One of the main storylines for the L.A. Rams last season was the rift between running back Cam Akers and head coach Sean McVay. During the season, Akers and McVay had a disagreement regarding Akers’ role in the offense, which led to Akers stepping away from the team for a brief period of time.
When Akers returned, he finished the season with some serious momentum, putting up 512 yards on the ground, six touchdowns, 4.9 YPC, with 11 receptions for 99 yards through the teams final six games of the season. It became apparent that Akers still had the tools and traits that made the Rams select him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, showing that true three-down back potential that we saw early on in his career.
Heading into the new season, Akers is far and away the best running back on the Rams roster, which should result in some serious touches for the young man out of Florida State University. If Akers can build on the finish of last season, while also remaining healthy throughout the year, he has a real shot to become one of the best running backs in the entire NFL.
One of his biggest supporters and believers is none other than McVay, less than a year after their “philosophical differences”.
McVay made a radio appearance in which he praises Akers, making it clear he will be a big part of the Rams offensive attack moving forward:
“He’s really capitalized on a lot of the momentum he built up toward the latter part of the year. And he’s going to be a huge part of what we’re doing moving forward,” McVay said of Akers. “He’s had a great offseason. I love the rapport that he’s established with Ron Gould, our new running backs coach. Cam is going to be a central figure in this offense. I think he’s priming himself to have a great year. and also, I’ve loved what Kyren Williams has done in that running backs room. But Cam is a stud. He’s taking great care of himself physically, he’s in a good place mentally. Just continuing to mature and I’m really excited about what he’s going to do for us this year.”
Clearly, McVay and Akers have hashed out their differences and have a much more positive relationship, as McVay points out the great head-space Akers has found himself in as well as the steps being made in terms of maturity.
The Rams haven’t had a running back rush for 1,000 yards since Todd Gurley in 2018. Akers was on that kind of pace at the end of the 2022 season, but he will need to hold off Sony Michel, Zach Evans, and Kyren Williams in order to do that. Will McVay go with a one-horse offense like he had with Gurley or more of a committee now that L.A. has brought back Michel and drafted Evans as one of their probable favorite “steals” in the draft?
All signs are pointing toward Cam Akers having a serious breakout year this season and, barring any injuries, I believe he will be able to hold off all other backs and be one of the most important Rams of 2023. If not, this is most certainly the last year of his tenure under McVay.