The Los Angeles Rams may need to consider keeping Sony Michel as their lead running back moving forward. Some of the numbers favor Darrell Henderson staying the top dog; he has five more total touchdowns and a higher per carry average.
Henderson also has an acceleration gear that Michel may not have. However, that ability to pull away from defenders has not been on display this season, as his longest carry is only 29 yards. His backfield counterpart’s longest run this year is 25 yards. Truth be told, that may not be what the Rams need at this moment. Michel hard-nosed, downhill style has made the Rams much more physical. To be fair to Henderson, the fact that Michel is getting an extra lineman and heavier personnel packages may also be a factor in the recent grit shown by Los Angeles.
There aren’t many better chances for running backs to show their toughness than pass protection. Thankfully, both running backs have shown up in this department. They have both shown the ability and willingness to take on blitzers, and protect the quarterback at all costs.
Darrell Henderson in pass pro passing off a game like a natural OL pic.twitter.com/gTUnpeYQIN— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) October 26, 2021
My personal belief is the offense just looks tougher with Michel being the primary ball carrier. Whether head coach Sean McVay and the offensive staff decided to alter the game plan specifically to account for Michel’s strengths or because they realized the drop back pass is not who the Rams are at their core is unknown. What is known is Michel has been the primary running back in the team’s most notable wins: a throttling of the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a must have victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Asked Sony Michel about his approach to yards after contact on this week’s Rams Revealed. Turns out he started youth football as an offensive lineman. Helps explain his philosophy and disposition. pic.twitter.com/dKRlwyIdTP— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) December 8, 2021
It’s also clear that McVay is not afraid to treat Michel as a workhorse. In each of his three starts, Michel has garnered at least 20 carries. Henderson has topped 20 carries just once this season. Even going back to last year, when he was Pro Football Focus’ highest graded running back through the first eight weeks while playing ahead of Cam Akers, he only got 20 or more carries once during that campaign.
Henderson’s lone game with 20 or more carries in the 2021 season came against the New York Giants. The third year pro rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. That’s good for 3.7 yards per carry. Based on Michel’s 4.6 yards per carry in the same game, the former New England Patriot likely would have pushed the 100 yard mark had he received the same amount carries.
Playing devil’s advocate for a second, Henderson would have likely gone over 20 carries against the Houston Texans if he wasn’t pulled due to the game getting out of hand. And, as previously stated he has shown a nose for the end zone with eight total touchdowns.
I’m certainly not saying I’m over Henderson; I like the former Memphis Tiger. However, playoff time is rapidly approaching and it’s time for this offense to start hitting people in the mouth. I believe Michel could be the knockout punch the Rams need.
Who should the Rams feature at running back as they prepare for a playoff push?
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