The Los Angeles Rams are vastly improved this season. On pace for a record setting turn-around, they held the title as the lowest scoring offense in the NFL. This year, they are the highest scoring offense. What a difference a year makes. Coming off another big win against the Houston Texans, we compare the stats against last year’s game nine.
2016 Rams at Jets
Offense: The 2016 Rams struggled greatly on offense and game nine was no exception. The Rams came away with the win after scoring just nine points, scoring with three field goals and not a single touchdown.
Case Keenum was starting at quarterback for his final start as a Ram. Under Jeff Fisher, he threw for 165 yards and zero touchdowns. He was sacked three times. Todd Gurley had 21 carries for just 64 yards, he also had one reception for eight yards.
The offense combined for a total of 280 total yards. The average gain per offensive play was 4.2 yards and third down efficiency was at a poor 35 percent with the Rams converting 6/17. Even worse was red-zone efficiency, the Rams were in the red zone three times and settled for a field goal all three times. That is a red zone efficiency of zero percent.
Defense: The Defense allowed 296 total net yards. 157 of those yards were passing yards and 139 were rushing yards. Alec Ogletree was the tackling leader with six and also hauled in the lone interception of the day. William Hayes had the lone sack of the day. The Rams held the New York Jets to a 33 percent third down conversion rate. The Jets average gain per offensive play was 5.1 yards.
The Jets didn’t fare any better than the Rams, scoring just six points. They scored a touchdown and missed the extra point.
Special Teams: Always the shining light in the Fisher Era, Johnny Hekker punted seven times for an average of 51.7 yards, including one boomer for 78 yards. Greg Zuerlein went three for three on field goals for all of the Rams nine points.
2017 Texans at Rams
Offense: This year’s Los Angeles Rams are having no struggles whatsoever. They outscored their opponent by 26 points and scored 21 points in the third quarter alone.
Jared Goff had a career high 355 yards along with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Rams signal-caller was sacked three times. Todd Gurley only had 11 carries but he hit 68 yards, he also had six receptions for 68 yards for a total of 136 all-purpose yards.
The offense combined for 443 net yards with an average gain of 6.7 yards per play. Third down efficiency was a below average 37 percent (for this team) and red-zone efficiency was 40 percent.
Defense: The defense allowed 283 net yards, with 194 of those yards coming as passing and 89 rushing. Mark Barron, Trumaine Johnson, and Kayvon Webster each led the defense with 5 tackles. Mark Barron and Blake Countess had each had an interception. Aaron Donald, Samson Ebukam, and Michael Brockers each had a sack on the day. The sacks by Donald and Ebukam both resulted in forced fumbles recovered by the Rams. The defense held Houston Texans to a 33 percent third down conversion rate and the Texans offense averaged 4.4 yards per play.
The Texans offense was rendered useless against the Rams defense who allowed only one touchdown on the day.
Special Teams: Johnny Hekker had limited work with four punts, averaging 42 yards per punt. He also completed one pass on a failed fourth down conversion. Greg Zuerlein was a perfect four for four on field goals and nailed three extra points, accounting for nearly half of the Rams 33 points.
The Rams are clearly improved over last year, one of the largest improvements continues to be the offense. With lots of weapons, it has been a staple of the Ram’s coaches to make adjustments. This team struggled early on offensively, at halftime, the adjustments were key. Having only scored nine points in the first half, the Rams came out and scored 21 points in the third quarter.
The defense was good last year but it is safe to say that under new defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, they are thriving. They have a top five defense, allowing only 18 points per game on average, and the last three games they have only allowed an average of eight. Last year’s defense allowed 24.6 points per game on average.
The importance of special teams is apparent, and Rams special teams are firing on all cylinders. Because the offense is so good, Hekker has seen limited field time. He has punted just 31 times this year. That is about one third of the work he saw last year at the end of the season. Nearly half of those punts pinned the opponent inside their own 20 yard line. He is averaging 47.7 yards per punt and his long is a 67 yarder. Zuerlein is putting in serious work, nailing 28 of his 29 attempts for and incredible 96.6 percent. His season long thus far is a 56 yarder.
This Rams team has improved, and at the pace they are going, it looks to be a record breaking improvement. The Rams will need to continue to improve down the stretch as the schedule continues to get tougher, but rest assured, this team is good.