The LA Rams are not exactly known for big strong power backs since hiring Head Coach Sean McVay in 2017. While the team has dabbled in bigger backs over that time frame, with RB Malcolm Brown, Sony Michel, and even to an extent Cam Akers, the team has trended more and more towards the smaller and swifter runners. At least, that was the trend until the Rams signed veteran running back Royce Freeman.
The thing is, Freeman only touched the football 73 times in 2023. He didn't get a single carry in the Rams offense in Week 16. Now we have to ask ourselves the brutally honest question: Have the LA Rams seen the last of RB Royce Freeman in horns in 2023?
Freeman has certainly shown a resurgence in his ability to run with the football so far for the Rams, despite light use. in 73 carries, he has rushed for 317 yards and two rushing touchdowns, Both marks are his best season performances since 2019 since he rushed for nearly twice that number of carries. In terms of yards per rushing attempt, his 4.3 yards with the Rams is his career best.
So, why is he sitting?
No receptions, missed blocks
While Freeman has rushed well for the Rams with powerful strides that punish defenders, he has failed to develop into a credible receiving threat in the Rams offense. That has allowed opposing defenses to tee off on the run whenever Freeman lines up in the Rams backfield.
The other problem is with Freeman's instinctive ability to pass block. While he has been seldom used as a receiver, he fails to hold his block when he is on the field on a pass play. Either he is out of position to intercept the rushing defender, he misses the defender outright, or he merely chips at the defender in his haste to get into a spot to be a viable checkdown option for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Rams appear to be fully invested in featured running back Kyren Williams, and for good reason. Kyren Williams does it all in the Rams offense, and does it well. When Williams is not running, the Rams appear to be more comfortable sending in backup RB Ronnie Rivers to give Williams a rest.
If you would love to see the Rams feature a power running back, as I often do, I'm afraid that were are simply out of luck. The Rams appear to be set with their current RB depth chart. Unless something changes in a big way, I fear that RB Royce Freeman is unlikely to get any carries in the Rams offense for the rest of 2023.