LA Rams series of running plays that nobody noticed

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

The word on the street continues to be that the LA Rams do not, can not run with the football. And yet, when they do, it’s almost as though the world of professional football gets locked into some form of the Twilight Zone, and almost nobody fails to notice.

It was early in the third quarter in Week 9 when the LA Rams actually put up a meaningful and balanced drive. The defense had just held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to three downs and a punt to open the second half, and the Rams offense took the football field with a first down and ten yards to go at precisely the 14:00 mark.

The LA Rams would engineer an 11-play drive that advanced the football 67 yards, and consumed nearly five minutes off the precious game clock. For seven plays, the Rams rushed four times, passed four times, and moved the ball down the football field. But in the red zone, the Rams stopped handing the football off to RB Darrell Henderson, who had already carried the football four times for 39 yards and opted to throw three times.

Two weeks later, RB Darrell Henderson Jr. was outright released.

Huh? He rushed 12 times for 57 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has never averaged less than 3.5 yards per run this season. He has scored three rushing touchdowns. Hmmm…

What are the Rams’ plans for their running game?

The problem is not the fact that the offense chose to abandon the run at a time when it was decimating the Bucs’ defense. But rather, the Rams did so in such a way that the Rams’ running game, in desperate need of a win, walked away from a successful series without it.

The Rams have the ability to run the football. They ran the ball 23 times for 109 yards with their running backs in Week 11. That works out to an average of 4.73 yards per run, which is definitely far better than the 3.4 yards per run average the LA Rams have put up this season.

Is rookie RB Kyren Williams capable of handling the load from here on out? Many believe so, but with two injuries in his rookie season, I am just not ready to anoint him as the feature back just yet. He did rush seven times for 36 yards in Week 11. But that was just his second NFL game, with 8 runs for 45 yards.  Promising? Sure. Ready to abandon all other options and ride him the rest of the way this season?  Not so fast.

If the Rams truly have a master plan, that plan has shifted dramatically today. By releasing RB Darrell Henderson Jr., the team has taken a step forward with no way to step backward now. Is this part of a plan to set up the team to optimize the 2023 NFL Draft?

Stay tuned. What has become heartbreaking on the football field has now suddenly become a white knuckler with roster transactions.

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