Michel, my bell, cow
The LA Rams running game is more than filler to give the receivers and quarterback a chance to rest up. It’s a strategy, a move on the chessboard that currently does not have an effective counter move. It’s a check to the opposing defense, daring them to load up the box with eight or more defenders.
But until they do, he is piling up the yards in huge chunks now. How good is he? Well, we did a quick and dirty analysis of his production. When he was the backup to Darrell Henderson, he only managed 59 carries for 238 yards in 10 games.
But when Henderson was injured, he has rushed 109 times in five games (Week 11 BYE) for 490 yards.
How does that equate to a per-game number?
1st half 2021 per game: 5.9 rushes for 23.8 yards per game.
2nd half 2021 per game: 21.8 rushes for 98.0 yards per game
Some players simply play better the more that they play in a game. That is particularly true of powerful running backs, whose style of running is such that tacklers oftentimes are worse for the wear.
Rams should run Michel
As much as fans have continued to debate the Michel vs Henderson debate all season, let’s just clear up a few things. Darrell Henderson, through no fault of his own, is injury-prone. He simply cannot handle a workload of 20+ carries in a game.
In fact, the Rams organization knew that when they selected him with the 70th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was always intended to be that change-of-pace running back. In both 2020 and 2021, the Rams tried and failed, to give him that responsibility.
Look what a difference Michel has made to this offense. His production is as much a result of his ability to handle practices all week plus 20+ carries on game day. Henderson can continue to pick his spots and threaten defenses on the perimeter. But the LA Rams bell-cow going forward should be Sony Michel. And that’s just fine with him.