It has been difficult to find many positive performances from the Rams players in the last three games, which the team have all lost. But against the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, there was a lot to like.
The offense racked up 37 points and passed 400 yards for the first time since Week 8, while the defense limited Jacksonville to under 200 yards and just seven points, the fewest runs Los Angeles has allowed all season.
Among the Los Angeles stars were Ernest Jones, Sony Michel and Cooper Kupp, but it wasn’t a big day for Darious Williams. Here are our stallions and duds of victory.
Stud: Sony Michel
Michel played a huge role in Sunday’s victory over Jacksonville. He carried it 24 times for 121 yards and scored a touchdown, the most rushing yards by a Rams backer since Cam Akers in the playoffs last season. He broke a bunch of tackles, averaged 5 yards per carry, and was rarely stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage, consistently picking up positive yards. His longest run was 25 yards at the end of the game, but that performance was all about efficiency and tough yardage.
Stud: Ernest Jones
A week after Troy Reeder was chosen by the Packers, Jones had his best game as a pro. He had nine tackles, a game-high, recorded a half-sack on a good indoor run and nearly hit a pass, flying all over the field to make saves near the line of scrimmage. The Jacksonville running backs have only run 48 yards on 17 carries and Jones is one of the main reasons. He played well and deserves to be the Rams’ nickel linebacker in place of Reeder.
Stud: Aaron Donald
Donald was in the backfield a lot, as he usually is every week. He finished with five tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack, also forcing a fumble on the Jaguars’ opening practice that was picked up by Jalen Ramsey. He would have had another sack as well, had Taylor Rapp not been called in for defensive detention. Donald has been disruptive as a passer and defender of the race, which is normal for the No.99.
Stud: Cooper Kupp
Kupp has been automatic for seven catches and over 90 yards all season, and he hit those totals again on Sunday. He caught eight passes for 129 yards and a touchdown, his 11th scoring of the season. He made a great slipped catch on third down to pick up 19 yards, which only came a few plays after he made a minimal grab on third down to convert as well. Three of his eight catches were on the third down, and six of them caught the first downs.
Stud: Greg Gaines
Gaines won’t get Pro Bowl recognition, but with the way he’s playing right now, he’s making a name for himself as one of the best nose tackles in football. Against the Jaguars on Sunday, he had five tackles and two QB hits, once again showing he can rush the passer and stuff the race. One of his tackles came after Lawrence slipped out of the pocket and attempted to run for the first down, but Gaines chased after him to limit him to a gain of 2 yards.
Missing: Kendall Blanton
Blanton had the most playing time of his career, but he didn’t have much to show. He caught a pass that gained 6 yards, which he then missed after going to the ground. Later in the game, Blanton dropped what would have been a sure touchdown, his only other goal of the day. It was good to see him on the pitch and he’s helped 13 people as a tackle, but he needs to work as a receiver.
Missing: Darious Williams
Williams was called out for keeping the second and third, giving the Jaguars a first try after Lawrence tossed the ball. It ultimately led to their only touchdown of the game, but its struggles didn’t end there. He was called for holding a second time later and also gave up a catch to Laquon Treadwell for 16 yards, adding to his difficult day. He made a nice tackle on a swing pass to Jaydon Mickens, who lost 2 yards, but it was more harm than good for Williams.