The Los Angeles Rams opened up the brand new SoFi Stadium by hosting the Dallas Cowboys. Overall the game was exciting and well played by both teams ending with a Rams victory. No preseason means this is the first time fans get to see their team. Week one is always a surprise with how the players and team will do. The team as a whole was sharp, with a great gameplan put together by Coach Sean McVay. It is difficult to find fault in the play or temper excitement after a single week of evidence, but we are here to do just that.
RB Malcolm Brown
Malcolm Brown no longer has Todd Gurley in front of him, but he is still in a crowded backfield. The narrative up to this point has been that he will get the goal line carries while the other two heads of the RB room would be the main carriers getting the bulk of the work. For the first game that was most definitely not the case. While he did get those goal-line carries, for two touchdowns, he also finished with 79 yards on 18 carries. Brown should toughness, tackle-breaking ability, and excellent vision finding holes in an exceptionally stout defensive front of Dallas. He did not start, but he got the majority of the carries and made the most of them.
S Jordan Fuller
To many, it was surprising to see Safety Jordan Fuller starting alongside John Johnson III. He did NOT disappoint! The 6th round pick from Ohio State put on a show. He had 8 tackles and an incredible 4th down stop on WR Ceedee Lamb; winding through traffic and making a highlight-reel play. He has, by all accounts, had a tremendous training camp and it showed on the field. Fuller is an intelligent player being an academic All-American, and he demonstrated his ability to diagnose plays at the NFL level. It is a tremendous start for the young safety.
ILB Kenny Young
Kenny Young got the start due to the season-ending injury of Travin Howard. He has been quiet since arriving from Baltimore and not much noise was made at training camp. Add to that, the late pick up of Justin Hollins and there was thought that he would be another sideline viewer. In the game, he actually did well showing quick pursuit and an urgency to his play. He made five tackles and two were unassisted. They weren’t huge numbers but he still performed well. Kenny Young didn’t have much stock, to begin with, and his play is why he is here, for at least week one.
The offensive line as a whole has to be mentioned. Dallas has put together a really scary defensive front and the O-line held up admirably. Besides the pass protection, being physical in the running game was a big factor in the win. Andrew Whitworth and company moved the pile backwards on a consistent basis helped in part by long drives and 52% third-down efficiency.
In training camp, this line was decided on early in the process with the idea that cohesiveness as a unit if highly important. In 2018 the Rams had this with a line that never changed, and in 2019 that was not the case thus a huge step back. There are a lot of questions regarding this group, but it was a good start and hopefully, the line will continue to work as one and end up possibly being a strength once more of this team.
S Taylor Rapp
Safety Taylor saw little action in the game. He has been nursing a bad knee and missed most of training camp. The 2nd year player saw some special teams work and did get in on defense late in the game. That said, the decision to go to Fuller was not based solely on protecting Rapp’s knee rather it was the outstanding work done by Fuller. This was the deciding factor in Rapp’s low profile in week 1.
Given he and John Johnson’s name were constantly spoken in the same breath it was surprising to see how removed from the starting role he was. Brandon Staley likes to use his DBs in all sorts of ways so Rapp’s talents could be used in different formations mixing up who will cover and who will be keeping the offense guessing.
K Samuel Sloman
The 7th round rookie kicker was a surprise winner of the three-way competition held at camp this year. It was a bit head-scratching as to why he was won out. The argument was that his last week of camp he did not miss a kick (although no media saw this), and the man they are calling the Kosher Canon could kill it on kickoffs, limiting any type of return. Samuel missed his first kick. a deafening doink in an empty SoFi from 29 yards out.
He did connect on the next two, although Cris Collinsworth covering the game noted how low the kicks were going, the line drive variety. Hopefully, he will get that fixed and increase the trajectory of his field goals. On top of his miss, he had one of his kickoffs returned. Again, the main reason he won the competition was to help prevent that from happening. Chalk it up to week one rookie jitters.
RB Cam Akers
Cam didn’t necessarily have a bad game, it just wasn’t one for the ages. He was known at Florida State for running behind a horrendous line, and yet still producing. He had 14 carries for 39 yards, giving him a 2.8-yard average alone with 1 catch for 4 yards. Pretty ho-hum numbers. To his defense, those carries were mostly straight forward. The opportunities were limited but with Malcolm Brown having the hot hand the 2nd-round pick had to take somewhat of a back seat. There is a lot of promise with him, and he did start, but the performance was a bit underwhelming. Not bad, but underwhelming.