Why won’t LA Rams trust their power running game?

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

After six games, the LA Rams are the NFL’s 10th ranked rushing offense. So why don’t the Rams run Darrell Henderson over their opposition?

The LA Rams are back to running the ball well folks. And the best of the bunch is second-year running back Darrell Henderson. After just six weeks, the team has been averaging 135.2 yards per game. How good is that? It’s better than the San Francisco 49ers, better than the Seattle Seahawks, and even better than the Dallas Cowboys. But how good is this team compared to 2019?

In 2019, the LA Rams averaged just 93.7 yards per game.  That is a whopping 41.5 yards more this year than just 12 months ago. It’s the same offensive line. And with the exception of swapping out rookie RB Cam Akers for last year’s Todd Gurley, it’s basically the same offensive personnel.  That’s an impressive improvement.

Just as sparkling from another angle

Putting it in other terms, the Rams are already at nine rushing touchdowns.  That is on track with the nine rushing touchdowns in each of the past two years. The difference? The Rams are getting just as many rushing scores without workhorse running back Todd Gurley. Who could have guessed that?

These LA Rams can run the ball. That’s a pleasant surprise for a team that has yet to truly test their highly drafted rookie Cam Akers. In fact, so far the team has been about the running game behind Darrell Henderson.

And it’s been impressive so far.

Trust the running force, Coach Skywalker

So what is there to complain about? Simply that the Rams backed away from a dominant running game even though it was there against the San Francisco 49ers.  In a game where the Rams averaged 5.9 on each running play, why only run the ball 19 times? By the end of the game, the Rams possessed the ball for just 22 minutes, to the 49ers 38 minutes.  Throughout the game, the Rams insisted on attempting to get the ball into the hands of the wide receiver, only to be frustrated for any number of reasons.

The running game was there. The Rams simply did not trust it enough. At one point, the Rams ran the ball effectively down the field, only to try passing into the end zone for the only turnover of the game. While the game was decided by eight points, the Rams lost a surefire touchdown and the possibility of an extra point in that decision.

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Not all games will afford the Rams a chance to run the ball down their opponent’s throats. In this game, the running game was there and was capable of doing exactly that. Head coach Sean McVay is a clever coach, yes. But someone within his inner circle needs to pull him aside and inform him to take what the opponent is giving him. The Rams wasted half a season in 2019 before McVay adjusted the offense. Let’s be a bit quicker this year, okay?