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Rams running back Quarterly Report

How the Rams trio at running back fared through four games in 2020

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve already reached the quarterly mark of the 2020 NFL season. We’re four games done through a 16-game season. And at that mark, we can generate a great glimpse of the running back situation for your Los Angeles Rams.

Here’s how it all breaks down so far for Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers.

Total Snaps:
Brown: 150
Henderson: 90
Akers: 27

Total Carries:
Brown: 45
Henderson: 43
Akers: 17

Total Rushing Yards:
Henderson: 223
Brown: 182
Akers: 52

Rush TDs:
Brown: 2
Henderson: 2
Akers: 0

Yards Per Carry:
Henderson: 5.2
Brown: 4.0
Akers: 3.1

Missed Tackles Forced:
Henderson: 9
Brown: 8
Akers: 5

Yards After Contact:
Henderson: 124
Brown: 97
Akers: 46

It’s important to note to that Akers has only played in two games due to injury but it’s also clear that he showed great promise with his workload so far, averaging a healthy yards after contact and missed tackle forced per carry total.

Both Brown and Henderson have had their moments in 2020 as well. It was Brown in Week 1 who carried the ball 18 times for two scores and 79 yards, bouncing off three tacklers. And it was Henderson in Week 3 who totaled 114 yards and a score on 20 carries against the Bills a week after rushing for 81 on just 12 carries against Philly.

However, each back was either vultured at the goal-line (looking right atcha Gerald Everett) from a sure-fire score, or just essentially nonexistent the past week against the Giants.

The running backs carried the ball a total of 17 times for just 55 yards as just one carry went for more than 10 yards, with only one first down on the ground against the Giants.

It looked as if Henderson was ready for the lead-back role after a solid two-game performance in Weeks 2 and 3, but after just eight carries in Week 4, we look to what could’ve been and what may be for the rest of the season.

There has been no clear-cut answer as to why the rushing game was stymied or just shut down against New York but what jumped out to me a bit further was looking at individualized rushing ability compared to one of the league’s best offensive lines ahead of them.

On average, Henderson and Brown have spent just 2.61 seconds behind the line of scrimmage on their carries. That would be the 10th-shortest time for any one running back, according to Next Gen Stats. Henderson is second in the league among qualifying backs, spending on average just 2.52 seconds behind the line of scrimmage.

PFF credits all starting linemen with well above-average run-blocking grades, signifying they’re not the issue. In fact, the Rams are averaging just 2.3 yards after contact per attempt as a team.

That’s the 27th-ranked figure in all of football.

Looking at it visually, Henderson’s two-game stretch of Week 2 and Week 3 outings look like the best two-game performances so far this year, agreeing with the box scores but still overall less than impressive, save for two games (you want more green runs than yellow or red).

It also seemed like Henderson got stronger with each Week 3 carry, so limiting him in Week 4 could only have an adverse reaction towards success the rest of this season it seems.

We’ll see how it shapes out, but that’s your quarterly report for the Rams RBs through four weeks of the season.