clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rams week 14 defensive grades: Greg Gaines leads 2nd half dominance

Greg Gaines caused disruption without Aaron Donald in the lineup

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last month, the Los Angeles Rams defense had struggled to contain opposing offenses. Quarterbacks like Colt McCoy, Andy Dalton, and Geno Smith all looked like MVP candidates despite being below average talents. Through the first half of the game against the Las Vegas Raiders, it appeared Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs would control the game flow. However, the momentum of the game shifted when Greg Gaines pushed the pocket and forced Derek Carr to throw a floated pass into the outstretched hands of Ernest Jones. Was Greg Gaines the main catalyst of the defense’s second half success?

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 and grade of the defensive positions.

If you have not read the Week 14 offensive grades, click here.

Los Angeles Rams | NFL roster by position | 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 player is Top 3 at position in NFL


Aaron Donald: 90.5* (INA), A’Shawn Robinson: 64.4 (IR), Greg Gaines: 61.2 (+4.7), Marquise Copeland: 65.8 (-1.7), Bobby Brown III: 81.8 (+1.3), Jonah Williams: 48.9 (-6.8), Earnest Brown IV: 63.5

The storylines entering Thursday night were centered around Josh Jacob’s leading rusher status. However, Los Angeles narrowly kept him under 100 yards, limiting his production to just 3.7 yards per carry on 27 rushing attempts. Bobby Brown III did a fantastic job in limited action of winning along the interior. For the second straight week, he finished in the top-5 for the defense’s PFF grades.

But Greg Gaines was the difference maker. The Washington Huskey had six tackles (three solo), two pressures, and a quarterback hit that led to Rams first interception. We have seen how good Gaines can be with Aaron Donald in the lineup, but this was the first time we were able to see Gaines’s effectiveness without a three-time defensive player absorbing double and triple teams.

I’m not sure what type of deal Gaines will command on the open market this offseason. Sebastian Joseph-Day cashed in a lucrative deal despite having limited pass rushing ability. Gaines figures to warrant more money but is he a scheme fit for other teams? The trouble becomes LA fitting his contract into a tight budget when players like Marquise Copeland, Bobby Brown III, and Jonah Williams continue to develop and warrant more playing time. I think Aaron Donald would like to have at least one of Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson return. This offseason will be trying in more ways than one for Les Snead...

Week 14 Grade: C+, Season Grade: C+, Trend: Neutral


Bobby Wagner: 90.7* (+0.3), Ernest Jones: 66.8 (+0.4), Travin Howard: INA, Christian Rozeboom: 61.2, Jake Hummel: IR, Jake Gervase: 60.0 (DNP)

Once again, Wagner was the standout on the defense. Wags had a whopping 14 tackles (six solo) and was flying around from sideline to sideline. In the third quarter, the inside linebacker had a huge third down stop on a scrambling Derek Carr, knocking him out of bounds a foot shy of the first down marker. With 2:38 left in the game, Copeland and Wagner stuffed Jacobs on a 3rd & 1 to give the Rams the ball back and ultimately win the game.

Ernest Jones was the benefactor of the Rams first turnover. He picked off Derek Carr in the Rams end zone, preventing the Raiders from scoring before halftime. This was one of his stronger games this year despite a limited box score of five tackles (one solo).

Week 14 Grade: A, Season Grade: A-, Trend: Slight Upward


Leonard Floyd: 67.6 (-0.2), Terrell Lewis: 46.1 (DNP), Mike Hoecht: 64.1 (-7.2), Daniel Hardy: 40.9 (-20.6), Keir Thomas: 68.6 (+18.8)

Raheem Morris’s defense struggled to contain the edge in the first half. Josh McDaniels dialed up a few reverses that Michael Hoecht failed to keep containment, resulting in Mack Hollins rushing for 40 yards on three carries. On a positive note, he did have the final pressure and QB hit on Carr that forced an interception to Taylor Rapp.

Thomas (15% snap share) received a longer look and performed well, collecting the Rams only tackle for a loss.

Week 14 Grade: D-, Season Grade: D, Trend: Slight Downward


Jalen Ramsey: 80.4 (-1.8), Troy Hill: 69.9 (+4.5), David Long Jr.: 53.1 (INA), Robert Rochell: 58.1 (DNP), Derion Kendrick: 45.8 (DNP), Cobie Durant: 60.0 (-2.1), Grant Haley: 70.8 (IR)

Jalen Ramsey was beat over the top twice by Davante Adams, though Adams only finished with three receptions for 71 yards.

Troy Hill started on the outside and Cobie Durant got his first start at the nickel. Hill did not allow any receptions on the evening, receiving a grade of 83.2.

Week 14 Grade: C, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Neutral


Nick Scott: 59.8 (+0.2), Taylor Rapp: 70.3 (+4.0), Russ Yeast: 54.5 (+3.0), Quentin Lake: DNP, Jordan Fuller: 60.5 (IR)

Taylor Rapp had one of his top-5 career games, only allowing one reception for our yards and securing the game sealing interception.

Nick Scott chipped in four tackles as the other starting safety, while Russ Yeast (12% snap share) added one tackle.

Week 14 Grade: B-, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Slight Upward

Special Teams

Riley Dixon: 83.5* (-1.3), Matt Gay: 87.8 (+4.5)

Matt Gay was only 1/2 on field goal attempts, but he connected from 55 yards and missed from 61 yards.

Riley Dixon punted three times for 156 yards (52.0 avg) with one punt inside the 20 and one touchback.

Las Vegas did a good job of bottling up Brandon Powell on kick returns, utilizing a short kickoff each time. Powell only managed 18.3 yards per return.

Week 14 Grade: B+, Season Grade: A-, Trend: Neutral

Coordinators - Raheem Morris & Joe DeCamillis

After a shaky first half, Raheem Morris managed to shutdown Josh McDaniels in the second half. Derek Carr only passed for 11 yards in the second half. Josh Jacobs failed to eclipse the 100-yard mark. Overall, it was a significant improvement compared to the previous four games.

DeCamillis could look to improve the team’s kick return blocking after Las Vegas exploited a weakness.

Week 14 Grade: A- (Morris), A- (DeCamillis)

Season Grade: C (Morris), A (DeCamillis)

Trend: Slight-to-Moderate Upward (Morris), Neutral (DeCamillis)


What should LA do with the defensive line in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Re-sign Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson
    (66 votes)
  • 64%
    Re-sign Greg Gaines and promote Bobby Brown III to starter role
    (155 votes)
  • 7%
    Let Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson walk in free agency (receive 2024 Compensatory picks) and draft DE in Round 3 of this year’s draft
    (19 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now