The Los Angeles Rams failed to bottle up the New Orleans Saints offense, surrendering 27 points in a losing effort. After a solid defense effort in Week 9 at Tampa Bay, the Rams have turned in consecutive underwhelming performances. The pass rush only has 22 sacks through 10 contests. The team’s turnover differential is “-7”, having only forced five interceptions and recovering three fumbles. What’s the issue?
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 11 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation and grade of the defensive positions.
Here are the Week 11 offensive grades from Week 11, if you missed them earlier.
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 player is Top 3 at position in NFL
Aaron Donald: 90.9* (+0.6), A’Shawn Robinson: 64.4 (-0.1), Greg Gaines: 61.3 (+3.6), Marquise Copeland: 69.6 (+1.7), Bobby Brown III: 60.2 (-0.4), Mike Hoecht: 71.1 (+6.3), Jonah Williams: 42.4 (DNP)
Aaron Donald was the first one to jog into the locker room after the loss. That should tell you everything you need to know about the status of things. The defense does not scare teams anymore. Colt McCoy and Andy Dalton just put up 54 points in consecutive weeks without blinking an eye. Even McCoy took a jab at McVay after the Cardinals week 10 win.
Colt McCoy: "They finally slowed Aaron Donald down. Did you know we had four offensive lineman out?”— Joanna Cards Fan (@cardsfanjoanna) November 19, 2022
Sean McVay: **OUCH** pic.twitter.com/ZxlLUlVT8n
Every week it’s up to Aaron Donald to do what he can. He makes these plays routinely.
Ryan Ramczyk doesn't have much of a chance trying to cutoff Aaron Donald pic.twitter.com/b1ROixfgtm— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 22, 2022
But LA does not have another defensive end that can rush the passer. Despite Greg Gaines two sacks, the Rams defensive line has not gotten home consistently quick enough to disrupt the opposing passing game. For perspective, LA had the following sacks:
- 2021: 50.0 (3rd in NFL)
- 2020: 53.0 (2nd in NFL)
- 2019: 50.0 (4th in NFL)
- 2018: 41.0 (15th in NFL)
- 2017: 48.0 (4th in NFL)
The Rams are on pace for 38.0 sacks, there lowest in the Sean McVay era. The issue is not the loss of Von Miller or scheme, because the Rams did not have him in 2020 and half of 2021. LA has also used the same scheme since 2020 with Brandon Staley.
Les Snead and Sean McVay will need to get creative on how to rebuild the pass rush because they are set to lose A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines in free agency.
As for the run game, the Rams lost A’Shawn Robinson (knee) to injury in the first half. After he left, the Saints were quick to run the ball between the tackles.
Week 11 Grade: B-, Season Grade: C+, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Bobby Wagner: 90.1* (+1.3), Ernest Jones: 72.3 (-1.4), Travin Howard: INA, Christian Rozeboom: DNP, Jake Hummel: IR, Jake Gervase: 60.0 (DNP)
Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles again with 11 (four solo). Bobby Wagner is doing everything he can to vocally lead the team through this time. You can only hope his leadership rubs off on guys returning next year. LA will need Ernest Jones, Jordan Fuller, Cobie Durant, and a few others to step up into more prominent roles.
Week 11 Grade: B, Season Grade: B+, Trend: Neutral
Leonard Floyd: 69.3 (+3.9), Justin Hollins: 53.2 (-1.2), Terrell Lewis: 47.2 (-1.6), Daniel Hardy: IR
Leonard Floyd registered two more sacks and that’s five in his last four games.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Rams released Justin Hollins. Considering the team is very thin with edge rushers, Hollins release is surprising to say the least. Terrell Lewis will be a starter moving forward.
Daniel Hardy could be activated soon which will add depth to the position.
Week 11 Grade: B-, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Neutral
Jalen Ramsey: 82.2 (-1.9), Troy Hill: 70.6 (-3.7), David Long Jr.: 57.3 (-0.6), Robert Rochell: 58.1 (DNP), Derion Kendrick: 45.7 (-0.1), Cobie Durant: 52.1 (DNP), Grant Haley: 70.8 (IR)
The L.A. secondary was torched by Andy Dalton for three touchdowns. Jalen Ramsey couldn’t keep up with Chris Olave.
Chris Olave TORCHED Jalen Ramsey for the TD pic.twitter.com/Vfs2f5qn5m— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) November 20, 2022
David Long Jr and Troy Hill had poor games with each scoring in the bottom five for the defense. Troy Hill had one missed tackle. One thing I have noticed about this group is that beyond Ramsey, they are not very physical.
Week 11 Grade: F, Season Grade: D, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Downward
Nick Scott: 67.5 (+0.1), Taylor Rapp: 63.9 (-1.7), Jordan Fuller: 60.5 (IR), Russ Yeast: 70.6 (+2.0), Quentin Lake: DNP
Taylor Rapp took poor angles and surrendered a touchdown in the red zone. He had five tackles (three solo) and one pass deflection.
If Weddle is in this position it's 2nd & 7 but we have Taylor Rapp which makes this play another 1st down, our secondary is full of Taylor Rapp's outside of Ramsey, it ain't the coach, it's more the personnel. pic.twitter.com/pxGOgqWzdD— Corey Van Vactor (@CNote_100RR) November 20, 2022
Rapp’s future with the team could be in jeopardy if Quentin Lake is ready. The Rams have opted to cut Darrell Henderson, Justin Hollins, and Kendall Blanton, three players heading into 2023 free agency.
Nick Scott registered five tackles (two solo).
Week 11 Grade: D, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Slight Downward
Riley Dixon: 82.6* (-1.2), Matt Gay: 79.3 (+6.7)
Matt Gay was 2/2 on field goals with a long of 58 yards. Gay increased his field goal percentage to 93.3% on the year.
Riley Dixon punted six times for 286 yards (47.7 avg) with one punt landing inside the 20. Dixon had a tendency to outkick the punt coverage as Rashid Shaheed (NO) had four punt returns for 40 yards.
Brandon Powell had a kick return of 34 yards.
Week 11 Grade: B+, Season Grade: B+, Trend: Neutral
Coordinators - Raheem Morris & Joe DeCamillis
In consecutive weeks, Raheem Morris has put together poor game plans. Quarterbacks like Colt McCoy and Andy Dalton should not be scoring 27 points/week. The defense has not looked malleable, its intended design. Against weaker quarterbacks, there should be an emphasis to blitz and play tighter coverage.
The special teams play has been fair, but there have been a few untimely penalties. This week the Rams had a holding penalty during a lateral trick play, negating a solid return by Jalen Ramsey. Another penalty was a gunner running out of bounds without being forced out.
Week 11 Grade: F (Morris), C- (DeCamillis)
Season Grade: C- (Morris), B- (DeCamillis)
Trend: Moderate Downward (Morris), Slight Downward (DeCamillis)
Is a DL or Edge rusher more important to add?