With another impressive win in week 10, we’ll take a look back at the performances of individuals and put them in a grading tier. The lowest grades will be saved for outstandingly bad play, but we will take a look at all of the good, the bad, and the ugly from each game.
Greg Zuerlein – With the Rams’ offense scoring like it has been it’s easy to overlook the efforts of Greg “The Leg” Zurlein. No other kicker has more than 25 attempts while Zurlein has 29, meanwhile, his 28 made attempts are six more than any other kicker. As we head into week 11, Zurlein’s 28 are already a career high, and with his previous season’s high of attempts sitting at 31, Zurlein is almost certain to smash that with the way the offense is operating. Early on in Sunday’s game showed why having a kicker of this caliber is so important, as they headed to into halftime with a two-point lead courtesy of Zurlein’s leg. The offense wasn’t the only thing that got better when head coach Sean McVay got to L.A., because Rams fans wouldn’t be calling him “Mr. Automatic” like McVay did after his 7-7 performance in Dallas. It’s safe to say that if the Rams offense were like year’s past, we’d be talking about a kicker as an MVP.
Robert Woods – Since 2015, there have been five players to record a touchdown of 90 or more yards, Woods was the fifth one to do so after beating cornerback Johnathan Joseph for a 94-yard score. Woods was constantly beating one of the best coverage corners in the league on Sunday, but if you had not seen Joseph play before, you wouldn’t have thought that, as Woods made it look easy. Over the last two weeks Woods has 241 receiving yards, four touchdowns, and a 20.1 yard per reception total. He is first in yards by 29, first in touchdowns by two, and the only player in that two-week span to have at least 20.0 yards per reception with double-digit receptions.
Aaron Donald – Nothing new here, Donald has continued to impress despite seeming like he has done it all. He forced, yet again, a fumble while recording his fifth sack in his last four games. His five sacks now lead all at his position since week six, while his six sacks on the season are only one shy of the league leader, oh yeah, he missed the first week of the season. Donald was constantly bringing pressure to the quarterback and nothing says that more than two distinct plays. The first was when his hand was basically blocking quarterback Tom Savage’s pass like a basketball, his hand met the quarterbacks as it came forward and it was like the ball hit a wall. The second play was when he made Savage hesitate, on a three-step drop. He literally took three steps and was supposed to unload it but Donald was so fast he had to bring his hand down and hesitate, leading to a sack for Michael Brockers.
Michael Brockers – Playing more as a 3-4 End in Wade Phillips’ defense has been a great fit for Brockers, after playing mostly defensive tackle since entering the league in 2012. He now has three quarterback sacks after notching another in week 10, which is tied for the third most he’s had in an entire season in his career. He continues to be the best run defender on the team and even when he isn’t getting to the quarterback, he’s getting his hands up. Brockers batted yet another pass bringing his season total to three, his most ever in a season and one off of the leader at his position.
Offensive Line – Quarterback Jared Goff was sacked twice on Sunday against the Texans, and none of those were on the offensive line. One would be credited to tight end Tyler Higbee, while the other goes to the quarterback himself for holding the ball and not getting rid of it. A lot of the success of quarterback Jared Goff can be attributed to the offensive line who has been responsible for only eight of the 13 quarterback sacks this season, after they allowed him to be sacked 18 times in seven games in 2016. Goff is getting quicker at making it through his progressions, but when he’s taking a little longer, it’s the offensive line that is making those big plays a possibility. On his 94-yard bomb to Robert Woods, right tackle Rob Havenstein gave just enough time for Goff to get it off before Jadeveon Clowney turned him into turf.
Jared Goff – Like I said before, Goff can still take too much time to get rid of the ball as he makes it through his progressions, but he’s getting quicker. He started slow against a defense that came out on fire and put him under pressure early. He made a bad decision when rolling right and deciding to throw the ball with a defending barreling down on him, which was tipped and could have easily been take back to the house since they were backed up in their own end. The good news is that most of the bad play happened in the first half of the game. After coming out of the locker room, Goff threw three touchdowns and set a new career high in passing yards after setting it just the previous week.
Mark Barron – Barron grabbed an interception at a very important time, the Texans were threatening to score and bring their lead to a two-score lead. He dropped into coverage and read the quarterback’s eyes before jumping in front of his pass to crush a lot of the Texans’ hopes of getting up and taking over. His one blemish that came in coverage was where Bruce Ellington scored, and before the play Barron was trying to communicate with his fellow linebacker while he was in coverage. Barron is far and away having his best season in the NFL and has quieted all doubts there were about him playing the inside linebacker position.
Todd Gurley – Though it seemed like a quiet day for Gurley, he was doing what he was asked to do, and then a lot more. He averaged his highest yards per carry of the season with 6.2 and caught six of his seven total targets in the passing game, with one blemish coming on a dropped pass. Gurley was the second highest targeted player in the Rams’ passing attack and was much of the only thing going for the offense in the first half. For me, Gurley’s most impressive play came when quarterback Jared Goff moved him to the front left of him for a blitz that he knew was coming and Gurley absolutely stuffed the blitzer, while Goff got it off for a completion. Gurley is becoming an unbelievably well-rounded player, giving opponents headaches figuring out how he will be used on a weekly basis.
Tyler Higbee – After putting on a string of impressive performances, Higbee had an ugly game against the Texans. Though it was Jadeveon Clowney, Higbee allowed his quarterback to be sacked deep in their own territory. This came Gurley seemed to have finally gotten something going on the play prior, getting them out of their own five-yard line. They ultimately punted deep in their own territory on the drive, but avoided potential disaster with how the Texans’ defensive line was playing. Higbee also dropped one of his three targets while hauling in the other two for only 22 yards. Salvaging his day was his run blocking, which opened up holes on the edge and allowed Gurley to get to the second level where secondary doesn’t usually fare well against the Rams dynamic back.
The Rams were yet again very impressive in their seventh win of the season. They will now go on the road and look to get their eighth win of the season, something they have not done since 2004. Their opponent, the Vikings, is also 7-2 on the season and this will be the first time in a long time that a game past week 10 will have playoff implications for the Rams. Also up, the Rams look to bring their road record to 5-0 (6-0 if you count their “home” game in London). In order to win this game, the Rams will need to stay disciplined as the Vikings like to use a lot of misdirection to keep their opponents on their heels. They will likely see a familiar face in Case Keenum under center, so look for that and see if it changes anything the Rams do based off of prior knowledge.