The LA Rams running game faltered in 2019. Here are 5 strategies to restore the Rams running game to excellence in 2020.
The LA Rams had ruled the NFL with a high powered offense in both 2017 and 2018. But that was not the case in 2019. Entering the season, the LA Rams had designed a rushing attack with three running backs. Feature running back Todd Gurley, whom everyone assured was fully healthy, would carry the Lion’s share. Gurley is 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds, fast enough to get to and through the holes quickly, big and strong enough to break tackles and deliver punishment to world be tacklers. Gurley struggled to remain healthy at the end of the 2018 season, and into the playoffs. So to prevent his disappearance late in the 2019 season, the team would load-manage his workload. Rushing fewer times early in the season to keep him fresh and dangerous late in the season.
Next up would be change of pace running back Darrell Henderson. A 2019 rookie speedster selected at 70 (round 3) from Memphis, Henderson was chosen to give the Rams a change of pace rusher who could threaten defenses both in the running and the passing game.
Finally, the Rams planned to lean on running back Malcolm Brown. Brown is a 5-foot-11 222 pound undrafted free agent signed from the University of Texas in 2015. Brown nearly signed with the Detroit Lions a year ago, but the Rams matched his offer sheet and retained Brown for the 2019 and the 2020 seasons.
The results for their 2019 plan? Rushing attempts fell 13 percent. Rushing TDs fell 13 percent. Rushing yards fell 32.8 percent. The plan didn’t work. So let’s diagnose what went wrong.
The first signs of weakness in the running game transpired by the bye week. No rusher ran for over 100 yards the entire season, and Brown missed two games with an ankle injury. Henderson carried 11 times in those two games, but didn’t add much for the Rams. Of course, the offensive line was a patchwork by week four, so running was a challenge. The struggle to run the ball certainly was not due to stalwart rushing defenses. The Rams faced the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals twice – all of whom were among the bottom rushing defenses in the NFL in 2019. So how can the Rams fix the running game?