Method IV: Running game
No matter who the quarterback is, a strong running game is their best friend. And even though the LA Rams are focusing upon a pass-centric offense in 2021, the success of those plans depends heavily upon ensuring that the team has a strong running game. Coincidentally, that is something that Matthew Stafford has not benefitted from throughout his NFL career with the Detroit Lions.
In stark contrast, the LA Rams have been among the Top-10 rushing offenses in three of the past four seasons. Over that same period, the Lions have never made it out of the Bottom-10 rushing offenses, and in 2017, the Lions has the worst rushing offense in the NFL. Even without the benefit of moving the chains on the ground, that greatly handicaps any play-action passes as the defense has no reason to fear the run.
This offense uses the running game to help the passing game, and the passing game to help the running game. That’s a huge change from what Matthew Stafford is used to witnessing. And it’s that help that will allow Stafford to ease into his role with the Rams over the course of the first few games. As much as everyone will look for that first play of each game to be an 80-yard touchdown strike to DeSean Jackson, I expect the Rams will run the offense without as much accelerator until the coaches and players have synched up.
Even as the Rams begin to fire on all cylinders, don’t expect them to ignore the running game. The passing game relies heavily upon the threat of running plays to create separation, to put defensive backs out of position, and to give the Rams the advantage in personnel packages. In the end, the Rams may want to create a more explosive quick-score offense, but the playbook will continue to rely upon the running game and play-action pass plays to do so.