Reality came hard and fast for the Rams in Week 4. As I watched this game, it was a perfect storm of the Cardinals desperately wanting to shake the storyline of 0-8 vs. LAR in the last 4 years AND then the Rams just beating themselves with the following: missed throws by Stafford, a RB fumble, WR drops, lack of containment in the run/pass game, and not getting off the field on 3rd & Long. For the offense, I am more forgiving as I believe Stafford and his WRs are still figuring one another out. As for the defense, they definitely deserve more of the heat. Quick turnaround. Must win divisional game for Week 5 @ SEA in Prime Time.
Matthew Stafford: 80.7 (-2.0)
As stated above - a little more forgiving of the the offense. But Stafford would be the first to admit the offensive struggle completely fell on him (which is a sign of personal responsibility). He missed throws. He was off target. His usual connection with Cooper Kupp was off as there were multiple instances where they could have gotten back into the game had they connected on a few more plays.
Week 4 Grade: C-, Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Downward
Darrell Henderson: 66.1 (-3.6), Sony Michel: 56.1 (-6.9), Jake Funk: 63.6 (DNP)
Henderson ran well to the tune of 14 carries, 89 yards while adding 5 rec (6 targets), 27 yards. I'm surprised his PFF grade went down unless his pass protection was an issue? The fact that McVay did not call his number more on the drive where the Rams called 7 consecutive passes was head scratching. But, at the very least the ability is there from Henderson. Will he continue to stay healthy? Henderson was having a good game @SEA last year until his season was ended after a sprained ankle via J. Adams. Sony Michel fumbled on his third carry (3 carries, 11 yards) which was a back breaker for the Rams as they were down 14-10 at the time, which completely swung the momentum; giving ARI a short field.
Week 4 Grade: B, Overall: B, Trend: Neutral
Robert Woods: 66.0 (-0.1), Cooper Kupp: 82.6 (-6.6), Van Jefferson: 71.9 (+6.6), DeSean Jackson: 72.1 (-5.6), TuTu Atwell: 60.0 (DNP), Ben Skowronek: 60.0 (DNP)
The timing and consistency with Stafford was the issue here. Stafford was the culprit of a few missed throws to Kupp, but Kupp also dropped a ball (his 3rd this year). He had 6 in 2020, and 3 in all of 2019. One of the routes, either Stafford led Kupp a little too much or Kupp didn't cut/flatten his route enough. Work still to be done there. They did connect on a beautiful touch pass over the deep middle for 35 yards (against 3 defenders). But Kupp's 5 rec (13 targets), 64 yards was different than the previous three weeks.
McVay made comments this week going into SEA that he needs to do a better job of calling Woods's number. I guess, McVay has been wanting to establish Kupp (Stafford's safety blanket) early. This is the right message by McVay, because Woods is really good at working the 7 route and intermediate game, in order to open up the deep ball and underneath. Usually, I find that when Robert Woods is balling out - the entire team is too. See 2020 game logs: vs DAL, @WSH, @TB, @ARI and in 2018 when the team made a SB run: vs LAC, vs MIN, @SEA, @DEN, vs KC, @ARI. Even when he isn't statistically having a big game; early involvement of Woods forces defenses to worry about him and Kupp/Higbee (3rd down) + DJax (deep threat). I expect some WR screens early against SEA to get him going plus some jet sweeps.
Van Jefferson put together a nice game against his father's team. 6 rec (6 targets), 90 yards, 1 TD. This is a really good sign as he has put together 10 rec (12 targets), 132 yards, 1 TD in his last two games after a rough showing in Week 2 @ IND. He did this despite his snap share dropping to 68% in Week 4. It was 92% (Week 2) and 77% (Week 3). I also believe that Van has not dropped a pass yet. Woods (2), Kupp (3), DJax (0).
DeSean Jackson's snap share was at 32% again this week, but the results were lacking. 1 rec (3 targets), 6 yards. Stafford's deep ball attempt was underthrown again; resulting in an INT. Timing and connection between these two is still a work in progress.
Week 4 Grade: C, Overall: B, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Downward (challenging this group to elevate their play b/c of Stafford new to the offense and timing + the dropped passes)
Tyler Higbee: 64.3 (+0.2), Johnny Mundt: 62.7 (+6.4), Brycen Hopkins: DNP, Jacob Harris: 60.0 (N/A)
Higbee caught 4 rec (6 targets) for 36 yards with a long of 18. Higbee's run blocking received positive comments (trying to remember where I saw the comments), but I'm curious why he is still in the 60's for PFF. He's been an up and down player for the most of his career. Using a 16 game avg, he is on pace for 60 rec, 608 yards, 4 TD which falls in line with his past production (2019 and 2020). Mundt was used on 29% of offensive plays vs ARI and caught his first ball of the season, good for 9 yards. He's still holding onto the TE2 spot until J. Harris or B. Hopkins can climb the depth chart. Against SEA in the past, Higbee has been pretty quiet (43.3 yards/avg) and only 1 TD altogether in 10 games against.
Week 4 Grade: C+, Overall: C+, Trend: Neutral
Andrew Whitworth: 74.5 (+2.5), Joe Noteboom: 60.0 (N/A), David Edwards: 76.7 (+4.0), Brian Allen: 78.2 (+0.5), Austin Corbett: 68.7 (3.6), Rob Havenstein: 76.7 (+2.2)
I hope I'm not jinxing it, but this has been the best unit for the team to this point. Which should be highlighted, especially if the Rams consider themselves SB contenders. Ready for the their PFF rankings. Whitworth (12th/73 OT), Edwards (8th/75 OG), Allen (5th/33 C), Corbett (22nd/75 OG), Havenstein (8th/73 OT). All the TST whiners that were asking for the Rams to draft a starting OL have crawled in a hole and haven't made a peep about the OL and B. Allen. Les Snead has them look stupid. Sure, the cupboard needs attention this offseason with FAs (Noteboom, Allen, Corbett) with Whitworth as a retirement possibility. But I expect a resign of B. Allen with his play this year. Noteboom could potentially be resigned for cheap based on his limited sample size and for him to have a starting job going into next year (as long as he proves it).
As for the game, Allen and Whitworth did have penalties, which was uncommon up to this point, but these 5 guys opened up lanes in the run game and kept Stafford upright (0 sacks).
Week 4 Grade: B+, Overall: B+, Trend: Neutral
Aaron Donald: 91.3 (-0.6), Sebastian Joseph-Day: 62.1 (-1.4), A'Shawn Robinson: 68.3 (-1.8), Greg Gaines: 74.9 (-0.6), Jonah Williams: 68.4 (+12.1), Mike Hoecht: 42.8 (-4.3)
After holding the Bucs run game to next to nothing, the Rams gave up 218 yards on 38 rushes. But who takes the blame? SJD had 8 tackles (7 solo) and 1 sack - that would imply a pretty good performance on the line. Aaron Donald's run game score improved to a season-best 77.6. So was it just a combination of LBs/Edge/Rapp not being in proper containment and making tackles. Additionally, some of the effect was just Kyler's ability to extend a play. The DL did a good job of getting him out of the pocket. It was just a matter of making a play and getting him to the turf.
Week 4 Grade: B-(?), Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Downward
Kenny Young: 62.4 (-3.8), Troy Reeder: 74.8 (-4.1), Ernest Jones: 60.5 (+7.4)
I think this is where the run game issues deserve blame/responsibility. Reeder missed (poor angle and good move by Kyler) on a crucial 3rd and Long. There wasn't a lot of penetration behind the backfield and that indicates KY and Reeder were slow to gaps in my opinion. Ernest Jones saw the field for 10 snaps in sub of Reeder. I don't expect E. Jones to take over quite yet, but maybe McVay will be ready to pass the starter duties mid-late season. But is Reeder deserving of the bench after 1 bad game?
Week 4 Grade: D, Overall: C, Trend: Moderate Downward
Leonard Floyd: 65.2 (-5.9), Justin Hollins: 71.4 (DNP), Terrell Lewis: 52.0 (+2.4), Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: 53.7 (N/A), Chris Garrett: 53.8 (DNP), Justin Lawlar: 63.8 (-2.2)
Floyd added his 3rd sack and a TFL, but was otherwise quiet in run defense.
Without Hollins, there was a rotation of TLewis & Okoronkwo. Lewis added 4 tackles, 1 sack which is promising. But I can't say his run defense was helpful. Okoronkwo added 1 tackle (TFL). Maybe the potential is there in pass game, but this group needs to show up in the ground game to help the defense as a whole thrive.
Week 4 Grade: D+, Current Grade: C+, Trend: Moderate Downward
Jalen Ramsey: 78.0 (-1.1), Darious Williams: 64.4 (+0.4), David Long Jr.: 61.3 (-3.3), Robert Rochell: 74.0 (+0.6)
Jalen Ramsey played all 4 quarters. But it can't just be him.
Long Jr was targeted early and often (6 completions on 6 targets). He was primarily on AJ Green, who clearly won the matchup - which included a 41 yard TD in the 1st Q. Long Jr received some criticism from Raheem Morris and that more is needed from him.
Does Rochell push for more playing time? Is he ready to do that?
Darious Williams has been quiet thus far. He had a small injury in training camp - is that lingering? He seems a step slower this year than last.
Week 4 Grade: D-, Overall: B-, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Downward
Jordan Fuller: 56.6 (+1.8), Taylor Rapp: 58.0 (+1.8), Terrell Burgess: 60.2 (DNP), Nick Scott: 54.7 (+1.9), JR Reed: DNP, JuJu Hughes: RELEASED
The safety play has been lacking this year. JJ43's stamp is definitely missing. He was very instinctual and playing fast. This group seems more reactive than proactive... I'm fading a little bit on this group, and Burgess is the one that I see being able to help it because he has more JJ43 in him than the others.
Week 4 Grade: C-, Overall: C+, Trend: Slight Downward
Johnny Hekker: 63.1 (+1.0), Matt Gay: 68.7 (-5.7)
Matt Gay missed his first field goal. But it wasn't at a crucial time really. The game was already becoming out of hand. I'd rather M. Gay miss one in a game that was already a mess, I guess you could say.
Hekker added another punt inside the 20 (a 37 yard punt to ARI 12). He's been doing a good job of pinning teams.
Atwell returned 2 punts for 4 yards. Yikes.
In kick/punt coverage, the Rams did not give any opportunities to ARI.
Week 4 Grade: C, Overall: C+, Trend: Very Slight Downward
MCVAY AND CO.
I think the game plan by the offense was in place and ready. Stafford just didn't execute. McVay's worst fault was a drive where he went 7 consecutive pass plays and didn't continue to feed Henderson.
R. Morris just didn't have a good game plan in this one. The defense was very flat. Which is an ugly combination. I hope this isn't a sign of a significant regression, but rather a gut check.
Week 4 Grade: McVay: B-/Morris: D+/DiCamillis: B-, Overall: A-, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Downward
Just finished writing this after the Rams had 1 drive and SEA had 1 drive in tonight's game! Take a look during halftime!