Los Angeles Rams: Post-Week Fourteen Stock Up, Stock Down

by Jason Tyra
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The Los Angeles Rams had a convincing 24-3 win over the New England Patriots.  The Patriots, a team the Rams lost to in the Superbowl was rolling along including a 45-0 win in the previous week against the Los Angeles Chargers.  The Rams pretty much dominated throughout the game on offense, defense, and their special teams were not a hinderance, if not spectacular, against a vaunted New England special teams unit.  With the win there was a lot of positive to talk about and a few players who stock is on the rise.  With every light there is a bit of darkness so lets so who’s stock is rising and who’s went down a peg or two.

Stock Up

ILB Kenny Young

Kenny Young has been quiet for most of the year.  He has made the least amount of noise in a highly touted defense.  This game changed all that, for at least a week.  He had 8 tackles to lead the team including a tackle for loss and a sack.  On top of that he had a pick six!  Kenny Young had himself a game and was flying around.  He was a very much active part of the defense.  In fact his pick six probably changed the complexion of the game.

After a wonky interception off a Robert Woods bobble the defense was put in a bad position.  Cam Newton was trying to do a screen pass.  Aaron Donald held up the running back just enough to throw off the timing.  Kenny Young jumped in the way of the pass and took it 79 yards to pay dirt.

Whether or not he is able to keep up a semblance of this production will be up in the air, but it is good to know that he has the ability to be a cog in the defensive machine and not an after thought.

DL Michael Brockers

Playing alongside his more well known teammate Michael Brockers doesn’t get a lot of media attention.  That said he has had a pretty productive year.  Against the Patriots he had a high profile game.  Alongside his 5 tackles he had 2 tackles for loss and  2 sacks, .5 more than Aaron Donald.  He was a big reason the Patriots were only able to get 3 points.

Almost losing him to Baltimore in the offseason, his presence and leadership is undeniable.  During his press conference he mentioned how impressed he was of the offensive line.  Not only is he talking up and getting the most of his defensive teammates he is making sure the entire team is becoming one.  I suspect he will continue to have great games and get the most out of his fellow Rams on either side of the ball.

RB Cam Akers

Cam Akers has shown up on the stock up portion a couple times, but mostly for his protentional.  What he could be this year and beyond.  Well this was a coming out game.  He was the bell cow of the backfield getting almost all the touches of the 3 backs.   He ended up with 171 yards on 29 carries for a 5.9 avg and adding 2 catches for 23 yards.   His average per carry would have gone up but the Rams were trying to run out the clock and his last few carries were up the middle and not a lot of mix with pass or stretching the sidelines.

Before that he was gashing the Patriots defense getting big chunks of yards with every carry.  Seemed like he was getting close to 10 yards every time he touched the ball and that is outside his big runs of 25 and 35 yards.  He had incredible vision, nimble feet and the ability to follow blocks and cut off when opportunity showed itself. He had a dominating performance and looks like he will be the top back from here on out.

Coach McVay stated he isn’t abandoning the running back by committee approach, nor should he.  Darrell Henderson can be explosive himself and Malcolm Brown can get those tough yards and passpro.  That said, Cam Akers is showing the hot hand of late and is brimming with confidence.  I suspect that the ratio from here on out will definitely lean heavily towards him.

WRs Blocking

The Rams are blessed with a group of receivers who can destroy defensive backfields and gather up impressive stats.  One stat that doesn’t show up is their blocking ability.  Cooper Kupp has stated that the group enjoys blocking almost more then catching passes.  There is a big sense of pride knowing they are helping out their team in the ground game alongside their strong receiving game.  Against the Patriots they were putting helmet on helmet and doing an excellent job allowing Cam Akers to get the day he had.

Their is a theme within the team, We not Me.  Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and rookie Van Jefferson are the epitome of that phrase.  Enjoying doing the dirty work more than the glory stats if it means the team will win is not terribly common within receivers, but these guys are not the divas.  They truly want everyone on the team to excel and do their best.  A great group among a collection of great groups.  Should the Rams stick with a heavy run attack expect the Rams receivers to be throwing down and continuing to have their non stat side stock be on the rise.

Stock Down

Returner Nsimba Webster

Last week Nsimba Webster had a fumble on a punt deep in Rams field.  It seems that the effect of that has carried over.  He seemed unsure of himself and therefore had little in return yards.  On top of that was a punt that he should have done a fair catch, instead he let it bounce behind him pinning the offense deep.  I haven’t seen the fire he had when the job of returner was given back to him after Cooper Kupp was relieved of the duty.

Even with the said fire he hasn’t been terribly explosive.  Seems to by moving sideline style when the gunners have not reached him.  This game he seemed even more undecisive.  I hope he breaks out of it and gets going on his return game.  The Rams haven’t had decent field position from a punt return all year.  The special teams unit hasn’t been very special in that regard.  Some are calling for Raymond Calais, a late pick up who has shown good return skills in college, to take over.  Whether or not that happens some spark is needed as the next few games could mean possibly 2nd seed or even 1st seed and every advantage is going to be important.

Two Minute offense

I have put the two minute offense in the stock down portion of the column before and this week was no different and even looked worse.  Why the Rams are so off rhythm in the two min drill could be because their offense is predicated on the run game and play action pass.  That said there could be a time where at is beneficial to get pts and possibly game winning.  Instead the Rams are doing three and outs so quickly its giving the opposition another chance to either add or or get back into the game.  It has been horrendous so far.

The Rams will change up tempo to get a jump on defenses.  So it should somehow translate to the two minute drill, but so far it hasn’t.  The Rams have amazing route runners who can take short passes along way and backs who are good at catching the ball out of the backfield when given a chance.  Something needs to jell to get it working.  There should be a sense of excitement that the Rams are going to get another score.  Instead its like watching a horror movie covering your face with your hands hoping disaster doesn’t happen.  Lets get this fixed and taken out of Stock Down.

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