Henderson’s receiving role
Stretching the field against a defense is an awful lot like rolling out the dough for a freshly baked pizza. If you simply stretch it in one direction, it quickly becomes lopsided and ultimately results in something you never wanted. Instead, stretching this way then that way ensures a homogenous pizza crust and a base for a perfectly balanced pizza pie that you will savor for hours.
Using Henderson in both a rushing and receiving role does that. But how can the Rams make use of Henderson in the passing game effectively? Well, Henderson is an ideal weapon to be used in screenplays, wheel routes, or simply to work into the flat vacated by wide receivers streaking downfield. Already catching 20 of 30 passes thrown his way for 196 yards and a touchdown, Henderson is already finding success as a receiver. Now, he simply needs to pivot more into becoming a weapon through the air.
In fact, a quick game log review of Henderson’s 2020 effectiveness shows that on the occasions when he was doing well in the ground game, he was also effective as a receiver. On a yards-per-play average, even more effectively than his rushing game. So the ability is there, as well as the potential. Now, how do the Rams go about pivoting to that far more balanced role for Henderson?
Thankfully, they have traded for the answer. Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford is quick to survey the field. If the defense does not show signs of separation to a receiver, Stafford turns to the running back as his safety outlet. That built-in safety valve is exactly the role that the LA Rams need to develop for Darrell Henderson this year. Of course, Henderson will not be the only running back suddenly catching passes. But he is the ideal player suited to test the perimeter of the defense.
Henderson coupled with Jackson creates a matchup nightmare for defenses. Jackson will test the secondary coverage deep downfield. In his wake, Henderson then tests the defense’s ability to defend the sideline. If the defense splits coverage and tries to shadow Henderson, Jackson’s speed will allow him to go deep. If the defense sticks two defensive backs on Jackson, then Henderson has plenty of daylight after he catches the ball and turns upfield.
The LA Rams truly do not need Henderson to carry the offense single-handedly. The team has far too many stars. But Henderson would be an ideal niche player in this offense that has plenty of weapons.