For a little over half the season last year, running back was looking like a desperate need for the Los Angeles Rams. Luckily, Cam Akers overcame his prolonged slump and showed the Rams exactly what they imagined they’d be getting when they drafted him.
With running back (thankfully) not a need anymore, it doesn’t hurt to have insurance at the position. No, I’m not talking about the kind of insurance Baker Mayfield was the spokesperson for in those dumb Progressive commercials. Actually since being evicted from Cleveland he’s probably no longer covered by them but that’s besides whatever point I’m trying to make here.
LA has to sign a quality back behind Akers plain and simple. One of those options will soon be hitting free agency while the other will likely be cut by the team that traded for him at midseason. I’ll start with Jets rusher James Robinson who I advocated for the Rams to acquire prior to the start of last season.
Robinson had a decent start with the Jaguars before Travis Etienne overtook his spot on the depth chart. New York was in desperate need at the position since losing the impressive rookie Breece Hall to injury. When things get desperate, bad things tend to happen and boy did it ever for the Jets. (Thank goodness this isn’t a Zach Wilson hit piece.) After starting five of Jacksonville’s first seven games, Robinson started zero in the Big Apple and was a healthy scratch in six of them.
James Robinson's final stats with #Jets:— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) January 8, 2023
29 carries, 85 yards, 2.9 avg
1 TD (rec)
Finished with 425 yards, below 600-yard threshold set by Jets, JAX in trade. So the pick going to JAX remains a 6th-rounder, not a 5th.
He definitely didn’t make the most of his opportunity on what appeared to be a playoff hopeful. Folks seem to forget all the promise Robinson flashed as an undrafted starter out of Illinois State. James totaled 1,837 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground in two years before tearing his Achilles and missing the final three games in ‘21. Robinson suffered the same injury as Akers and looked back to his old self immediately.
Jaguars RB James Robinson tore his Achilles almost exactly 9 months ago today.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 26, 2022
He's the *only* player that has a rushing TD in each of the first three weeks of the season.
He looks excellent. What a bounce back. pic.twitter.com/hqOdmBfSEV
He may have crashed back down to earth as the season went on but there’s no need for him to carry a full workload with the Rams. The problem is that his old Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur now runs the show in LA. If LaFleur couldn’t find a spot on the offense for Robinson in New York, who’s to say he’ll find one for him now?
Instead, that is why I’ll shift to another back who is getting relatively little attention heading into free agency. David Montgomery has been a solid playmaker on the Bears even if he’s never been considered a top rusher in the NFL. Montgomery has rushed for over 3,600 yards and amassed 26 touchdowns on the ground in four years with Chicago. Similar to Robinson, he could be a solid weapon for McVay without having to carry the backfield.
I want David Montgomery back in Chicago.— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) February 16, 2023
He can block. Montgomery’s 71.7 PFF pass-blocking grade over 4 seasons is a top-10 mark among RBs and he has forced 185 missed tackles on runs, ranking 5th in the NFL over the same span. Keep good players. #DaBears #Bears #Chicago
Since the guy can block, maybe LA should put him on the O-line instead. Lord knows the Rams need all the help they can get there. Montgomery would be a relatively cheap option at the position and one who could benefit the team in every way possible. David has never rushed for less than 800 yards and has over 4,800 yards from scrimmage for his career. Also can’t forget he was the only Bears player that decided to show up the last time they played LA.
David Montgomery vs the Rams:— Nick (@JusthimField) September 13, 2021
118 total yards
Most underrated RB in the NFL is back where he left off
Cam Akers showed he was more than capable of carrying the load during his second-half resurgence. Even workhorse backs need a partner to ease the burden and David Montgomery or James Robinson would be a perfect fit. With the Rams looking to return to contention, they couldn’t find two better underrated options to help get them back there.