Rams Week 17 report card: Grading every position vs. Cardinals

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Cameron DaSilva
·5 min read
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The box score doesn’t tell the whole story of how the Rams played on Sunday against the Cardinals, but it does give an indication of which side of the ball played better. Very clearly, the defense shined by allowing only seven points and scoring nine points of its own, while the offense had its struggles, particularly in the red zone.

Breaking it down further, we graded each position group on the Rams from Week 17, beginning with the quarterback spot and John Wolford. Here’s our Week 17 report card.

Quarterback: B

John Wolford was good, not necessarily great. He did enough for the Rams to win this game, and that was without getting much help from the running game, his receivers or his offensive line. Gerald Everett dropped a touchdown pass, Cam Akers fumbled at the goal line and the offense as a whole committed five penalties inside the Cardinals’ 26-yard line. Wolford’s 287 total yards shouldn’t be ignored, nor should his ability to extend plays and make throws downfield. The stat line wasn’t eye-popping, but Wolford played well.

Running back: C-

This group struggled mightily on Sunday, outside of Akers’ 38-yard reception and Malcolm Brown’s 12-yard run on third-and-11. Akers rushed for 34 yards on 21 carries and fumbled at the goal line, a mistake he called “very immature.” He did contribute in the passing game with 52 yards receiving on four catches, but the ground game did very little to help Wolford – something Sean McVay said himself after the game.

Wide receiver: C+

Van Jefferson was targeted a team-high eight times but only caught four passes for 50 yards. His false start penalty in the red zone also killed the Rams, costing them 5 yards in a key spot. Robert Woods caught four passes for 36 yards, but 27 of them came on one play. Josh Reynolds’ 29 yards ranked fourth on the team, with a long of 12 yards. It was neither a great nor poor game by the wide receivers, but rather just an average one that also included a costly false start by Jefferson.

Tight end: C-

Wolford looked Everett’s way often, giving him a chance on a few deep passes. One should’ve been caught for a touchdown, while another throw downfield also could’ve been hauled in if Everett fought back to the ball more; it was slightly underthrown but absolutely catchable. Everett was also called for offensive pass interference, which was declined. Tyler Higbee caught three passes for 41 yards, 26 of which came on a throw down the sideline against Cover 2. Not a terrible performance, but one that came with missed opportunities due to Everett’s shortcomings.

Offensive line: C

Rob Havenstein had a lot of trouble in this one, committing two bad penalties – both of which came inside the 26-yard line. The first was a false start on second-and-10, while the second was a holding penalty at the 25 on second-and-11. His hold was offset by Isaiah Simmons lowering his helmet to initiate contact, but it negated a 6-yard gain by Wolford. Havenstein also allowed a sack to Markus Golden. Austin Corbett was even worse in the penalty department, committing two false starts inside the red zone. It was not a banner day from the offensive line.

Defensive line: A+

Without Michael Brockers, the defensive line was still a wall. Aaron Donald had two tackles for loss, Morgan Fox had a sack, A’Shawn Robinson drew the holding penalty that led to a safety and also blocked a field goal. The Cardinals rushed for fewer yards than Wolford did on his own, holding Kenyan Drake to 36 yards on 10 carries. This group performed admirably despite being somewhat short-handed.

Inside linebacker: B+

Troy Reeder led the team with six tackles, but more importantly, there were no glaring mistakes by the linebackers in this one. The Cardinals didn’t do much of anything on the ground and their running backs were mostly held in check as receivers, too. Reeder and Young did a nice job in this one.

Outside linebacker: A-

This group continues to exceed the expectations that were set at the start of the year. Leonard Floyd finished with 10.5 sacks after recording one on Sunday, which also resulted in a forced fumble. Samson Ebukam had two sacks of his own, too, with Derek Rivers adding a tackle for loss and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo hitting the quarterback once. The Rams turned up the pressure a notch on Sunday and it was in part thanks to this unit.

Cornerback: A+

It’s hard for a cornerback group to play much better than the Rams’ did this week. Jalen Ramsey broke up four passes and helped keep DeAndre Hopkins grounded, Troy Hill broke up two passes, including a pick-six, and Darious Williams didn’t allow much of anything. It helps that the Cardinals played Chris Streveler most of the afternoon, but the secondary gave up next to nothing in coverage.

Safety: A

Jordan Fuller and John Johnson continue to play at a high level. Fuller made five tackles in the game, and Johnson’s four tackles were all solo stops. There were no real standout plays, though Fuller did make a diving pass breakup that didn’t count due to an illegal shift by the Cardinals.

Special teams: B+

Surprisingly, Johnny Hekker was the weak link on special teams, averaging only 44.4 yards per punt with one of his five kicks downed inside the 20. Matt Gay made all four of his kicks and A’Shawn Robinson blocked a 37-yard field goal to maintain the Rams’ 11-point lead.