Los Angeles Rams Week 1: Positional Grades vs Cowboys

Los Angeles Rams Week 1 Report Card: Positional grades vs Cowboys

  • 2020 NFL Season
  • aaron donald
  • Jared Goff
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • NFL
  • Sean McVay
By Raul Corona September 15, 2020 0 Comment

The Los Angeles Rams opened So-Fi stadium with a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys to start their 2020 NFL season. It was a tough matchup against a talented team that has some of the best playmakers in the league.

This game was a true test that gauges the Rams’ potential for this season. The Cowboys are expected to make the playoffs and this game will likely have playoff ramifications going forward.

Let’s look at how each positional group fared against the Cowboys:

Quarterback

Jared Goff played an outstanding and intelligent game without making big splashy plays. The gameplan required him to throw short completions and spread the ball out, which he did. When asked to throw deeper passes he was right on the money, like that 31-yard pass to Jefferson on the left sideline.

As predicted, when the Cowboys started bringing more pressure in the second half, things got difficult for Goff but he still managed to keep his poise. The interception was ugly but it was also a blatant hit to the head. The numbers might not reflect it but Goff had a great night.

Grade: A

Running Backs

The three-headed backfield is a reality. Malcolm Brown played on 60% of the snaps and was very effective in short-yardage situations. Running hard between the tackles with solid ball security. Cam Akers played on 33% of the offensive snaps and showed flashes of promise moving forward. Darrell Henderson played only 5 snaps yesterday but managed to pick up a difficult first down with an amazing second effort. He will only continue to get better. The three running backs combined for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad at all.

Grade: A

Offensive Line

The big uglies dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the game. They allowed the running backs to get consistent yards on the ground and pushed the Cowboys defensive line back at the point of attack.  They looked in sync for most of the game and there were no injuries. The only thing that kept them from having a perfect game was the pass protection on the second half of the game which allowed consistent pressure and a sack on Goff. Not to make excuses, but they played one of the top defensive fronts in the league and still kept Goff clean for most of the game.

Grade: A

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee caught 3 passes for 40 yards and looked exactly like the play-maker we saw during the final 5 games of the 2019 season. Gerald Everett had one reception for 7 yards in which he looked great but also dropped an easy pass in the third quarter. He left the game with a minor back injury.

Higbee, Everett, and Johny Mundt really shined last night when they were asked to block and help contain pass rushers. Their contributions to the running game helped the O-line dominate the game.

Grade: B

Wide Receivers

Robert Woods stole the show in the first quarter, catching screens and running jet sweeps. He finished the game with 105 yards receiving and 15  yards rushing. The rest of the unit also saw some action but had limited targets due to the game plan called by Sean McVay. Cooper Kupp caught 4 passes for 40 yards (including a vicious stiff-arm).  Van Jefferson had a nice catch down the sideline for a 31-yard gain and showed that he will be a reliable deep threat going forward. Josh Reynolds only had one catch for the day but it was a huge one that set up a touchdown for Malcolm Brown.

Grade: A

Offensive play-calling

Sean Mcvay’s still got it. He came up with the perfect gameplan to handle Dallas’ talented group of pass rushers. He made sure Goff released the ball quickly and kept the defense guessing with misdirection plays. There were a couple of questionable calls on third and short but the offense still made it to the red zone five times during the game and won the Time of Possession 35:38 to 24:22. The only thing that needs to get better is red-zone efficiency. Los Angeles should have been up by 14  for most of the game.

Grade: A

Defensive Line

Aaron Donald is unbelievable. He dominated whoever was in front of him for most of the night. Zack Martin could not contain him and Donald was only limited when double-teamed. Both Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day were really stout against the run and held Ezekiel Elliot to 96 yards. Brockers and Donald both got a sack and brought the heat during the last drive to seal the game. Even Morgan Fox stepped in and made an important tackle.

Grade: A

Linebackers

Micah Kiser, Samson Ebukam, and Leonard Floyd played most of the snaps yesterday with Kenny Young coming as a second ILB in some situations. Tackling was a problem and the slippery Elliott made them look silly with his TD reception. The first half did not look good for this group, with Ebukam and Floyd being practically a non-factor in pressuring Prescott.

However, in the second half, and after some adjustments, they found their footing. Floyd sacked Dak Prescott during that final drive, Kiser started piling up sacks and even Jachai Polite pitched in with a key pressure.

Grade: C

Secondary

Jalen Ramsey did not shadow Amari Cooper for the whole game and gave up some completions, but his statement tackle on Cooper was a game-changing play that fired up the defense. Darious Williams and Troy Hill also held their own for most of the game and did not give up big completions. Most of Dallas’ completions came from short and intermediate routes.

John Johnson and rookie Jordan Fuller played a great game and when they came down to the line of scrimmage the Cowboys offense stopped abusing the linebacking corps. The play of the game was  Jordan Fuller’s tackle on Cee Dee Lamb in crunch time.

Grade: B+

Defensive play-calling

Brandon Staley is for real.

His defense held a top 5 offense to 17 points. Quite a debut.

Yes, they did surrender 380 yards and 24 first downs, but still got the job done with a recently rebuilt defense and no training camp. His adjustments at half-time proved to be correct and his game plan allowed him to unleash Donald on the injured Cowboys offensive line to great effect. The pre-snap looks he gave the Cowboys offense were fundamental in keeping Prescott on his toes. This unit will only get better and yesterday sealed the win for the Rams

Grade: B+

Special Teams

Sam Sloman started his career with a 29-yard missed field goal, but then rebounded and converted the next two from 31 and 35 yards respectively. His kickoffs were for the most part short and will need addressing as the season goes on. Cooper Kupp could not return any kicks but that probably a good thing. Having one of your star wideouts in one of the most injury-prone facets of the game is not ideal. Perhaps we could see Nsimba Webster against Philadelphia?

Team Grade: A+

The Los Angeles Rams team effort is what got the win. Exemplified to perfection by the final 4 minutes of the game with the offense taking some time off the clock, the always superb Johny Hekker punting it deep inside Cowboy territory, and the defense stopping Mike McCarthy’s offense to seal the win. Complimentary football at its best.

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