Three things to watch for with the LA Rams going forward
After a heartbreaking loss in week three to the Buffalo Bills, the LA Rams shift their focus to week four as they host the struggling New York Giants, the second NFC East team to come to town. Through these first three weeks, the offense appeared to be back to its 2018 form with everything seeming to click. Head coach Sean McVay looks to be dialed in with his playcalling. Even as one of the hottest offenses in the NFL, it doesn’t seem like he is going to be slowing down any time soon.
With every season, we learn that the team you see in early games can look great even in a bad year. That is due to the fact that the team early on isn’t necessarily going to look identical to the team down the stretch of the season. That leaves several questions to be answered about what to expect going forward with this team.
Will Darrell Henderson continue to be the lead back?
There are no words for the exceptional performances running back Darrell Henderson has put forth in back to back weeks. Currently heading into week four, Henderson is PFF’s number one rated RB in all of football. His vision of the playing field allows him to run through the correct gap. His burst, patience, and footwork have shown us already why McVay and the Rams front office decided to trade up to get him in the 2019 draft.
He’s rushed for a total of 201 yards on 35 attempts and averaging 5.7 yards-per-carry. The total rushing yard stats aren’t indicative of how excellent he has been though. Keep in mind that Henderson was limited in week one due to a hamstring injury.
After week one, it looked as if veteran running back Malcolm Brown might be the lead back after powering in for two touchdowns and 79 yards on the ground. And he may yet see some heavier use as the Rams try to balance out touches.
In week two rookie running back, Cam Akers suffered a rib injury early on in the Rams victory against the Philadephia Eagles. Before he got injured it looked as if he was going to receive most of the workload in that particular game. The Rams invested heavily into Akers as they took him with their first pick in the 2020 NFL draft and had praised him throughout training camp. Are they going to stick with Henderson getting most of the touches or will they return to the committee approach they planned on having early on? I do know one thing though, it’s a good problem to have as all backs are extremely talented.
When will the defensive line start to get going?
Outside of Aaron Donald of course, the Rams pass rush and run-stopping has been virtually non-existent. Per ESPN analytics, the Rams rank 29th in pass rush win rate at 34 percent, and they are ranked 27th in run stop win rate at 27 percent. The Rams had a similar issue in 2019 when it came to stopping the run, which in turn is why they went out and signed defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in free agency. Unfortunately, Robinson went on the NFI (non-football injury) list to start the season so he has to miss at the very minimum the first eight games.
When it comes to pass rush, outside linebacker Terrell Lewis could be activated as early as week five vs. the Washington football team with his time being up on the NFI. This could end up being the boost that the Rams needed to get more pressure on the QB, Lewis was highly touted coming out of Alabama and if it weren’t for health concerns he would’ve been a consensus first-round pick. As for the other Rams edge rushers, Ogbo Okonrkwo and Samson Ebukam have yet to get anything going. Will we see them bounce back? Or will the team opt for more snaps for players like Jachai Polite, Natrez Patrick, and Morgan Fox?
Is Samuel Sloman the answer at kicker?
it’s been a small sample size but Samuel Sloman has looked a bit shaky through his first three games as the Rams starting kicker. Most kickoffs aren’t going out of the end zone and also his field goal attempts have such a low trajectory coming off the foot. Every time he has an attempt it seems as if it has the chance to get blocked. Now could this also be because of protection?
Yes, but special teams coach John Bonamego has some work to do to figure out what is going on. Also, Sloman has made four field goals out of six attempted and has a long of 35 yards which is 30th in the league. All of this might get fixed with more opportunities to come his way so it’s something to monitor as the season progresses. The Rams look to be a legit contender and to make it that far, you need a reliable kicker who you can count on in critical moments of the games.