LA Rams see Brown, not Henderson, as the more physical running back

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

When the going got tough, LA Rams RB Brown, not Henderson, got going

The LA Rams had fewer options at running back in week four than they planned as they faced the New York Giants. With rookie runner Cam Akers nursing a rib injury, and the team facing unknowns with both Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais, it came down to one of two options. The Rams could go with the hot-handed Darrell Henderson, who was coming off a 100 yard game against the Buffalo Bills in the previous week. Or the Rams could do with the steady-Freddie grinding of veteran running back Malcolm Brown.

LA Rams head coach Sean McVay made the call. The team would go with Brown. That prompted many Rams fans to call McVay to pose the question: Why?  The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue became the messenger who delivered the question. And she pried an answer out of the Rams head coach. An eloquently worded response that not only gave a sufficient response but allowed others to peer into the thought process behind the decision:

And the answer solved one riddle. But did it open the gateway for another?

Tough going means Brown

In a familiar but round-about way, head coach Sean McVay identified three principal thoughts used in the decision-making process that ultimately overwrote the plan for an even rotation.

Principal I – Brown gets the nod in a ‘physical downhill type dirty-type running game’.
Principal II – Brown is the go-to running back to establish ‘any sort of rhythm’ on offense.
Principal III – Brown gets the carries when the Rams feel there is little to no margin for error.

While none of this may surprise you, let’s frame this within certain overlying facts. The LA Rams drafted RB Cam Akers to take on the lion’s share of the carries in this offense.  Unfortunately, he was injured in week two and the Rams were forced to compete against the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants without him.

2021 free agency staring at Brown

But the uncertainty arises when the fact that Malcolm Brown’s contract expires at the end of this season.  Normally the team simply moves on to the next running back and off we go. But this is Henderson’s second season and he has found some success carrying the ball.  What I expected McVay to share was a better blocking ability against a Giants pass rush necessitated Brown in the backfield.

But that’s not what we got.

Instead, it was a more insightful thought process that suggested that the Rams trust Brown more in a physical contest.  If that’s the case, then where does Akers fit in that “trust” spectrum? And will that mean that the Rams make a bonafide effort to re-sign Brown at the end of this season? What of Xavier Jones, the undrafted running back who had beaten all odds to make it to the Rams 53-man roster?

Next. Will LA Rams rookie RB Cam Akers recharge the offense?. dark

This will be a storyline worth monitoring this season. How far will the Rams trust Brown this season? Will Cam Akers eventually be that go-to running back? Will Xavier Jones usurp the veteran Malcolm Brown and become the physical back by season’s end? What of speedy Raymond Calais? It’s clear that the Rams running game is still a story that is being written.