’s, but Higbee collected 5 rec (8 targets), 46 yards, 0 TD.
The TE room continues to be the biggest question mark of the offense? Kendall Blanton saw 2 snaps, did he just really leapfrog Hopkins & Harris on the depth chart? The Rams are able to get above-average blocking from Woods & Kupp in 11 personnel, but having 12 personnel will help stabilize the OL in the run game push.
Week 7 Grade: B-, Overall: C+, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Andrew Whitworth: 78.6 (+0.8), Joe Noteboom: 57.6 (+0.2), David Edwards: 70.1 (+1.0), Brian Allen: 69.2 (-3.0), Austin Corbett: 72.2 (+1.0), Rob Havenstein: 76.2 (+0.7)
It appears that PFF wasn’t placing the run game issues at the feet of the OL. Perhaps, again, it was the fact that the Rams did not have Mundt? Brian Allen was the lone lineman to receive a negative grade, because of pressures allowed (4). Anybody catch his individual performance? His PFF grade has dipped each week since SEA game. I saw some clips of his play vs TB, vs CHI. And he was laying out some DL on the turf. I hope this nastiness resurfaces & sticks around. I think Brian Allen is the biggest priority for re-signing in 2022. Perhaps an extension for B. Allen is in the works which is why the Kenny Young trade + Havenstein restructure happened.
The OL allowed 1 sack. But I believe the responsibility wasn’t pinned on any one lineman in particular since DET sent numbers at Stafford.
Week 7 Grade: B+, Overall: A-, Trend: Neutral
Aaron Donald: 91.7* (+0.0), Sebastian Joseph-Day: 62.4 (-6.8), A’Shawn Robinson: 65.4 (-1.8), Greg Gaines: 69.9 (+0.0), Jonah Williams: 67.2 (-6.4), Mike Hoecht: 43.8 (+1.8)
AD99 will likely have his “worst” stat season, yet it won’t show his effect on game like Sunday’s. It was AD99 who shot through the OL and hit Goff at the right time (preventing Goff from stepping into his throw); allowing Ramsey to pick off the pass and all but seal the game. It’s the AD99 effect. He makes others around him shine. See: Leonard Floyd. The fact that the sack totals are coming from elsewhere and not just Aaron is a positive. Don’t get me wrong I love me some 99 sack celebrations and seeing his career sack total climb - but the Rams didn’t have this outside of Donald before...
- Floyd: 4.5 sacks, Lewis: 3 sacks, Hollins: 2 sacks, SJD: 2 sacks
Of those guys, all of them are a) have surpassed their 2020 sack total or b) are on pace to surpass their 2020 sack total
Projected sack totals:
Floyd: 11 sacks, Lewis: 7.5 sacks, SJD: 5 sacks, Hollins: 4 sacks*
On a negative note, the Lions run game managed better than you’d hope going against our DL. Before we panic about the rushing yards though, the DL themselves only allowed 25 carries for 105 yards (4.2 yards a carry). Again, the defensive structure is technically designed in which the weakness is the run game and short passing game, but it forces teams into their own mistakes. When the Rams do bottle up run plays or force incompletions on 1st and 2nd down, opposing teams then have to throw from 3rd and Long, where their DL is capable of getting upfield in a hurry.
The defense has a whole is allowing the following:
- 20.8 pts/game (7th)
- 5.5 Y/P (T-12th)
- 12 Takeaways (6th)
- 7:10 TD/INT (3rd)
- 111.9 rushing yards/game (15th)
- 20 sacks (T-3rd)
Week 7 Grade: B+, Overall: A-, Trend: Slight Upward
Kenny Young: 58.3 (-1.2), Troy Reeder: 46.9 (-22.5), Ernest Jones: 53.2 (DNP), Travin Howard: 61.6 (+6.6)
Well the latest here is that Kenny Young is no longer a Ram. He was traded Monday to Denver along with a 2024 7th rounder in exchange for a 2024 6th rounder. Vintage Snead. At first thought, a lot of people suspected that this was the precursor to another trade on the horizon before the deadline. I’m beginning to think the move was in fact to help the team financially for 2022. I think an extension will be handed out to B. Allen and this move of trading KY was to ease the financial situation looming in 2022.
The keys now turn over to one of three remaining ILBs. Will it be:
A) Reeder (the incumbent - usually relied on in run situations)
B) Travin Howard (who in my opinion is the best pass coverage ILB on the team even before KY was traded)
C) Ernest Jones (the rookie - who will likely have growing pains with the 1st team)
Honestly, if I could cast my vote, I’d like to see Howard with Reeder still seeing time for run defense.
In Week 7, Reeder did miss 4 tackles - not helping his cause in the battle. We’ll see if Jones is named the starter or not on Thurs/Friday.
Week 7 Grade: D+, Overall: C-, Trend: Slight Downward
Leonard Floyd: 74.2 (+5.0), Justin Hollins: 71.4 (IR), Terrell Lewis: 51.4 (-1.7), Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: 77.8 (-2.8), Chris Garrett: 53.8 (DNP), Justin Lawlar: 63.8 (DNP), Jamir Jones: 49.4 (-0.5)
No sacks from this group, but a TFL by TLewis, who continues to hold down the other Edge spot (59% snap share). The pressure in pass defense was pretty relentless. Not a lot to complain about or celebrate.
Week 7 Grade: C+, Current Grade: B-, Trend: Very Slight Downward
Jalen Ramsey: 81.5* (+7.6), Darious Williams: 61.3 (IR), David Long Jr.: 61.1 (-3.0), Robert Rochell: 69.0 (+4.1), Donte Deayon: 71.6 (+1.9)
Rochell got the start over Long Jr, but an injury forced him out and left him with 35% of the total snaps. Deayon was the 3rd CB, and he played 88% of snaps. His positive grades so far are a welcome sign, but they have come against weak competition at the WR position (NYG & DET). The jury is still out. David Long Jr meanwhile has allowed 16 receptions on 23 targets, which is affecting his role moving forward with the team. Does Snead/McVay look at a trade deadline candidate? Kyle Fuller or any of the DBs in DEN not named Patrick Surtain (untouchable)? The Rams might hold pat; allowing DWill to return from IR in Week 9 if so able/desired.
Ramsey comes in as PFF’s No. 3 CB. He earned a 90.6 grade on Sunday; cementing the game with a TD saving INT to ice the game.
One negative about using Deayon is that it does make the Rams even smaller on defense against the run. Something to watch out for...
Week 7 Grade: B, Overall: B, Trend: Slight Upward
Jordan Fuller: 70.4 (+4.7), Taylor Rapp: 63.9 (+0.0), Terrell Burgess: 81.5 (+16.4), Nick Scott: 39.4 (-6.6), JR Reed: DNP (Claimed by NYG), JuJu Hughes: 68.6 (+1.5)
Fuller continues to see his play/weekly grade elevate. 9 tackles (3 solo).
Scott continues to make splash plays (his 2nd INT of season), but I like Burgess as the 3rd safety instead. Burgess saw 7 of 69 snaps with limited action.
Week 7 Grade: B+, Overall: B, Trend: Slight Upward
Johnny Hekker: 65.2 (-2.2), Matt Gay: 68.6 (+2.4)
Hekker failed to get his 1 punt attempt inside the 20; landing just outside of the 20 - around 21/22 for a DET fair catch.
Gay added 2 FGs from 33 (1st drive) & 47 (last drive) yards out. 2/2 on XPs.
McVay noted this week that the kick off return responsibilities are not Skowronek’s fault, but that the blocking has been atrocious up to this point. Too many holdings and missed blocks. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Rams return less kick offs moving forward.
For punt returns, Atwell did not have attempts the Lions ran two fakes + Fox’s other punt only went 36 yards.
The main issue here was the two converted punt fakes (1 pass, 1 run). The pass: 17 yards. The run: 28 yards. Inexcusable.
But it did not end there, Troy Reeder wasn’t able to secure an onside kick; resulting in DET taking the ball in short field. It led to a DET FG.
Week 7 Grade: F, Overall: C-, Trend: Moderate-to-Significant Downward
MCVAY AND CO.
In a game where the sequence of events was atypical, McVay was able to rely on Stafford’s arm, Kupp’s athleticm/hands, and AD99/Ramey superstar ability to get a win. Yes, there were offensive blemishes. But McVay’s offense is capable of attacking defenses out of shotgun with ease (not often used in previous years with Goff).
Considering the ST kept putting the defense back on the field, the defense should be given some credit for only allowing 19 pts. DET made 5 trips to LAR’s red zone. They went 0-5. When LAR need to stand tall on defense, they do.
While I’m not worried about Hekker & Gay, the Rams just haven’t figured out how to block on kick offs and punt returns. This has hindered Atwell from being a sparkplug if the offense needs a field position change or jumpstart.
At the end of the day. Rams took care of business in a game (like in 2019 or 2020), they might have lost (because of Goff limitations).
Week 7 Grade: McVay: B/Morris: B/DiCamillis: F, Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Downward