The days of a workhorse back with the St. Louis Rams may be part of the past now, but that doesn’t mean the team still can’t have a productive ground game in 2013. Steven Jackson departed after voiding his contract in the offseason to join the Atlanta Falcons and chase not just a Super Bowl ring but his first winning season in the league. That leaves quite a gaping hole in the backfield for a franchise that epitomized stability at the position for such a long period of time.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport that the Rams will likely be “playing two or three backs all the time. Which is good.” Given the fact that the backs on the roster currently are all first or second year players that aren’t exactly every-down type of ball carriers, the running back by committee approach was the assumed method for St. Louis in the upcoming season.
Fantasy football junkies might want to avoid the complex Rams backfield situation, but it could actually prove beneficial for the team in the win/loss column this year. Both Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are entering their second years with the team and they offer similar skill sets out of the backfield. Pead is 5-foot-10 197 pounds while Richardson is listed at 5-foot-10 196 pounds making them quite a redundant duo. Luckily rookie Zac Stacy and his 5-foot-8 216-pound frame will provide a nice contrast to those two when needed in short yardage and goal line situations.
What could prove to be the deciding factor between the trio in the backfield is whomever is more effective as a pass protector. Running backs need to do more than just carry the football at the NFL level, and being able to pick up blitzes to help keep quarterback Sam Bradford off of his backside will be vital to the team’s offensive success. Fisher spoke to kmov.com on the pass protection element of the backfield battle in reference to the two second-year backs saying:
“They’ve done fine. They’ve both had good camps, and a good offseason and they’re not making mistakes in protection which is important to us and our quarterback.”
Although that might be the deciding factor, everyone figures to get a chance during the course of the season. This mixed bag suggests is a bit of timeshare with the “hot hand” garnering the majority of the touches in any given game. The Rams are likely to focus on a revamped passing game with plenty of young targets as well where none of the receivers are more than 25 years of age.
It may not be the typical approach Rams fans are used to, but that might not be such a bad thing given the team’s difficult stretch prior to last season. Look for this philosophy to work just fine for the new-look offense as the Rams look forward to scoring way more than their 299 points from just a season ago in 2013.