The Los Angeles Rams narrowly defeated the New York Giants on New Year’s Eve, 26-25. While the Rams didn’t win the fashion that many would have expected, the important thing is that they did get the result and clinched a playoff spot. Rookie defensive lineman Kobie Turner entered Aaron Donald territory with his performance which was arguably the best of his career. Here is this week’s stock up, stock down.
Stock Up: DL Kobie Turner
Turner absolutely dominated at the line of scrimmage against the Giants. The Rams rookie had 10 pressures which is the most for any Los Angeles defensive player this season. He also had a career-high 2.5 sacks to bring his season total up to nine which leads all rookies.
Turner’s nine sacks ties Aaron Donald’s rookie franchise record for the Rams back in 2014. That doesn’t mention how well he’s been against the run this year as well. Turner is entering special territory and has been a perfect complement next to Donald on the defensive line.
Stock Down: C Coleman Shelton
There have been times this year where Shelton has been fine. He hasn’t been great, but he’s been a passable starting center. Wink Martindale threw every stunt possible at the Rams on Sunday and they struggled to defend it. A lot of that responsibility lies on the center.
It will be interesting to see how the Rams address the offensive line this offseason. They certainly will need a center and it can be argued that an upgrade at left tackle would also be beneficial. Sunday showed that while Steve Avila and Kevin Dotson are bright spots at guard, there is still a hole in the middle.
Stock Up: WR Puka Nacua’s Rookie of the Year Case
Heading into the final stretch of the season, CJ Stroud led the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. However, over the last few weeks, Nacua has possibly taken the lead. The Rams rookie once again made a big play when the offense needed him to make one. Nacua turned a standard 12-yard catch into an 80-yard catch and run, fighting through contact.
Puka Nacua should be the OROY, imo.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) December 31, 2023
I don't even really think it's close.
This may come down to whether or not Nacua breaks the record. He’s four receptions shy of the receptions record and 29 yards shy of the receiving yards record. If Nacua breaks either of those, especially the yard record that has stood for 60 years, he should win the award.
Stock Down: CB Ahkello Witherspoon
Witherspoon has been a pleasant surprise this season. With that said, it seems as if every week he’s giving up an explosive play. Sunday’s game against the Giants was no exception. Witherspoon was targeted seven times and gave up five receptions, including an 80-yard touchdown.
As it stands, Witherspoon in a bargain for what the Rams are paying him. He’s been exactly what they’ve needed, giving them size on the outside. However, that conversation changes when his price tag likely goes up this offseason in free agency. The Rams can’t be giving up explosive plays on the outside and in three games this year he’s given up a reception for 45 yards or more and gotten lucky with misses from the quarterback in a few others.
Stock Up: Rams Game Luck
Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. The Rams were certainly lucky on Sunday against the Giants. A big play given up by Cobie Durant was called back due to a holding penalty. Tyrod Taylor barely missed a wide open Saquon Barkley on a two-point conversion where he would have walked into the end zone.
On top of that, Mason Crosby missed a 54-yard field goal in the final minute that would have won the game. That’s the same Mason Crosby that the Rams signed before the Baltimore Ravens game before cutting him less than a week later. Los Angeles got the win and that’s all that matter.
Stock Down: Special Teams
The Rams special teams unit isn’t just bad. It is historically bad. According to DVOA, the Rams have the sixth-worst special teams unit ever. They are three times as bad as any other special teams unit this year.
The LA Rams now have the 6th-lowest special teams DVOA ever. The Rams are at -9.8%. No. 31 Patriots are -3.4%. Rams are almost 3x as bad as any other ST unit this year. #RamsHouse pic.twitter.com/P7KjAl697K— Aaron Schatz (@ASchatzNFL) January 1, 2024
Is that players or is that coaching? The Rams special teams unit was completely overhauled this offseason. With that being said, Chase Blackburn didn’t particularly have good results in his past stops. The answer is a little bit of both, but with a historically bad special teams unit, McVay may be looking for yet another new coordinator this offseason.