ReFo: Rams @ Buccaneers, Week 2
Already missing key components due to injury, the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played out their Week 2 matchup looking little like the hopeful pictures of their full-strength units. The Rams down to their third-string QB and missing their starting running back and the Bucs missing most of their D-line, locked into a hard-fought game that came down to a final drive.
With weather concerns bringing a mid-game delay, this one had a little bit of everything. Here are a few of the notable performances:
St. Louis Rams – Performances of Note
Joe Barksdale, RT and Jake Long, LT: +7.5 combined
Breakdown: A solid day at the office for both edges of the St. Louis O-line as both Barksdale and Long turned in clean sheets in pass protection while both earned positive marks as run blockers (Barksdale +2.4 and Long +1.4). No doubt the depleted D-line they faced played a role in that, but a big help to the young QB playing behind them, nonetheless.
Signature Stat: A big stride in the right direction for the duo that allowed 10 total pressures in Week 1.
Austin Davis, QB: +1.8
Breakdown: Down to their No. 3 quarterback already, the Rams pushed Davis, a 2012 UDFA, into the fray for his first NFL start and he responded with a game to be proud of. Avoiding mistakes, Davis spread the ball around without putting it in danger – earning an 82.8 Accuracy Percentage — and hit on three of his four downfield attempts (beyond 20 yards).
Signature Play: 4Q 1:55, driving for the winning field goal, Davis stood in to absorb a hit while delivering a ball up the seam to convert on 3rd-and-9. A great catch by Austin Pettis completed the pivotal play.
Aaron Donald, DT: +4.1
Breakdown: With a +2.7 in run defense and a +1.3 as a pass rusher, the first-round rookie’s skills were showcased against the interior of the re-made Buccaneer O-line. Proving too much for veterans Evan Dietrich-Smith and Logan Mankins to handle at times, Donald gave Rams fans a glimpse of what they were hoping for when his name was called on draft day.
Signature Play: 2Q 7:34, Donald walked Dietrich-Smith back to the QB before sliding off to scoop up the sack when McCown tried to step up in the crumbling pocket.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Performances of Note
Clinton McDonald, DT: +1.8
Breakdown: Brought in to help add balance to a D-line that was a one-man show last year, McDonald found himself standing alone in the spotlight in this one. With fellow starters Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn already out and Gerald McCoy lost to a broken hand after just eight snaps, McDonald logged three run stops and a sack while finding the matchup with Rams center Scott Wells to his liking.
Signature Play: 3Q 9:12, As Wells stepped left when McDonald had decided to drive the other side, the new Buc DT shot into the backfield and was on top of Davis for the frighteningly fast sack.
Lavonte David, OLB: +1.8
Breakdown: A mildly positive overall grade by his standards, David collected nine more tackles and an impressive seven run stops to bring his total to 11 on the young season. As you’d expect from the weakside linebacker in Tampa’s 4-3, David regularly had a path to flow through or a pile to maneuver around, leaving him unblocked or cleaning up on a good portion of plays.
Signature Stat: David’s Run Stop Percentage of 18.0% is currently fourth among 4-3 OLBs and his 11 run stops top the group.
Logan Mankins, LG: -3.5
Breakdown: After missing all but 10 snaps in his Buccaneer debut last week, Mankins returned for a troubling outing. Issues in both the run game and as a pass blocker defined his day as Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald each got the better of him at different points. Lowest grade for the former Patriot since his Super Bowl XLVI performance (-3.8).
Signature Play: 3Q 1:50, Mankins whiffs on Donald and gives up the inside, opening the door for a tackle that netted a 3-yard loss.
PFF Game Ball
It wasn’t the biggest grade of the day, but given the circumstances and the nature of the tight game, St. Louis’ new starter, Austin Davis, put in a near-mistake-free effort and takes home the game ball.
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