The excitement surrounding the new NFL season turned to disappointment late Thursday night when the Buffalo Bills closed out the opening game against the Los Angeles Rams 31-10.
Aside from Cooper Kupp, LA never got much going on the offensive side of the football. Quarterback Matthew Stafford lacked a sense of urgency in the pocket - taking 7 sacks and frequently putting the ball in harm’s way. The offensive line struggled, and left guard David Edwards was the weak link in Week 1.
Top 5 grades on offense:
1 - Cooper Kupp, WR: 83.3
He’s the most consistent wide receiver in football, and still in the conversation for the best overall receiver. His top grade should not come as a surprise.
This TD grab by Cooper Kupp is absolutely ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/OwlbEGgWre— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 9, 2022
2 - Brandon Powell, WR/KR: 69.5
Beware of a small sample size here - Powell logged only three snaps on offense. He was given a hand off for three yards and caught a 10-yard pass.
3 - Coleman Shelton, RG: 67.9
4 - Brian Allen, OC: 67.6
5 - Rob Havenstein, RT: 64.7
Shelton is the only Rams offensive lineman that graded out better in pass protection (70.9) than run blocking (63.5). It’s encouraging to see the dependable Rob Havenstein maintain his level of performance after earning a three-year contract extension from the team.
Other offensive notes:
Joseph Noteboom was solid in the run game (73.3 run blocking grade), but struggled in pass protection (44.7). David Edwards graded similarly in run blocking, though he earned a 6.9 failing grade in pass blocking. The right side of the offensive line played well according to PFF - and the left side needs to fare better moving forward in order to give Stafford and the offense a fighting chance.
Analytically-inclined analysts would tell you that sacks are mostly a QB start - and pressures get blamed on offensive linemen. Sure, the offensive line struggled in pass protection, but did Stafford and the offensive scheme do everything they could to deal with the pressure?
Top 5 grades on defense:
1 - Ernest Jones, ILB: 91.2
Jones was a force against the Bill’s ground attack (93.8 rush defense grade). A forced fumble bolstered his tackling grade (80.3).
It’s notable that PFF credited him with allowing 5 catches on 5 targets for 27 yards. The Rams had trouble forcing incompletions and getting off the field on third down.
2 - Nick Scott, DB: 85.2
The best safety on the field for LA Thursday night was clearly Nick Scott. He was physical at the point of contact and played sideline to sideline - earning a run defense grade of 92.7. Scott also forced a fumble, according to PFF.
He was targeted once but did not give up a completion in pass coverage.
3 - Aaron Donald, DE: 81.7
Donald recorded 4 total pressures and a sack, though Josh Allen getting the ball out quickly on a consistent basis mitigated the effect of the Rams’ defensive line.
Aaron Donald makes it look easy— PFF (@PFF) September 9, 2022
( @NFL) pic.twitter.com/utHhvgLWhC
4 - Marquise Copeland, DE: 78.9
He was in for only 8 snaps, but this is an encouraging sign for LA’s depth along the defensive line.
5 - Troy Hill, CB: 76.5
Hill’s return shows just how important he’s been to the secondary over the last several years - and he was probably the Rams’ best corner against the Bills.
Including his impressive interception where he jumped a route to the slot receiver, Hill was targeted 6 times and allows 4 receptions for 43 yards (traditional QB rating of 87.5)
Troy Hill with a nice break on the INT. That’s 2 picks for Allen before halftime.— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) September 9, 2022
Bills have 8 rush attempts so far (they ranked 13th in rush att last year)
Other defensive notes:
Jalen Ramsey struggled in pass coverage, and PFF credited him as allowing 5 receptions on 6 targets for 103 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a traditional QB rating of 158.3 (maximum rating).
One of the biggest concerns on the roster heading into the regular season was at edge defender - and Justin Hollins’ and Leonard Floyd’s performance did not do much to alleviate those concerns. Hollins was the Rams worst graded defender at 31.6 and Floyd was the second-worst at 37.7. Terrell Lewis was the 7th-best graded defender at 68.5 - and he recorded an interception on a bobbled pass by the receiver.