The LA Rams have an incredible running game that can win games, as long as they use it
Ah, yes, the inevitable 20-20 hindsight article that calls into question the LA Rams play calling and play distribution. But that only applies if we had not lobbied hard for a solid use of the running game. We had. So here we are once more, with a similar message. Run the ball. After all, the LA Rams have five running backs on the 53-man roster. Undrafted free agent running back Xavier Jones has yet to see the field for the offense. So far, he is exclusively special teams.
No matter. The Rams went out and signed speedster running back Raymond Calais. Again, no appearances for the offense. But he has returned three kicks for the Rams and has been very effective at doing so. His average so far is 23.2 yards per return. Last season, Jojo Natson averaged 22.2 yards per return. The Rams have rookie running Cam Akers. Despite the team selecting him from the 2020 NFL Draft class first, he’s carried the ball just 22 times and seen action for just 41 offensive plays. Even with such little work, the Rams runner has 113 rushing yards, for an average of 4.3 yards-per-carry.
Who gets the ball?
The team has veteran Malcolm Brown. So far, he has gotten the lion’s share of the work, taking the field for over 51 percent of the offensive snaps. While he has carried the ball just 55 times, he has rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns. But the Rams put him in the backfield to protect Goff as well, as he is the best blocker in the Rams backfield. Finally, the team has 2020 standout Darrell Henderson. He’s gotten 40 percent of the offensive snaps, but half of the team’s rushes. That’s thanks to his 4.8-yard average which has allowed him to chew up 348 yards on the ground so far, as well as three touchdowns.
That’s five running backs, two more players than the LA Rams have at inside linebacker, a position that requires two to fill. So if the Rams are going to go roster-heavy at the position, why abandon the running game during the game? I’m not arguing for a run-left, run-right, pass-over-the-middle, punt form of offense. But this team needs to create more opportunities to showcase a talented stable of thoroughbreds on the field.
Run to victory
So far this season, the LA Rams have lost the battle for time of possession twice. The first time was a low-scoring win over the visiting New York Giants. The second time was in a low-scoring loss over the rival San Francisco 49ers. The Rams lost the time-of-possession, and possibly the game, by leaning too hard into a passing game that was ineffective. An ineffective passing game simply gives the ball back to the opposing team.
The Rams need to run the ball. Run the ball on first down. Run the ball on second down. And at times run it on third down. There are many ways to change up the rhythm and keep the opposing defense guessing. There are ways to place two tight-ends onto the field to give a run-first look and pass out of it.
The Rams have an offense that depends upon the running game. The defense depends upon getting rests between time on the field. It’s the way this team is built right now. So run the ball Rams. Run to another victory.