The 2013 season promises to have a different feel for the St. Louis Rams. This will be the first year since 2004 that Steven Jackson and his familiar number 39 isn’t lined up seven yards behind the St. Louis quarterback on a regular basis. After nine good years with the organization, including eight straight over 1,000 yards rushing, Jackson will now be toting the ball for the Atlanta Falcons and some new faces will carry the mail for the Rams. That might not turn out to be such a bad thing, however.
As mentioned in an earlier piece, the Rams really appear to be modeling themselves after the New England Patriots in several facets on offense. The team now has two tight ends with newly signed Jared Cook and recently disappointing Lance Kendricks. They have a slew of receivers that can step up at any given time, but incoming rookie Tavon Austin is expected to be a more dynamic version of Wes Welker in the short passing game. But perhaps the most obvious area is in the backfield where there is no clear-cut leader.
Last year’s draft saw the Rams select to running backs that both logged playing time in year one in second round pick Isaiah Pead and seventh rounder Daryl Richardson. Pead’s first year was not quite as advertised, but the team remains hopeful of his potential. Richardson, however, was quite a pleasant surprise rushing for 475 yards on 98 attempts for a 4.8 yards per carry average. Although this was in limited action, the fact that the running back by committee approach is likely again in 2013 makes his success quite relevant.
In addition to Pead and Richardson, the Rams’ fifth round selection from this year’s draft, Zac Stacy, will likely see some serious action. Both Pead and Richardson are the edge, speed rushers at an identical 5’10” 197lbs., but Stacy is the man to pick up the tough yards inside. At 5’8” 216lbs. Stacy resembles a bowling ball on legs. This will be the perfect complement to what Pead and Richardson bring to the table as the trio shares the load in the backfield.
The Patriots haven’t had a consistent presence in the backfield since clock-killin’ Corey Dillon was in New England. It seems like the Rams are adopting that mentality of going with a variety of runners and riding the hot hand in the upcoming season. That’s certainly not what fans of the team are used to, but it just might be the most effective approach in today’s NFL.