The Los Angeles Rams dropped their fourth straight game Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints in a 27-20 contest that was not as close as the final score indicates.
The Rams did just enough to give fans hope. The speedy second-year receiver Tutu Atwell connected with Matthew Stafford for a 62-yard touchdown bomb. Los Angeles also had their best production in terms of rushing, but ultimately they couldn’t keep Andy Dalton and the New Orleans offense at bay.
It was mostly bad for LA in Week 11, but here’s who stood out on an individual level:
Tutu Atwell, WR
Atwell has had three touches on offense so far this year: a 52-yard catch against the Dallas Cowboys, a 9-yard jet sweep, and today’s 62-yard touchdown. All three of those touches are individually more explosive than anything either Allen Robinson or Van Jefferson have put on tape.
Simply speaking, Atwell changes the dynamic and the way defenses approach this offense when he’s on the field. It’s on film now that he can outrun everyone on the defense, and just having him involved as a decoy should in theory open things up for everyone else.
You can’t call Atwell a draft bust as a former second round pick due to his lack of playing time - he’s been completely as advertised if not better, based on the way his speed as translated to the pro game.
This is a failure by the coaching staff in not properly leveraging the most explosive asset they have on offense.
Greg Gaines, DT
Leonard Floyd, OLB
If you would have told me before the game that both Gaines and Floyd would have two sacks a piece, I would have thought we’d be in for a dominant defensive performance.
Kudos to Gaines and Floyd for standing out in this one and putting pressure on Andy Dalton, but that’s really where the positive stop on defense.
Greg Gaines with the huge sack for loss pic.twitter.com/Fv7yup5xF7— LA Rams Nation (@RamsNationCP) November 20, 2022
Cam Akers & Kyren Williams, RB
The Rams were reportedly packaging Cam Akers in every trade deal they discussed at the NFL’s trade deadline, and effectively they couldn’t even give him away. Kyren Williams has already been dealt two serious injuries as a rookie, but he’s come in mid-season and has looked like a key member of this backfield moving forward.
Akers’ and Williams’ performances against the Saints were easily the best individual performances by Rams running backs this season, and they just happened to come in the same game.
Akers: 14 carries for 61 yards (4.4 avg)
Williams: 7 carries for 36 yards (5.1 avg); 1 catch for 8 yards
Bryce Perkins, QB
The ground game got off to a hot start but then started to stall.
It’s not coincidence that the Rams’ best rushing performance came when Perkins played a sizeable role at quarterback filling in for the injured Matthew Stafford. The designed QB runs and Perkins’ mobility opened things up in the traditional running game, and Perkins showed on Sunday that he’s more capable of filling in for Stafford than John Wolford.
There’s reasons to be optimistic about Perkins’ chances should he have to fill in for Stafford long-term this season. He will certainly benefit from a full week of preparation because LA will have to make significant changes to the offensive scheme to better suit his attributes.
Bobby Evans, OG/LT
Evans was atrocious during the 2022 preseason, and it was head scratching that the Rams elected to keep him on the final 53-man roster over Chandler Brewer and rookie AJ Arcuri - both of whom were flat out better in the exhibition games.
The Rams are playing Evans right now because they have to, and they weren’t expecting to lose Alaric Jackson, David Edwards, Chandler Brewer, and Ty Nsekhe all in the same week. With that said, there’s no reason why Evans should be on this roster or retained as a free agent this offseason.
Allen Robinson, WR
Yes, he caught a short TD reception and ended up with 4 receptions for 47 yards; however, Robinson’s brutal drop on LA’s first possession led to a 3-and-out by the offense and slowed momentum to start the game. You’d expect the big free agent acquisition to be a somewhat adequate replacement for star receiver Cooper Kupp, but Robinson didn’t meet the moment when his team needed him the most.
Darrell Henderson, RB
Henderson has clearly fallen behind both Akers and Williams on the depth chart at RB, earning only 2 carries for 9 yards.
Raheem Morris, Defensive Coordinator
After getting picked apart by backup quarterback Colt McCoy a week ago, LA’s follow up effort was allowing Andy Dalton to have one of the best performances of his long career - 25 completions for 260 yards and 3 TD’s.
It seemed to be more of an execution issue than the Saints taking advantage of Morris playing his corners from depth, and ultimately it falls on the defensive coordinator to get more out of his players.
Jalen Ramsey had a strong stop on third-down early in the game, but gave up a long TD pass to rookie Chris Olave. Taylor Rapp was also out of position on this long pass. Corners get beat from time to time, and Ramsey is still one of the top corners in the NFL - that’s why he doesn’t land on the “losers” list this week.
they seem (watching live) like overall thru game they're mixing covgs. personnel change on that drive including subbing in DK, no Long. just seemed like errors created gaps— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) November 20, 2022
Future of the QB Position
Matthew Stafford’s 4-year $160M contract extension hasn’t even started yet, but after suffering potentially his second concussion in a matter of three weeks it’s time to wonder if he will return to the team in 2023. It’s hard to imagine things getting to this point when the Rams were hoisting the Lombardi trophy in the same calendar year, but LA needs to seriously invest in the QB position.
With the team expected to give the Detroit Lions a top-10 draft pick next year, they should use their second pick (within the top 40 overall) to draft a quarterback. If Stafford returns, the rookie would almost certainly be better than Wolford and Perkins. But if Stafford retires you can allow Sean McVay to hand pick his next quarterback and look towards the future.