The Los Angeles Rams have been operating in the unknown for the vast majority of the 2022 season. Thursday night was no different as Sean McVay elected to insert Baker Mayfield into the game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders despite only being claimed off waivers less than 48 hours prior. The move paid off as LA snapped a six-game losing streak with Baker Mayfield hitting Van Jefferson on a go-route for the game winning touchdown. In the past two weeks, the offense has performed well considering circumstances. Depth players are emerging, including third-year receiver Van Jefferson. Is Van ready to ascend past being a No. 3 WR and claim a No. 2 role for Sean McVay’s Rams?
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 14 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation/grades.
Los Angeles Rams | NFL news, schedule, and box scores | PFF
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: 67.0 (IR), Baker Mayfield: 53.7, John Wolford: 40.0 (+0.0), Bryce Perkins: 59.9 (DNP)
John Wolford got the start (and ultimately the win based on stat keeping), but Baker Mayfield was the one that propelled LA to a 17-16 upset over Las Vegas. Wolford started the first series for Los Angeles but handed off three times before being pulled from the game. It is still unknown as to extent of Wolford’s neck injury.
Baker Mayfield went 22/35, 230 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. Baker’s first three completions were 21, 22, and 22 yards to Jefferson, Atwell, and Skowronek. After overcoming a shaky second and third quarters, Mayfield went to work in the 4th quarter. He helped lead LA on two touchdown drives, which has been the Rams achilles heel all season. On the first touchdown drive, Mayfield converted a pivotal 4th & 1 on a PA rollout, finding Akers in the flat to barely pick up the necessary yardage. On the final drive of the game, Mayfield started from his own two-yard line, but navigated a 98-yard drive in just 95 seconds with zero timeouts. His final drive was: 5/6, 80 passing yards, and the game winning touchdown throw to Van Jefferson with 0:10 remaining.
2 days preparation. ✅— The Playbook (@genius_playbook) December 9, 2022
New receivers, coach, city. ✅
A struggling #Rams O-line. ✅
98-yard game-winning drive
20% throws into tight coverage
2.75 (s) time to throw
Baker Mayfield's debut for the @RamsNFL. #RamsHouse | #TNF pic.twitter.com/ZIOmDNWLMc
Considering the obstacles of this year and the challenges of this week alone, Mayfield’s heroics for LA easily give the QB room an “A”. And Snead now has a good problem on his hands with a quality quarterback who can backup Stafford or he lets Mayfield walk in free agency to recoup a compensatory pick.
Week 14 Grade: A, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Moderate Upward
Cam Akers: 65.0 (-1.6), Kyren Williams: 66.5 (+0.5), Malcolm Brown: 55.6 (+0.2), Ronnie Rivers: 64.5 (PS)
For another week, Cam Akers (42% snap share) was the lead back for Los Angeles rushing 12 times for 42 yards and a touchdown compared to Kyren Williams (30% snap share) three carries for 19 yards. The performance was up and down for Akers as he ran well for the first 25 minutes of the game, until he fumbled with 4:45 left in the 2nd quarter. The turnover occurred at the Raiders 20 and killed a strong drive by Mayfield and the offense. Akers did make up for his blunder with a crucial 4th & 1 conversion, catching a pass in the flat off a play action, picking up just enough yardage to move the chains. Akers promptly punched in the Rams first touchdown, his fourth on the season.
THREE touchdowns in the the last two games for Cam Akers— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 9, 2022
Kyren Williams’s role has been diminished since out-snapping Akers in Week 11 at New Orleans. There are no signs of the rookie running back have internal conflict about his role. His work in pass protection is the type of running back McVay covets.
Malcolm Brown (28% snap share) saw action with one rush attempt for five yards. He was called upon in the Rams final drive for pass protection but caught two receptions (two targets) for 12 yards.
Week 14 Grade: C+, Season Grade: C+, Trend: Neutral
Van Jefferson: 63.6 (+1.8), Tutu Atwell: 85.0 (-0.4), Bennett Skowronek: 57.3 (+3.3), Brandon Powell: 73.0 (-1.4), Lance McCutcheon: 47.8 (INA), Jacob Harris: 73.7 (DNP), Austin Trammell: 69.8 (+2.6), Cooper Kupp: 86.3 (IR), Allen Robinson II: 65.8 (IR)
Eric Yarber’s young wide receivers have answered the bell the last two weeks. Skowronek (25), Atwell (23), Jefferson (26), Powell (27), and Trammell (24) have found ways to succeed through four quarters, something they were not doing earlier in the year as the third and fourth options with Kupp and Robinson present.
On Thursday, Ben Skowronek was the game’s leading WR in receptions and yards. His seven receptions (eight targets) for 89 yards were highlighted by his 32-yard contested catch on the final drive. Skowronek had been pretty quiet over the last two months but was the unsung hero of Thursday’s win.
Tutu Atwell continues to prove to fans that Sean McVay and Liam Coen got it wrong to start the season. McVay admitted his mistake after the Seattle Seahawks Week 13 loss. In his latest showing, Atwell caught five receptions (nine targets) for 50 yards. He also induced a 41-yard defensive pass interference penalty in the second half. In addition, Tutu had a play or two called back because of holding penalties (notably: Rob Havenstein on a screen play). Tutu’s development in year two has been a breath of fresh air for an organization that didn’t quite hit on higher draft picks over the last three years.
For being a "bust" before ever really seeing the field, TuTu Atwell has arguably been the best Rams receiver over the last three weeks.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) December 9, 2022
Shows before labeling guys as "busts". Let's see what they can do with an opportunity.
Van Jefferson is one of those higher draft picks that Rams fans have been waiting to see ascend the ladder. His game winning touchdown was his 10th career score for Los Angeles. Jefferson had a strong sophomore campaign but has been slowed down in year three because a knee injury (missed seven games) and being without his starting quarterback. Despite the circumstances, he has still found the endzone three times in the last five games. Jefferson also has a current five-game streak of two or more catches. I do believe Van has the ability to be the No. 2 WR for LA. He still needs to work on catching technique as he too often allows the ball to travel too deep. The positive for Jefferson is that he can run the entire route tree. I think a little more time with Stafford in the film room and on the practice field could result in huge production next year. In the meantime, I think Van’s consistency with Baker Mayfield is a great building block.
Week 14 Grade: A-, Season Grade: B, Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Upward
Tyler Higbee: 58.1 (-0.7), Brycen Hopkins: 53.4 (+0.3)
Higbee (95% snap share) and Hopkins (6% snap share) were responsible for just three receptions (four targets) for 19 yards.
Week 14 Grade: D, Season Grade: D-, Trend: Neutral
Ty Nsekhe: 69.4 (+4.2), Matt Skura: 52.7 (+3.6), Brian Allen: 64.9 (+1.0), Coleman Shelton: 58.2 (+4.9), Rob Havenstein: 70.9 (-2.3), Oday Aboushi: 62.8 (+0.0), Bobby Evans: 29.8 (DNP), AJ Arcuri: 48.4, Jeremiah Kolone: 36.1 (PS), Joe Noteboom: 67.0 (IR), Tremayne Anchrum: 60.0 (IR), Alaric Jackson: 64.1 (IR), Chandler Brewer: 70.8 (IR), David Edwards: 58.2 (IR)
To my surprise Coleman Shelton earned the Rams highest offensive PFF grade (82.2) against the Raiders. He committed a (questionable) unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that forced LA to attempt a 61-yard field goal that Matt Gay ultimately missed wide left.
Ty Nsekhe (73.6 PFF game grade) faced off with Chandler Jones for the majority of the game. It seemed as though Chandler Jones got the better of Nsekhe more often than not, but Nsekhe was only tabbed with two pressures allowed.
Matt Skura had his best game with Los Angeles but still is just a temporary option on the Rams offensive line. Skura will likely start at left guard for the remainder of the season since David Edwards did not meet his 21-day activation window.
Rob Havenstein was the weak link for offensive line. Maxx Crosby gave him fits for all 60 minutes. Havenstein earned the lowest PFF grade (49.6) of all the offensive players that saw time. He allowed five pressures, committed three holding penalties, and a sack. This was clearly Havenstein’s worst game of his 13 starts this year.
#Rams OL per PFF:— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) December 10, 2022
LT Ty Nsekhe: 2 pressures, 1 sack
LG Matt Skura: 2 pressures, 1 sack
C Brian Allen: 0 pressures, 0 sacks
RG Coleman Shelton: 0 pressures, 0 sacks
RT Rob Havenstein: 5 pressures, 1 sack pic.twitter.com/1xVenwNIFB
Week 14 Grade: C-, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Neutral
HC (Sean McVay)
The Sean McVay effect still happens even when the team is out of playoff contention and the roster is depleted of injuries. McVay had less than 48 hours to acclimate Baker Mayfield to have a basic understanding of the offense. Not many coaches would be able to do what McVay accomplished with Mayfield in such limited time. To come out with a win and a promising performance from a quarterback who was written off by two previous teams is a serious win for McVay.
In the last 5 years, Sean McVay:— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) December 9, 2022
-Took Jared Goff to the Super Bowl
-Helped Matthew Stafford become a Super Bowl champion
-Just did whatever that was with Baker Mayfield
Gonna go ahead and say that QBs should stop going to other teams.
After suffering through a six-game losing streak, McVay kept his composure to lead the team back into the win column. The locker room moral may have dipped significantly as the team’s playoffs hopes dropped, but McVay kept his group together and still playing with energy and purpose.
Run through a brick wall vibes as Sean McVay dishes out the game ball to Baker Mayfield.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) December 9, 2022
: @RamsNFL pic.twitter.com/JqHKkcTDtR
Week 14 Grade: A, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Slight Upward
Stay tuned within the next 24 hours for the defensive PFF grades from Week 14 for the Los Angeles Rams roster overview!
Will Los Angeles opt to make Van Jefferson their No. 2 WR in 2023?
This poll is closed
Yes, they will trade Allen Robinson at all costs
Maybe, but Allen Robinson will get the first crack in training camp
No, he will stay as the team’s No. 3 WR