In 2017, Todd Gurley was second on the LA Rams in targets. In 2018, Gurley was third. In those two seasons, Gurley was targeted 168 times and the Rams offense was so much more explosive than it was in the two years before or since.
In 2019, Gurley was sixth on the Rams in targets. And in 2020, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Malcom Brown combined for 71 targets — 10 fewer than Gurley’s lowest total between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
My brain would have expected Sean McVay to lean heavier on utilizing running backs in the passing game to offset Jared Goff’s struggles over the last two seasons, but my guess is that he hasn’t had the same confidence in his backs that he had with prime Todd Gurley. Now that we know that Akers can be exceptionally explosive and productive as a runner in McVay’s offense, should we also expect Akers to become a focal part of the passing game?
In the first three games in which he got at least 30 snaps, Akers gained 306 rushing yards with a 4.7 average per carry. He then missed one game and then returned to face a new kind of offense with John Wolford in Week 17. When Goff returned in the playoffs, Akers was again dominant, gaining 221 yards on 46 carries over two games.
Now Akers will be paired in the backfield with Matthew Stafford and this should theoretically make everyone else in the offense more productive. Todd Gurley was at his best when Goff was at his best, and vice versa.
But injuries afflicted Akers before, early, and late in the season. He never did anything especially concerning as a receiver, but he also didn’t get many opportunities and for whatever reason McVay seemed hesitant to put him out there for three downs. When he eventually did, Akers helped elevate the rest of the offense and those fears seemed quickly alleviated.
When he was playing the role of number one back in 2020, he averaged over 100 rushing yards per game in those five contests. (I exclude the Wolford game because of how dramatic of a shift that was for everybody.) McVay utilized him heavily and the Rams were rewarded for it. I imagine that the addition of Stafford shouldn’t slow down the development of Akers, and in fact should accelerate it.
What are your expectations for the second season of Cam Akers? And how much of that do you expect to include catching passes out of the backfield?
How many rushing yards will Cam Akers have in 2021?
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How many catches will Cam Akers have in 2021?
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