Usually a candidate for an award like Rookie of the Year has been starting from Week 1, compiling stats and wooing voters into their corner. St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy hasn’t had that luxury having just one carry prior to the season’s quarter pole in Week 4, yet he still finds himself smack dab in the thick of things when it comes to winning the offensive side of the award.
It’s hard to deny two straight 100-yard games the past two weeks, and it’s just as difficult to refute an impressive 4.6 yards per carry average for the year. In fact, the only game in which Stacy did not average at least 4.4 yards per tote in since becoming the starter in Week 5 was against the Carolina Panthers the NFL’s second-stingiest run defense. His presence as a receiver has been solid as well contributing 13 catches for 91 yards through the air with a score. Stacy scored the Rams’ first two rushing touchdowns of the season this past week and looks ready to continue that streak in Week 10 against the Indianapolis Colts.
With 103 carries for 475 yards to date it’s hard to consider Stacy the front-runner for the award with players like the Green Bay Packers’ Eddie Lacy, Cincinnati Bengals’ Giovani Bernard, and New York Jets’ Geno Smith compiling impressive statistical resumes of their own. But even though he’s played in two fewer games than Lacy and four fewer than both Bernard and Smith it’s arguable that Stacy has had the bigger impact on his team to date.
The woeful Rams have been lost since quarterback Sam Bradford tore his ACL in the closing moments of the Week 7 tilt at Carolina. Stacy has given the team reason for hope that things aren’t as bad as they seem currently for a franchise that was thought to be on the rise after a renaissance season a year ago. Given the fact that Steven Jackson moved on in the offseason leaving a gaping hole at running back for the Rams to fill that only adds another element to the appeal of Stacy’s case for OROY.
It would be hard to imagine a quarterback like Smith with eight touchdowns to 13 interceptions and six fumbles getting the nod over Stacy, but if his Jets make the postseason it’s certainly possible. Bernard’s Bengals are also in the playoff hunt and his dynamic ability to help in both the run and pass game is undeniable, but he won’t have nearly the resume of Stacy when it’s all said and done. The main competition has to be Lacy who has had five straight games with 22 carries or more in Green Bay and continues to fuel a running game that was nonexistent until his arrival and now ranks second in the league. Add to that the fact that Aaron Rodgers is out injured and his case gets even stronger.
Head coach Jeff Fisher will undoubtedly ride Stacy in the closing stretch of the season, but his push may ultimately come up just short of earning the hardware. Regardless of whether he wins an award or not, the Rams have to be thrilled that their most explosive offensive rookie this season came out of the fifth round of the draft. Or not I suppose depending on your perspective.