Los Angeles Rams: Special teams special in win over Jaguars

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Pharoh Cooper
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Pharoh Cooper /

The Los Angeles Rams special teams scored two touchdowns in their Week 6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It would be darn near impossible for any NFL franchise’s special teams to be more special than those of the Los Angeles Rams were on Sunday. After all, they posted two touchdowns and two field goals to account for 20 of the team’s points in their 27-17 Week 6 triumph over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

First, Rams kick returner Pharoh Cooper — averaging a stellar 31.7 yards per run-back — brought the opening kickoff back 103 yards for a touchdown. Next, Los Angeles linebacker Cory Littleton blocked a Jaguars punt to set up running back Malcolm Brown for the scoop and the score.

Thirdly, three-time All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker was his typical self, booting the football seven times at 46 yards a clip. Finally, kicker Greg Zuerlein — who has performed like a Pro Bowler himself this season in converting 17 of 18 field goals and nailing all 18 extra point tries — drilled two 3s against Jacksonville to continue his blazing 2017 pace.

Make no mistake, the Rams special teams units were the difference in the Week 6 win over the Jags. If not for their exploits, L.A. is sitting at 3-3 right now rather than 4-2. And the success of the special teams all starts with L.A. special teams coach John Fassel, who was the only holdover from Jeff Fisher’s staff. There is a reason he was retained by Head Coach Sean McVay: he can flat-out coach and is as good at what he does as anyone in the league.

When covering the Rams in St. Louis, I marveled at Fassel as he often ran up and down the practice field to physically coach up his units. Rather than just telling his players what to do, he consistently showed them what to do, too. And when you watch L.A., you can see Fassel’s endless energy on display, as his units play with enthusiasm and intensity week after week.

With Hekker and Zuerlein, one can make a strong argument that L.A. currently has the best kicker/punter combo in all of football. And with the emergence of Cooper  — who leads the league in kick return yardage and may soon may by regarded as one of the game’s elite returners — it could be that the Rams have the best overall special teams in the game. Minus the many muffs from punt returner Tavon Austin, the Rams special teams have been terrific.

Good teams find ways to consistently win games, often due to the fact that they are solid or better in at least two of the three main facets (offense, defense and special teams). It’s not that good teams are always great in all three phases or even two of three — and the Rams weren’t Sunday — it’s that one or more of the units step up to make enough plays to earn a win.

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Some wins will be pretty. Some will be ugly. But the best teams find ways to get it done one way or another on a consistent basis. And that’s exactly what L.A. did against the Jags, as the special teams unit propelled the Rams to victory.

Next week it could be the offense that shines. Or maybe the defense has a lights-out game. Perhaps all three phases dominate. But as long as one or more of these units refuse to lose, then Los Angeles will have a good shot at moving to 5-2 against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in London.