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Week 13 Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 32, Arizona Cardinals 16
What you need to know
The Rams got out to an early lead once again this week and once again it was the defense setting up the offense as it has done for most of the season. Offensively, the Rams relied on Todd Gurley
heavily in both the passing and rushing game as he had 74 yards rushing and 84 yards receiving to account for 51% of the team's total yardage in this game. Cooper Kupp
was able to once again have a nice game as Patrick Peterson was blanketing Sammy Watkins
for most of this game leaving Kupp as the primary receiver for the Rams in this one.
Much like the Gabbert supporters, Sunday’s loss should end any speculation as to whether the Cardinals can still make a playoff run or not. After their surprise win against Jacksonville left the door slightly askew, Sunday’s lost emphatically shut it. A few individual players aside, the team has no strengths and or successes to rely on. They are bad at every level of every phase of the game. Whether management will take this offseason to acknowledge the failures and make the necessary changes for a successful rebuild remains to be seen, but any illusion of this team making a late-season run has officially ended.
Los Angeles Rams
|QB Jared Goff, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 31 - 220 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
did not need to do much in this game as the Rams got out to an early lead and the Rams largely went conservative in this game not trying to force the ball too far down the field. Goff did a nice job avoiding pressure in this game as he has developed into a quarterback with great pocket awareness often stepping up right at the right time to make a play. Goff was able to throw two touchdowns in this game, both in the red zone the first on a quick slant to Gerald Everett
and the second was a simple underneath crossing pattern by Sammy Watkins
in which he was able to use his speed for the score. One drawback to the day for Goff was an interception that largely was not his fault as Kareem Martin made a tremendous play as he disengaged his blocker on the defensive line to jump up at the perfect time to make the interception.
|RB Todd Gurley, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 74 - 0, Rec: 6 - 84 - 0 (7 targets)|
continues to be one of the best players in football this season as when you get him into open space he is incredibly difficult to stop. As great of plays as Gurley made in space and there were plenty in which he would not get touched until he was 10 or more yards downfield, his best play of the game was on a 1st and 10 on the Rams two-yard line in which the game was still close at the time in the third quarter. Gurley who has struggled in short yardage situations at times this season was able to go straight up the middle and get nine yards which was incredibly encouraging as most of his work this season has been outside the tackles.
|WR Cooper Kupp, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 68 - 0 (6 targets)|
Kupp continues to be a reliable consistent target for this passing offense out of the slot. This week, Kupp was just able to find space in this defense and utilized his route running out of the slot to find mismatches as he had two 20-yard or longer receptions in this game. Kupp is unlike most slot receivers in that he works from the slot as he works a variety of different routes both deep and shallow while also working both outside and inside. This allows him to keep the defense in check and have longer receptions compared to other slot receivers.
|WR Sammy Watkins, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 38 - 1 (4 targets)|
made the most of his otherwise difficult matchup with Patrick Peterson as he was able to find the end zone on an underneath crossing route in which Watkins got matched up against a linebacker and was easily able to utilize his speed to get to the corner for the score. Watkins was on the field for every snap in this game which was the first time this season that he was able to be on the field for 100% of the plays.
After a tremendous first game, Reynolds came back down in this game as while he had six targets in this game he was not able to get anything going in this game as he had just two receptions for a total of six yards as the routes he was running were often very short and quick trying to utilize his 6'3'' frame. Reynolds did have two targets in the red zone including one in which he caught the ball at the one-yard line but unfortunately came up just short of finding the end-zone on a very nice play made by Tramon Williams. Reynolds was still on the field for 75% of the snaps in this game, and should continue to see playing time until Robert Woods
returns from injury.
|QB Blaine Gabbert, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 221 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0|
For those few Cardinals fans still holding out hope the team had their Quarterback of the future in Blaine Gabbert
, Sunday had to remove all doubt. Gabbert was downright awful, throwing an interception on the team’s first play, setting the tone for his and the offense’s afternoon. Even as Blaine settled down and began to rebound, slightly, he often still required acrobatics from his receivers to complete any pass beyond five yards. His only really good throw of the day ended up in the hands of Larry Fitzgerald
for the team’s only passing touchdown of the day, a quick little inside post from 20-yards out that was placed right on his receivers hands. Blaine gives an admirable effort, and for a team likely in transition at the position this offseason, he is a acceptable bridge, but the more opportunity Gabbert has, the worse he’s stock has looked.
Filling in for the injured Adrian Peterson
, Williams did what he has often done in a backup role for this team; step in and produce. That has not always been the case for Kerwynn when the coaching staff has made a concerted effort to involve him in game plans, but when he is forced into a starting role due to injury, he has generally found success. While it was Elijah Williams who scored the team’s lone rushing touchdown, Kerwynn was the engine of the offense all afternoon. Often doing his damage running behind the left-side of the line, Williams showed burst, elusiveness and determination as a runner, falling just shy of an 100 yard game. It is nothing we have not seen from Williams before, making him a known asset, but not someone who should be expected to build on Sunday’s quality start.
We often marvel at Fitzgerald’s career success knowing the quarterbacks he has played with fall well short of his Hall of Fame credential company, but consistently keeps producing despite it. Sunday acted as a perfect microcosm of what has unfortunately been far too much of Fitzgerald’s career. Without any other weapons around him to shift coverage, and a Quarterback who struggles to hit his receivers on target, Fitzgerald still managed nearly 100 yards, scored a touchdown, and finished the day a perfect 10 for 10 on targets to catch ratio. To put it another way, the man is simply amazing.
|WR J.J. Nelson, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (8 targets)|
With no John Brown
, Nelson filled the role of “secondary receiver who has no impact on the outcome” with aplomb. His long catch of the game, a 26-yard grab in which he had to stop his route, then out jump his defender was arguably Nelson’s best catch of the season. Beyond that, however, he was utterly worthless. Nelson tacked on one more catch, but with eight targets throughout the afternoon, his contributions were too far and few between. That is an acceptable distinction for a boom-or-bust receiver, of which Nelson would qualify, but you must actually produce big plays. Nelson’s 26-yard catch was nice, but nowhere near enough boom to outweigh the bust.
While Seals-Jones was unable to match any of the career-outputs he has had over the last few games, his continued involvement in the offense is notable. Will he be able to maintain this level of success as defense begin to game plan for him? Will his connection be as strong with a starting-caliber Quarterback, or is this more about the many practice hours he and Gabbert had spent together? These questions will not be answered for a while, but it is imperative the team utilizes the rest of this season in search of this answer. There are unfortunately few building blocks in place for the rebuild ahead, and Seals-Jones will always have limitations, but learning what you have in the rookie tight end will help illustrate what needs to be invested into this position group going forward.