TB-STL Grades: Aaron Donald, Mike Evans both shine on TNF

The highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Rams' 31-23 win over the Buccaneers.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Billy Hurst)

(AP Photo/Billy Hurst)

TB-STL Grades: Aaron Donald, Mike Evans both shine on TNF

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams’ 31-23 victory over the Buccaneers:

St. Louis Rams

– After another stellar performance last night, Aaron Donald (+6.6) has surpassed Geno Atkins’ 2012 season, and now owns the highest single season grade for a defensive tackle in the nine years we have been grading games here at PFF. Donald collected three stops and six pressures (three hits, three hurries) to collect his 15th straight positively graded game, and has only graded negatively four times in individual facets (three times in run defense, once as a pass rusher) this season. It’s just been an absolutely remarkable season for Donald, and he continues to keep pace in a competitive race for Defensive Player of the Year.

– The Rams got the jump on the Bucs on Thursday, courtesy of chunk plays, particularly from their receivers. Tavon Austin (+1.9) and Kenny Britt (+2.0) exploited the Bucs’ aggressive defense. Britt picked up a huge gain off of a double move, and Austin blew past the Bucs’ after the catch. The latter broke five tackles, combining his hybrid work as a runner and a receiver on only seven touches.

– While there were struggles in this game as a run blocker, Rams left tackle Greg Robinson earned his first positive grade in pass protection since Week 8, not allowing a hit or sack for only the third time this season and the fourth time since moving to left tackle in Week 9 of last season. In the last two weeks, Rams’ fans will be eager to see Robinson show some signs of progress and perform well as both a pass blocker and run blocker in the same game. Robinson has only earned a positive grade as a run blocker and pass blocker in the same game once since his move to left tackle, exactly a year ago this week against the Cardinals.

Top performers:

DT Aaron Donald (+6.6)

DE William Hayes (+2.8)

DT Michael Brockers (+2.2)

WR Kenny Britt (+2.0)

WR Tavon Austin (+1.9)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

– Equal parts jaw dropping and head scratching, last night’s game (+1.1) was reminiscent of Jameis Winston’s final season at Florida State. Some of his deep and intermediate throws into coverage were sublime; others were ridiculous and thrown directly to the coverage, including his interception to Trumaine Johnson (-1.3). Since Week 4, though, the good have outweighed the bad for the most part with Winston. If he continues to produce some of the throws he launched night, it’s easy to predict that his positive progress from recent seasons will continue into next.

– Re-united as starters for the first time since sharing a secondary in Chicago, both Major Wright (-2.5) and Chris Conte (-3.0) produced eerily reminiscent of their latter seasons with the Bears. Wright and Conte combined for five missed tackles last night, mimicking the 31 they racked up in 2013 with Chicago. Conte’s tackling has been better than this in 2015—these were his first missed tackles since Week 9. The Bucs will hope that this was merely a one week blip on the radar and not the sketchy tackling habits resurfacing from his Bears days.

– While there was one drop to take his season total to 14, this 157-yard game from Mike Evans (+3.4) was one of the high points in what has proven to be a second season of extremes for the gigantic wide receiver. Evans collected 60 yards against each of the Rams’ starting corners (4/7 against Trumaine Johnson, 3/5 against Janoris Jenkins) while also beating the St. Louis safeties for a catch apiece. Evans caught seven of Winston’s nine completions on targets aimed 10 or more yards down the field.

Top performers:

WR Mike Evans (+3.4)

LB Danny Lansanah (+3.1)

LB Lavonte David (+1.9)

DT Tony McDaniel (+1.8)

WR Adam Humphries (+1.5)

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Josh Stewart

    Curious as to how you guys graded Keenum? he made some really good throws.

    • anon76returns

      My guess would be lower than +1.9. I’m kind of curious, too. The thing was that he went into game manager mode for virtually the entire 2nd half, simply handing off to Gurley and avoiding turnovers (and later incompletions). Got them the W, but not really the kind of performance that gets a very impressive grade.

      • Spencer Engel

        How is it not a performance that earns a high grade?? He finished 14-17 with 234 yards, 2 TDs and a 158.0 QB rating (0.3 away from perfect). Many of his throws were fit into tight windows, and he only made one bad throw that I can think of. PFF is terrible at grading QBs (witness their negative grade of Aaron Rodgers in a game earlier this season where he threw for 5 TDs and no picks.)

        • Johnny U.

          give it up, he didnt outplay jameis… aaron donald was the star of last nights show

          • Cant FixStupid

            He didn’t outplay Jameis?? You really are a racist idiot aren’t ya?? He outplayed Jameis by a mile. It was 28-6 in the 4th quarter before he even threw his 1st TD of the game. And what do teams do on defense leading by 3 TDs in the 4th quarter?? They go into a prevent and play soft zone coverage. 85% of Jameis numbers came when the Rams were already in clock killing mode, every bit of Keenum’s numbers came when the game still mattered. Jameis padded his stats vs soft zone defense in the 4th after a horrible 1st 3 quarters. His year may not have been horrible, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had plenty of horrible games like Thursday night you racist homer.

          • Nick G

            I had to sign up specifically to love this comment, sir. Johnny is an idiot.

  • James Murphy

    Jameis was positive…LOL…I guess racking up yards when the defense stops pressuring you and only brings 4 shows the flaw in your grading system…there was literally nothing jaw dropping about Jameis last night…cite which throws were great, please

    • anon76returns

      A positive grade is above average, not jaw dropping. Jameis had several nice ones that I saw, including the deep out route right before his 4th qtr INT, where he lofted the ball over the underneath coverage, and put enough touch on it to have it drop into Evans’ hands before the over the top coverage could make a play on the ball. A grade of +1.1 just means that Jameis had about one more of those plays than he had bad throws, nothing to get riled up about.

  • James Murphy

    Must have been watching a completely different game than me…I asked earlier in the season and was told that game situation matters in the scoring and that you don’t get the same + grades for racking up points as a QB when the defense is giving them to you, unless you’re Jameis apparently…the verbs used to describe him in this article and others when he played poorly make it clear that whomever is doing these write ups for PFF is a fan and less than objective

    • Johnny U.

      white people need to get over the fact that jameis is NOT a bust

      • Cant FixStupid

        White people huh?? You’re the exact person I created this account for.

  • Tim Edell

    If anyone is to wonder why the Bucs are 6/8 look at Conte and Wright starting at safety. Brutal!!