What new FB/WR wrinkle do the LA Rams have in store for Week 4?

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

The LA Rams offense stalled in 2021, and the short-term solution was handing the football off to running back Sony Michel, standing back, and letting him do his thing.  But that didn’t happen until Week 13, and not until the LA Rams had lost their third consecutive game to fall to a record of 7-4.

This year, the Rams did not wait until they had lost three consecutive games. That’s good because the team watched silently as running back Sony Michel walked off to sign a contract to play for another NFL team. The Rams had invested heavily in fleet-footed rookie running back Kyren Williams. Unfortunately, Williams has been injured twice before ever touching the football in this offense.

So the Rams’ offensive brain trust had to reformulate the offense, giving move blocking ability at the point of attack and hopefully amplifying the durability of running backs Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson Jr., and Jake Funk. Their solution? Well, they moved big wide receiver, Ben Skowronek, into the backfield and have begun to use him in a pseudo-fullback type role. The results have been, spectacular.

Finally, a fullback!

The move may appear to be little more than a move to placate the fans (us included) who have lobbied for the Rams to infuse a fullback into their offense for years. Or it may have been a simple solution to a rather complex problem. But however it has come to pass, this innovation has been far better than expected. Just check out the video below:

For starters, the presence of the fullback affords the Rams offense plenty of options, both in the running game and the passing game. How do defenses handle a FB/WR? If they go defensive back, the Rams can opt for running options. If they go linebacker, the Rams can opt for passing options. In the end, the Rams gain the advantage.

But the Rams also now have more than personnel advantages baked into their offense. Because the fullback routinely leads the blocking, linebackers often key on the fullback to direct their movement. The Rams were able to create an advantage by sending the fullback one way but running the football in the other direction.

Ultimately, nothing is quite as satisfying as witnessing a key block by a fullback to spring the running back for a huge gain. The LA Rams are still perfecting that element, but if they stick with it, it won’t be long.

In terms of the passing game, the Rams wrinkle worth discussing is the revelation to use WR Ben Skowronek. He is ideal, as his presence in the backfield has caused all sorts of mismatch advantages for the Rams’ second-year receiver, advantages that he has exploited to raise his catch rate from 55 percent in 2021 to 76.9 percent in 2022. And his yards per reception have remained relatively intact at an average of 10.7 yards.

This simple innovation has opened an entirely new level for the LA Rams offense. Let’s hope it becomes a permanent part of their playbook.

Trending. Coleman Shelton was built for LA Rams screen passes. light