Key Matchups: Los Angeles Rams At New York Giants
Mike Glennon vs Himself (If Daniel Jones Is Held Out With A Concussion)
Before last week this game was a sneaky interesting matchup. Daniel Jones was looking like a competent quarterback, scoring the sixth-highest Pro Football Focus passing grade this year. He got there by finally protecting the football (Only two turnovers this year), but also showing off his ability to make big plays. His intended air yards per attempt is 9.4 yards, which is not only the highest of his career but puts him in the neighborhood of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady (when it comes to pushing the ball down the field, at least). Jones’ improvement can also be attributed to the weapons the Giants added in the offseason. Most notably Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney.
So before last week’s Cowboys game, the Rams defense could have had their handsful with the Giants offense. But Golladay won’t be playing, and Jones is in the concussion protocol. The Giants will still field a good group of pass catchers including Toney, (he was ejected from that game for throwing a punch.)
Jones is beginning to trend towards being able to play, but if he does not pass the protocol, their starting quarterback will be Mike Glennon. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Glennon has essentially been a backup quarterback since he was drafted by the Buccaneers. He has started 27 games in his career (13 of which came in his first season) and his teams have won six games of those games and Glennon is winless in the last 10 games that he’s played.
Glennon shares some similarities to Jones. Neither is a terribly accurate passer and both like to move the ball down the field. So Glennon can move the sticks and he also has thrown a relatively impressive 44 touchdowns. Unlike Jones, he has never figured out how to not turn the ball over. He has 37 turnovers in his career including two against the Cowboys.
This week Glennon will face a Rams defense that is rated 14th in defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders and one that has had issues stopping explosive plays.
The key for the Rams defense is to make sure Glennon can’t tip the game in the Giants’ direction by allowing big, explosive pass plays. While unlikely, last season the Jets were able to beat the Rams defense by completing several 10+ yard passes on a few key drives.
Stafford vs The MVP Race
There is an old football truth that applies to this game. Great teams don’t lose to bad teams. The Giants are officially a bad team next week due to all the injuries on offense, but this defense is bad no matter which way you slice it and the Rams will be the best offense they have faced this season.
In short, Matthew Stafford should be chief slicer and dicer of the New York defense.
The Giants’ strength on defense has been their defensive backfield. Both Adoree’ Jackson and James Bradberry are solid cornerbacks, but the Rams depth at wide receiver will expose the lack of depth in coverage beyond those two. A serious liability in coverage are safeties, Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney. Having safeties that are bad in coverage will unlock Stafford’s deep threats. Which, as we have seen, can be any of the top five options.
Stafford is having a great year, but he is being overshadowed by some Herculean performances by quarterbacks around the league. Currently, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott, and Tom Brady all have better betting odds to win MVP this season. Stafford is having a great year as well, but the last two weeks haven’t helped his case for MVP. He has struggled to find a rhythm early in those games (or at all against the Cardinals). Meanwhile, the other top quarterbacks are lighting the league up.
This will be a good game for Stafford to remind Vegas that he is very much in the running for the award.
Robert Rochell vs Darius Slayton
Robert Rochell didn’t expect to see snaps as a starter this early in his career, but with the injury to Darious Williams and some regression from David Long, Rochell finds himself squarely in the spotlight.
His first start came last week against the Seahawks. It wasn’t without its downsides, but he also showed plenty of upside. Previous to that game, that upside was only potential and the Rams were early in seeing his potential. His size (6’2”, 195lbs) and his freakish athletic ability put him in a category with some rarified defensive backs including his teammate and best corner in the league, Jalen Ramsey. The Athletics Jourdan Rodrigue first reported about the use of JARS, a Rams internal scouting system, to identify his unique potential.
So now the rubber meets the road. Can Rochell look like the next Ramsey? Last week was a trial by fire and not only did he come out without serious burns, but he also was taking it in stride. Sean McVay called him “even-keeled” as he took his lumps throughout the game. Rochell calls it “short-term memory.” Either way, he isn’t getting frustrated, he is learning how to play the position.
Last week, he had to go against a few of the best in the league in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. This week will be a bit easier. Rochell will likely maintain his role on the outside with David Long or Terrell Burgess playing the slot and Ramsey likely covering Toney, wherever he shall roam.
With Golladay out, Darius Slayton will see a lot more playing time. Which isn’t new for him. Slayton caught 180 passes over the last two seasons playing a lion’s share of snaps in those games. He is a legitimate deep threat, averaging 18.1 yards per catch this season. He has missed the last two games due to a hamstring injury.
Assuming he is healthy, Slayton matches up very well with Rochell as far as traits are concerned. Slayton is 6’1” 190. The two both have a sub 4.4 40 yard dash and both have a vertical leap of more than 40 inches. Obviously, Slayton has already proven himself to be a pro-level player and he will certainly be motivated to show the Giants coaching staff that he is worthy of more playing time.
All that said, Lockett, who Rochell was covering for much of the Seattle game, is a much better receiver than Slayton. It will be interesting to see how well Rochell will match up to a more physically gifted yet less experienced and less skilled receiver.