Zac Stacy Powering St. Louis Rams’ Run Game
Zac Stacy is proving to be a well-spent fifth-round pick for the St. Louis Rams in his two starts.
After putting together a solid game against one of the NFL‘s worst teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars, Stacy showed his worth again on Sunday. The Houston Texans had the best pass defense in the NFL according to yards allowed this year , and had a respectable run defense due to the excellent play of J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing.
Stacy didn’t show any respect to the Texans linemen or linebackers during their matchup on Sunday, punishing those who tried to bring him down. Stacy’s 79 yards on 14 carries may not make fantasy football GMs jump out of their seat, but his 4.4 yards per carry average is giving Rams fans everywhere something to talk about.
It seems like yards after the first hit are becoming a specialty for the Rams’ rookie running back. He was able to power through the line and consistently push defenders backward, racking up yards on power runs. At 5-foot-8 and 224 pounds, he is a bowling ball of a back similar to Maurice Jones Drew. Stacy is making quick decisions on his runs, finding the hole and hitting it full steam ahead, often requiring more than one defensive player to take him down.
At least a few of his runs were whistled to a stop because he refused to go down against two or more defenders. One play in the second quarter jumped out as a true “wow” moment when he was hit two yards behind the line, broke that tackle and ended up gaining 18 for his longest run of the day.
Those are the types of plays that Darryl Richardson lacks the size and power for. He has yet to find the hole when getting handoffs, as evidence by his five yards from three carries on Sunday. He has proven to be a valuable asset catching balls out of the backfield all year and providing QB Sam Bradford with a reliable check-down option. He caught a screen pass in the first quarter of the game and turned it upfield for an 18-yard gain.
Richardson can be an important piece of the Rams’ puzzle on third downs as a receiver that can move the ball in space after the catch.
Stacy had a Rams season-high of 56 yards on 11 carries at the end of the first half. Bradford may be the one gaining the most with the addition of Stacy in the backfield. Stacy has picked up blitzes well in his first two games, helping Bradford stay cleaner throughout the game. Defenses also have to respect the Rams’ running game, which means play-action plays are going to work better moving forward.
Things are looking up for the Rams after their second straight win. It has sent their confidence into a season-high with the offense looking much more balanced thanks to Stacy’s running power.
Roy Whitehead is a St. Louis Rams writer for rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @roypatrick1, or add him to your network on Google