The Los Angeles Rams are ready to move on to Week 2 after a forgetful season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and the offensive line were not firing on all cylinders. There were notable performances from Cooper Kupp and Coleman Shelton, but exactly how well did they do?
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 1 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation and grade. As the season continues, I will include an overall grade and the trend of the position group.
*As a change of pace from last year, I have decided to break the article into two separate articles, one focusing on the offense and the other on the defense*
Matthew Stafford: 64.7, John Wolford: DNP, Bryce Perkins: DNP
Matt Stafford did not have a great showing. Which comes as a slight surprise because in his career, Stafford has been very good in September and October to start NFL seasons, combining for 63.7 Completion %, 164 TDs, 69 INTs.
Stafford went 29/41 for 240 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT. His wide receivers did drop four passes, one which was off of Kupp’s hands for a Jordan Poyer interception.
Stafford’s first interception was grossly off target. Higbee ran a 3-5 yard out route but missed towards Higbee’s inside shoulder. The throw was behind Higbee, and he had no ability to get a hand on the football. It was a pivotal turnover as LA had the ball on BUF’s 36-yard line.
Stafford’s second interception was the same no-look throw he made against the Bengals in the Super Bowl. However, the throw was high and off of Kupp’s hands. Upon replay, it seemed like the no-look was unnecessary or at the very least that Stafford could have looked off the defender and then brought his vision to Kupp’s vicinity as he was pulling the trigger. It ended up being the nail in the coffin as LA was on its own 43 with 11:15 left in the 4th quarter, enough time for a comeback.
Overall, Stafford was rusty. He wasn’t helped by his offensive line, but as an experienced quarterback he didn’t allow the game to unfold organically. Kupp is a baller, but the gameplan cannot be to force the ball to him. Stafford has the ability to audible or us pressure beater throws to neutralize a consistent pass rush and when the defense is “protecting the roof” (Cover 2).
Week 1 Grade: D-
Cam Akers: 50.5, Darrell Henderson: 54.8, Kyren Williams: DNP, Jake Funk: DNP
The surprise of the night was Henderson getting the start over Cam Akers. On Friday we learned McVay wanted to see more urgency from his third year running back. Akers only saw three carries and failed to gain a yard. Granted, Akers was hit in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage on all three plays.
As the starter, Henderson gained 47 yards on 13 rushes. He added 5 receptions (5 targets) for 26 yards. He did not have any standout plays.
The Rams will likely need one of the two to step up in pass protection if McVay intends to operate out of the gun so often.
Week 1 Grade: C-
Cooper Kupp: 83.3, Allen Robinson II: 54.3, Van Jefferson: INA, Tutu Atwell: 53.3, Bennett Skowronek: 53.1, Brandon Powell: 69.5, Lance McCutcheon: INA
Kupp was one of two offensive players to finish with a respectable night. The triple crown and offensive player of the year finished with 13 receptions (15 targets), 128 yards, and 1 TD. His footwork on the touchdown was just pure art and demonstrated Kupp’s finesse at the wide receiver position. Despite his impressive stat line, by Kupp’s standards this was maybe an average game. Stafford’s second interception went off his hands, a ball he likely could have caught.
Allen Robinson in his Rams debut was a non-factor, only seeing two targets, catching 1 pass for 12 yards. McVay failing to get Robinson involved was a huge criticism of the media and fanbase. I expect Robinson to see a healthier target share in Week 2, with an earlier emphasis to make him a factor.
Tutu Atwell failed to escape the hole he dug himself in 2021. He was targeted once and dropped a pass that hit him in the chest. Atwell was also only on the field for 7 of the 67 offensive snaps (10%). If the Rams want to stretch the field vertically with a deep threat, McVay will need to get the speedster on the field more than a 10% snap share.
Ben Skowronek as WR3 in place of Van Jefferson tallied 4 receptions (6 targets) for 25 yards. Apparently, the Rams wanted to go with heavier personnel; hence Skowronek’s 88% snap share over Atwell.
I actually liked seeing Brandon Powell used in the offense, specifically out of the backfield (like how SF uses Deebo Samuel). He provides value in a quick passing/screen game with his size and speed.
Week 1 Grade: B-
Tyler Higbee: 57.4, Brycen Hopkins: 64.5
Higbee had an ugly game. I expected more from the Western Kentucky University product. Stafford and he were not on the same page throughout the game. And then on top of that Higbee had two ugly drops.
Hopkins played 4 of 67 snaps (6%). At the very least, I would like to see LA feature 12 personnel 5-10% of their offensive play calls in order to prevent teams from keying on their 11 personnel. Not to mention, Hopkins provides more size up front to block in the run game as opposed to Ben Skowronek.
Week 1 Grade: F
Joe Noteboom: 59.0, David Edwards: 39.4, Brian Allen: 67.6, Coleman Shelton: 67.9, Rob Havenstein: 64.7, Alaric Jackson: DNP, Tremayne Anchrum: DNP
This was one of the offensive line’s worst performances in the McVay era. The majority of the pressure came from the left side of the offensive line. Joe Noteboom, in his first year as the successor of Andrew Whitworth surrendered three sacks. David Edwards, who allowed two sacks and committed a penalty.
Brian Allen was lukewarm at best, giving up a sack. The Rams received negative news on Friday that Brian Allen will miss the next 2-4 weeks because of a knee injury.
Rams center Brian Allen has to have a cleanout procedure on his knee and is out 2-4 weeks. Coleman Shelton will move to center, and Tremayne Anchrum will move to guard.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 9, 2022
I was at least content with Coleman Shelton’s first start at right guard. He kept Stafford clean. He showed hustle and energy on a 4th down conversion; pushing the pile and Kupp in order to pick up a first down.
Week 1 Grade: F
HC - Sean McVay
Point blank, Coach McVay was underprepared for the home opener and his team resembled that as well. His inability to adapt midgame to Coach Sean McDermott’s two high safety coverage and four-man rush was mind numbing. There were rarely any audibles or pressure beater throws, like Buffalo used with Josh Allen (ball was out in 2.2 seconds). Cam Akers and Allen Robinson’s absence from the game plan were surprising, so there is definitely an urgency to get them on the same page with Stafford and the offense. Not his finest day at the office. And sadly, it is his first time under .500 during the regular season as a head coach.
Week 1 Grade: F
Stay tuned for the defensive PFF grades for the Los Angeles Rams roster overview!
Which offensive player (other than Cam Akers) needs to see more playing time in Week 2?
This poll is closed
Tutu Atwell, WR
Brycen Hopkins, TE