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Week 1 Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 33, Oakland Raiders 13
What you need to know
The Rams offense had sporadic production in the first half against the Raiders. The team is notably using new addition Brandin Cooks
in a wider variety of routes than Sammy Watkins
was last year. Robert Woods
had the biggest potential missed plays out of all the Rams wide receivers. After somewhat sputtering in the first half, the Rams got back on track by turning their offense over to Todd Gurley
in the second half. He remains the best parachute in the league. He and the Rams offensive line slowly wore down an overmatched Raiders front 7. The Raiders defense played admirably - especially early - but were physically dominated throughout the second half. While the game was close through the third quarter, the final score eventually reflected the talent disparities between the two units by game's end.
-30 of Derek Carr
ís 39 passes were to tight ends or running backs, leaving just 9 targets total to the wide receiver trio of Amari Cooper
, Jordy Nelson
, and Seth Roberts
. Carr was at fault on all three terrible interceptions.
-While Marshawn Lynch
started strong, it was a full blown running back by committee approach with Jalen Richard
the most productive of the bunch (11 targets). Richard played 50% of the snaps while Lynch played 36% and Martin just 14%.
was the lone offensive bright spot. He had a massive 9-180-0 performance on 12 targets and consistently beat single coverage both out of the slot and lined up out wide.
Los Angeles Rams
|QB Jared Goff, Pass: 17 - 32 - 233 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Goff had tons of time in the pocket vs Oakland, and was not challenged in this game at all by Oakland. Held ball too long and takes a sack vs man coverage on 3rd and 8. His accuracy in this game did leave something to be desired. He was almost intercepted twice in the redzone. Once on a Spacing concept against zone coverage. Nothing was open, he needs to learn to throw it away instead of forcing it for a potential turnover in scoring range. He was almost intercepted again trying to throw to Kupp in the endzone later. The Raiders played man coverage and Kupp won from the slot on a double move. It was a bang-bang tight window but open very quickly - the ball was thrown behind and deflected (almost picked). He also just missed Robert Woods
on multiple shot play opportunities in the second half. His touchdown throw to Kupp was a well-executed play. His touchdown throw to Todd Gurley
came on a 19 Touch Pass - a Jet Sweep that is a forward toss instead of a handoff.
|RB Todd Gurley, Rush: 20 - 108 - 0, Rec: 3 - 39 - 1 (5 targets)|
The Rams did not involve Gurley early, and the Raiders were able to take a lead on the Rams into halftime. In the second half, the Rams leaned on Gurley and made him the centerpiece of the offensive attack. He took his second touch of the game to the house - officially recorded as a reception but it was a 19 yard Touch Pass/Jet Sweep from inside the redzone. He started as the weakside perimeter receiver from an empty formation and motioned into the backfield pre-snap. He was almost untouched on his way to the endzone, making a few nice cuts to avoid contact in the open field off his blocks. In the second half, he carried the Rams offense. He ran inside zone, tosses, screens and opened up the passing game with play action. He only exited the game for a few plays in the early fourth quarter.
|WR Cooper Kupp, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0, Rec: 5 - 52 - 1 (9 targets)|
He is the de-facto tight end for this offense, and you can see it by his alignment, routes run, and use as a blocker in the run game. His opening target was dropped (a PA Drag that turned into a Wheel Route from Bunch). He had another drop again on a quick out that was thrown behind. He was targeted heavily in the redzone, although Goff almost had potential turnovers throwing to him. On one of the throws, he won on a inside-breaking double move that should have been his first receiving touchdown, but Goff threw it slightly behind him, allowing the defensive back to almost intercept it. On his touchdown, he faked a seal block on the CB before releasing to the flat off Play Action. The run block fake really helped sell the route.
The Rams made a focus to get Cooks involved on a variety of targets in the pass game. He is clearly going to be more involved down-to-down than Sammy Watkins
was, even though he is replacing Watkins as the X receiver in the Rams offense. His opening touch was a carry on Jet SweepHis first pass target came on a quick Curl on third down, and he dropped it vs physical coverage. He still does not particularly deal well with press/man coverage. He had another drop on a quick Out again where the defender was able to put his body on Cooks through the catch. His biggest contributions to the Rams offense came on drawing huge Pass Interference penalties down field - the Torrey Smith
special. The fist one was a great outcome for the offense, but he did not much separation on the route. On his second PI drawn, he was allowed free access off the line of scrimmage and just ran past the CB and safety help. The ball was underthrown and he was interfered with as the DBs caught back up to him with the ball in the air. Once the team began leaning on Gurley, it opened things up for Cook more. He got more free access opportunities to get open on runaway inside breaking routes like Skinny Post and Deep Over.
|WR Robert Woods, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (9 targets)|
Overall, it was a very quiet day for Woods, especially in the first half. The team looked to get Cooks more involved as the primary receiver early. In the late third/early fourth quarters, the Rams finally started going to Woods on shot plays. He beat the defense over the top on a Post that was slightly overthrown by Goff. Woods might have been slowed up a step because the Post broke in the dirt infield at Oakland's stadium. Goff just missed him again on (another) very open Play Action Deep Over that was thrown slightly behind and above his head. The pass was not accurate, but was potentially catchable. Two plays later, Goff overthrew him again on a Deep Post off Play Action. These were all potentially huge plays that were all open that were all just missed.
Whereas Kupp is the de-facto Tight End of the Rams offense, Higbee is the de-facto third Offensive Tackle. He does get flexed as an outside WR. It allows the team to use Woods and Kupp inside, and gives significant coverage clues pre-snap for Goff based on which player follows Higbee outside. As far as being a pass threat, he might as well be a QB flexed out wide in the Wildcat. The team simply does not involve him as an option in the progression. They are more than happy for defenses to waste an outside CB's attention on him or to give the coverage away by having a linebacker follow him outside.
|QB Derek Carr, Pass: 29 - 40 - 303 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0|
Carr started off hot before everything fell apart in the second half. In the opening drive of the season, Carr led the team on a 75-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 45-yard completion on a slant route to Jared Cook
. Carr was sharp for most of the first half, including a spectacular throw on a deep out to Cook for a 28-yard gain to set up a field goal. Carr completed 20 of 24 passes for 199 yards at the half. His lone early mistake came on an under-thrown end zone fade route to Cook. Carr didnít lead him enough, which allowed the safety to pick it off. The second half was an unmitigated disaster. Prior to a garbage-time drive in the two minutes, the Raiders offense netted just 82 total yards of offense in the half. Carr was also responsible for two of the most poorly thrown interceptions of the season to date. The first was most inexplicable. It was unclear if he was trying to hit Jordy Nelson
down the left sideline or if he was attempting to throw the ball away and just didnít put enough on it to get it out of bounds. The ball floated directly to Rams linebacker Cory Littleton for an easy pick. The second interception, returned for a touchdown by Marcus Peters, came on a crossing route with Carr trying to hit Cook. It appeared Cook slowed up part way through the route but the throw was ill-advised regardless. If Cook slowed, it was likely because he saw that Peters had jumped the route and didnít expect Carr to make the awful choice to throw the pass. The Rams defense is going to give a lot of quarterbacks fits this season but Carr has to play much better or the Raiders are going to have a rough season.
Richard had a major role as the pass-catching back and led the Raiders running backs in touches and snaps (50%). He was critical on a long field goal drive in the two-minute drill before half, touching the ball seven times to help set up a last-second field goal. When the Raiders fell behind by six points midway through the third quarter, Gruden made the decision to go with Richard the rest of the way. Richard did his part, making a number of plays. The most impressive was a one-handed snag along the sideline on third down to keep the chains moving. As the Raiders fell further and further behind in the second half, Richard continued to play a primary role in the offense and ended up leading the team in both touches and receptions. Some of the usage was clearly due to game script and canít be counted on to continue. However, if the Raiders really are as bad as they looked in the second half, Richard could have a lot of favorable game scripts going forward.
Things couldnít have started better for Lynch and the Raiders. He carried the ball 4 times for 19 yards on the opening drive and also had a short catch, touching the ball on 5 of the first 7 plays. He capped it off with one of the toughest 10-yard touchdown runs you will ever see. Lynch was stood up at the five-yard line with a man clinging to one leg and he just kept churning his legs until the offensive linemen arrived to give him a push. He stayed on his feet and helped push the pile forward into the end zone. It was the type of tone-setting run that makes Lynch more valuable than his stats may suggest. Doug Martin
came in and took all of the snaps on the second drive. Lynch came back out for the third drive and touched the ball four times on a long field goal drive. After those two drives, Lynch was barely used. He touched the ball just 4 times in the final 44 minutes of the game. The plan seemed to be to rotate Lynch and Martin every other series while also using Jalen Richard
on obvious passing downs, in the two-minute offense, and when trailing. Perplexingly, the move to Richard came with the Raiders down just one score and 20 minutes still to play and Lynch played just 36% of the snaps.
|RB Doug Martin, Rush: 4 - 20 - 0, Rec: 2 - -3 - 0 (2 targets)|
Martin had the entire second and fourth offensive series of the game to himself in the backfield. If the game script would have been more favorable in the second half, Martin likely would have seen double-digit touches. However, with the Rams pulling away, Oakland went almost exclusively with Jalen Richard
late. Martin showed pretty good burst on a run off of right tackle that went for 13 yards but that was his only highlight. He was stacked up in the backfield on multiple occasions, including both of his receptions. Martin didnít see the field after the two early drives and played just 14% of the snaps
While Amari Cooper
ís quiet game will get most of the attention, Nelson was also a non-factor with just four targets. All of them came on short passes. While Nelson looked fairly spry, it was clear that the Raiders were mostly content to ignore the wide receivers and avoid the coverage of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
|WR Amari Cooper, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets)|
Cooper was an afterthought offensively despite being on the field for 93% of the snaps. He had nine yards on an end around on the first drive. He made a nice 16-yard grab with a toe drag along the sideline in the first quarter but it was wiped out by a holding call. Cooper had a nine-yard catch on a short pass over the middle in the two-minute drill before half and then saw only two more targets the rest of the way. One was a throwaway out of bounds in his general direction. Another was a missed connection with Carr on a crossing route. Based upon Carrís reaction after the incompletion, Cooper didnít adjust his route properly to account for the zone coverage. It was a strange game with 30 of Carrís 39 pass attempts going to the tight ends and running backs and just 9 going to the wide receivers. Cooperís lack of opportunities in the first glimpse of John Grudenís new offense is a major red flag after Cooper was a fantasy non-factor most of last season. It is hard to trust him in fantasy lineups.
Roberts was the third receiver and played extensively, though the Raiders also employed two-tight end sets often. Roberts only catch came on a quick wide receiver screen on third and long, which he was able to convert into a gain of 11 yards to pick up the first down.
Cook took on a starring role against the Rams. His 180 receiving yards were the most for a tight end in Raiders history. The Rams played mostly man defense throughout the night, which left Carr to target whichever pass catcher had the most favorable one-on-one matchup. Most of the time, it was Cook matched up against a safety while Cooper and Nelson faced elite cornerbacks. Cook dominated from the first drive. He lined up in the slot on the first drive, caught a slant and sprinted past the safety for a 45-yard gain. Cook still has elite speed even at age 31. It was just the first of many big plays. Cook ran a deep out route and snagged a 28-yard reception along the sideline despite being held. He also had big gains of 11, 14, and 32 yards with the latter two coming on passes down the seam. Carr was intercepted twice while targeting Cook, however. The first came on an end zone target from 21 yards out. Cook ran a fade route and had a step on the defender but the ball was badly under thrown. The second came near the end of the game on a crossing route when Marcus Peters jumped the route and beat Cook to the spot.