Glad to be back - writing these on a weekly basis. Typically, I will try to have these out on Wednesdays. On to the good stuff...
What an impressive start to the 2021. The offensive display on Sunday Night was reminiscent of the explosiveness that the offense had in '17 and '18, if not more dynamic. Stafford elevates the offense's playmaking ability. It's going to be an exciting year and I hope it ends on February 13th with a trophy for McVay and his team. But for now...On to the grades!!
Matthew Stafford: 79.7
McVay wanted to stretch the field again and he needed a guy that was fearless to take shots to make that happen. He was poised, confident, and had the command of the offense like he needed to show going into Week 1. Already, its an upgrade to Goff - who had reached his ceiling under McVay. I'm sure there will be plenty of comparison between Brady/Bucs and Stafford/Rams with how they joined high-powered offenses. Brady and the Bucs got off to a slow start. What hiccups do we anticipate for the Rams?
Week 1 Grade: A-, Overall: A-, Trend: Moderate Upward
Darrell Henderson: 71.7, Sony Michel: 45.9
The ground game was slow through the first 3 quarters. Henderson churned out 47 yards on the final drive alone, which shouldn't be overlooked. With McVay trying to bleed the clock to close out the game, you'd think that the CHI D would be prepared to stuff the run in any attempt to the get the ball back. But Hendo still managed to gain positive yardage. An underrated part of Hendo's game is his receiving ability as he showed up again with a 17 yard catch and run to get the Rams near the goalline. Michel's one carry is too difficult to base a judgment off of. I imagine he'll see touches as the weeks wear on.
Week 1 Grade: B-, Overall: B-, Trend: Neutral
Robert Woods: 74.2, Cooper Kupp: 81.5, Van Jefferson: 75.4, DeSean Jackson: 64.9, TuTu Atwell: 60.0
Such a scary group to have to defend. Cooper Kupp is a monster. I knew he'd thrive with Stafford. His shiftiness to break tackles and accumulate YAC is unparalleled. To those complaining about Van Jefferson's rookie development. 1) it was a COVID year & 2) with the irregular version of OTAs & training camp - he admitted his head was swimming with the playbook. Expect more fireworks from this kid. And how exciting in his first official start that he catches the opening TD. A small sample size for DJax in Week 1, but again - there is probably a plan in place to preserve his health for late in the season. Robert Woods's TD showed off his impressive footwork - and he continues to be the hardest worker play in & play out on the offense.
Week 1 Grade: A-, Overall: A-, Trend: Moderate Upward
Tyler Higbee: 77.6, Johnny Mundt: 46.7, Brycen Hopkins: DNP, Jacob Harris: DNP
The HIGBEAST is back. 5 rec (6 targets) for 68 yards. The YAC was on display and I think we will see what we saw at the tail end of 2019. Higbee's ability is not far off of Kittle & Kelce. He'll see less volume, but his receiving ability is comparable. Mundt played on 29% of snaps and was called for a penalty. I imagine he will be a plug until Jacob Harris is ready.
Week 1 Grade: B-, Overall: B-, Trend: Neutral
Andrew Whitworth: 66.8, David Edwards: 82.0, Brian Allen: 77.9, Austin Corbett: 69.2, Rob Havenstein: 78.7
Edwards and Allen were top 5 performers at their positions this week. David Edwards recorded a 61.8/83.1 pass block : run block score (#3 G out of 65). The pass block score should improve, but Edwards did pave some huge running lanes late in the 4th Q when McVay called "run" more often. Brian Allen recorded a 51.3/82.1 pass block : run block score (#3 C out of 32). Allen was called for one holding penalty, but he otherwise he was very solid in his role; compared to his start in 2019. But once again, another case in which we fans did not allow an OL draft pick time to develop. We tried to judge him on his first 9 starts and NFL playing experience. He is undersized, but he does have a mean streak. Looking forward to continuing to see how Andrew Whitworth continues to play over a 18 Week Season.
Week 1 Grade: B+, Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Upward
Aaron Donald: 81.4, Sebastian Joseph-Day: 75.3, A'Shawn Robinson: 66.6 Greg Gaines: 76.7, Jonah Williams : 68.5, Mike Hoecht: 64.4
AD99's grade isn't in the 90s like it was throughout all of 2020. He did look slow getting set and off the snap, but I wonder if some of that is just conserving based on the situation + conserving for late in the game. But at the same time, if thats the case, why not sub a guy in? A'Shawn looked a little slow to set and get push as well. We'll see if things change in Week 2.
The one guy to watch on this DL is Greg Gaines. SJD made a jump from Year 2 to 3. Gaines is on the same trajectory as he was, so while AShawn gets up to speed, keep an eye on GG.
SJD had a little bit of a knee injury coming out of the game according to McVay. He's expected back for week 2, but worth monitoring...
Week 1 Grade: B-, Overall: B-, Trend: Slight Downward
Kenny Young: 81.4, Troy Reeder: 62.2
Wow - what an improved look for Kenny Young! Yes, he made a splash against NE last year, but he looked way more comfortable and in control Sunday Night. He was in on every snap; swarming to the ball and made a huge play in pass defense by getting a hand on a ball in the redzone to allow David Long Jr to complete the play. Sometimes we expect LBs to blanket a WR and yet all we need from them is to disrupt throwing lanes to create a little bit of a tip/bounce to go our way. Reeder will be used in running situations (he was in only for 28%), but had 4 tackles (1 TFL) and a PD. That's more or less, an expected stat line for Reeder. He just needs to show up on run downs and make his tackles. Week 1 Grade: C+, Overall: C+, Trend: Slight Upward
Leonard Floyd: 52.8, Justin Hollins: 90.1, Terrell Lewis: 60.4, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: IR, Chris Garrett: IR, Justin Lawlar: 58.2
This will be a unit to keep an eye on moving forward. Leonard Floyd secured the bag in the offseason, but was he worth it? I think John Johnson was the best player and represented better value. But Edge was a glaring need for LAR, and not resigning Floyd would have left LAR with next to nothing. At 29, you'd think that Floyd is at his best now as pass rusher. But his ability seems to be very hot and cold. He was very quiet in this game (going against Germain Ifedi - not exactly the pinnacle of RTs in the league). I'm not sure what Floyd does to get his motor going, but he will need to be consistent for the Rams since AD99 draws so many OL his way. I wouldn't be shocked if Floyd's 4 year deal only turns into a 2 or 3 year deal. His salary and dead cap moving forward are: 2021 - $16 mil ($32.5 mil dead), 2022 - $16.5 mil ($27 mil dead), 2023 - $15.5 mil ($7 mil dead), 2024 - $16 mil ($3.5 mil dead).
Ever since the Rams claimed Hollins off of waivers, I've been a fan of the move. As a former player under Vic Fangio and Brandon Staley, I felt confident that McVay would find a role for him off on the defense with a very unproven unit. Last year he put: 28 tackles (18 solo), 3 TFL, 3 sacks, 5 QB hits, 1 FF, 1 PD. On Sunday night, Hollins tallied 8 tackles (6 solo), 1 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 QB hit. A huge performance for the guy on the opposite side of the Edge. The Rams needed someone to claim that role, and Hollins helped his case. He collected 74% of the snap share, by far his highest volume as a Ram. What's exciting is that Hollins is only 25 years old and is under contract with the Rams through 2022. Again, a HUGE waiver pickup by Snead and McVay.
The rest of the guys - TLew saw 25% of the defensive snaps and Lawlar saw 9% of the snaps with Garrett and Obo on IR. Perhaps, we have a more clear picture for the first time in a while on the rotation for the OLBs. Floyd as 1. Hollins as 1b. And TLewis as the first OLB sub. Which could be a great role for Lewis to care for his knee.
Week 1 Grade: B, Current Grade: B, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Jalen Ramsey: 70.3, Darious Williams: 62.8, David Long Jr.: 66.2, Robert Rochell: 71.5
Jalen Ramsey is a freak. Ramsey blankets his assignments and sets a tone with his tackling. Did Talib/Peters ever do that? No. Ramsey is never going to put up these freakish INT totals, but his value is so much more than that and its awesome that he realizes it.
We got our first real taste of David Long Jr as the 3rd corner (57%). He recorded 5 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PD. A solid showing. Rochell filled in for him (39%) when he was out (cramping) and had a big 4th down play (PD) along with 1 tackle.
Week 1 Grade: B+, Overall: B+, Trend: Neutral
Jordan Fuller: 51.0, Taylor Rapp: 65.5, Terrell Burgess: DNP, Nick Scott: 61.3, JR Reed: INA, JuJu Hughes: INA
Sad to not see John Johnson a part of this group anymore. But such is life in the NFL.
Fuller and Rapp filled the stat sheet with 21 tackles (12 solo) between the two of them.
The game plan was to play an umbrella coverage and not allow any explosive passing plays, and the group did their job. My cause for concern with this group is when they play a more explosive offense with more speed (ex: GB in 2020). Fuller and Rapp aren't very fast so sometimes I worry about their ability to keep up with a burner. We'll see... Week 1 Grade: B+, Overall: B+, Trend: Neutral
Johnny Hekker: 60.0, Matt Gay: 69.4
A 50 yard punt by Johnny Hekker and Matt Gay was 2/2 on FGs (long of 53) and 4/4 on XPs. A great start for the ST unit, outside of a busted containment on the first kickoff coverage.
A lot more consistency than where the Rams were at with Sam Sloman and Nsimba Webster in 2020.
Week 1 Grade: B, Overall: B, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Upward
MCVAY AND CO.
McVay got his new toy and showed it off early. The playcalls were quality and though the offense didn't have a true rhythm (because of the explosive plays) in the 1st half, the offense managed to go 3 for 3 on touchdown drives in the 2nd half. A great response to close out the game. McVay also got a taste of what his running game could do with Hendo sealing things on a few HB draws/sweeps late in the 4th.
The Rams D was ready from the start of the game. If providing criticism, again - the run defense (but I'm not worried about it moving forward). Guys like SJD, Donald are more likely to make their tackles than not.
ST is in a much safer place than 2020. DiCammilis > Bonamego.
Week 1 Grade: McVay: A-/Morris: B+/DiCamillis: B, Overall: B+, Trend: Slight Upward