From the moment that the LA Rams made a trade for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, the focus pivoted to the passing game. These Rams had enjoyed a very effective offense in the past, but the team simply lost its offensive way as time rolled along.
Let’s face the facts, the Rams’ offense hinged upon an extremely effective and dangerous running game from featured back Todd Gurley, and that in turn opened up the passing game for the team as well as slowed down the pass rush.
Of course, the team has attempted to make a go of it since Gurley was no longer effective. The team struggled in 2019 with an injured offensive line. The team struggled again in 2020 as opposing defenses continued to attack quarterback Jared Goff to throw off the offensive rhythm. But all the while, the Rams failed to address the fact that the running game needs a strong running back. And they may have one in sophomore running back Cam Akers.
Winds of change, or is it just Akers?
Well, that may change for 2021. Cam Akers is returning to the offense for his second season, and he is clearly the featured running back in this offense. In fact, you could argue that the LA Rams offense has lacked that singular-strong featured back since they last made a Super Bowl run in 2018. Curious… that…
Well, the fact is that there is a lot of optimism about the upcoming season for the LA Rams running back Cam Akers, and it’s not just coming from the folks here at Ramblin Fan. In fact, we estimated from 1200-1320 yards, and the folks at Pro Football Focus have estimated him at 1,378 yards. Wow. That’s a pretty solid endorsement.
But how realistic is it? Well, the LA Rams put up a lot of rushing yards in a season, because that is what it takes to ignite the offensive high-performance engines of this Rams offense. And a broad spectrum is now focusing on Akers, not Stafford, as the crux of the team’s success this year.
Cam the Ram Akers upgrade
It was clear that Akers was up to the task in 2020, as the tougher the competition, the more determined were his runs. Now, the burden falls on him right out of the gates. No more time for second-guessing. No more bench time as he watches teammate Malcolm Brown enter the game if the opponents are physical at the line of scrimmage.
Of course, that will also serve to unlock the other aspects of Akers’s game that we only witnessed in flashes from 2020. He will now be pitted in as the primary blocker for Matthew Stafford, a role that is itself crucial for the 2021 NFL season. And he will see plenty of passes thrown his way, if simply due to a greater number of opportunities.
Not all games will clock Akers in at 150 yards and multiple touchdowns. But Akers will bring the respect of defenses in the running game much like the fleet-footed routes of wide receiver DeSean Jackson will command the respect of defenses to dedicate two defensive backs to prevent quick touchdowns.
Can Cam be the featured running back for the LA Rams? He already is. Now, the only question is how well can he perform in that role.