Tuesday, August 30th marks the deadline for all 32 teams to cut down their rosters, going from 80 players all the way down to the 53 men that will take the field for their respective franchises in week 1. The Rams are no exception, meaning some tough decisions will need to be made in order to meet Tuesday’s roster deadline. One of those tough decisions will lie in the running back room, with 2nd year man Jake Funk potentially on the chopping block.
Now, before all the Jake Funk stans come and attack me, allow me to expand on the thought. Prior to the preseason, believing that Funk was a lock to make the roster is not the craziest of things, as he has proven to be a solid piece to the Rams’ special teams units. However, things have changed, with some talents at other positions seemingly coming out of the woodwork as legitimate threats to make the 53 man roster.
Lance McCutcheon has seemed to all but etch himself onto the roster, forcing the team to keep more receivers than they may have planned to prior to camp and the preseason. Another dark-horse that has emerged is linebacker Jake Hummel, an undrafted free-agent that seemed to have his nose around the ball at all times, setting a new Rams preseason record for tackles. Hummel possesses traits that often gets players onto kickoff and punt teams due to sheer hustle and grit alone, increasing their overall value in the eyes of the GM and coaches. Hummel could easily do the work that Funk does on the special teams units, while also providing depth at the linebacker position with an older Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones, with the latter struggling with some injuries at times last season.
Another way Funk can find himself out of a roster spot is if the Rams decide to keep a total of 9 offensive lineman, an idea that would not be so bad considering the lack of depth shown at times in the past 3 preseason contests. I believe the team would be hard-pressed to cut ties with Bobby Evans, simply due to the experience he has in the system and the regular season games he has appeared in.
The decision to keep or cut Funk would be a whole lot easier if Funk put on a clinic in the preseason, however that was not the case. He saw only 6 carries in week 1 and ran for 16 yards, while he only had 1 carry in week 2 that went for no gain. Funk’s first extended action of the preseason came in week 3, where he rushed for 32 yards on 12 carries against Cincinnati. Some would blame the lack of production against the Bengals on the porous offensive line play, however, current 5th string RB Trey Ragas ran behind that same offensive line and had 52 yards on 11 carries. Therefore, all of the blame cannot be put on the line, as another player was able to find more success given the same exact circumstances.
Not only were the numbers poor, but Funk also had a crucial fumble in week 3 where he fumbled the ball away inside the Bengals 10 yard line, a play that seemed to snatch all of the momentum the Rams were gaining at that point in the game. Mistakes like that often alter the outcome of games, which cannot be taken lightly for a position that touches the ball as much as the running back.
Should any injuries occur to the running back room, Funk would need to be someone the Rams could trust to make plays and protect the football, both of which I am not so sure Funk can provide at this point in time. With the selection of Kyren Williams, the emerging talents on the roster, and the need for depth at other positions, Jake Funk could have very well played his last snap in the horns.