The Los Angeles Rams were able to enter their Week 9 bye on a high note by winning consecutive games to effectively put an end to their abysmal three-game losing streak.
Unlike in year’s past, the Rams have dealt with their fair share of key injuries thus far in the 2019 NFL season. Although they endured a rough patch early on, their role players managed to step up big in order to help get this team back on the right track.
Los Angeles dug themselves in a bit of a hole by losing to two NFC West opponents and will have their work cut out trying to get back on top of one of the more competitive divisions in the league. Fortunately, they are still in a position where they control their own destiny moving forward at 5-3.
Here are how the Rams have graded by position thus far this season.
Jared Goff has enjoyed quite a roller-coaster season under center that have included some promising highs as well as a few concerning lows. All this has proved is that the 25-year-old is capable of bouncing back from his mistakes rather than getting too hung up on them, which is a good quality for a franchise quarterback to have.
Goff has seen an uptick in usage this year with the Rams’ pass-heavy approach on offense. Although his efficiency leaves much to be desired, he has managed to take advantage of his improved protection upfront by entering the bye week as the league’s leading passer (2,367 yards) on the second-most attempts (314).
Running Back: C-
It is no secret that the backfield has largely underwhelmed through the first half of the season with Todd Gurley essentially taking on a complementary role in the offense. Even head coach Sean McVay‘s efforts to get Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson have fallen short as the Rams are currently 21st in the league in rushing (97.3 yards per game).
Their struggles to establish a consistent run game can be somewhat attributed to a lack of usage and an inability to get a push at the line of scrimmage. Regardless, there is no question that it has had an impact on the overall explosiveness of the offense.
Wide Receivers: A
The Rams receiving corps has undoubtedly been one of the few bright spots of this offense and their performance is likely the reason why McVay has opted to take a pass-heavy approach in most games this season. Cooper Kupp‘s presence was sorely missed down the final stretch of the 2018 campaign, however, he has managed to pick up right where he left off with the second-most receiving yards heading into the break (792).
Unfortunately, this group was dealt a significant blow with Brandin Cooks dealing with his second concussion in a month and a timetable for his potential return is still unknown. This means Robert Woods could very well be tasked with serving as the No. 1 option on the outside moving forward while Josh Reynolds fills in on the other side.
Tight Ends: B
Both Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee has seen an uptick in snaps thanks to McVay utilizing more two-tight end sets on offense. Although they are not a huge part of the game plan, Everett has proven capable of coming through whenever his number is called while Higbee continues to excel as a blocker.
Offensive Line: B-
The offensive line experienced the most turnover this season and it certainly showed early on. Fortunately, Brian Allen finally seems to be finding his footing as this group overcame a rough patch to keep Goff sack-free over the last two games.
Meanwhile, the season-ending injury to Joseph Noteboom left a notable void along the offensive line until it was effectively filled by rookie David Edwards. It is safe to say that he has gotten comfortable playing next to Andrew Whitworth and will look to solidify his status as a replacement.
They will need to stop getting a better push up front if Los Angeles hopes to establish a consistent run game in the second half of the season.
Defensive Line: B
Although Aaron Donald‘s numbers are a far cry from what they were last season, he has still proven to be as dominant as ever by just the sheer amount of attention that he has drawn from the opposition.
Of the 23 sacks the Rams have recorded this season, 15.5 of them came via linebacker. While they can attribute most of their success to the attention that Donald garners up the middle, they have done a much better job of taking advantage of it as of late with Dante Fowler Jr. stepping up in place of an injured Clay Matthews.
Their depth on both the inside and the edge have been a huge factor with Cory Littleton leading the way and it is only a matter of time before they are back to full strength.
The secondary is still trying to find its footing after experiencing some significant turnover ahead of the trade deadline. There was certainly good reason for this after this group was stricken with injuries to add onto their underwhelming play.
Fortunately, the arrival of Jalen Ramsey leaves good reason to believe that there is plenty of room for improvement as they continue to get acclimated with one another. Marqui Christian and Taylor Rapp have done their part to step up and hold down the fort with John Johnson III still on IR.
Special Teams: B-
Greg Zuerlein has hit 7-of-11 field goals while knocking down all of his PATs this season. Interestingly enough, all of his misses have come from 40-49 yards which begs the question of whether or not he is better off taking all his attempts from beyond 50 yards.
Johnny Hekker has struggled to maintain his status as the best punter in the league with a 44.5 average that has been affected by a few botched kicks. Meanwhile, JoJo Natson continues to provide an element of explosiveness with a 9.83 average per punt return, which is good for fifth in the league.
It is always difficult to try and meet the championship expectations the Rams have ushered in over the last couple of seasons. The team is still dealing with some issues on both sides of the ball, however, they showed plenty of signs of resiliency by not pressing the panic button during their three-game skid.
This is a testament to the kind of locker room culture McVay has helped establish. Also, having a veteran like Wade Phillips make adjustments on the fly to keep this defense playing at a high level has undoubtedly paid huge dividends. The time has now come for the offense to start pulling their weight and then some.