At the beginning of the year, most Rams fans anticipated Daryl Richardson would be the feature back for the 2013 season. Although, there were question marks surround Daryl Richardson, it seemed clear that he was the Rams best option. Jeff Fisher usually gets a 1,000 yard back, so it wasn't preposterous to think that Richardson would just be the next guy for Fisher.
Through the first 4 games, Daryl Richardson was showing that he is unable to complete that role and Isiah Pead looks like he doesn't even belong on a football team. The Rams season turned around when Zac Stacy made his first start against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 5. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt, was the 5th round pick, 160th overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Zac Stacy stepped into a Rams offense that had an inept ability to the run the ball, after taking a closer look it wasn't the line, it was Richardson's indecisiveness to hit the hole with authority. Richardson who has the speed to be an NFL lacked maybe the most important aspect of being an NFL back, vision. The line opened holes for Richardson and when they were there, Richardson was able to get the yards, but he didn't have the ability to get 4+ yards a carry consistently because he would dance behind the line and take to long to decide where he would go. Jeff Fisher was forced to go to a different way, most people thought Pead was about to get his chance to finally show what he is capable of, but Stacy got the start and did he make the most of it.
From the first carry of the game, Stacy looked like a decisive runner and he has only gotten better since his first start in week 5. Stacy's ability to see a tight hole and explode is what separates him from Richardson and has to have made every Rams fan wondering "why was he never starting in the first place?"
This run above was only 7 yards, but it displayed what Stacy has been doing in the run game since he took over, he is finding a hole and not dancing behind the line, he is constantly moving forward and doesn't stop churning his legs until the play is over.
Over the years, the Rams have had consistency at running back with Steven Jackson, Jackson epitomized a lot of great things for the Rams in the dark years, but his major flaw was he danced behind the line himself and got a lot of negative or no gain plays because of it. Stacy has showed his excellent ability to find a small hole and make the most of it.
This last pic, there is a tight hole and Stacy cuts into the middle and because of his 5'8" frame, he is able to squeeze between the lineman and score a TD with a broken tackle. Stacy was able to see the best spot to run and was able to maximize the plays potential, something Richardson was unable to do. He takes one step and cuts inside with power.
Zac Stacy will probably not have the biggest runs and be able to get a lot of yards in small doses, he does provide a consistently strong running game right now and in the future. He is displaying the vision and power that will make him a successful running back right now and in the future.
The major factor, as with any player, will be durability. He has a lot of touches this season and will continue to get more; hopefully, Richardson can go back to what he did last year and be a good spell back. If the Rams can get a solid running game going for the rest of this season it will make Bradford and our passing attack that much more dangerous heading into next season.
Zac Stacy has 537 yards with 6 games to go, he will need about 90 yards a game to finish with a 1,000 yards. The only rookie running back to out perform Stacy is Eddie Lacy, who has 696 yards in 8 games, 1 game he was knocked out on his first run by Merriweather. If Stacy can finish with a 1,000 yards, rookie of the year should be in consideration. Since Bradford has been injured, Stacy has carried the Rams offense and teams are going to have to stack 8 in the box to stop this guy. If Clemens can make some critical throws, this Rams offense may be able to have some success and get the consistency it needs heading into the 2014 season.
Zac Stacy has brought what looked like an abysmal year after Bradford going out to a fun season to watch, hope to see more of this guy this season. The Rams face the Chicago Bears, the Bears are the 3rd worst rushing defense in the league, giving up 133 yards a game and a healthy 4.5 yards a carry.