The Los Angeles Rams still have three games to play before they hang up their cleats for the year, but the season officially ended with a 12-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers - Sean McVay’s team has been eliminated from playoff contention in 2022.
It’s a far fall from grace for last year’s Super Bowl champions (see omission of word “defending”).
Baker Mayfield brought some energy and magic when he joined the team ahead of the Week 14 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, but the season-long offensive woes proved to be insurmountable. It was an overall lackluster performance by LA’s team in the frigid Green Bay conditions, but there were some players who stood out on an individual level - for good reasons and bad:
Matt Gay, K
In a season where points have been hard to come by, Matt Gay has been consistent and reliable - he continued his strong play by kicking the third-longest field goal in the history of Lambeau Field at 55 yards. It was the longest field goal at the stadium when the temperature is below 25 degrees. Sure, he missed an extra point but that certainly wasn’t the difference in this game.
The Rams’ kicker is 21 of 23 on the 2022 season and 67 of 73 during his time in Los Angeles. His only two misses of the year have come from the 50+ yard range. LA was incredibly fortunate to have their 2020 kicker search end with Gay, but it was probably more luck than anything - he was their fifth kicker that season.
Gay also laid out the Packers’ kick returner to save a special teams touchdown. You don’t see many specialists in the NFL make a play quite like this:
Leonard Floyd, OLB
Floyd’s production in Los Angeles comes with the asterisk that he’s done it next to Aaron Donald, but on Monday night that wasn’t the case - and the veteran recorded two sacks and spent a ton of time in the Packers’ backfield. While there was a point this season it seemed evident the team would move on this offseason, Floyd is making the case he deserves to stick around.
Greg Gaines, DT
Gaines also seems deserving of a chance to return in 2023, though it would take a contract extension and choosing to retain him over someone like DT A’Shawn Robinson. He notched two sacks on Aaron Rodgers, including one to end the half while Rodgers was looking to throw a hail mary bomb.
Michael Hoecht, OLB
After losing contain on the edge of the defense on multiple occasions last week against the Raiders, Hoecht was much-improved in run defense and maintained his effectiveness as a pass rusher. he and Jonah Williams combined for a sack that was negated by a penalty in the secondary, though Hoecht was disruptive throughout the night.
Jalen Ramsey, CB
It seemed the Rams defense spent the vast majority of the game on the field. Even when they were able to get stops the offense couldn’t sustain drives.
Jalen Ramsey set the tone on defense and brought a physicality that was unmatched by any other Rams defender. Yes, there were multiple plays where he was flagged or should have been flagged in coverage, but his play to take the ball away from Aaron Jones is as physical as you’ll see from a cornerback.
Ramsey finished with six total tackles and the fumble recovery.
Cam Akers, RB
There might not be an offensive player that’s had a better last month than running back Cam Akers, which is a surprise considering it seemed the team was willing to throw him into any deal at the trade deadline.
Akers had 12 carries for 65 yards (5.4 avg) and 3 receptions for 35 yards against the Packers. He also notched his longest run of the season at 19 yards. The third-year running back could be on his way to securing the starting job in 2023, though the Rams would be foolish if they don’t at least bring in more depth at the position.
Cam Akers has been one of the few bright spots for the Rams tonight. He's had carries of 18, 8, 19 yards (plus 15 added via penalty) on this drive; 5.9 per carry.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 20, 2022
Tutu Atwell, WR
On the surface it doesn’t seem that Atwell belongs on this list as a “winner” but you can certainly see his potential on an offensive unit at full strength with an offensive line that allows the quarterback to take advantage of his best skill - going deep down the field.
The second-year receiver finished with a single catch for 10 yards. He had a bad drop in the red area with room to run, but he also drew a 40-yard defensive pass interference penalty that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet - at least according to the naked eye.
Atwell should have a much larger role early in 2023 than he did in early 2022.
Rob Havenstein, RT
Brian Allen was injured on the first offensive snap of the game, which meant Coleman Shelton had to shift from right guard inside to center - this slotted in Oday Aboushi next to Havenstein. Tackle play is somewhat determinant by who you play next to, and Aboushi has struggled when he’s been on the field this season. Still, Havenstein had a rough night in pass protection and drew multiple penalty flags.
Matt Skura, LG
Fans have had it with fourth-year lineman Bobby Evans, but Skura is just as bad if not worse. It’s a major liability in the middle of the line when either are on the field.
Brian Allen, C
Allen missed most of the 2019 season with a major injury. Those issues seemed to be behind him when he took over the starting job in 2021 and never looked back, but he’s been in and out of the lineup this season. Allen was injured on the first play of the game with a calf injury and did not return - making the Rams’ investment in him last offseason seem pretty risky at this point. Can he stay healthy?
Russ Yeast, DB
Yeast held the facemask of an opposing player for the better part of five seconds on a special teams play, which drew a flag on a day where there were many. It wasn’t a smart play from a rookie that is hoping to earn the trust of the coaching staff.
Us: “Russ Yeast needs more snaps”— Rams Brothers (@RamsBrothers) December 20, 2022
Russ: *commits longest and most painfully obvious facemask penalty in the history of the league*
Ernest Jones & Bobby Wagner, MLB
It was a rough day for Jones and Wagner - Jones and AJ Dillon were able to create yards after contact and convert on a number of short yardage opportunities. Jones especially struggled early in the game, and then Wagner seemed to fall apart in pass coverage towards the end of the night.
After two impressive games from Wagner, he came back down to earth in this one.