The offense led the way for the way for the Los Angeles Rams in their Week 15 victory over the Washington Commanders, and the game grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) confirm as much. LA is now squarely back in the NFC playoff picture and control their own destiny moving into the final stretch of the regular season.
Sunday afternoon’s win over Washington was an important step for a young Los Angeles roster, though the job is not yet finished as they need to take care of business on Thursday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints.
Which individuals stepped up to help the Rams down the Commanders? Let’s take a look into the PFF grades from Week 15:
Top five grades on offense:
1 - Matthew Stafford, QB: 90.4
LA’s signal caller had one of the best performances on the year. As I wrote in “winners and losers” after the game, I thought Stafford had one of his better outings as a Ram in terms of taking what the defense gave him and patiently awaiting his time to strike downfield—and he hit a 62-yard bomb to Cooper Kupp on a Washington coverage bust.
PFF credited Stafford with three big-time throws, which was his fifth game with at least that many. He was not dinged for a turnover-worth play. Most impressive is that his adjusted completion percentage—which accounts for drops, unaimed targets, etc.—suggests this was Stafford’s most accurate outing on the season. He finished at a clip of 87.1% versus his season average of 72.9%.
Stafford finished 25 of 33 (76%) for 258 yards and two scores. He was sacked three times.
How on earth does Cooper Kupp end up this wide open.pic.twitter.com/sd9oDMoXDT— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 17, 2023
2 - Alaric Jackson, LT: 82.0
Important context when assessing Jackson’s and Joe Noteboom’s performances at the bookends is that Washington traded both of their top edge rushers at the deadline earlier this season. Chase Young joined the San Francisco 49ers and Montez Sweat was acquired by the Chicago Bears.
Still, we must give credit where it’s due. Jackson had one of his best games on the season and he’s trended up over the last month—including a stellar outing against Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns. Jackson did not allow a single pressure in pass protection in this contest.
3 - Coleman Shelton, C: 76.6
Deron Payne and Jonathan Allen are a formidable duo in the middle of the Commanders defensive line, so it’s impressive that Shelton fared well with this matchup. He allowed only a single pressure in this game and fared well in terms of run blocking.
4 - Cooper Kupp, WR: 73.2
After seemingly limited by ankle and hamstring injuries at points this season, Kupp is now rounding into form with two-straight 100-yard performances. Something that won’t show up in the box score is his 79.5 run blocking grade, which was second-best to Jackson this week.
He finished with eight receptions for 111 yards including a 62-yard touchdown bomb from Stafford.
5 - Joe Noteboom, RT: 71.0
Noteboom was filling it at right tackle for Rob Havenstein, just as he did last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Noteboom allowed two pressures but still played an important role in creating space for Kyren Williams, who rushed 27 times for 152 yards with a touchdown.
Other notes on offense:
While most of the offensive line graded well (three in the top five above), rookie Steve Avila had a rough performance against Washington and allowed three pressures in pass protection. He finished with a 40.7 overall offensive grade and seemed to particularly struggle in the run game (35.7). The Commanders do have a stout interior front, so this was not one of his easier assignments. Will we see Avila rebound moving forward?
Top five grades on defense:
1 - Ernest Jones, MLB: 87.8
Jones was effective as a blitzer with two pressures and a pass rush grade of 71.9 (third on the team behind Bobby Brown and Kobie Turner this week). His run defense grade of 82.0 with four stops led the way for Los Angeles.
Former Gamecock LB Ernest Jones with a big pass deflection! pic.twitter.com/7AEGT9kwXA— Gamecocks_swag (@Gamecockswag201) December 17, 2023
2 - Bobby Brown, DT: 83.7
Brown has been coming on strong of late and is proving to be a valuable piece of the LA defensive line in his third season. He notched three stops in the run game.
3 - John Johnson, DB: 77.9
Johnson secured a key interception on a tip by Christian Rozeboom. The veteran safety has a knock for picking off passes in key moments, just as he intercepted Joe Flacco and his former team—the Cleveland Browns—a couple of weeks ago.
Johnson was targeted twice in coverage, allowing two receptions for seven yards and the pick.
4 - Christian Rozeboom, MLB: 75.8
Rozeboom fared best in coverage where he earned a grade of 79.1. He was targeted twice and allowed just one reception for four yards. He also tipped the pass that Johnson intercepted.
5 - Quentin Lake, SCB: 74.2
Quentin Lake looks like a keeper in the secondary. This was his first game back after sitting out for a month with a hamstring injury. On the first drive he forced an incomplete pass that led to a three-and-out by Washington. It’s important to note the second-year player is now mostly being utilized as a slot corner than safety. He played 47 snaps in the slot, two as a perimeter corner, and five in the box.
Lake was targeted seven times and allowed four catches, 23 yards, and a touchdown. He had two pass breakups.
Other notes on defense:
Get Terry McLaurin the football…good things happen.pic.twitter.com/YJB5GdcGVc— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) December 17, 2023
Derion Kendrick had a much-discussed poor performance against Washington, especially after Ahkello Witherspoon left with injury and Sam Howell was replaced by Jacoby Brissett. Kendrick especially had issues when matched up against star receiver Terry McLaurin. In total the second-year corner allowed seven catches on eight targets in his direction for 153 yards, two TD’s and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. His defensive grade of 31.0 and the lowest on the team this week.
The Rams had 16 total pressures on Howell and Brissett, though they seemed fairly scattershot and widespread—which usually suggests you are manufacturing pressure. Aaron Donald led the way with four pressures but this was far from his most productive pass rushing performance. Kobie Turner had three. Byron Young, Michael Hoecht, and Ernest Jones each had two.