The first half-minute or so of Sunday’s Rams-Jaguars game featured 14 points, with Pharoh Cooper returning the opening kick 103 yards for a score and Jaguars HB Leonard Fournette scoring on a 75-yard run only a few game seconds later.
The two teams totaled 31 first-quarter points before letting off the gas and only scoring 13 combined the rest of the way, ending with a 10-point Rams win. With that, we give you our PFF exclusive takeaways from the contest for each team.
Top 5 Grades:
1. DI Aaron Donald, 91.7 overall grade
2. LB Mark Barron, 86.3 overall grade
3. RB Todd Gurley, 83.7 overall grade
4. LG Rodger Saffold, 83.5 overall grade
5. C John Sullivan, 81.4 overall grade
Performances of Note:
RB Todd Gurley, 83.7 overall grade
You don’t need to force a lot of missed tackles to cause a lot of trouble, and Gurley’s performance against Jacksonville was a demonstration in that. With the Rams operating a zone-heavy rushing attack, the emphasis was always going to be on his cuts to cause the speedy Jags problems and boy did it. Gurley had just one broken tackle but his consistent ability to find the right gap and maximize yardage out of it was crucial.
QB Jared Goff, 71.2 overall grade
It was a largely unspectacular day for Goff, who had no “big-time throws” and the only turnover-worthy play fell into the arm punt category on a long third-down heave. Instead he took what the defense gave him, played it safe and let his rushing attack, defense, and special teams do the heavy lifting. There’s a skill in managing a game against an opponent who has made life hard for more established quarterbacks, and the composure Goff showed is a reminder of how far he has come from his rookie year.
DI Aaron Donald, 91.7 overall grade
We have gotten to the point where anything under a 90 overall grade is a disappointing game for Donald. Against the Jaguars, he did not disappoint, completely dominated the Jaguars offensive line to the tune of 2 sacks, 2 hits, and 6 hurries on 41 pass-rushing snaps.
LB Mark Barron, 86.3 overall grade
For the second week in a row, Barron was all over the field. This week, it was to the tune of 8 tackles with 6 stops, three in the run game and three in the pass game. While there are points where Barron is overwhelmed due to his size as a safety at linebacker, this week he was able to use his size as an advantage to make plays rather than getting blocked out of them.
Top 5 Grades:
1. WR Marqise Lee, 89.4 overall grade
2. LB Telvin Smith, 84.0 overall grade
3. S Barry Church, 83.2 overall grade
4. Edge Calais Campbell, 83.1 overall grade
5. S Tashaun Gipson, 82.6 overall grade
Performances of Note:
WR Marqise Lee, 89.4 overall grade
With Allen Robinson out, the Jaguars passing game has to go through Lee, who was manned up against Trumaine Johnson and was able to bring in 5 catches on 9 targets for 83 yards. Lee had to bring in some tough catches as Johnson gave him limited space on numerous plays.
HB Leonard Fournette, 77.0 overall grade
On the first play from scrimmage, Fournette took it to the house for 75 yards. Outside of that run, though, Fournette only gained 55 yards on 20 carries as the Jaguars offense was unable to gain much through the ground. The only spot Fournette had much success outside of his 75-yard run was around the left end, where he gained 29 yards. Fournette was only able to break 2 tackles and unable to gain a significant amount of yards after contact as the Rams where consistently able to stuff up the point of attack.
DE Yannick Ngakoue, 71.3 overall grade
It wasn’t the most eye-popping grade, but there were plays where Ngakoue did the kind of things the team are looking to see out of Dante Fowler (46.8). Andrew Whitworth remains one of the best tackles in the game but he was beaten clean three times by Ngakoue, with two of them resulting in quarterback hits.
LB Telvin Smith, 84.0 overall grade
You know what you’re getting with the speedy Smith and while sometimes that may result in some ugly manhandling (like when Rodger Saffold drove him down the field with 5:05 left in Q2), he’s still a ball-hungry player who has a habit of making plays. Sunday it was his forced fumble of Robert Woods as well as a team best five defensive stops as he continues to make his case for a Pro Bowl appearance.
PFF Game Ball: DI Aaron Donald, 91.7 overall grade
*Grades are subject to change upon review