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Film Study

Film Study: Scouting Sean McVay's LA Rams


The Giants travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams on Sunday. The Rams are 2-1, and coming off a 35-32 defeat the Bills. The Rams scored 29 straight points to overcome a 28-3 deficit in the second half, but the Bills scored the winning touchdown with 15 seconds to play.

* The Rams are one of the best offenses in football. They are second in the NFL in yards per play (6.58) and third in yards per game (449.7). They are a balanced offense, tied for third in the league in rushing yards per game (170.3) and ranking seventh in passing yards per game (279.3). The Rams scored 69 combined points in their last two games against the Eagles and Bills.

* The Rams are also one of the best first-down offenses in the NFL. They average a league-leading 7.55 yards per first down play. They gain at least four yards on 67% of their offensive plays, which is also the highest rate in the NFL. The Rams run the ball on 59% of their 1st-and-10 ten plays, which is the highest rate in the league. They run for at least four yards on 59% of their first-down runs, which is the third-est rate in the league.

* The Rams' offense becomes particularly dangerous on first down when they throw the ball. Head Coach Sean McVay has designed his offense so his run plays look identical to his play-action passes in terms of what the offensive linemen do on each play. The result is a league-best 79% of first-down pass plays that goes for four yards or more. The Rams use play-action more than any other team in the league, including 35 of their 43 pass plays on first down, according to Pro Football Focus. On play-action passes this season, quarterback Jared Goff is 34-of-45 for 461 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

* To supplement their run game and play-action passing attack, the Rams use a lot of pre-snap shifts and motion. According to PFF, 57.4% of their plays feature shift or motion, which is the 9th-highest rate in the league. Their attack is similar in approach to what the 49ers used in Week 3, so the Giants should be prepared for some of the same tactics the Rams will use.

* Jared Goff is having a great start to his season. He is averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, which leads the NFL. He is fifth in the NFL in quarterback rating (108.3) and sixth in completion percentage (70.2%). Goff has completed all five of his passes that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air (totaling 139 yards and a touchdown). His 158.3 quarterback rating on such throws is tied for the best number in the league. The Rams have 17 completions of 20 or more yards, which is the third-most in the NFL. Goff is not negatively affected by the blitz, with a quarterback rating of 137.2 against it, which is the 4th-best number in the NFL.

View photos of the Los Angeles Rams' starters ahead of the Week 4 matchup against the Giants, based on their unofficial depth chart.

* 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson Jr. has emerged as the Rams' top running back. He rushed 32 times for 195 yards over the last two weeks. Henderson averages three yards after contact per rush, which ranks 16th in the NFL. Rookie running back Cam Akers missed week two with a rib injury. Malcolm Brown is the other running back the Rams utilize. They will also use Robert Woods on end-arounds and jet sweeps. He has seven carries for 63 yards so far this season. The Rams will use jet sweep motion before the snap often to create confusion within opposing defenses.

* Cooper Kupp's 228 receiving yards on 18 receptions out of 20 targets leads the Rams in all three categories. He has lined up 111 times in the slot and 72 times as an outside wide receiver. They like to drag him across the field on crossing routes, or use him on flag routes and deep out patterns from the slot. He has 15 catches for 15 or more yards this year.

* Robert Woods has 13 catches for 193 yards. He has lined up 120 times outside versus 64 times inside this season. He is averaging 11.1 yards after catch per reception, which leads Rams receivers. Josh Reynolds and rookie Van Jefferson are their third and fourth wide receivers.

* Tyler Higbee has emerged as a playmaker at tight end. He has caught 11 of his 12 targets for 136 yards. He is one of Jared Goff's top red zone threats with three receiving touchdowns. Higbee is also an effective blocker in the run and pass games.

* The Rams' offensive line has performed well this year. Veteran Andrew Whitworth. 38. is still playing well at left tackle and right tackle Rob Havenstein has only allowed one sack and three quarterback hurries. The Rams have allowed pressure up the middle. Right guard Austin Corbett and center Austin Blythe have combined to allow one sack, two quarterback hits and seven quarterback hurries this year. 2019 fifth-round pick David Edwards is their starting left guard. According to PFF, the Rams only allow pressure on 22% of their pass snaps, which is the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL. Goff has only been sacked four times, which is tied for the 6th-fewest in the NFL.

* The Rams defense is led by Aaron Donald, who may be the best player in football. According to PFF, he has three sacks, five quarterback hits and 13 hurries this season. He has a 26.3% pass rush win rate, which is second-best in to TJ Watt among NFL players with at least 30 pass rush snaps. They run stunts on 18% of their snaps, which is the 11th-highest rate in the league.

*Joining him up front are fellow defensive tackle Michael Brockers and former Bears edge rusher Leonard Floyd. Brockers has a sack and seven quarterback hurries, while Floyd has two sacks, one quarterback hit, and four hurries. The Rams get pressure 34% of the time on opponent' dropbacks, which is the ninth-best rate in the league. They do it while only blitzing only 22% of the time, which is the ninth-lowest rate in the league.

* The Rams' defense ranks 18th in yards allowed per game (372.7) and 20th in yards allowed per play (5.7). They rank 22nd in rushing yards allowed per play (4.84) and 12th in passing yards allowed per play (6.61). Opponents have been able to run the ball on the Rams on first down, with 56.8% of their opponents runs going for 4 yards or more, which is the highest rate in the league. The Rams, however, have not allowed any runs of more than 20 yards this year.

* Jalen Ramsey is the Rams' top cornerback. His snaps are almost split evenly between left and right outside cornerback. Ramsey is uncanny in his ability to keep his eye on the quarterback and make plays on the ball in the air. He had one interception in nine games for the Rams last season, and has 10 in his five-year career. According to PFF, he has allowed 11 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns this season.

* The Rams' primary objective on defense is to keep everything in front of them. They've only allowed four passes to be completed in nine attempts that have traveled more than 20 yards in the air. They have two interceptions on those passes, which accounts for their 13.5 opposing quarterback rating on such plays. They've allowed 10 pass plays of 20 or more yards, which is tied for 19th-fewest in the NFL.

* Troy Hill and Darious Williams are the other two cornerbacks. According to PFF, they have allowed 26 catches on 35 targets for 321 yards and a touchdown. John Johnson III, Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp are the Rams' primary safeties.

* The Rams struggle stopping opponents on 3rd-and-long, allowing a 33% conversion rate on 3rd-and-10, which is tied for the 5th-worst rate in the NFL. In the red zone, the Rams are letting their opponents score on 75% of their trips, which is the 7th-worst rate in the NFL. The Rams have also allowed 14 points in 2-minute situations this year, which is the most in the NFL.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.

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