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Other Week 16 Game Recaps

Week 16 Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 31, Arizona Cardinals 9

What you need to know

Los Angeles Rams

Even without Todd Gurley, the Rams committed to go back to basics in Week 16. After a sack/fumble ended their first drive, the Rams ended the game with 41 carries. The Rams held the ball for an incredible 37 minutes in this game, leaving the Cardinals with just 49 offensive plays (56 plays per game is the Cardinals average - 29th in the NFL). The Rams mostly leaned on newly signed vet CJ Anderson, but rookie John Kelly did get some work and had a very impressive redzone carry where he turned a loss into a five yard gain. The Rams didn't show a lot in this game, but their runningback pass game was completely non-existent this week which could be a concern going forward.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were no match even for the Todd Gurley-less Rams. On the positive side Josh Rosen avoided turnovers for only the second time this season and rushed for a career-high 49 yards. However, their struggle to score with even modest opposing offenses and a lack of a run game was again the theme by the Cardinals. Arizona looks ahead to 2019 with their needs for more play-makers on offense and improving their offensive line.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Jared Goff, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 24 - 216 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 6 - 1
Things were looking good on the first drive. Rhythm and timing there, standing in the pocket and being patient even with the Cardinals sending blitzed. The drive suddenly ended on a sack/fumble where Goif had to hold the ball for a beat and step up in the pocket, and Chandler Jones just destroyed the Rams' right tackle around the edge. On the next drive, the Rams started really dialing up their rushing attempts. Goff almost did throw a deep touchdown to Robert Woods on the drive, but just underthrew him. After matriculating the ball downfield with the run, the Rams capped the drive off with a Read Option from the one yard line, where Goff kept the ball and scored a rushing touchdown. He played very conservatively for the rest of the game, but he did uncork an absolutely beautiful deep ball to (wide open) Robert Woods for a fourth quarter touchdown.

RB C.J. Anderson, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 167 - 1, Rec: 1 - -5 - 0 (3 targets)
With both Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown out, the Rams turned the load over to recently-signed CJ Anderson. Rookie John Kelly did get plenty of work, Anderson didn't do anything fancy, just running the Rams' staple outside zone concept. He was decisive with his cuts and was very physical through contact. He clearly lacks a top gear, but he's still very capable of sifting through traffic then squaring up and running behind his pads when a defender tries to make a tackle. His comfort with these run concepts is very apparent after all the time he spent in Denver. The Rams did try to go to the Outside Zone/Screen a few times, but the Cardinals swarmed all over it and the Rams had no success with it. That's probably the most concerning issue to take from this game.

RB John Kelly, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 40 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets)
His first carry came from the 6 yard line on the Rams' second drive. He ran Outside Zone. A defender almost blew it up off the edge for a multiple yard loss, but Kelly hurdled him then avoided to other defenders once he landed on his feet. It turned a sure-fire loss into a gain of 5, putting the ball at the one yard line and setting up Goff's easy Read Option keep touchdown on the next play. It was a very impressive and important run that won't show up on the stat sheet. Neither Kelly nor Anderson was particularly effective in the run game, but Kelly was able to bring in one of his checkdown targets (he did somewhat bobble it, but was wide open underneath which allowed him to secure the ball). Again, the RB passing game is the most concerning aspect going forward for the Rams if they cannot count on a completely healthy Gurley.

WR Robert Woods, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 15 - 1, Rec: 6 - 89 - 1 (7 targets)
Woods got a trio of targets in a row on the Rams' second drive. The first was almost a deep touchdown reception that was just slightly underthrown. The route was fairly well covered, the ball just would have been needed to be placed in an absolutely perfect spot over Woods' outside shoulder. He did beat his man and got deep in the 4th quarter on a Deep Corner route. He completely dusted the corner in man coverage at the top of his route and got wide open, beating the single high safety who was in pursuit to the endzone.

WR Brandin Cooks, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 27 - 0, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (3 targets)
The Rams didn't really take Cooks out the garage. He did have a big 3rd down reception for 18 yards on a Deep Curl, where he settled in a deep zone between Patrick Peterson and the safety to that side.

WR Josh Reynolds, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 44 - 0 (2 targets)
Reynolds was hardly targeted in this game, but both of his receptions were for good gains. His route beating safety from slot on a deep out for 1st catch was very impressive.

TE Gerald Everett, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0, Rec: 5 - 28 - 0 (6 targets)
The Rams actually gave him some of their Jet Sweep carries in this game and he did fairly well with them, taking one for a gain of 12.

Arizona Cardinals

QB Josh Rosen, 44 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 23 - 87 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 49 - 0
Rosen did not finish the game against the Rams, being pulled in the mid-fourth quarter of the blowout for Mike Glennon. Rosen struggled mightily despite posting a career-high 49 yards on the ground and avoiding turning the ball over for the only the second time all season. Rosen did nearly throw a couple of interceptions with questionable decision-making on deep passes into heavy traffic. Rosen’s productive moments were short passes in-rhythm, an area of the field the Rams defense did not protect often. Rosen has overt needs for additional weapons on the outside as the return of Chad Williams, a former Day 2 draft pick, was of little import this season and the midseason loss of Christian Kirk magnified Arizona’s deficiency.

RB David Johnson, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 35 - 0, Rec: 1 - 32 - 1 (5 targets)
Johnson posted his seventh game of less than 50 rushing yards on the season and his third straight thus performance. Johnson was held firmly in the check on the ground until a later-game well-blocked hole results in more than 15 yards. While Johnson saw a healthy five targets, most were off-target throws and another was tipped away as Johnson worked down the seam. The highlight play for Arizona’s offense against the Rams was a Larry Fitzgerald trick-play pass to an open David Johnson downfield for a long touchdown for Johnson’s lone catch of the game.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 32 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 6 - 53 - 0 (9 targets)
Fitzgerald led Arizona with nine targets, but his highlight came on a touchdown pass he threw to David Johnson for Arizona’s lone end zone trip against the Rams. It was Fitzgerald’s second completion and first touchdown of his long NFL career as a passer. Fitzgerald was peppered with short targets early in the game, logging four of his six catches in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, Fitzgerald had a rare after-the-catch opportunity producing more than 10 additional yards in the otherwise middling Arizona offensive performance.

WR Trent Sherfield, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 62 - 0 (6 targets)
Even with Chad Williams back in the lineup, Sherfield was the unquestioned secondary receiver to Larry Fitzgerald against the Rams. Sherfield caught all six of his targets with two highlight plays among them. First, Sherfield made a nice move after-the-catch turning a hitch route into more than 10 yards. Also, Sherfield made a highlight toe-tap on a sideline route, the best catch by Arizona in the game and one of the better plays by receivers around the NFL of the week.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets)
Seals-Jones’ struggles continued in Week 16 with a single target, his lowest total of the season. Seals-Jones corralled a short crossing route but was passed by a myriad of other Cardinals pass-catchers in the pecking order against the Rams. Seals-Jones’ touchdown-less streak continued to 12 games and the converted wide receiver is barely averaging 10 yards-per-catch on the season.