Rams Week 11 offensive grades: Sean McVay must give Tutu Atwell snaps

The Los Angeles Rams (3-7) are reeling after their fourth consecutive loss, the latest at the hands of the New Orleans Saints (4-6). The state of the offense changes weekly with significant injuries at quarterback, offensive line, and main point guard, Cooper Kupp. The last eight games are all about evaluating talent and finding playmakers. Playmakers like Tutu Atwell, who caught a 62-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a halftime lead. Is he a building piece moving forward?

In order to gain a sense of the performance of the roster and its direction, Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded out all the players from the Week 11 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation/grades.

Weekly Grade: Grade for that respective week

Season Grade: Grade for the position over the course of the season

Trend: Direction of the position group from last week to this week

*Denotes a player ranked in the Top 3 at the position*

QBs

Matthew Stafford: 67.0 (+4.2), John Wolford: 45.0 (IN extension), Bryce Perkins: 65.1 (+14.7)

Matthew Stafford was playing his best game of football until on the Rams first drive in the 3rd quarter, he was sacked, and his head was hit from behind in an awkward manner. Stafford was taken to the blue tent and shortly after ruled out for the remainder of the game. Through six drives, Stafford was 11/18 for 159 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. His best throw was a deep shot that connected with Tutu Atwell in stride for a 62-yard touchdown.

Bryce Perkins played the final four drives, resulting in two field goals and two punts. Perkins was 5/10 for 64 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions, and absorbed three sacks. The offensive scheme dramatically shifted with Perkins under center as his throwing strength and accuracy are very limited. McVay dialed up read options and PA rollouts to give Perkins the opportunity to see the field from a different platform. As a runner, Perkins picked up 39 yards on five rush attempts.

With Stafford’s status for Week 12 to be doubtful, the option will either be a second 2022 start for John Wolford or to give Bryce Perkins a chance as the starter. Wolford is nursing a neck injury and his status is questionable.

One thing to monitor is Stafford’s career. Could an early retirement be in the cards?

Week 11 Grades: TO-, Season Grade: D+, Trends: Slight Upward

RBs

Cam Akers: 64.9 (+2.6), Darrell Henderson: 57.7 (-0.1), Kyren Williams: 69.8 (+12.2), Malcolm Brown: 55.4 (PS), Ronnie Rivers: 64.5 (PS)

As a whole the Rams ground game was very effective. McVay’s play calling was very balanced over the course of the game. And much to the surprise of McVay fans even called eight straight run plays.

Darrell Henderson (6% snaps) was the starter but quickly came out of the game because of a knee issue that flared up during warmups.

Cam Akers (39% snaps) saw less time on the field than Kyren Williams (55% snaps) but was handed the most carries. He rushed 14 times for 61 yards. Akers was actually the most impressive he has been since 2020. The vision and shifty ability allowed for him to pick up multiple first downs behind a weaker offensive line.

Kyren Williams’s stock is rising quickly for the backfield. He carried the rock seven times for 36 yards (5.1 avg). McVay appears to trust the rookie the most as he was in on third downs most often. Kyren Williams may never turn into a running back that carries the ball 20-25 times, but he gives the LA offense a scat back they have never had before. At the very least, Williams’s ascension prevents Les Snead from having to find a running back this offseason. They may choose to operate with a committee approach. If they do make a splash, maybe Tony Pollard is a guy worth spending for…

Week 11 Grades: TO-, Season Grade: C-, Trends: Moderate Upward

WRs

Cooper Kupp: 86.3 (IR), Allen Robinson II: 65.8 (+1.2), Van Jefferson: 58.4 (+5.3), Tutu Atwell: 85.1 (+17.3), Bennett Skowronek: 52.6 (-1.2), Brandon Powell: 64.4 (-3.0), Lance McCutcheon: 59.3 (-4.9), Jacob Harris: 59.1

Life without Cooper Kupp was always going to be a challenge. The goal over the next seven games is to continue to identify which playmakers are best suited to compliment Kupp. Allen Robinson II has performed below expectations overall, but he seems to be improving, albeit at a slow rate. It was a positive to see him score a touchdown on something other than a jump ball fade. Stafford and Robinson finally connected on a quick slant.

Van Jefferson hasn’t shown the growth to be a number two wide receiver after two plus seasons. He brought in three receptions for 41 yards on five targets.

The Tutu Atwell situation might be the most polarizing. When he has been on the field, he has performed very well. Look further than his 62-yard touchdown grab. Atwell (11% snaps) may be the best, healthy wide receiver on the team. If he is a consistent speed and downfield threat, he needs to be factored into the offense more. LA’s approach to beat teams by death of 1000 cuts will not work. Besides, 2022 is not realistic anymore. The Rams are building towards 2023 and 2024. They need to know if Tutu Atwell can be the second rounder they intended. Sean McVay’s usage of Tutu Atwell comes into question here. If you wanted a speedster, why did you draft him and proceed to not use him? When he is on the field, why is Tutu Atwell only on the field for six run plays and one pass play. Liam Coen said he was going to get Atwell more involved this year. So why isn’t he?

Week 11 Grades: C-, Season Grade: C-, Trends: neutral

TEs

Tyler Higbee: 59.2 (+0.4), Brycen Hopkins: 48.5 (+0.2), Kendall Blancon: 70.1 (PS)

Tyler Higbee’s future beyond 2022 is just as intriguing for Los Angeles. The positives, he is on pace for 81 receptions and 731 yards. Those marks would be a career high in receptions and three yards (2019 season) shy of a career high in yards.

On the flip side, Higbee has zero touchdowns. For a 6’6” and 255lb. tight end, that’s not a good sign. His run blocking has been below average. And his catch percentage is 65.8% this year. His previous four seasons of him were 70.6% (2018), 77.5% (2019), 73.3% (2020), and 71.8% (2021).

The challenge is that Higbee is owed $8.63 million in 2023. His dead cap if released before June 1 is $5.23 million. If released after June 1, he would only carry a dead cap of $2.38 million. There are three void years attached to Higbee’s contract.

Week 11 Grades: C-, Season Grade: D+, Trends: neutral

OL

Ty Nsekhe: 65.1 (+3.5), David Edwards: 58.2 (IR), Brian Allen: 64.5 (IN extension), Coleman Shelton: 51.5 (+1.5), Rob Havestein: 69.1 (+0.7), Bobby Evans: 29.8 (-3.5), Oday Aboushi: 56.0 (-0.6), Matt Skura: 50.3, Jeremiah Kolone: 36.1 (DNP extension), Joe Noteboom: 67.0 (IR), Tremayne Anchrum: 60.0 (IR), Alaric Jackson: 64.1 (IR), Chandler Brewer: 70.8 (IR)

It’s exhausting to write about the Los Angeles Rams offensive line. The unit has six players on injured reserve: Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Tremayne Anchrum, Alari Jackson, Logan Bruss, and Chandler Brewer. Ty Nsekhe was injured against New Orleans, forcing the Rams to use Bobby Evans at left tackle who everyone has seen, is atrocious. I question why Sean McVay continues to use Bobby Evans as he puts quarterbacks and running backs in harm’s way. Why not poach an offensive lineman off of someone else’s practice squad? Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Green Bay all have ties to McVay. I’m confident they could find a player who they could pick up to replace Evans. It’s not a good look for the six-year head coach. Stafford has been hit 63 times in nine games played. Protect your quarterback. Especially the one that you invested $40+ million annually this past offseason.

David Edwards and Brian Allen should return in the next week or two, but it will be too little too late. It would be wise to refrain from using David Edwards. His pending free agency and injury could allow Los Angeles to re-sign him at an affordable rate whereas a healthy 2022 year would have allowed for him to hit the open market and cash in.

Week 11 Grades: First Half (B), Second Half (F), Season Grade: D-, Trends: neutral

HC (Sean McVay)

Sean McVay is responsible for a lot this year. The injuries are out of his hand, but how he has handled a number of situations has been puzzling. The Cam Akers debacle, Allen Robinson’s contract and lack of involvement, and not recognizing the offensive line deficiencies soon enough. McVay is not in jeopardy of losing his job, but 2022’s disaster has to fall somewhere. Truth of the matter is the head coach did not prepare his offense to be ready to run it back.

Week 11 Grades: D+, Season Grade: d, Trends: neutral

Stay tuned within the next 24 hours for the defensive PFF grades from Week 11 for the Los Angeles Rams roster overview!

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