Head coach Sean McVay unleashed a unique offensive package on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. On the opening drive, the Los Angeles Rams caught eyes when McVay inserted a package that had wide receiver Ben Skowronek lined up as a fullback.
It was a creative way to get the run-game going as the Rams struggled against the Buffalo Bills. The Rams came out with Skowronek as a fullback on five plays to start the game. They found immediate success as they picked up 50 yards on those plays - 43 came off of play-action passes and another seven came on the ground.
In total, the Rams ran 19 plays in this package against the Falcons. Stafford finished 5-for-6 for 61 yards while Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson rushed 12 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. If you take away the second to last drive where the Falcons were expecting a run, it was nine carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. That amounts to over five yards per carry.
To say the package was successful would be an understatement. The Rams averaged a .23 EPA/play with Skowronek lined up at fullback for a total EPA of 4.27. The rest of the Rams offense averaged .09.
Out of 63 Rams offensive plays against the Falcons, WR Ben Skowronek aligned at the Fullback position on 19 of them against the Falcons.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 19, 2022
Rams EPA/play with Skowronek at Fullback: .23
Rams EPA/play on all other plays: .09
(all data via @TruMediaSports)
They were almost three times more successful running plays out of this new formation than they were running their typical offense.
It will be interesting to see if this is a package that the Rams continue to use. Was this something that McVay drew last week or something that he drew up during the offseason? Skowronek has gotten some criticism in the past for his lack of consistency as a wide receiver. However, as a blocker, it’s a role that he’s typically done well in.
look at Skarsgård thriving at Fullback! pic.twitter.com/ByOP6aHG7o— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 19, 2022
As you can see in the plays above, Skowronek takes out the linebacker and opens up Henderson for a nice gain. He also got involved in the passing game, running routes to the flat. Henderson’s longest run of the day came a crack sweep to the left where he ran for 13 yards. Skowronek was the lead blocker.
McVay is dialing up Sail routes for him out of the backfield! pic.twitter.com/S83i4Zi2Rc— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 19, 2022
As mentioned earlier, Stafford was 5-for-6 for 61 yards in this formation, throwing out of play action on all six throws. Three of the six passes went for more than 10 yards.
With the Rams only carrying two tight ends on the roster, it was necessary for McVay to get creative in the run game in heavier sets. In the Thursday night opener against the Bills, the Rams ran 11 personnel on every single one of their plays. While the were Rams technically in 11 personnel in this package, it looks a lot more like 22 personnel with how the wide receivers are used.
Last season, McVay got creative in the run game by adding a sixth offensive lineman to the formation as a tight end. McVay showed why he’s one of the best offensive minds in football on Sunday, bringing out this package with Skowronek as a full back. This was something that we haven’t seen before from McVay.
During the pre-draft process, some saw a move to tight end as being a beneficial move for Skowronek. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted,
While Skowronek can make a roster as a backup receiver due to his matchup potential and overall skill level, a switch to move tight end would diminish his weaknesses and enhance his strengths...He needs more weight but is already a plus run blocker who can handle blocking duties from the slot. Skowronek could be the next Robert Tonyan if given a chance at that spot.
It will be interesting to see if the Rams use this package going forward. With how successful it was against the Falcons, the numbers say that they most certainly should.