EDITOR’S NOTE: These position grades reflect the Rams’ game Nov. 4 at New Orleans; NOT Nov. 11 vs. Seattle. Those grades will be posted later in the week.
By Josh Waitsman
The New Orleans Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season, putting the Rams record at 8-1. This loss could potentially have playoff implications, because the Saints now have the head-to-head tiebreaker. If both teams end the year with the same record, the Saints will end up with the higher playoff seed.
The only knock of Jared Goff’s performance was an interception late in the second quarter that allowed the saints to score seven more points before the half would end. Other than that Goff played very well and racked up just under 400 yards to go along with three touchdowns. He excelled in this game at threading the ball through defenders, and putting his receivers in great position to make a catch. Grade: A-
There is are two main reasons the Rams had 19 running plays compared to 40 passing plays. The first? The offensive line blocked extremely well in the pass and the second is the Saints fantastic run defense. Overall this was a mediocre game for the O-line as they because despite their good pass blocking they struggled to help Todd Gurley get much done in the run game. Grade: B-
Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks both played well and, Cooks had a nice 48 yard catch that would set up a touchdown later in the drive that he would end up scoring. The biggest storyline was the return of Cooper Kupp, who had missed two games to an injury. He hauled 41 yard touchdown that tied the game in the fourth quarter. Grade: A
Todd Gurley only had 68 yards and a single touchdown in this game which is much lower than what he has been used too this season. He was still effective when he had the ball as he averaged 5.8 yards per carry. Backup running back Malcolm Brown continues to impress in his limited playtime, and could probably be a starter for a few needy teams. Brown had a very good 18 yard touchdown that involved some tip-toeing on the sideline. Grade: B
This was easily the best game all season for Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. They combined for 5 catches that totaled 88 yards. Higbee started the game in a big way by catching Goff’s first pass and taking it for 33 yards. Everett also had a key 20 yard catch with seconds left in the in the first half that would set up a field goal. Grade: B
There were no sacks in this game, and very little pressure on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. In fact, the only player who even managed to hit Brees was Aaron Donald. The run defense was just as bad. The signing of pro-bowl tackle Ndamukong Suh was supposed to bolster the defensive line, but so far it has not yielded much results. Grade: D
Similarly to the Suh signing, the October trade for Dante Fowler was done in hopes that it could improve this linebacking unit, so far it hasn’t. The burden if rushing the quarterback also falls on the linebackers, and they need to step up. They also missed several tackles in the run game, and were one of the main reasons New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara ran as well as he did. Grade: D+
Brees put up 346 yards and four touchdowns as he scorched this secondary the entire game. Cornerback Marcus Peters looks like a shell of his former self. With less than four minutes it was Peters’ blown coverage on 72 yard touchdown to Michael Thomas that stopped the Rams from having a chance at a comeback. Grade: D
Punter Johnny Hekker only had one punt, but it was a beauty. Blake Countess was reliable in kick returns as well. Kicker Greg Zuerlein had an uncharacteristic miss early in the game that would have given the Rams a better chance late in the game had he made it. Grade: B
The offense looked very good for most of the game, but the defense really held the Rams back. In the playoffs the Rams won’t face many bad offenses, so defensive coordinator Wade Phillips need to figure something out quick. Grade: C-
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org