After starting out the season 3-1 and looking to take the NFC West by storm, the Los Angeles Rams have now dropped to 3-5. No fan base has the patience to stand that sort of drop off, and now a complete overhaul is being begged for. It’s not easy pinpointing where the train went off the rails, as there’s so much confusion.
Not only has Case Keenum underproduced; so has Todd Gurley running the ball. The common link is that the offensive line is in complete turmoil. But then the defense gets its prognosis too and clearly has suffered losing Janoris Jenkins.
Yet even in these hard times, there’s always someone worth recognizing. Here are the Rams’ midseason superlatives.
Offensive MVP: WR Kenny Britt
Considering the well-documented trouble under center with Case Keenum, seeing Britt on pace for 1,100 yards and six touchdowns is shocking to say the least. Since joining the Rams in 2014, he’s had WR2-level production despite being the team’s leading receiver. Not only has his overall production been trending up, but he also leads the team in catch percentage as well by a good margin. His catch rate is currently 69 percent with Brian Quick sitting at 62.7 percent.
If Britt keeps up the pace, this will be the first year he catches over 60 percent of his targets in seasons he’s played over 10 games. It would also be his first season over 800 yards and he would be the first Rams receiver to eclipse that mark since Torry Holt in 2007.
Defensive MVP: DT Aaron Donald
Could it really be anyone else? With three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt out for the season, Donald has a real shot at taking the crown if keeps up the pace. In all likelihood, he will since he’s been playing at this high level non-stop for three years.
Donald is dragging a little bit on pace for just eight sacks, but for an interior defender being double-teamed at every turn, that’s still an accomplishment. Therein lies his greatest strength, being able to produce despite being the greatest distraction for offenses. He’s currently the only interior defender graded above 90 points (96.2). The margin is simply too great to ignore.
Biggest Surprise: WR Kenny Britt
See Offensive MVP
Biggest Disappointment: RB Todd Gurley
One could say Jared Goff, but the expectations for him were mostly because of his top billing in the draft. Gurley, on the other hand, was the wonder kid last season expected to be a top-five running back this season. Winning the rushing title was not out of the question.
Eight games into the season, that title is simply not going to belong to Gurley. He’s currently on pace for just 900 yards and his average rush has plummeted to just 3.1 yards, and he has only punched in three scores. Teams have learned that he’s the only elite puzzle piece for the Rams’ offense and have been clogging lanes all year for him.
Rookie of the Year: QB Jared Goff
Yep, I can hear the pitchforks being sharpened already. Goff hasn’t played one down after being drafted with the top pick this year. But the Rams have been very reluctant to send out any rookies this year. Undrafted free agent Bradley Marquez and fourth-round tight end Tyler Higbee are the only ones with even marginal production. Both have two receptions. It’s hard to hand the trophy to either one of them, although Higbee also gets in to help block too.
What Goff has done is light a fire under Case Keenum and has been helping him run practice every day. To what extent that has helped, considering Keenum was booed at every turn this week, remains to be seen. But as far as Goff’s involvement with the team, it’s hard for other rookies to top him.