Up until this week, there were not many positives for the St. Louis Rams, especially when looking at a player’s stat line. However, as expected, the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to have given the Rams’ new life. Last week, there were a number of St. Louis’ players that ranked in the Top 10 at their position. Granted, they posted these numbers against possibly the worst team in the NFL, but most won’t remember where those numbers were accumulated after a couple more weeks. So, without further delay, here are the St. Louis Rams leaders for Week 5, by the numbers…
While the St. Louis Rams offense, overall, was slow out of the gate, Sam Bradford did end up with a pretty solid stat line by the end of the game. In fact, Bradford and Geno Smith were the only two quarterbacks in Week 5 to throw at least 3 touchdown passes without an interception. However, that number isn’t some aberration for the Rams’ signal caller, as he is currently tied with Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler for 5th most touchdowns in the NFL this season.
St. Louis Rams Offensive Line
Again, in context this might not seem that impressive, with the Jacksonville Jaguars generating little-to-no pressure against both the run and pass all season from their front-four. However, there were multiple linemen that graded out in the Top 10 at their position on Sunday, including: Scott Wells (1st overall), Joe Barksdale (2nd overall), Chris Williams (8th overall), Harvey Dahl (3rd among RG), and Jake Long (5th among LT). You can literally not ask for any more from your offensive line unit…
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that a St. Louis Rams running has been in the Top 5 for a given week. However, it is the first time that a running back has been in the Top 5 for actually running the football (as opposed to receiving). Stacy graded out 5th overall among backs this week, highlighted by his 5.6 yards per carry (5th) and 3.2 average yards after contact (3rd). He may not have gotten a rushing touchdown, but he did give the Rams fan base hope that some semblance of a running game can be established this season, which may be a more impressive accomplishment than his actual stat line from Sunday.
For the third time in five weeks, Robert Quinn received the highest pass rushing grade among 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL. Even without a sack, Quinn recorded the most pressures (8) of any player in the league, at any position, against the Jacksonville Jaguars; including 3 hits on the quarterback and 5 hurries. More impressively, Quinn graded out as the 3rd-best run stopping defensive end in the league, ranking him 12th overall among 4-3 defensive ends against the run his season and 1st overall in pass rushing. *cough Pro Bowl cough*
Brockers quietly continues to be a dominating force in the middle of the defensive line, grading out as the 10th best interior linemen of Week 5. As always, Brockers was stout against the run, but added some flavor to his game with a devastating sack on Blaine Gabbert early. Overall, Brockers has been consistently effective in both aspects of the game, ranking 11th in pass rushing and 6th in “defensive stops,” or tackles that results in an offensive failure. With Jo-Lonn Dunbar back in the mix, we can only expect those number to get better as the season progresses.
Surprisingly, James Laurinaitis has been a coverage machine this season, being one of only ten inside linebacker with a positive “coverage grade” this season. However, in Week 5, the Ohio State product went back to his old ways of dominating against the run. Laurinaitis finished the game with 7 tackles, 5 defensive stops, and did not miss a single tackle. He also allowed only one reception for 10 yards, snagged an interception, and allowed a mere 4.2 passer rating when targeted in coverage. Can’t do it any better than that!
Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker
All joking aside, these may be the most consistently dominant players on the St. Louis Rams roster this season… and that isn’t necessarily a referendum on the rest of the team. Johnny Hekker and the punt unit allowed only five total return yards on six punts Sunday, including landing two inside the 20 yard line. Hekker also tied the league-long (?) hangtime punt of the season, with the ball staying in the air for 5.6 seconds. On 31 punts this season, the return team has allowed an impressive 26 total return yards (not including penalties), which is the 3rd-least amount in the league. More impressively, the two punters that have allowed fewer yards have punted only 19 and 15 times this season, respectively. Hekker currently ranks Top 10 in total punts, total punting yards, average punting yards, maximum height, downed punts, fair catches, total return yards, and net average yardage gained! As a result, he is currently graded as the best punter in the NFL this season.
Greg Zuerlein isn’t fairing too poorly himself, ranked 5th overall among kickers on the season, and 6th overall in Week 5. On kickoff, only 21.7% of his boots have been returned his year, with the average starting field position being the 19 yard line. Moreover, he is one of only eight kickers who has yet to miss a field goal, although the St. Louis Rams have yet to truly “unleash the leg.” That is a good thing though, since the St. Louis Rams have been relatively effective this season in driving into the enemy terrain, an upgrade from going 3-and-out in their own territory much of last season.