It’s Déjà Vu all over again
The LA Rams were in a very similar situation just two years ago, when the team entered the 2020 NFL season with a similar non-threatening trio of running backs to handle the workload. At that time, the Rams were counting on veteran Malcolm Brown, change of pace Darrell Henderson Jr., and rookie Cam Akers.
By season’s end, The LA Rams averaged 126.1 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game. That was good enough for the 10th-best rushing offense in the NFL. Curiously, the team’s best rushing output was that of rookie Cam Akers, who put up just 625 yards and two touchdowns for the season. But Darrell Henderson put up 624 yards and five touchdowns. Malcolm Brown put up 419 yards and five touchdowns.
The LA Rams found ways to succeed at running the football in 2020, despite entering the season with a running back committee that was no more touted or accomplished than that of the 2022 LA Rams runners.
And yet, the Rams found a way to claw and scrape together enough yards in 2020 to end the season among the Top-10 rushing offenses. Can the LA Rams repeat that type of gutsy performance? I think so. Two of the three players from 2020 will be featured running backs this year, and with the experience from 2021, they are especially motivated. The Rams also were encouraged enough by what Kyren Williams offers to this offense that the team traded up just to be sure of selecting him.
What we learned in 2020 is that the team can succeed at running the football, even though no individual player threatens to claim a lead in doing so in the NFL. If the Rams can get one running back on track, that opens the door for all three to get hot at various times this season.
If you are deeply concerned about the Rams’ running game this year, look at 2020’s box scores. Keep in mind that half of that season found Joe Noteboom covering for Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. So the comparison is very relevant. What you’ll find is a team effort that was able to overcome challenges, particularly when you see that defenses were far less concerned with Jared Goff under center.
The Rams’ rushing offense may not lead the NFL this season, but it could be good enough to end the season among the Top 10. The Rams simply need to commit to the run and stay healthy.