Christmas showed how vital running game is to Rams

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

The LA Rams gave their fans a lovely Christmas gift at SoFi Stadium on Sunday by beating the Denver Broncos 51-14. The Rams improved their record to 5-10 on the year, and even though they are eliminated from playoff contention, they are playing hard as they look to finish out this season on a high note. This was maybe the least stressful game a Rams fan will ever watch, as this game felt like it was over before it even started and a big reason for that was RB Cam Akers and the Rams’ running game.

Rams running back Cam Akers had one of the best games of his career, as he tallied 23 carriers for 118 yards and three touchdowns. Akers has had an up-and-down season on and off the field, but hopefully, this can be the turning point for Akers as we go into the end of the season and next season.

Earlier in the season, Akers expressed his displeasure with his lessened role on the team, and the Rams attempted to trade him before the deadline, but ultimately, that never happened. So if he’s going to be on the team, McVay and the Rams might as well use him, and this game showed that he does have significant talent at the running back position. Of course, a running game is essential to this team, but what aspects benefit from it the most?

Baker Mayfield and the passing game

Newly signed free agent QB Baker Mayfield, who is just three weeks arrived from the Carolina Panthers, had a great game last Sunday as he went 24-28 with 230 passing yards and two touchdowns. Only four incompletions are amazing for Mayfield, and the running game goes hand and hand with those numbers. Mayfield didn’t have to throw an insane amount of passes because the running game was working so well, which took the pressure off of Baker.

We all know Rams Head Coach Sean McVay loves the play-action pass, and when you have the running game working so effectively, it sets that play-action up. Unfortunately, Baker has shown in the past that sometimes he will try to do too much, and that’s when the forced mistakes and errors will happen, but when the Rams can run the ball as they did, Baker takes what the defense gives him and has shown how much of an effective QB he can be.

McVay and the Rams coaching staff must continue this run progression in the final two games. We have seen in the past that McVay will get pass-heavy and go away from the run if he falls behind on the scoreboard, so hopefully, this opens McVay’s eyes more and makes this team a run-first offense which will set up the big passing plays we all wait for.

It takes the pressure off the defense.

The Rams’ defense shut down Denver Broncos’ QB Russel Wilson and their offense, as they only gave up 14 total points. The Rams’ defense had four total interceptions, including the icing on the cake in the 4th quarter when they had a pick-six by rookie CB Cobie Durant (see below).

When the Rams run the ball as effectively as they did, it keeps the Rams’ defense off the field, which is precisely what happened. As a result, the Rams’ total possession time was 36:35, while the Denver Broncos’ possession time was only 23:25. The Rams’ defense didn’t need to be on the field that much, with Akers running the way he did, so helps to keep the defense fresh.

In the end, the Rams won handily. But it was a team effort, an effort that starts with a commitment to an effective running game.

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