On a day where nothing was going right for the offense of the Los Angeles Rams it maybe would have been an opportunity to insert some fresh blood and give younger opportunities for the future. The Rams may not have a choice moving forward, as they sit at a disappointing 3-6 record and could soon be officially out of playoff contention.
Lost in the shuffle Sunday against the Green Bay Packers is the failure of Sean McVay and the LA coaching staff to involve rookie running back Zach Evans. Darrell Henderson routinely went down on first contact and averaged only a meager 1.9 yards on 10 carries. Royce Freeman ran tougher, but he still managed only 32 yards on 12 rushes. He was tackled deep into the backfield multiple times which brought down his average yardage.
The passing game led by backup quarterback Brett Rypien wasn’t much better, as they accumulated only 130 yards. Rypien also had two turnovers: a fumble and an interception. The offense was only able to put up three points against a Packers defense that rarely lives up to its potential.
Which brings us back to Evans.
LA lost standout RB Kyren Williams to an ankle injury three weeks ago, and Evans has yet to receive a carry since Williams has been on injured reserve. The Rams instead brought Henderson out of involuntary retirement and elevated Freeman from the practice squad. They also signed former Miami Dolphins RB Miles Gaskin from the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad, though we haven’t seen him play a part on the Los Angeles offense quite yet.
Sean McVay said he expects RB Kyren Williams to return after Williams comes off of Injured Reserve.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) November 6, 2023
Williams still has to miss Week 11 against the Seahawks (would be the fourth game for the minimum four games missed when placed on IR).
It seems the Rams took every measure possible to not give Evans opportunities, which is disappointing considering that Henderson, Freeman, and Gaskin don’t figure into LA’s plans beyond 2023. It’s a missed opportunity to accelerate Evans’ development and potentially form a potent one-two punch in a young stable of running backs. This would pay dividends across both the final stretch this season and into next.
Sitting Evans also diminishes the value of drafting a running back in the late rounds. LA is effectively wasting the first year of Evans’ rookie contract. It’s a sound approach to find a capable back in the later rounds and give them a high volume of work while they are cost-controlled, and the Rams should be looking to maximize Evans’ value instead of giving him a redshirt year. You’d think that the rookie would be prepared to play since he was considered at one point a borderline first round pick and one of the more talented players at RB in last year’s NFL Draft.
2023 is fast becoming a lost year for the Rams. Fans can take solace in the fact this rookie class continues to impress, but LA’s refusal to involve Zach Evans is becoming more and more disappointing by the day. Sean McVay and the coaching staff should regret lack of the rookie’s usage this past weekend in the loss to Green Bay—especially considering how little offensive production the team managed.