The Los Angeles Rams suffered a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While there were some strong performances from offensive players like Puka Nacua and the running back duo of Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson, there were several disappointing performances as well. Let’s get into stock up, stock down.
Stock Down: LT Alaric Jackson
Sunday’s game against the Steelers just emphasized the need for a left tackle. Alaric Jackson did not have a good game and at times looked lost on the field. He was consistently caught behind the edge rusher he was responsible for and it led to him giving up six pressures.
Sunday really emphasized the need for a LT this offseason. Jackson much better suited as a sixth-man. His weaknesses are emphasized in a full-time role. Immediately playing catchup here and gives up the sack to Herbig. pic.twitter.com/h0U0T7O9jm— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) October 24, 2023
Simply put, left tackle needs to be the top priority this offseason. The Rams offense can’t run as designed without a premier left tackle and right now, they don’t have one on the roster.
Stock Up: WR Puka Nacua
It seems like every week Puka Nacua is breaking some sort of rookie record. His 752 yards are 310 more than the next-closest rookie wide receiver. It seems like Nacua’s stock can’t possibly get any higher, and yet, most weeks he’s completely dominating opponents.
On Sunday against the Steelers, it was once again a dominating effort from Nacua. He finished with over 150 yards which was a career high. His catch along the sideline was arguably the catch of the season among any wide receiver in the NFL.
Stock Down: QB Matthew Stafford
The issue with Stafford this season is that he lacks overall consistency. He’s shown that he can make the elite throws, but on a down-to-down basis Stafford need to be better and in moments needs to be smarter. His interception to start the second half can’t happen against that Steelers team in which their offense is struggling.
Stafford’s -19.7 completion percentage over expectation was the worst in the NFL for the week behind guys like PJ Walker and Brian Hoyer. He barely completed over 50 percent of his passes. The elite throws will keep you holding on to Stafford, but the Rams need to determine if he’s still a quarterback they can win because of rather than just a guy that they win with.
Stock Up: RB Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson
Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson were fantastic in their debuts. Freeman averaged over five yards per carry and Henderson carried the ball 18 times. They weren’t anything special, but were efficient enough in that Sean McVay could continue running the football.
Big reason the Rams brought back Darrell Henderson was for his ability in pass protection.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) October 24, 2023
Picks up the blitzing DB here which allows Stafford to step up and run for the first down. pic.twitter.com/I4KcwowDXS
It was pretty clear why both guys got the nod over Zach Evans as well. Henderson and Freeman were stout in pass protection. It will be interesting to see if they can continue running as well as they did over the next few weeks. The Rams certainly missed Kyren Williams and his speed, but Henderson and Freeman did enough.
Stock Down: CB Derion Kendrick
We’ll likely be having this conversation about Derion Kendrick several more times this season. In one aspect, he has been good at points. However, it seems like once per game he gives up a back-breaking play that puts a sour taste in your mouth about his future outlook.
He was PFF’s third worst cornerback in coverage in Week 7 and gave up 22.3 yards per reception. It was a tough week heading into the game with Kendrick dealing with his legal situation. With that said, a case could be made that he shouldn’t have played. Kendrick has cost the Rams more than once this season and Sunday likely won’t be the last time.