LA Rams running back chat over snaps, off tackles, and more pop

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

LA Rams running backs chat over snaps, off tackles, and more pop

The LA Rams have several good running backs. Well, three that we know about, and two in the on-deck circle. So far, the 2020 NFL season has truly featured both veterans Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. The LA Rams have committed to a running game this year. So far, the team has rushed for 40, 39, and 32 carries respectively.

Of the 111 carries on the ground, the LA Rams have handed the ball off to Malcolm Brown 36 times, to Darrell Henderson 35 times, and to Cam Akers 17 times. Keep in mind that Akers is currently day to day with Rib injuries. The remaining 23 carries have been bootlegs, jet sweeps, and a host of other plays designed to get the ball into the hands of skill players. All told, the Rams are moving the ball on the ground at a very robust 4.6 yards per rush, good enough for the 12th best rush-per-carry average in the NFL.

Deceptive offense

The Rams have made some changes to their play formations this year. Not only have the Rams getting better performance out of the Rams offensive line blocking, but the team is simply doing a much better job designing plays to amplify their offensive line effectiveness. The Rams have introduced very creative blocking schemes that give a portion of the offensive line a pass-blocking look. That allows the offensive line to hinder back door pursuit on running plays while slowing down their pass-rushing when quarterback Jared Goff drops back to throw.

Which the defense now actively defending both the pass and rush, the Rams are able to move the ball effectively both between the tackles and off-tackle. The results for the Rams speak for themselves. It’s very much the same offensive line. It’s the same set of running backs who were ineffective in 2019. Now? the Rams are running hard and long.

More Pop

Perhaps one of the more decisive improvements to the Rams running game this year is the way all running backs seem to hit the holes with more pop. They no longer appear to be picking out the softest part of the field to land on their backsides, but rather appear to be looking ahead to their lane and their next hole. Since that is consistent on all running backs, it appears that new running backs coach Thomas Brown is already earning his keep.

While the Rams have yet to see an eyebrow-raising performance out of rookie running back Cam Akers, it will all click for him soon. When that happens, the Rams can rotate backs during the game, or alternatively feature a different style of running back each week. The LA Rams offense needs a strong running game to run at peak efficiency. This year, the offense is purring like a high-performance engine.

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So far, the team’s running game reminds me of the logo for Kellogg’s breakfast cereal, Rice Krispies. But instead of “snap, crackle, pop!”, the LA Rams running game is about snaps, off tackle, and more pop.