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Zach Evans deserves playing time against Packers’ poor run defense

Evans only has four offensive touches in his rookie season

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Fans of the Los Angeles Rams have every reason to worry about their game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 9. Under Sean McVay, LA is 0-3 at Lambeau Field and Matthew Stafford’s health is a major question mark. The Rams must rely on the run game if they have any chance of pulling out a win in a tough environment.

Rookie Zach Evans is a player I’ve been clamoring for all year. Given I write a weekly rookie report, I’m obligated to push for a first-year guy to cover. Evans has just four offensive touches on the season and made his debut in a 26-9 win over the Cardinals. The Ole Miss product carried the ball four times for 10 yards in that win.

Not a stellar output by any means but it could’ve led to greater opportunities with injuries to Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers. So I thought as Evans has been inactive the last two games. Last week against the Cowboys marked a low point for the first-year rusher.

Perhaps Evans called McVay’s newborn son ugly and that’s why he isn’t getting any playing time. Joking aside, it doesn’t make any sense why the rookie isn’t seeing the field more in light of injuries to the running back room. Being a healthy scratch and sitting behind veterans Royce Freeman, Darrell Henderson and Myles Gaskin obviously isn’t ideal.

However, Evans could fare quite well against the Packers’ 26th-ranked run defense. Green Bay has given up 132.0 rushing yards per game and has allowed seven scores on the ground. Former Ram Cam Akers scored the first rushing touchdown of the season for the Vikings last week against this defense for crying out loud. Could the Packers give up Evans’ first NFL touchdown as well?

My bet is that Zach will be a healthy scratch once again in Week 9. Clearly the rookie has failed to impress his coaching staff and that is why he’s been buried on the depth chart. Such a shame as this week is such a favorable performance for any LA running back getting the bulk of the carries.

Stopping the run has been a glaring issue for defensive coordinator Joe Barry since he was hired by Matt LaFleur in 2021. According to Rich Madrid of Acme Packing Company, Barry’s defense was ranked 31st in DVOA versus the run, 31st in rush EPA/play, and 31st in run success rate.

No matter who is under center in Green Bay, McVay has to call a balanced attack that helps his quarterback out. This is not a game where 40-50 pass attempts is a winning formula. Maybe they could get away with it against the Packers and their painfully inept offense but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Running the ball is the main driver for success this weekend. Zach Evans could contribute if given more opportunities, far-fetched as that thinking may be.