The Los Angeles Rams ended their two-game losing streak with a thrilling 29-23 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts to even their record at 2-2. LA nearly choked away a monster lead only for one of their top rookies to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the Colts.
Los Angeles has displayed plenty of resilience through the first four weeks of the season and has key contributors from their rookie class to thank for their efforts. Here is a progress check on some notable first-year players after Week 4.
It would appear that I’m back to my weekly rendition of “The Puka Nacua Progress Check”.
Nacua is the best bargain in the NFL and he might’ve already sealed the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. I know that’s crazy to say through a sample size of only four games but I’ve seen enough.
Well I suppose C.J. Stroud of the Texans might have something to say about that. Stroud is on a historic pace in Houston but Nacua easily has to be the frontrunner for the award at this point in time. Imagine that, a quarterback getting bested for a major award. Seems almost unfathomable in today’s NFL.
Following a quiet evening in Cincinnati where Nacua caught five passes for 72 yards, the rookie was back to his old ways in Indy. Puka once again led LA in receptions (9) and yards (163). Nacua’s most important reception of the afternoon came on the final play of overtime where he caught a 22-yard touchdown to send Colts fans home miserable.
First one couldn’t have been sweeter pic.twitter.com/Gg8CeiaDZH— Puka Nacua (@AsapPuka) October 1, 2023
What we’re witnessing out of Nacua this early into his career has been truly special. I know I seem to acknowledge that every week but Turf Show Ramily, we’re watching history unfold before our very eyes each and every week with this kid. How cool is that?
WR Puka Nacua is the 2nd player in NFL history with 100+ receiving yards in three of his first four games and has the most receptions by a player in his first four and first five career games. @AsapPuka pic.twitter.com/H8d0xQgEMz— Los Angeles Rams PR (@TheLARamsPR) October 1, 2023
Puka Nacua puts himself in the history books pic.twitter.com/vNpRZUasnb— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) October 1, 2023
Things are going to get very interesting with Cooper Kupp anticipated to be back in the fold against the Philadelphia Eagles. Will Nacua’s role remain the same or get (slightly) smaller once Kupp returns to the field? We likely won’t know the answer until a week from now.
However, what possible reason could there be to decrease his snaps? Nacua should be seeing the field quite often as one of the team’s top playmakers. With him alongside Kupp, Sean McVay should be salivating over what he gets to work with. It’ll be a good problem to have that’s for damn sure.
- Nacua has rightfully deserved all the press he’s been getting this season but Byron Young has to be in consideration for being one of the team’s top rookies as well. Young continues to be the most consistent pass rusher outside of Aaron Donald. He has recorded a QB hit in every game this year and had at least two in each of the first three games. If you were to only pay attention to the box score, you would think Young doesn’t get to the quarterback very much. Once you watch him on the field, it’s apparent that Young is quietly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Heading into the Colts matchup, the Tennessee product had 13 pressures, trailing only Donald by one pressure. Les Snead absolutely nailed this selection and quite frankly has nailed much of this draft class. I have a feeling Young won’t be managing a Dollar General ever again if he keeps this up.
Most combined sacks + QB knockdowns by NFL rookies through Week 3:— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) September 27, 2023
T-1. Will Anderson, Texans (5)
T-1. Tuli Tuipulotu, Chargers (5)
T-1. Byron Young, Rams (5)
T-4. Jalen Carter, Eagles (2.5)
T-4. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Chiefs (2.5)
T-4. Ivan Pace Jr., Vikings (2.5) pic.twitter.com/7HJs93vBlp
- Kobie Turner has also been a promising pass rusher on the team. Although he made a couple of rookie mistakes against the Colts. One was a roughing the passer call which extended an Indy drive.
Roughing the passer on second-and-20 hurts. Kobie Turner was the one penalized.— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) October 1, 2023
It’s already hard enough to play defense in today’s NFL. Some will say it was a bad call while others claim it was justified. Either way, Turner will take it as a learning experience for what he can and cannot do. Most of which involves simply breathing on the QB but we’ll table my roughing the passer rant for another time. The other mistake was a major whiff on Turner’s behalf. On the play, Colts’ quarterback Anthony Richardson fakes the handoff to running back Zack Moss before throwing a short pass to Isaiah McKenzie. Turner bit hard on a simple fake while trying to plug the gap and stop Moss dead in his tracks.
Again, this should be taken as another learning experience for Turner. Watching the QB’s eyes will go a long way towards determining where the ball is going to go and he has to understand that. What happened on that play was Richardson besting a fellow member of his rookie class. Both of these errors are fixable and nothing to worry about, assuming they don’t become a regular occurrence.
Neither one of these plays should take away from the fact that Turner has done a great job this season. Similar to Young, Turner has been overshadowed in the pass rushing department. He isn’t as consistent at pressuring the quarterback like Young but I have to believe he’ll get there in time. Turner has flashed enough promise through four games that have me very excited about his future.