It’s already been iterated and then reiterated, but head coach Jeff Fisher felt the need to reinforce the point to reporters that Daryl Richardson will in fact be the starting running back for the St. Louis Rams when the season begins. It only seems fitting that the heir apparent to Steven Jackson will be the player that shared the backfield with him in his final season with the franchise, but just what does it mean for the offense as a whole in 2013?
Although many believe that the Rams will be more of a wide open spread attack with quarterback Sam Bradford dropping back to pass with more frequency in the upcoming season, that may not actually be the case. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has always been a firm believer in balance on offense, and there’s no doubt that coach Fisher feels the same way given his well-documented affinity for the ground game.
What the Rams may look like more than anything on offense is a carbon copy of the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs from their heyday with Todd Haley calling the plays. The Chiefs spread the field quite a bit in order to get defenses spread out for running back Jamaal Charles to take advantage. The similarities between Richardson and Charles are striking with both being slightly built backs (Richardson 5-foot-10 196-pounds, Charles 5-foot-11 199-pounds) and having plenty of speed to get around the edge while still maintaining enough power and strength to run between the tackles effectively. The only difference between that Chiefs squad and this Rams team is that Bradford is ten times the quarterback that Matt Cassel was for Kansas City.
On a smaller scale, Richardson’s numbers are already mirror images of Charles’. He is a very capable receiver out of the backfield with 24 catches a year ago in spot duty behind S-Jax while he made the most of his 98 carries last year with a 4.8 yards per carry average. It remains to be seen if Isaiah Pead or rookie Zac Stacy can be the complementary piece in the running back stable that Thomas Jones was for Charles with the 2010 Chiefs, but the Rams will surely be looking to spread the load out amongst their running backs in order to keep them effective.
Coach Fisher doesn’t seem to have a definitive plan nailed down as of yet as he told Sports Illustrated following the team’s Monday practice:
“I mean basically from a starting standpoint, yeah, I think Daryl will probably take the first snap against Arizona. But as far as who’s going to come in, that remains to be seen. We still have some more evaluating to do.”
That evaluation process will certainly be ongoing, but the battle for the starting gig has already been settled for good reason. Richardson is going to have some serious success in his first season as a starter and exceed 1,000 yards on the ground in the Rams’ backfield. He could very easily catch 40 to 50 passes for an additional 500 yards to help keep this offense balanced and moving the chains on the regular this season. Look for his explosiveness to aid Bradford and the rest of the weapons on offense as the Rams seek their first winning record in a decade in 2013.