Rams’ Rookie, Zac Stacy: The Push Towards 1,000 Yards & History Books

Andy Lyons

St. Louis Rams’ running back, Zac Stacy, had only carried the ball 15 times in the team’s first five games. He’s still got a good chance of rushing for 1,000 yards in his rookie campaign. He’d be making history.

Historically, the Rams haven’t had much trouble finding running backs who can - sometimes with relative ease - eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in an NFL season. Having drafted/acquired players like Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, and Steven Jackson, one shouldn’t be surprised. This trio alone - which spanned from the early 1980’s to the conclusion of the 2012 season - successfully rushed for 1,000+ in 22 different seasons.

Of that group, though, only one of them rushed for 1,000+ yards [as a Ram] in their rookie season: Eric Dickerson [1983; 1,808 yds]. Faulk was able to do the same for the Colts [1994; 1,282 yds]. Jackson - who did it in eight consecutive seasons, sat behind the aforementioned Faulk in his rookie year [2004], yet still managed to rush for 673 yards.

Dickerson, however, wasn’t the last Rams’ rusher to eclipse 1,000 yards in their first season. In 1993, the Los Angeles Rams selected Jerome Bettis with the 10th overall pick in the draft. He’d go on to rush for 1,429 yards in his rookie year; ranking 2nd in the NFL.

With that being said, the Rams of St. Louis have never drafted a running back who’s gone on to rush for quadruple digits in their first year as a pro. They’ve had more than their fair share of attempts at finding a viable, consistent rusher who could meet the mark, but none have come close.

Since moving to St. Louis in 1995, there are a few names to note:

Name
Year
Round
Selection
Yards
Lawrence Phillips
1996
1
6 [6 overall]
632
Robert Holcombe
1998
2
7 [37 overall]
230
Trung Canidate
2000
1
31 [31 overall]
6
2002
3
20 [84 overall]
228
Steven Jackson
2004
1
24 [24 overall]
673
2007
2
20 [52 overall]
303
2012
2
18 [50 overall]
54
2012
7
45 [252 overall]
475
2013
5
27 [160 overall]
?

Which brings us to present day. Zac Stacy has already rushed for 537 yards in his rookie campaign, and has done so in impressive fashion. Stacy was, essentially, a non-factor in the Rams’ offense for the first five weeks of the season. He was handed the ball only 15 times, and accumulated 82 yards. It was in Week 5 against Jacksonville - where Stacy had 14 of those carries, and 78 of those yards - that he made it clear his presence was something the Rams’ offense had been missing.

Since that game, Stacy has seen his workload steadily increase and has had some noteworthy performances along the way. In Weeks 8 and 9, against the Seahawks and Titans, Stacy combined for 261 yards [4.9 ypc] and scored twice. A touchdown in last week’s matchup against the Colts marked the first time in his young career that he’d score in back-to-back games.

It’s clear that there’s still plenty of yardage to be gained [463 to be exact] if he’s to rush for 1,000 yards, and only six weeks to see it through to fruition. Stacy - who ranks 2nd in the NFL amongst rookie rushers - is averaging 18.4 attempts per game, but is averaging 26 carries per game over the past three weeks.

Interestingly enough, if Stacy’s workload were to diminish, or revert back to 18.4 carries per game, at his current 4.2 yards per carry average, he’d rush for exactly 463 yards over the next six weeks; finishing his season with 1,000 yards even. At 26 attempts per game [again at 4.2 ypc], Stacy would rush more yards [655] in the next six games, than he would through the Rams' first ten games, and approach 1,200 yards on the year.

Yardage won’t come easy for Stacy throughout the remainder of the year, though. The Rams still have to play their divisional opponents [49ers, Seahawks, and Cardinals] once, with each game being a road test. The Buccaneers are quietly the league’s 5th best defense in terms of stopping the run, and running against the Saints will most certainly be the game plan, but sticking with it could prove difficult if the league’s 2nd highest scoring offense puts up points early.

The good news for Stacy is that he’s got Week 11 to rest up and prepare for a home matchup against the Bears. There’s probably no better way to jumpstart a push towards 1,000 yards than to face a defense which ranks 31st against the run [allowing 129.4 ypg], and a unit which has allowed 69 rushing first downs [30th].

There’s still plenty of work to be done, but Zac Stacy appears to be on his way to becoming the first St. Louis Rams’ rookie to rush for/eclipse 1,000 rush yards in his rookie season since the team’s arrival in 1995. Suddenly, trading up into the 5th round in the 2013 draft appears to be one of the better moves - in terms of selecting a RB - the organization has made in nearly two decades.

Run, Zac, run!



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