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Rams analytics: L.A. falls back in DVOA rankings again

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By: Kenneth Arthur

Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What does PFF and analytics have to say about Rams disappointing offense?

The Los Angeles Rams now rank 24th in overall DVOA, with a 23rd-ranked offense, 13th-ranked defense, and 29th-ranked special teams unit. That might even be better than expected.

Because by points, the Rams rank 29th in scoring (16.9) and 18th in points allowed (22.4). L.A. is also 24th in offensive points per drive (1.66), 26th in net yards per pass attempt, 31st in yards per carry, and first in “Worst Seasons By Defending Super Bowl Champions (active)”.

Another running theme for the Rams this season, besides their rushing woes (31st), is their struggles with first and second down offense. By Estimated Points Added per play on early downs, Sean McVay’s offense is by far—like on a distant island—the worst in the NFL.

That will happen when you can’t block or run the football.

Here’s what else to know about the Rams advanced stats and analytics this week.

DVOA

The offense is 20th in passing and 26th in rushing by DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). Perhaps L.A.’s saving grace right now is that the Cardinals are even worse. But the Cardinals also just got back DeAndre Hopkins and have been much better.

Nobody other than Cam Akers is “coming back” for the Rams. This is pretty much the offensive personnel that McVay gets, so how will L.A. respond to a seven-game stretch of struggling?

The defense is better, led by the fourth-ranked run defense by DVOA. The Rams are 19th in pass defense.

This Twitter thread by Cody Alexander of the MatchQuarter substack newsletter does a great job of breaking down Raheem Morris and the “soft” zone coverage:

Matthew Stafford

Stafford now ranks 25th in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) and 26th in DVOA. He is 19th in QBR, which is better than expected. I don’t think I’ve seen Stafford play especially worse this season as compared to last season. He’s getting a lot less help and that’s a situation that he was familiar with often in Detroit. The Rams need to do more to help Stafford.

As seen in this tweet by Ben Baldwin, the Rams have one of the offensive lines in the NFL and one of the worst EPA/play offenses in the NFL. The blocking was at its best in 2018 (Super Bowl) and 2021 (Super Bowl). Now it’s much worse than 2019 (missed playoffs).

Stafford ranks 34th in intended air yards per throw at 6.0. Only Matt Ryan (5.8) is below him and Ryan was recently benched for Sam Ehlinger. However, Kirk Cousins is 33rd and Justin Herbert is 32nd, so this is not a panic statistic. This is a product of the supporting cast that Stafford has been given.

The silver lining: L.A.’s 2.4% drop rate is the best in the NFL.

Stafford is pressured on 23.1% of his throws (13th-highest) but he’s been sacked 24 times in seven games. Only Carson Wentz, Justin Fields, and Joe Burrow have been sacked more times per game than Stafford.

FootballOutsiders ranks the Rams offensive line 32nd out of 32 teams in Adjusted Line Yards, which measures the effectiveness of run blocking. Only the Colts (there’s Matt Ryan again) are close to their league low rate of 3.76. The Rams are 30th in stuffed rank (stopped behind line of scrimmage), 30th in 2nd level blocking, and 30th in open field blocking. They have the 10th-highest adjusted sack rate.e

Obviously the biggest issue is health and continuity: The Rams have used seven different offensive line combinations in seven games.

Running Backs

Right now, FootballOutsiders only ranks running backs who have at least 64 carries. Cam Akers leads the Rams with 51 carries. Among all the backs with fewer than that number of carries, Akers ranks fifth from the bottom. Malcolm Brown ranks second from the bottom, but he’s had limited opportunities.

Nyheim Hines, the guy who was just traded at the deadline, is lower than Akers. So maybe that wasn’t a missed opportunity for the Rams. (Same goes for Chase Edmonds, not much higher than Akers.)

However, Akers has the lowest DYAR of any running back in the NFL.

The Rams are averaging 2.0 yards per carry before contact, which ranks 30th in the NFL. The Rams average 1.2 yards per carry after contact, which ranks 31st. Only the Bengals are lower.

Defense

The Rams had Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Von Miller last season. They still have two of those guys. What happened?

The Rams have the fewest pressures in the NFL, by far, if you believe PFF. Aaron Donald is by no means having a bad year. But let’s state a fact: His numbers at this pace would not make him a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year like usual and right now he’s credited with seven pressures in seven games. Donald had 70 pressures in 2018, 55 pressures in 2019, 45 pressures in 2020, and 41 pressures in 2021. He had 70 pressures in 2018! That is over four per game. Right now he’s averaging one per game.

Where’s the help coming from? Like Cooper Kupp on offense, there isn’t any. Leonard Floyd just got his first two sacks of the season, he has six pressures. Bobby Wagner has three. You would be forgiven if you forgot that Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis are on the team.

The Rams got hurt real bad by Christian McCaffrey.

The most-targeted player in coverage has been Derion Kendrick even though he didn’t play in two games. However, he’s done a good job on those plays, and a great job for a rookie.

Jalen Ramsey has allowed 18-of-28 targets for 213 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Some recent (but not fully updated) reports were quite positive:

Ramsey is PFF’s number three-rated cornerback.