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Five Takeaways: Rams Excel in All Phases vs. Giants

Posted Nov 6, 2017

L.A. found a lot of success on offense, defense, and special teams against the Giants in Sunday's 51-17 victory.

The Rams are 6-2 halfway through the 2017 season, having emphatically defeated the Giants 51-17 in New Jersey on Sunday.

With so many strong plays and so many points scored, it’s almost hard to distill the Week 9 contest into five key points. But that’s what we’ll do here in this edition of five takeaways.

1) 51 points — that’s a lot

Los Angeles was edged out of being the NFL’s highest scoring team for a week. Apparently the club didn’t like that very much.

The Rams scored 50-plus points for the first time since a 52-0 shutout in 2014 on Sunday, and now leads the league at 32.9 points per game. It’s a far cry from the 14.0 points per game Los Angeles scored last year.

It’s also worth noting that the Rams have already eclipsed their scoring output from the entire 2016 season in just eight games. That’s what happens when a club scores at least 40 three times in eight chances.

“It definitely is surprising,” wide receiver Tavon Austin said of the 2017 team’s point total so far. “But for the most part the type of work we put in at practice day in and day out, this is something that we definitely knew was going to happen. It’s about going out there and playing sound free football and completing everything we need to do.”

The scoring output is fun for the offense to participate in, but it’s also significantly aiding the defense’s performance.

“It’s definitely a good feeling because we haven't put up that many points in a long time,” middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “When you’re able to do that, it definitely helps the defense out a lot to get rest and not be on the field as much. And if our offense is out there more than us, that’s a good thing usually.”

2) Goff with an efficient, effective performance

It hasn’t been a long period, but second-year quarterback Jared Goff had arguably the best performance of his young career against the Giants.

Goff set new career highs in yards passing (311) and touchdowns (four) en route to defeating New York. But the 23-year-old signal-caller was also quite efficient, averaging 14.1 yards per attempt and 22.2 yards per completion.

“Really pleased with Jared today,” head coach Sean McVay said postgame. “I thought he managed the game extremely well, I thought he made some excellent off schedule plays.”

McVay was also complimentary of Goff’s ability to handle the wet conditions, as it was lightly raining on and off throughout the contest.

“Jared seemed like he handled it really well yesterday, but I think that’s more about asking your players what their feel is, and especially the quarterback and the center — just because of the way that their controlling the ball every single snap,” McVay said. “But you’ve definitely always got to have kind of a wet-ball plan and understand how that changes and dictates some of the things that you may or may not do, because of the handling of the ball and how things you can kind of set yourself at risk.”

Midway through the season, Goff leads the league at 8.3 yards per attempt and 13.8 yards per completion. And per NFL next gen stats, with Goff’s 67-yard touchdown to wideout Sammy Watkins, the Cal product has the longest completion in terms of air distance this season at 61.8 yards.

3) Rams turn takeaways into points

Coaches often talk about units working in tandem in order to produce the most effective results. When a team produces 17 points off turnovers as Los Angeles did Sunday, that’s a prime example.

The Rams converted defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s sack/fumble, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree’s forced fumble, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson’s interception into 17 points.

“It was big,” Johnson said. “We put a big emphasis on taking the ball away all week. And those three turnovers were in the first [half]. … All of them we got points out of, so it was big for our team.”

“We had great field position all day and just [gained] momentum,” Goff said. “Being able to feel that excitement when they make the play — we expect to make a play after them.”

As McVay pointed out in his Monday press conference, L.A. is now plus three in turnover margin in 2017. The head coach often says that aside from points, the biggest indicator of wins and losses in the league is turnovers.

“There’s a lot of good things that we are doing right now, but it goes back to we really talk about our football philosophy with our players and the number one thing that we talk about is it’s always about the ball,” McVay said. “By going plus-three in the turnover margin yesterday, that was a big indicator of giving yourself to win the football game and now we’re at plus-three for the season. … Those are the things that we talk about, we emphasis moving forward and those don’t really change.”

4) Everett shows versatility

Rookie tight end Gerald Everett has become a Swiss army knife of sorts in McVay’s offense.

In the last few games, Everett has taken an inside shovel pass for a touchdown, caught a long pass after lining up on the outside, and even run a jet sweep.

So what does McVay see in Everett?

“He’s a great athlete,” the head coach said. “Playing in-line, contributing in the run game, whether that be a movable piece kind of as a lead blocker, as that H-back, or even just playing in-line. But, he’s got a bright future. He’s a joy to be around and it was good for Gerald to be able to make some of those big plays yesterday.”

Goff complimented Everett’s ability to come in and contribute after what he did at UAB and South Alabama.

“He’s extremely versatile. Obviously, we use him in a bunch of different ways,” Goff said. “He basically played receiver in college so getting him where he needs to be blocking has been really good to see his effort there and how far he has come in that realm has been great. But anytime we can get him on the outside we get excited and get a good matchup with him, we’ll try to get him the ball.”

5) Special teams — weirdly kind of a footnote

Not only did the offense take advantage of the field position from the club’s takeaways, but the unit also scored a pair of touchdowns after big special teams plays in the third quarter.

First wide receiver Pharoh Cooper continued his string of strong returns, taking a punt back 30 yards to the New York 45-yard line.

Four plays later, wide receiver Robert Woods was in the end zone for his second touchdown of the day — a four-yard reception from Goff.

“I think in the kick return and in the punt return he has brought a huge spark to our team, and it’s been referenced by just the field position in some of those big returns where you flip the field and get us in some good spots offensively to start drives,” McVay said. “We’ve been very pleased with Pharoh.”

New York’s ensuing drive ended with another outstanding L.A. special teams play, as linebacker Cory Littleton blocked his second punt in three games.

McVay gave plenty of credit to the unit’s coordinator, John “Bones” Fassel, for identifying how the club could use Littleton in that role.

“‘Bones’ is a special leader, special, special teams coach where he’s got a great feel for the game, he knows how to attack protections in the punt pro game and I think Cory is excellent,” McVay said. “He has put him in some good spots.”

In most other games, these two plays might have been headliners. And clearly they’re still worth noting. But in a matchup where the Rams scored 51 points, there’s just so much to choose from.