The Los Angeles Rams took their second loss of the season Sunday night against the Tennessee Titans 28-16. The Rams offense operated under pressure straight away and gave up costly turnovers in the first half that ended up being the difference after failing to recover. Here are the breakdowns by position group and the resulting letter grades.
Matthew Stafford played a large part in the outcome of the is game but this week it was not for the better. Working under pressure and with a stiff scheme design Stafford threw 31 completions of 48 attempts for 294 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The touchdown came late in the fourth quarter and the two interceptions that came early were avoidable. The first interception came under pressure in the back end zone, Stafford was already in the grasp of the defender, trying to avoid the sack, threw it directly into the hands of the Titan’s David Long Jr. On the second interception, the credit can be given a bit more to the defense as Stafford was attempting an out route to Robert Woods but a heads up play made by Titan’s Safety Kevin Byard turned the pass into an interception to the house for a defensive touchdown.
Darrell Henderson Jr recorded 55 yards over 11 carries and had a long of 14 yards. Sony Michel 20 yards on seven carries and also had one receiving touchdown. With only 18 carries between them it seems that the run game didn’t get enough going to sustain the offense or wasn’t given the opportunities to play a larger factor in the game.
Robert Woods was the leading receiver in the game with 98 yards over seven receptions and the long of 22 yards. Cooper Kupp had 11 receptions and 95 yards and Van Jefferson had 41 yards on three catches. Zero touchdowns were produced from this group which is a big falloff from the production in the stretch of especially the last three games. Jefferson was targeted seven times. One of those targets was in the end zone on a fade route that could have been both a better pass and a better play on the ball. Another of those targets came on a deep pass attempt that was put on a decent spot with tight coverage by the defender which was incomplete but it would have been great to see Jefferson using his hight and length to make a big play.
Tyler Higbee had five catches for 51 yards and also had the longest play of all receivers with a 26 yard catch and run on a screen play. He was also targeted in the end zone and could have had the games turning point touchdown after catching a pass from Stafford in the back of the end zone that called called back after review for illegal touching meaning Higbee stepped out of bounds before making the catch.
This game was one of the most submissive performances of this unit so far this season surrendering a season high five sacks. The sore part was that the pressure came from all areas of the front. Not one offensive lineman, not even veteran Andrew Whitworth stood out as the strong point, as the Titans did a great job winning one one ones through force and technique but also scheming attacks across the line. The running game had flashes of push but in total didn't get enough opportunities to effect the game in a positive manner.
The Titans were held to 69 yards rushing and the longest rushing played allowed was 14 yards. Aaron Donald was as always in the backfield for much of the game and recorded a sack. Greg Gaines, recently promoted after the injury to Sebastian Joseph-Day, had another solid outing creating pressure and recording a sack assist.
On the surface it appears that the defense altogether played well enough since it was mainly the offense that gave up the critical first two touchdowns. However upon further review, the linebackers had some missed opportunities to make stops. On the first touchdown of the game following a Stafford Interception, the Titans ran a play action pass to a double tight end route that was good play design but also worked because Leonard Floyd bit too hard on play action to the opposite side and Obo Okowonkro failed to secure the edge. Another example of the the Titans offense came on the run in score by Tannehill booting around the right side and again Floyd bit hard enough of the play action to not only break contain but also take out Aaron Donald who had an angle on the play. Floyd did record a sack and Okowonkro a sack assist and the Titans offense was held to less total yards than the Rams offense.
Jalen Ramsey started the game with an interception and in total had three tackles on tackle for a loss and one pass deflection. Darious Williams was back in action and he and Donte Deayon had three tackles each and Deayon had a tackle for a loss. Between AJ Brown and Julio Jones the longest play was 16 yards which means no big plays were allowed by either receiver who are considered both in the top tier of pass catchers.
Not allowing a pass play beyond 16 yards against a formidable offense is a win for this group. Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller had a combined 11 tackles and Fuller had a nice pass break up.
Kicker Matt Gay was productive making three out of three field goal attempts and one for one on extra points. The downside to that of course is that it was obvious early on that the three field goals as our primary scoring was not going to win this game. The return game is still stagnant with Kupp returning a couple of safe ones and JJ Koski in to field a return but didn't do much with it.
The Rams got out matched in this game physically and schematically. The play of the Titans defense was the outstanding factor in this game and the Rams offense had no answers. Hopefully, the Rams are able to take away some lessons and make this a productive loss going forward. 7-2 had a been predicted best case scenario at this point, by many analyst leading into the season. The Rams have the San Francisco 49ers next and then a bye week.