Next Gen Stats: LA Rams RB Henderson among Top-10 explosive runners

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams may not have had a single thousand-yard rusher in 2020, but the team certainly found a nice cadence by intermingling the powerful rushing of veteran Malcolm Brown, the elusive rushing of rookie Cam Akers, and the speedy and dangerous dashes of second-year running back Darrell Henderson.

The trio combined to place the Rams rushing attack among the Top-10 running games in the NFL in 2020. That was a welcome change for the team that was the 26th-ranking rushing offense in 2019. It also helped take a lot of pressure off of the defense because the LA Rams finally controlled the game clock consistently.

But that all came at a price, as the Rams offense fell to the 23rd most effective scoring offense. If an  NFL team wishes to win it all, they look unfavorably at any aspect of the team that falls into the lower 50 percent of the NFL. For the Rams in 2020? They fell to the bottom half of the league on both special teams’ performance and on the offense’s ability to put points on the board.

Getting back to being a more explosive offense

That led to the LA Rams diagnosing their offensive woes as a lack of explosiveness.  Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:

So LA Rams head coach Sean McVay wants a more explosive offense?

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

Okay. So who can the Rams assemble for that task? Well, from the NFL Free Agency market, the Rams signed veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson. From the 2021 NFL Draft, the LA Rams added rookies Tutu Atwell, Jake Funk, Jacob Harris, and finally Ben Skowronek.

But all through the build-a-better-mousetrap urgency to fix the offense, the Rams shouldn’t overlook the former Memphis Tiger Darrell Henderson. The 5-foot-8 208-pound rusher for the Rams is fast and can dish out the punishment too. Of course, he has a new feather for his cap. Per the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Henderson is among the Top-10 most explosive runners in the NFL from 2020.

What is an explosive NFL runner?

Okay, so what exactly is the definition of the most explosive NFL runner? Well, it’s an attempt to quantify a player’s speed with their on-field production. Well, let’s allow Nick Shook to explain what is the criteria:

"Here are our three criteria:A minimum of 100 carries in 2020.At least 20 carries of 10-plus yards.The defining metrics: the total number and percentage of 15-plus mph runs. – Per Around the NFL’s Nick Shook"

Based upon these factors, Darrell Henderson was among the Top-10 NFL explosive rushers. In fact, he was one of the most effective running backs early in the season.

"“His Pro Football Focus grade of 90.2 between Weeks 1-10 is also remarkable, as it was the highest among all running backs in that span” – per Nick Shook"

Of course, that may all be for naught as the LA Rams have stated that they will be featuring second-year running back Cam Akers in 2021. That begs the question, how can the Rams tap Darrell Henderson’s explosiveness this year?

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Well, we had discussed this in a previous article, as Henderson would be an ideal weapon to attack the defense’s perimeter both as a rusher and as a receiver.  He could either run a fast track wheel route out of the backfield or simply line up wide and run a curl or slant route. Once the ball is in his hands, he becomes incredibly dangerous.

Explosive offense? Just get the ball to Darrell Henderson, and let him do the rest.