By Cedric Williams
Sunday’s performance in the 2017 NFL season opener at the Memorial Coliseum was by far the best the Los Angeles Rams have looked since the club came back to town last year after spending the previous 20 seasons in St. Louis. New head coach Sean McVay couldn’t have been happier with how his team played in its first official game.
The Rams dominated the visiting Indianapolis Colts in every facet of the game on their way to a 46-9 victory.
Sure, the Colts were playing without a couple of key starters, including starting QB Andrew Luck. But even if the former No. 1 overall pick had been there, it didn’t seem like much about Sunday would’ve changed.
Los Angeles was the better team yesterday, and Indianapolis was simply outmanned and didn’t stand much of a chance. That’s why the Rams won big, and it’s also why we’ve got nothing but high marks for the home team in our Week 1 gameday grades:
OFFENSE – A
Coming off a season in which they were statistically the worst offense in the league, the Rams looked fantastic in their first game with McVay running things. Second-year quarterback Jared Goff was 0-7 and looked not quite ready for pro football as a rookie. But after a full offseason to work with and learn from McVay, Goff looked like the player fans thought the club was getting when it made him the No. 1 overall pick at last year’s draft.
Goff was confident and he was certainly efficient, as he completed 21-of-29 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown. He also had no interceptions and finished the day with a 117.9 passer rating.
The Rams got big days from new receivers Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins, who combined for nine catches, 134 yards, and a touchdown.
LA didn’t do much on the ground on Sunday, but they didn’t have to with the big plays they made in the passing game. The Rams had 373 yards of total offense, 19 first downs, only committed one turnover, and held the ball for almost 10 minutes more than the Colts did.
DEFENSE – A+
The Rams “D” sparkled all day long as it held the Colts to just 225 yards. LA forced three turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and even forced a safety. Just on defense alone, the Rams outscored the Colts 14-9.
And on top of that, Indianapolis was 0 for 10 on third-down attempts, and also failed on their one fourth-down try.
Players who stood out specifically include defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who led the club with five tackles on Sunday. Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner had four tackles to go along with two pass defensed, and an interception he returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Fellow DB Trumaine Johnson was also a star on Sunday. He turned the excitement level in the Coliseum on high when he picked off Indy QB Scott Tolzien’s first pass of the game and returned it for a score early in the first quarter. Johnson also forced a fumble and then recovered it himself, which led to another Rams score later in the second quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS – A
The one place Indianapolis may have thought it might be able to generate some energy for itself was in the kicking game, where the thought coming in was that the clubs were even. But LA shut the Colts down there, too. LA didn’t allow any kickoff returns yards at all, even though all the Rams’ scoring meant Indianapolis would get more chances than usual to return kicks.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein stood out for the Rams, as he made all three field goals he attempted (including a 50-yarder to open the scoring), and went five-for-five on PATs.
COACHING – A+
Rams fans couldn’t have asked for a better debut from its new head man. McVay had his club ready to dominate the day against a clearly inferior opponent. Some might say, “well that’s what you’re supposed to do against a struggling team like Indianapolis,” but there’s also that old NFL adage of “any given Sunday” could turn out any way for any team. LA could’ve fallen victim to that if it hadn’t shown up ready to play on Sunday. McVay wasn’t going to allow that. He even had his team looking like a group that just might be worthy of getting excited about this season.
NEXT UP: The Rams will host the Washington Redskins on Sunday at the Coliseum. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 p.m.