The Los Angeles Rams suffered their second-consecutive loss this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. LA’s defense came out firing on the opening drive but Dallas did just enough to keep the drive alive and ultimately Dak Prescott found TE Jake Ferguson in the end zone for the touchdown.
It was virtually all down hill from there for the Rams. Matthew Stafford tossed an inexplicable interception deep in LA territory that the Cowboys returned for an easy touchdown. Rookie Ethan Evans had a punt blocked that gave Dallas another two points on a safety. And generally Prescott moved the ball with ease throughout the day—finishing with four touchdowns in one of his best efforts of the young season.
The bad news was all over the place for Los Angeles. Do the PFF grades tell the same story?
Top five grades on offense:
1 - Ben Skowronek, WR: 78.6
Benny Skow caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Stafford. That was his only reception on the day. He played only five total snaps.
2 - Matthew Stafford, QB: 75.5
Somehow PFF did not credit Stafford with a turnover-worthy play after his egregious throw that resulted in a pick-six, which likely inflates his grade. He recorded no big-time throws in this effort after entering the league entering the game. Stafford was pressured on 37.5% of his drop backs, which is a high mark but we’ve seen quarterbacks still be effective in such an environment. It’s nearly impossible to play quarterback when the pressure creeps up towards 45-50%.
3 - Royce Freeman, RB: 69.9
Freeman scored LA’s lone rushing touchdown. He played a complementary role to Darrell Henderson and finished with nine rushes for 44 yards and the aforementioned score. Freeman had an admirable 73.8 pass blocking grade.
Royce Freeman TD! Rams get on the board before halftime. pic.twitter.com/RS5bVqJiLI— Jonathan Reyes (@InsideherJay) October 29, 2023
4 - Alaric Jackson, LT: 68.5
5 - Coleman Shelton, C: 68.3
Coleman Shelton and Joe Noteboom led the team with four total pressures allowed. Rookie Steve Avila had three at left guard. Alaric Jackson and Kevin Dotson were the best pass protectors against the Cowboys and allowed only two pressures each.
Shelton had the best run blocking grade on the line, which likely bolstered his overall mark.
Other notes on offense:
Brett Rypien, who earned a 39.6 grade overall, had 10 dropbacks in replacement of an ineffective and injured Stafford. He was under pressure 40% of the time. Tyler Higbee dropped a long pass downfield that would have improved his box score stats of 5/10 (50%) for 42 yards.
If Rypien has to start multiple games in place of Stafford, the Rams offense may be in trouble.
Top five grades on defense:
1 - Quentin Lake, SS: 74.8
With Cobie Durant playing more often outside, Lake has taken over the role of slot corner (‘star”) and nickel defender. The second-year safety had an impressive day in coverage by allowing only four receptions for 15 yards and a passer rating of 62.2 on seven targets. He also had a pass breakup. Unfortunately, Lake was also flagged for an illegal contact penalty on the opening drive that allowed Dallas to maintain possession and eventually score a touchdown.
2 - Larrell Murchison, DT: 69.5
Murchison earned an impressive 75.2 mark in run defense on 26 snaps.
3 - Ahkello Witherspoon, CB: 69.5
While Ahkello Witherspoon allowed a 25-yard deep touchdown to Brandin Cooks late in the game, he was otherwise solid throughout the day. He allowed five receptions on seven targets for 68 yards and a passer rating of 141.7. He also recorded a pass breakup.
4 - Russ Yeast, DB: 67.1
Yeast’s grade is bolstered by pressuring Dak Prescott once on three blitz attempts. He was not targeted in coverage and recorded one run stop. Yeast, Witherspoon, and Jordan Fuller all played 65 defensive snaps.
5 - Kobie Turner, NT: 65.0
The Rams didn’t have much of a pass rush in this game. Michael Hoecht and Aaron Donald led the team with three pressures, and Turner was in lone second/third place with two. The rookie has consistently graded among the top performers on defense week in and week out this season.
Other notes on defense:
CeeDee Lamb TD— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 29, 2023
Cowboys 26, Rams 3 pic.twitter.com/5GsO73x1gF
Reserve corner Duke Shelley played only six coverage snaps but still allowed two receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown score. This is particularly discouraging because the Rams were trying to keep struggling Derion Kendrick—who allowed six catches on seven targets for 66 yards and a touchdown—off the field. Cobie Durant moved from the inside where he typically plays to the perimeter, but he suffered an injury and played only 12 snaps.
Is it time for the Rams to roll out rookie corner Tre Tomlinson?