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Winners and Losers from Rams’ ugly loss to Titans

Matthew Stafford and the Rams seemingly had no answers for the Titans’ pressure on defense

Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams suffered a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans on primetime and are now 7-2 on the season. LA did not seem to have answers or adjustments on offense after Tennessee seemed to have their number early on. After costly mistakes and being unable to convert in key moments, this game got away from the Rams.

LA is now solidly behind the Arizona Cardinals for second place in the NFC West divisional race, but there’s still plenty of football left to be played this season. There’s plenty of blame to go around in this ugly loss, but we will also try to find some silver linings.

Winners

Jalen Ramsey, CB

Jalen Ramsey set the tone by interception quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first quarter. The Rams converted a field goal attempt off the takeaway, and shifted the early momentum in LA’s favor.

The Rams’ star corner was around the football all night and even made plays in the backfield, such as this tackle for loss on an attempted reverse. After having set an extremely high bar in his first full season with the Rams in 2020, Ramsey is more involved under defense coordinator Raheem Morris and has raised his level of play.

Aaron Donald, DT

The bar for Aaron Donald to be included on this list is usually high, because if it wasn’t he’d likely make the list each week. Donald was his normal game wrecking self on Sunday night, and this may have been his most impactful game in a while.

The three-time defensive player of the year recorded a sack despite a blatant holding call, and he disrupted a number of running plays and often pressured Tannehill.

Robert Woods, WR

It was not the biggest statistical night for the Rams’ top two receivers: Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp; however, Woods came up with a handful of clutch plays in high leverage situations.

Not all of these notable plays came in the pass game, as Woods landed an important block to help Darrell Henderson convert in a short yardage situation.

While Kupp had more catches - 11 on 13 targets for an average of 8.6 yards - Woods accumulated 98 yards on 7 receptions (14 average). It was not Kupp’s most efficient night, and Woods seemed to contribute more chunk plays for the team on a night where these types of plays were few and far between.

Jordan Fuller, DB

Safety Jordan Fuller was the Rams’ leading tackler against the Titans with 7 total stops. In what has been a relatively quiet season for the second-year safety, Fuller stood out on Sunday night - makin tackles in space on screen plays and even winning in single coverage against the Titans’ stellar receiver group.

Fuller played with a physical presence and showed he can play closer to the line of scrimmage in addition to his center fielder coverage abilities.

JJ Koski, PR

While he only had 1 punt return for 7 yards, it seems clear that JJ Koski is at least a short-term upgrade in the return specialist role over rookie Tutu Atwell - who is out for the year with a shoulder injury. The Rams desperately need to improve on special teams, so it’ll be worth following Koski in this role moving forward.

Losers

Matthew Stafford, QB

Los Angeles scored late in the fourth quarter during garbage time, but the bottom line in this game for Matthew Stafford is that he spotted the Titans as many points off turnovers as he was able to put on the board while the game was still in hand. The Rams offense is able to overcome a 14 point deficit based on their level of performance and scoring output through the first half of the season, but Stafford’s interception deep in the Rams’ own territory and the pick-six on the following possession was brutal to watch.

The turnovers weren’t the only significant issue with Stafford’s performance on Sunday night either - it seemed he held the ball for far too long on some occasions leading to the Rams giving up a season-high number of sacks (5). The offensive line did not play well in this game, which we will discuss separately; however, it’s not necessarily fair to place all the blame on them.

This was not a good night for LA’s signal caller, and this may have been the worst version of Stafford we’ve seen so far this year.

Offensive Line

The Los Angeles offensive line had what was likely their worst outing of the season against Tennessee - and they were dominated mostly by two defenders: Denico Autry and Jeffrey Simmons. Autry had the Rams’ number early in the game, sacking Stafford multiple times in the first quarter and swatting down a pass to kill a LA drive. Simmons was a game wrecker - notching 3 sacks 6 total tackles.

The issue primarily for the Rams was along the inside, which was compounded by Stafford’s inability to navigate the quick, interior pressure. Center Brian Allen had a rough evening in pass protection, as did guards David Edwards and Austin Corbett.

Sean McVay, HC

With the Titans dominating the Rams in the trenches and pass protection, head coach and offensive play caller Sean McVay seemed reluctant to pivot away from empty sets and lean on the run game. For the most part, the Titans were extremely quick to pressure Stafford when the team used a straight drop back passing attack, but the Rams seemed reluctant to move away from this approach. In the second half LA started moving the pocket with designed rollouts, but there’s no real reason why this type of adjustment could not have been made sooner.

Henderson had a couple 10+ yard runs and finished the evening averaging 5 yards a carry on only 11 rushes - it seemed the Rams could have been effective on the ground if they would have just committed to it a little more, especially in the red zone.

Van Jefferson, WR

Second-year receiver Van Jefferson has been solid for the Rams in 2021 as the third receiving option; however, his performance Sunday night was not one of his better outings on the year. Jefferson was targeted 7 times but only converted 3 receptions for 41 yards. His worst offense was on a free play where the Titans were dinged for having 12 defenders on the field, but Jefferson was unable to haul in the catch for potential chunk yardage.