Last Friday, the Rams decided to bring in former Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur as their new OC, filling the role left vacant by Liam Coen after spending just one season with the Rams. LaFleur, who spent two seasons with the Jets as their OC and four seasons with the 49ers as their pass game coordinator, will look to prove that he belongs in this league as a coordinator following a couple of rough season’s offensively in New York.
However, even though the Jets offense was near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories, there is one aspect of LaFleur’s offensive philosophy that could add something to the Rams offense that they have not had since the peak of Todd Gurley’s time with the team. In LaFleur’s two total seasons with the Jets, running backs accounted for 171 out of 714 total receptions in those seasons combined. For contrast, in the same time frame, Rams running backs hauled in just 102 out of 753 total receptions.
That is roughly a 10% difference in total catches coming out of the backfield, an element that has been nearly non-existent in the Rams offense the past couple years.
But Cam Akers, a man who is set to enter just his fourth season in the NFL out of Florida State University, could see an uptick. Akers had a very strong start to his NFL career, as he basically became the catalyst for the Rams offense in the postseason of his rookie year in the league. Akers’ second season was destroyed by a torn achilles, however he did return at the tail end of the season and aided in the Super Bowl title run. Then, this season happened, where a rumored quarrel between himself and head coach Sean McVay early on in the season nearly led to Akers being traded elsewhere.
Following not being traded, Akers turned it on, turning around his season and finishing the year on an extremely high note and solidifying himself as the Rams running back for the foreseeable future. Akers had over 100 yards rushing in each of his last three games and he had nine receptions for 98 yards in his last four games. Akers had 610 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards in the last eight games of the season. With Lafleur, he could finally reach 1,000 rushing yards but he could also become more of a threat in the passing game.
It is fair to assume that, if Akers stays healthy, he will be a massive part of the L.A. Rams offense next season and will see a majority of the running back workload.
With the addition of Mike LaFleur, Akers will most definitely be getting the ball in more ways than just hand-offs which can take some of the offensive load off of stars like Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford. Something the Rams desperately needed.