I love the LA Rams FB offensive innovation for Week 2

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

I love what the LA Rams do on offense, for the most part. But one of the areas that we have continued to lobby for, and been denied witnessing, is the LA Rams incorporating a fullback into the offense.  While there have been many reasons for the Rams to opt out of using a fullback in the team’s pass-centric offense, the absence of a lead blocker clearing out the hole for the running back has been a noticeable weakness for the team’s running game.

Of course, the Rams did adopt some of the principles of a fullback in the past by flexing TE Johnny Mundt in multiple spots on the offense. But that was not quite the same for two reasons. First, Mundt was a blocking tight end, which was a clear signal to defenses that a running play was about to take place. Secondly, the use of Mundt was only a small portion of his workload, which was already a bit light.

We wanted more than a cameo appearance. We wanted a fullback in 2020. We wanted a fullback in 2021. We even hoped that the LA Rams’ signing of undrafted rookie FB/TE Roger Carter might finally give the Rams a fullback option for their ever-needy offense earlier this year.

Finally fullback season

Well, we had the right idea, but simply had the wrong player.  In Week 2, the LA Rams unveiled a new offensive innovation. The Rams moved a lackluster wide receiver, Ben Skowronek, to a fullback position on a number of offensive plays. And I will be the first to applaud the move.

Skowronek was superb in that role. So superb that I hope it’s a recurring role throughout the season.

Why is the LA Rams infusing a fullback into their offensive playbook so important? Well, the Rams have trended smaller and smaller at running back. That trend has left the Rams exposed to injury as their running backs are often easily dropped at the first point of contact with a defender.

Better options with a fullback

With a lead blocker, the Rams can attack the hole with more confidence, and perhaps amplify the durability of the running backs on the roster.

While Skowronek was used on 54 of 62 offensive snaps, his usage at the fullback position seemed to number at least 12 times. On those plays, the Rams did a solid job of giving the offense multiple looks, even using the I-formation and the split back formation. Judging by social media reactions, we were not the only ones who were thrilled to see it.

I love the concept because for far too long, defenses have had an easy option of defending the LA Rams’ running plays with one defender. Just slide a guy into the hole and presto, the Rams gain nothing.

What did a fullback do for the Rams’ offense? In a word? Plenty.

Now, with a lead blocker, those cheap and easy defenses of an LA Rams running play will need gang tackling, and multiple defenders to stop the play. That gives the Rams offense the advantage, as the team’s smaller, elusive rushers can choose which way to take the football, all the while using Skowronek as both a blocker and a disguise.

I was not convinced that Skowronek was the best WR to fill the WR3 slot on the Rams’ offense.  But having seen his performance toggling at both fullback and wide receiver, I’m sold. Let’s keep Ben Skowronek in that FB/WR role, and keep that in the weekly playbook.

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