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Something more rare than the solar eclipse happened in Week 2 of the preseason – the Los Angeles Rams looked wildly efficient on offense. I know, right? Nothing beats current event humor. I’m so sick of hearing about the solar eclipse, so I’ll try to bury several solar puns in this recap. See if you can identify them all.
The disciplined and meticulous ways of Sean McVay are a giant stamp on this team. They are not likely a playoff team but will be the 8-8 team you don’t want to play. If they get a break here and there they might make a Wild Card push…if their main luminary, Aaron Donald returns by Week 1…and if Andrew Luck isn’t ready Week 1. The Week 1 game still sits at +3.0 Rams at Indy.
My takeaway from watching this game, and considering last week’s efforts — the Rams are improving…the Raiders are filled with (black)holes that I don’t believe they’ll have enough fingers to plug up the dam on this year. The Raiders are a pick ’em at Tennessee…I love the Titans to shine in that game.
— This was a glimpse of the Jared Goff (16-20 for 160 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) people were expecting. Everything he did in this game was smart and tight. Proper reads. Terrific play calling and decisions. Just a solid performance by Goff. Four drives for Goff in the game – an 8-play, 4:46 TD drive, followed by a three and out, then another 8-play TD drive, 3:25 off the clock. Lastly, a 15-play, 4:22 drive for another score (FG). The Rams held 20 of 30 minutes of the 1st-half time of possession with Goff. He wasn’t the Rams’ brightest star in this game…who was in a moment.
The bad news for the Rams Defense – Carr led two scoring drives as well. I don’t see any flashes of ‘wow’ from the Rams defense under Wade Phillips, yet. I had bigger hopes for this Rams DST, but my hopes are flickering after two watches in the preseason. It’s too early to make an official call.
— Goff’s main target and the most luminous player I glared at in this game – Cooper Kupp (4-49-1/6), who put on a sparkling display. I worried about Kupp’s fantasy targets after the Sammy Watkins (2-8-0/4) trade, but I am changing back to excitement about Kupp in PPR…and am re-fading on Watkins.
Kupp was brilliant here, catching everything thrown his way – dealing with slightly misthrown balls with simplicity to make sparkling catches look simple. The fact is – Kupp is better at wide receiver-ing than Sammy Watkins. Now, Watkins is a cool/better deep threat, but he’s not as good as Kupp at routes and hands…and that’s not a slam at Watkins – Kupp is just that good/great.
The fact that Watkins is there helps Kupp because defenses will moronically shadow Watkins with primary coverage because the media has been telling people Watkins is the best WR ever for three years and the NFL scouting community is complicit with that…and all the three years of mostly weak performance — all Buffalo’s fault. Soon it will be ‘all the Rams fault’ when Watkins is good-not-great and Kupp is the secure target.
Note on Watkins – I didn’t see anything interesting from him in this game. He looked sluggish, disinterested, and covered tightly. There’s a reason Buffalo dumped him for a bag of beads… He’ll have a role and output, but not what people think for fantasy…unless he kicks it in for his contract run – but I think he believes his hype and doesn’t put in the effort. Wildly overvalued. Kupp wildly undervalued in PPR.
— Hey, guess what? Todd Gurley (8-38-1, 1-12-0/1) had run longer than zero…no, I’m not pulling your leg. He had a couple of them. His long was 9-yards, a three-yard run stopped by nine tacklers in a cluster and then both sides played rugby pushing Gurley an extra six-yards.
This surely was a better game for Gurley…the best I’ve seen in a while, but still lacking…still, it is a phosphorescence of hope. Has anyone had a satisfying Gurley watch since 2015? He’s going to be fine for fantasy because ‘touches’ but that superstar dream…I don’t see it. He’s no David Johnson, but he is very good as a power runner and nice receiving option.
— Marshawn Lynch (2-10-0) made a brief appearance and looked like the Lynch we’ve all always observed. Hard to tell his stamina or how he’ll be utilized from this brief appearance, but Lynch looked normal on his couple of touches.
Later on in the game, rookie Elijah Hood (5-12-0) took some carries…the possible Lynch ‘handcuff’? I didn’t see anything that got me excited.
— Derek Carr played most of the first half, led two scoring drives working with 1st-team guys. There was no sighting of Cordarrelle Patterson (1-7-0/2) with the first group. Not even a courtesy look. I’m ready to fold my cards, but my hand won’t let go of the cards. Really…we’re still doing Seth Roberts (0-0-0/0) as a starter in three-WR sets?
How is CP supposed to show what he can do and blaze his way to the starting three when relegated to working with E.J. Manuel? I’m growing to hate the Raiders for 2017, after loving them to the playoffs last year.
— Gerald Everett (4-30-0/4) got the Jordan Reed treatment here. Several times Everett lined up off the line, flared out into the flat and took an easy pass from Goff. I don’t see the same pop or power from Everett as I do Reed, but I’m re-interested in Everett again as a guy who might catch 2-4 passes a game…an emergency fill-in after your starting TE fails you. He needs more time to bake before he’s ready to put up Reed-like numbers…if he ever does.
— Rookie IDP Shalom Luani (3 tackles) seems to be working his way up the depth chart ladder in Oakland. He had some solid work at safety in this game.
— As an FYI, Ben Heeney is nowhere to be found or discussed. He may have retired with Anquan Boldin to do charity work. I don’t know. I pray he gets cut and picked up by the Patriots or Bills.