The prevailing philosophy for the St. Louis Rams on offense so far in 2013 has been an aerial attack. In fact, of their pitiful 301.8 yards per game average of total offense, a meager 47.2 of it comes from the ground game. Needless to say, against a Jacksonville Jaguars team ranked dead last in run defense giving up a whopping 165.0 yards per game, the Rams must focus on running the football.
Obviously quarterback Sam Bradford was afforded some new toys in the offseason and the offense was supposed to be opened up to keep up with the rest of the NFL and the trend toward a wide open passing league, but the running game can’t just be abandoned by the side of the road. Daryl Richardson has had a very rocky start to his tenure as the feature back in St. Louis with just 114 yards on 42 attempts for a paltry 2.7 yards per carry average. Undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham has surprisingly garnered the second-most attempts with 10 to this point, but his 2.2 yards per tote average is even worse.
Regardless of whether it is Richardson, Cunningham, the seemingly forgotten Isaiah Pead or even the rookie Zac Stacy, the Rams have to dedicate themselves to the run this week. An opportunity to play the league’s worst run defense in the middle of a three-game skid is a chance the Rams just can’t afford to pass up. This week will provide them with the opportunity to find a rhythm offensively and hopefully carry some momentum with them into the remainder of the season.
Adding a competent running game to this offense will not only help keep them on schedule in terms of down and distance, but it will also help open up more space for the passing game to operate. Dynamic rookie Tavon Austin has been a dud to this point with a team-leading 20 catches for a very modest 124 yards. For a player with his incredible open field ability, 6.2 yards per catch just isn’t going to cut it. Getting the running game going will force those defenders keying in on him around the line of scrimmage to respect the running game and open up more space for him to maneuver.
It also has to be mentioned that Austin himself is capable of lining up in the backfield and running the ball quite effectively as he demonstrated while at the University of West Virginia. Incorporating some type of running game with split backs in Austin and the prototypical running threat would really keep defenses on their toes.
Against a team as bad as the Jags, the Rams need to experiment and find themselves offensively so the season can starting turning in the right direction soon. This is the prime opportunity for St. Louis to resurrect its rushing attack; offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had better take advantage and get this offense humming.