The Los Angeles Rams offense is on the verge of a 2022 catastrophe. The team is desperately trying to find its identity as an offense. While Cooper Kupp continues to play at all All-Pro / Triple Crown level, the Rams have lacked consistency on the offensive line, running game, and explosive plays in the passing game. Across the roster, multiple starters are performing below expectation, particularly the franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford.
In order to gain a sense of the performance of the roster and its direction, Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded out all the players from the Week 4 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation and grades.
Weekly Grade: Grade for that respective week
Season Grade: Grade for the position over the course of the season
Trend: Direction of the position group from last week to this week
*Denotes a player ranked in the Top 3 at the position*
Matthew Stafford: 64.9 (-7.7), John Wolford: DNP, Bryce Perkins: DNP
Stafford finished the night completing 32/48 passes for 254 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception (returned for a SF touchdown). It was a frustrating night watching the Rams signal caller. He missed a number of relatively easy throws, particularly one in the red zone to Tyler Higbee. The failing grade for Stafford comes in three parts: 1) zero touchdowns or touchdown drives, 2) a negative turnover differential (pick six), and 3) failing to establish a connection with Allen Robinson once again. Yes, Stafford was under duress. He had to absorb seven sacks, but Stafford did not neutralize the SF pass rush with the run game, screen game, or connecting on short distance throws.
Stafford finishes “the month of September” (first four games) in a much different fashion than he is typically accustomed. September is statistically his best month of football based on his career splits, entering the 2022 year with 76 TDs compared to 34 Interceptions. This year Stafford threw six, about 1/6 of his interceptions despite being in his 14th season.
Week 4 Grade: F, Season Grade: D, Trend: Moderate Downward
Cam Akers: 61.9 (-3.1), Darrell Henderson: 55.5 (+0.2), Kyren Williams: IR, Jake Funk: DNP, Malcolm Brown: 59.3
Sean McVay called 16 run plays compared to 50 pass plays. For a team seeking to find its offensive identity, that type of imbalance likely won’t help.
Akers has the full support of McVay moving forward, but the running back only managed eight carries for 13 yards. Akers’ third year has been a significant struggle for what was thought to be a bounce back campaign from his second year achilles tear. His longest run of the night was six yards, leaving the remaining seven carries to average one yard. One particular issue hurting Cam Akers right now is his pass protection blocking. He is less polished than the likes of Henderson and Sony Michel, whom the Rams had last year.
Darrell Henderson was the more efficient runner, gaining 27 yards on seven carries (3.9/avg), but a lot of his runs came when the down and distance was unreasonable and when the game was out of hand.
Christian McCaffrey’s name has been floated to the Rams in trade rumors, but CMC is not the fix for LA’s run game woes. Run blocking by the offensive line needs correction and a balanced game plan by McVay.
Week 4 Grade: D, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Downward
Cooper Kupp: 89.7 (+0.3), Allen Robinson II: 56.6 (-4.3), Van Jefferson: IR, Tutu Atwell: 51.6 (INA), Bennett Skowronek: 55.6 (-1.8), Brandon Powell: 78.7 (-0.1), Lance McCutcheon: 59.3
Cooper Kupp deserves applause for coming in as PFF’s number one ranked wide receiver after four weeks. And I am not taking anything away from the triple crown winner, but I do not consider his 14 receptions (19 targets) for 122 yards to be one of his better games. Kupp was limited to zero explosive plays (credit to San Francisco). Typically the savvy veteran receiver manages to break a few open field tackles, leading to the increased YAC production. Despite it still not being his best night, Kupp was his clutch self at the beginning of the game picking up at least three third down conversions.
Alright, Allen Robinson II, hibernation season is over. The Rams must find a way to get the complimentary receiver up to speed in this offense or else they risk their season unwinding rapidly. The separation debate really isn’t the full story in this in my opinion.
Yards of separation this season:— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) October 5, 2022
But McVay is not creating opportunities only for Allen Robinson?
Allen Robinson’s sense of urgency needs to increase. When his number is called, he’s got to come through. If anything, this offense could use a little bit of “let me take over” mindset.
“If I am Allen Robinson… I would say ‘hey coach and Mr. Quarterback… Throw me the damn ball.’”⁰@BMarshall on what advice he would give Allen Robinson to work his way into Matthew Stafford’s circle— Up & Adams (@UpAndAdamsShow) October 6, 2022
⁰ : @FanDuelTV | @heykayadams pic.twitter.com/f9wfAja6Zg
I would like to see more of Brandon Powell. I think until Van Jefferson returns, I’d like to see Powell in on at least >35% snaps. He provides speed to stretch a defense horizontally and vertically. He is elusive. He can be used out of the backfield as a running back. And he is the best option in the screen game.
Tutu Atwell was a healthy inactive. That about sums up his role through four weeks...
Week 4 Grade: C-, Season Grade: C, Trend: Moderate Downward
Tyler Higbee: 65.3 (+1.7), Brycen Hopkins: 57.1 (SUS), Kendall Blanton: 94.7 (-8.3)
Tyler Higbee played a great game in my opinion. He was physical and fought for tough earned yardage after the catch. He finished the night with 10 receptions (14 targets) for 73 yards. He should have had an 11th reception and a touchdown, but Stafford missed him in the red zone.
Kendall Blanton played in eight snaps (11% snap share) and could be utilized more in 12 personnel if McVay wanted to provide alternative formations to jump start the offense. Blanton chipped in one reception for seven yards.
Week 4 Grade: B+, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Upward
Joe Noteboom: 63.8 (-4.9), David Edwards: 57.9 (INA), Brian Allen: 67.6 (INA), Coleman Shelton: 49.9 (-2.2), Rob Havenstein: 70.8 (+2.1), Alaric Jackson: 66.5 (-4.8), Tremayne Anchrum: 60.0 (IR), Bobby Evans: 29.8 (-9.4), Jeremiah Kolone:
The offensive line situation is what is ultimately derailing the 2022 season for the Rams. It is not purely a performance-related issue. The Rams have been caught in a near-catastrophic situation with five interior offensive linemen missing at least one game to this point. No one could have anticipated this happening, nor could have had the reinforcements to perform such a fix. Yes, having Creed Humphrey over Tutu Atwell is easy to point out. But the Rams had already drafted Brian Allen in 2018. I’m guessing they did not see center as an area to address in 2021 when they had Allen and Shelton in the future planning.
The Rams have found a solid undrafted free agent piece in Alaric Jackson.
Not all doom and gloom on the OL. UDFA Alaric Jackson has given up only 4 pressures in 119 pass-blocking snaps at right guard, despite only previously playing tackle (@TruMediaSports).— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 5, 2022
Rob Havenstein at RT 10 pressures in 170 PBsnaps, seems solid w/situational context.
The Rams have the former Hawkeye under contract for two and a half more seasons. It’s a positive development with the impending free agent loss of David Edwards, the delayed development of Logan Bruss due to an ACL tear, and the season ending injury of Tremayne Anchrum.
Joe Noteboom is in his first full year as the left tackle and has played well outside of a rough start versus Buffalo. If he could continue to elevate his play like he did against Tampa Bay in the divisional round, the OL could stabilize until reinforcements (David Edwards, Brian Allen, and Coleman Shelton) return.
Week 4 Grade: F, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Moderate Downward
HC (Sean McVay)
McVay showed positive adjustments in Week 2 and Week 3 using Ben Skowronek in I-formation out of 11 personnel. But on Monday night, the head coach could not find ways to generate a run game or explosive plays in the passing game. It is another “return to the drawing board” event.
How do the #Rams create “better continuity” (as HC Sean McVay puts it) within the offense moving forward?— Kayla Burton (@Kay_Breezy22) October 6, 2022
1. Matthew Stafford needs to find end zone.
2. Involve WR Allen Robinson.
3. Communication on OLINE.
Plus RB Cam Akers update: ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/cPJQj58yzv
Los Angeles needs its head coach to find a way to scheme plays for Allen Robinson. Similar to how the Rams used Robert Woods in Week 5 against Seattle last year.
The sixth year HC is navigating five injuries to the offensive line, but he may need to use 12 personnel because operating out of the shotgun with backup offensive linemen is likely to result in: 1) Stafford getting sack/injured/killed or 2) Stafford playing under duress and making bad decisions.
Week 4 Grade: F, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Moderate Downward
Stay tuned within the next 24 hours for the defensive PFF grades from Week 4 for the Los Angeles Rams roster overview!