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Mike LaFleur’s Rams hire makes Cam Akers an instant top-10 running back

LaFleur is brining a run-first mentality to a pass-happy offense

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sean McVay landed his top guy after locking in Mike LaFleur as the offensive coordinator for the 2023-2024 season. He was most recently tenured with the New York Jets as the offensive play-caller but was let go after a disappointing season that saw them start 7-4 then losing six games in-a-row to finish 7-10 on the season. Despite a less than desirable outcome with his former team, LaFleur will have a chance for redemption while also the opportunity to vault a Rams running game that ranked in the bottom five of the league in rushing to a top five powerhouse.

Cam Akers rollercoaster season ends on a high

After miraculously coming back from a torn Achilles in just nine months during the Rams Super Bowl run last year, Cam Akers’ had high expectations going into this season. Those expectations were met with just three carries in the team’s opening game against the Buffalo Bills where the third year back had only three attempts to carry the ball for zero yards and a snap percentage of just 18%. By Week 5, LA was all but ready to move on from their second round draft pick from 2020 as they shopped him on the trade block without success. Four weeks later he would make his first appearance back on the team where he would be given just five attempts.

It was not until Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers that he began to look like the Akers of old. He put up 65 yards on 12 attempts and averaged 5.42 yards per carry and followed that up with a three-score performance against the Denver Broncos while rushing over the century mark for the first time of the season. In the last four games of the regular season Aker ran for 410 yards on 75 attempts and looked fully recovered for the first time since 2020.

So how can LaFleur continue to lead Akers in the right direction?

The Jets looked their best on offense before starting running back Breece Hall tore his ACL in a Week 7 matchup against the Broncos. Hall averaged 5.8 yards in seven games but was just finding his way into passing attack before going down with his injury. In Week 1, Hall had nine targets, in Week 3 he had a season high of 11 targets, and in Week 4 had another six targets finishing with 218 yards receiving on the season and averaged 11.5 yards per reception. With the rookie running back on the field the Jets were able to put together five wins to just two losses.

LaFleur studied under Kyle Shanahan for four years before taking over as the offensive coordinator in New York and it is that experience that may have pushed him to the top of McVay’s recruitment list. Shanahan is one of the best when it comes to using the run game to set up the pass game and if he has passed that on to LaFleur, LA has plenty to be excited for. The hire means a likely shift in offensive philosophy. It could also mean Akers first 1000-yard rushing season of his career.