Well, this week the Rams lost a heart breaker after making a massive comeback. Down by 25 pts, climbing in by impressive play, and having the lead, they eventually gave it up on a late Josh Allen touchdown throw. This happened after a questionable pass interference call and a hard to sallow converted 3 and 22 by the Bills offense. It was one of those “tale of two haves” type games and an exciting roller coaster one at that. Maybe with fortune favoring both teams, it could be a Super Bowl preview. This week we have a pretty good assortment of both rising and – unfortunately – falling stock.
RB Darrell Henderson
Continuing his rise from last week, Darrell Henderson is having a really good start to the season. He was the star back in this week’s matchup even with having equal playing time with Malcolm Brown. Showing incredible vision, burst, and determination he ate up chunks of yards. Ending with 114 yards on 20 carries he was the bright spot in a so so Rams first half and continued into 2nd half with a goal-line TD.
A side benefit of him doing so well is that there is no rush to return RB Cam Akers back from his rib injury, especially with the Rams playing two very winnable games against New York and Washington. Even when Akers is back in the lineup, it will be tough to take away carries from Henderson if he continues to perform and stay healthy; there is no reason why he shouldn’t do just that.
TE Gerald Everett
Gerald Everett had a low snap count about 41%, probably due to the rams relying on the 11 personal for a good portion of the game. He did, however, when in have 2 catches for 34 yards. Both catches showed his athleticism and a good pair of hands. He was limited in both the first week and last with a back injury he suffered in the 1st week against Dallas. It was nice to see him mix it in with TE Tyler Higbee and being yet another option for QB Jared Goff.
Gerald Everett had been almost in the realm of an afterthought. Higbee’s success and the looming free agency kind of put him in the shadows. Although it wasn’t a monster game by any stretch of the imagination his game against Buffalo showed he is still a very good target and chess piece for McVay and company.
The whole line needs to be given the love they deserve. Andrew Whitworth and gang opened holes for Darrell Henderson and sans one drive kept Jared Goff upright. G David Edwards had a particularly good game and I believe he should be there even when Joseph Noteboom gets healthy as he is by far the better player at that position. Rob Havenstein has returned to his pre-2019 form. All the big fellas up front are giving Goff plenty of time and the running game has been top-notch.
I think it’s fair to say that a big question mark pre-season from across the board was how would this line perform. They have answered with being one of the best units in the young season. Couple this with the fact that they have faced pretty daunting challenges in the defensive fronts from all three weeks and it makes their success even more impressive. As far as stock goes, buy buy buy!!!
Half Time Adjustments/Sticking with the Plan
Yes, that is oxymoronic but hear me out. The coaching staff in all three games this year, particularly on defense has been tremendous in making half time adjustments to dominate the 2nd half of games. Here, the trend continued. Being down by a score of 21 – 3 the coaches made the necessary changes to stifle Josh Allen and get the offense in the endzone. After an early 3rd qtr touchdown not much of anything happened for the Bills offense until, unfortunately, the last questionable drive.
The second half of that equation was head-coach Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell kept to something most thought they would abandon being down by so much. I am of course speaking of the run game. Last year it seemed McVay would get a bit too pass-happy when down in games. Here there was no panic button pushed, instead RB Darrell Henderson was continuing fed the ball and continuing to roll out big chunks of yards. This kept the Bills defense, again a very good unit, in check and off-balance at times allowing the comeback to happen. It was encouraging to see the mix of play continue on no matter what the score and seeing the results of TD after TD.
Hopefully, there won’t be too many more instances of getting behind by so much but its good to know the staff has the utmost confidence in its players to make the plays and stick with the plan. It would be nice to see maybe quicker adjustments before half more so on the defense to change up the scheme if needed. That said the adjustments and ability to not hit the Def Con 5 button and go full aerial when things get hairy are both well noted and appreciated.
OLB Samson Ebukam
To be blunt he needs to be changed to inside to use his athleticism as his play on the edge has been absolutely ugly! Last week I mentioned the whole line not getting pressure and unfortunately he is a big part of the reason why. I believe he is dead last in ranking in his position, getting stymied by TEs, and no threat allowing opposing QBs to be way to comfortable. I have been noticing a lot of running to his side as well and it’s being effective as he is just getting crushed. He came to camp in great shape has the desire, but the results are dismal and if he continues to play a big part at the edge position it is going to be a huge liability.
The upcoming week Terrell Lewis is allowed to play and may take over. Whether this happens or not there needs to be a reimagining of what to do with that position. Aaron Donald Can’t do it by himself, well even that is debatable, and with the attention, he gathers there is no excuse for the edge players not to get some quality pressure on the QB. I would love nothing more then to put Samson on the stock up section but I doubt that will happen soon if nothing changes.
CB Troy Hill
Since Troy Hill has been moved to slot he has struggled. Not only did his assignment get a lot of catches, getting beat by 31-year-old WR Cole Beasley, but he also missed a ton of tackles. It could be he is thinking too much being moved to a relatively new position and it seems and therefore reacting a bit late. A bit late in this league is all you need to have a bad day. To his defense there seemed to be a bit of miscommunication going on which led to a lot of wide-open catches for the Bills, but the missed tackles and catches per target don’t help him.
He seems better suited to the outside receiver position, and maybe as he gets more comfortable he will be back to the form he had at the end of 2019. If the struggles continue it is possible Terrell Burgess might see time there as he was particularly good when at Utah. Although that may also depend on S Jordan Fuller’s injury.
ILB Micah Kiser
Last week’s NFC defensive player of the week almost disappeared. Racking up 4 tackles only 1 solo he was not in the mix. The knock-on Kiser is his coverage ability. Not sure if it is being out of position or straight up skill set but a lot of chasing was being seen while the Bills target was getting the ball. He is good against the run game, but continuing to have issues covering TEs and RBs in the middle.
He is an incredibly intelligent player so there will be some self-diagnosis and better decision making and play recognition. Consistency, as they say, is the key.
I lost count how many times I saw the Rams Defense slip on plays. It was windy but dry so no idea why it was happening but for some reason player after player kept losing their footing. Michael Brockers lost his on a big down almost falling completely down. Sadly on the very last play, the aforementioned Micah Kiser slipped allowing Bills TE Tyler Kroft to grab the game-winning touchdown. It was crazy how many times it happened. Maybe the ghost of Thurman Thomas – yes I know he is alive – was pulling on their feet, who knows.