After 10 weeks of the NFL season, the Rams sit with a 7-3 record. The bye week comes at a good time for the Rams, after being demolished by both the Titans and the 49ers in primetime.
Here's how we grade out each position group as the Rams enter their bye week:
The start of quarterback Matthew Stafford's season was one that saw him enter his name into the early MVP race. With 22 touchdowns across his first eight games, the Rams offense was humming along before the last couple of games brought the offense back down to earth. Overall, Stafford has been as good as advertised, allowing coach Sean McVay to open up the playbook fully – something he was unable to do with Jared Goff. The bye week is quite timely for Stafford, whose recent performance may have been hindered by an ankle and back injury suffered in the Week 8 win over the Texans. Nonetheless, it allows Stafford time to make adjustments after throwing four interceptions over the last two games. Stafford currently ranks No. 1 in the NFL in passing yards, fourth in quarterback rating, and third in touchdown passes.
With Cam Akers tearing his Achilles before the 2021 season, Darrell Henderson was tasked as the bell cow in Los Angeles. Still, the Rams needed depth and brought in former first-round pick Sony Michel before the season began. This season, Henderson has looked solid, appearing in nine of the Rams' ten games and averaging 4.7 yards per carrying. Henderson's usage has dipped in the past weeks, with the Rams being forced to play from behind and heavily relying on the pass.
Michel has seen just limited opportunities, serving as a reliable second running back for the Rams. Michel has been on the field for 28% of the Rams' offensive snaps, far below Henderson's 75% snap share.
These two will carry the Rams down the home stretch. Akers has teased a potential return on social media, but whether the former second-round pick returns this season or not remains up in the air.
Cooper Kupp's historic 10 games have helped take the Rams offense to one of the NFL's elite. Kupp has been masterful, leading the NFL with 85 catches, 1,141 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has cemented himself as an elite NFL wide receiver, and his connection and chemistry with Stafford show no signs of slowing down.
Robert Woods had a slow start to the season, and Woods had finally turned a corner, posting either a touchdown or 70 receiving yards in each of his last six games. Unfortunately for the Rams, Woods suffered a torn ACL in practice last week, ending the season prematurely for one of the team's most reliable receivers.
Van Jefferson has emerged as a viable target in his sophomore season. The 25-year-old receiver has already surpassed last season's totals in both receptions and yards and will be a large part of the Rams passing attack with Woods out.
Odell Beckham Jr. started his Rams career with just two catches for 18 yards as he adapts to the Rams' offense. It will be interesting to see Beckham's involvement when the Rams return from their bye.
Kupp is mainly carrying this group and with Woods now missing the rest of the season, a lot of pressure will be put on Beckham and Jefferson to help maintain the offense.
One of the more disappointing positions for the Rams has to be tight end. Tyler Higbee looked like he could take a potential leap forward with Stafford joining the ship. Instead, Higbee has only scored three times on the season while exceeding just 50 yards in one of the 10 games.
The season-ending loss of Johnny Mundt has been a notable blow as the team has primarily restrained from using any of their backups following the loss to their No. 1 blocking tight end.
Kendall Blanton, who appears to have moved into the second-string tight end role, saw action Monday night, hauling in his first pass of the season. Overall this group has not stood out amongst the rest of the Rams pass catchers.
Games are won in the trenches, and the Rams offensive line has been holding their own this season. Except for the last couple of weeks, where the offensive line looked overmatched by the Titans and 49ers' defensive lines, the Rams have had one of the best units this season. Before Week 10, Pro Football Focus ranked the Rams offensive line as the fifth-best unit in football. The line led by Andrew Whitworth, has kept Stafford upright, for the most part, this season. Whitworth has only allowed seven pressures this season, the second least by a tackle on the field for at least 250 pass-block snaps.
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It has been another excellent year for Aaron Donald, who continues to be an absolute force on the defensive line. His ability to change the game from the defensive tackle position is unmatched amongst players in the league. Donald so far has posted six sacks, nine tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits.
The Rams have turned to Greg Gaines, who's filled in at nose tackle for Sebastian Joseph-Day. Gaines has looked overmatched at times but has posted a very nice season per PFF, giving him a 79.1 grade on the season.
A'Shawn Robinson has yet to post a sack this season but has been a force in stopping the run. He put together his best statistical game against the 49ers, posting eight total tackles, four of which were the solo variety. Robinson will be critical to stopping opponents' rushers.
This group has helped to put the Rams in numerous top 10 categories, including sacks and opponents rushing yards per game.
With Leonard Floyd and Von Miller rushing the quarterback from the outside linebacker positions, this group should put plenty of pressure on the quarterback. But, where they are struggling is against the run. While Floyd is on a career-year trajectory with 7.5 sacks through 10 games, he and the other rushers off the edge haven't been able to put it together in stopping the run. In two of the Rams' three lopsided losses opposing teams have rushed for over 150 yards.
After the trade of Kenny Young to the Broncos – who was the Rams' best run defender at linebacker – they've turned to rookie Ernest Jones and Troy Reeder to fill the void, who've been just subpar at best.
Specifically, one area that stood out in the Week 10 game against the 49ers, was how San Francisco targeted only the middle of the field as Jimmy Garoppolo never threw the ball outside the numbers. He strictly threw to pass-catchers over the middle of the field – attacking the Rams inside linebackers – exploiting L.A.'s greatest weakness.
Jalen Ramsey has been lockdown, as expected in the Rams secondary. The 27-year-old has posted three interceptions this year while cementing his place amongst the league's elite and becoming arguably the best cornerback.
Opposite of Ramsey has been somewhat a revolving door. Darius Williams and Robert Rochell have both flashed in spots but have been relatively inconsistent this season.
Probably the biggest surprise this season on the backend has been third-year player Taylor Rapp, who's collected a solid season with 47 tackles and two interceptions. Meanwhile, strong safety Jordan Fuller has shown the making of being an elite safety in the league for a long time to come.
Matt Gay has been quietly one of the most reliable kickers in the league, converting on 18 of 19 field goal attempts and 29 of 30 extra points.
As for punter Johnny Hekker, who returned after reconfiguring his contract this offseason, has averaged a career-low 43.1 yards per punt, ranking him 32nd among the 36 qualified punters.
Punt and kick returns have been a struggle for the Rams this season. Tutu Atwell averaged 5.4 yards per punt return before suffering a shoulder injury that will cause him to miss the rest of the season. Jake Funk, Ben Skowronek, J.J. Koski, Buddy Howell and Kupp have all taken reps as the deep man on kickoffs and punts, but the Rams have struggled to find a consistent returner.
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