III: RB Royce Freeman
The LA Rams have never warmed up to veteran running back Royce Freeman as quickly or as entirely as I have, and I am not sure why. I know that Rams HC Sean McVay holds all of his players to a very high bar, and Freeman has not met that gold standard in terms of blocking for the quarterback on passing plays. But this could be the week that he gets out of the doghouse.
Even though Freeman was on the Rams roster in Week 2 when the Rams hosted the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium, he did not see any action in the Rams offense in that game. His only presence was on special teams, and that is not an optimal use of his talents. After all, Freeman stands 6-foot-0 and weighs a robust 238 pounds, which is quite the load when he gets up a head of steam.
So far in 2023, Freeman has only seen work in the Rams offense in 10 of 16 games. In those games, the Rams have a 5-5 win-loss record. But he has only seen real work in four of the Rams games this year, and his best work resulted in consecutive wins against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11, followed by a victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
You could say that he has been a deciding factor against NFC West opponents in the second half of 2023. Better still, nothing is more effective when facing a loud-talking bully than to be just as physical in the game. Freeman can shut the trash-talking 49ers up pretty quickly.
What I appreciate most about Freeman in the LA Rams offense is the added dimension of grinding out the tough yards on the ground. While feature RB Kyren Williams has proven adept at getting tough yards, especially near the end zone, Freeman's thunderous strides have the added bonus of punishing any defender who gets in his way.
Over the course of a football game, the pounding delivered by Freeman has the same impact as body blows from the hands of a prize fighter. It tends to make defenders pull up a bit, adds pain and discomfort as the game progresses, and eventually slows down defensive backs who are reponsible for covering the LA Rams receivers.
That sets up the next guy . . .