The Los Angeles Rams hosted the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day and it was a dominant victory. Sean McVay changed things up with the offense for the holidays, using 12 personnel rather than his usual 11 personnel grouping. The Rams did not disappoint their home crowd and the national audience, overwhelming the Broncos with 51 points. Will the change be a more permanent one moving forward?
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 16 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation/grades.
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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*
Baker Mayfield: 53.4 (+2.2), Matthew Stafford: 67.0 (IR), John Wolford: 40.0 (INA), Bryce Perkins: 60.0 (+0.1)
Baker Mayfield’s latest auditioning tape was nearly flawless. The former first overall pick completed 24/28 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Mayfield posted a 124.7 passer rating and 88.2 QBR. Against a defense that was the third best scoring defense entering Week 16 is a positive sign not only for Baker but for Sean McVay’s ability to correct the team’s offensive inconsistencies.
Baker Mayfield since joining the #Rams:— Michael Balko (@MichaelBalkoJr) December 26, 2022
•571 passing yards
Money Mayfield pic.twitter.com/wStIdfJdT4
Week 16 Grade: A+, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Moderate Upward
Cam Akers: 76.0 (+5.1), Kyren Williams: 68.1 (+1.4), Malcolm Brown: 61.6 (+6.6), Ronnie Rivers: 64.6 (+0.1)
All Cam Akers wanted for Christmas (and the 2022 season) was for Coach McVay to give him more touches.
Cam Akers must've wanted TDs for Christmas (via @RamsNFL)pic.twitter.com/pQSSECiKzz— ESPN Los Angeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) December 25, 2022
Akers has turned a mid-season disaster and trade demand into a fresh start. The Rams second rounder has eclipsed 20+ carries for the first time since 2020 in the Wild Card round. McVay’s insistence to give Akers multiple carries in the red zone is a positive change and olive branch by the head coach. McVay has been notorious for dialing up passing plays but giving Akers touches will continue to heal any remaining wounds from their verbal differences earlier in the year.
Week 16 Grade: A+, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Significant Upward
Van Jefferson: 63.1 (-0.9), Tutu Atwell: 74.8 (-3.9), Brandon Powell: 70.4 (-2.3), Lance McCutcheon: 47.6 (-0.1), Austin Trammell: 64.8 (-0.1), Cooper Kupp: 86.3 (IR), Allen Robinson II: 65.8 (IR), Bennett Skowronek: 57.2 (IR), Jacob Harris: 73.7 (IR)
The Rams leading wide receiver was Van Jefferson with 19 yards. However, this was not a game that required the wide receivers to be main playmakers on offense. Last week, I questioned if Sean McVay had lost his innovation and urged that he change the scheme of the offense. With the Rams lacking size on the perimeter after Ben Skowronek joined Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson II, and Jacob Harris on Injured Reserve, using 12 personnel was the right decision.
Tutu Atwell (69% snap share) and Brandon Powell (62%) still saw healthy minutes on the field. Their speed also kept Denver’s defense having to respect LA’s ability to stretch the field horizontally and vertically. Atwell caught both his targets for 14 yards and Powell snagged all three of his targets for 12 yards.
Week 16 Grade: C-, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Neutral
Tyler Higbee: 63.2 (+4.3), Brycen Hopkins: 63.7 (+10.6)
Look at what happens when you use more favorable packages for your tight ends. Tyler Higbee had his best game of the season with nine receptions (11 targets), 94 yards, and two touchdowns. He now has three scores in the last two games. Even though Higbee has underwhelmed in 2022 with seven drops, poor run and pass blocking, and injuries, he is only 158 yards away from setting a career high in receiving yards.
Tyler Higbee is the Rams ALL TIME BEST Tight End!— Chunky Man (@xchunksterx) December 25, 2022
1st In Receptions
1st In Yards
1st In TDs#LARams #higbee
On top of Higbee’s production, Brycen Hopkins had a career best game. Hopkins was the Rams second leading receiver with three receptions and 57 yards. Hopkins (58%) has a great opportunity to play plenty in the final two games with so many wide receivers on injured reserve.
Week 16 Grade: A+, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Moderate Upward
Ty Nsekhe: 71.8 (-0.5), Matt Skura: 51.1 (-1.4), Coleman Shelton: 54.6 (-0.8), Oday Aboushi: 65.2 (-1.2), Rob Havenstein: 72.9 (+2.2), AJ Arcuri: 47.7 (-0.7), Robert Thomas: 60.0, Bobby Evans: 29.8 (INA), 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), Brian Allen: 63.8 (IR)
The offensive line played extremely well with zero sacks surrendered. It was the second game all season that the Rams did not surrender a sack.
What a game for the Rams offensive line yesterday which gave up just (ONE!) hurry in 29 pass blocking snaps per @PFF— HoldenCantor (@HoldenCantor) December 26, 2022
Matt Skura was the only blemish in pass protection for the offensive line all game, giving up one quarterback pressure.
In the ground game, the line opened up easy cutback lanes for Cam Akers and company. The Rams rushing attack ran for 160 yards on 35 attempts (4.6 avg). In the red zone, the Rams converted six trips into five touchdowns and one Matt Gay 30-yard field goal.
Week 16 Grade: A+, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Moderate Upward
HC (Sean McVay)
Sean McVay dialed up his best game of the season, and arguably of his career outside of the KC/LAR 2018 game. It is clear that a Sean McVay offense (and any offense for that matter) operates best with a balanced scheme of run and pass. If Sean McVay can strengthen the offensive line this offseason, the Rams have great odds at returning to the playoffs and making a run at another Lombardi trophy.
Week 16 Grade: A+, Season Grade: C+, Trend: Moderate Upward
Stay tuned within the next 24 hours for the defensive PFF grades from Week 16 for the Los Angeles Rams roster overview!
What position on offense is the most pressing for an upgrade in the offseason?
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