Sean, Can We Talk About Your RB Usage?

by Lewie Bartone
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One target. One target for your best pass-catching running back. 

Look, I’ve come to peace with the ugly win over the hapless New York Giants, I want to make that clear. I’m writing this the day before the matchup with the Washington Football Team, so in all likelihood, the Rams are gonna come out and trounce these guys, and everyone will forget about the 17-9 win. But, after sitting and thinking about that game last Sunday, I can’t help but be a little upset with McVay’s plans for this game. 

Sean McVay is a great head coach. What he’s done with the Rams since he took over in 2017 is incredible and I am truly one of his biggest fans. My only gripe with him is there are multiple moments a year where he tries to “out-McVay” himself, an expression I’m trying to get in the mainstream. Consistently burning timeouts early in the game, trying to do too much with the offense by thinking too many steps ahead, and my biggest pet peeve, underutilizing a player who’s on a hot streak. This was my main takeaway from last Sunday. 

Darrell Henderson came into week 4 on an absolute tear, averaging 120 yards from scrimmage in weeks 2 & 3, and accounting for 42% and 49% of the offensive snaps, respectively. That dropped to 38% in week 4 against a pitiful Giants’ defense. I demand an explanation. I’ve been one of the people all offseason saying this will be an RBBC, so I expected everyone to get touches throughout the season, but why wouldn’t you ride out the guy who has looked like the best running back so far? 

Our offense looked stale and I point a good amount of blame to McVay’s reliance on the solid but unspectacular Malcolm Brown, who out-touched and out-snapped Henderson, for reasons that I can’t explain. Brown had 6(!) targets against the Giants and turned that into, *checks notes*, 19 yards. HUH?! That’s the reason our offense looked slow and out of sync last week. No explosiveness from Brown in the passing game and no RAC from him; it completely stalled drives, something that Henderson doesn’t do.

Coming into this week, the backfield is at full health again with Cam Akers returning to the lineup. My hopes for McVay is that he will utilize all of their strengths equally, and that means that Henderson should be receiving majority of the passing work. He looks explosive and he’s showing great vision after the catch. This is a classic game where I could see McVay trying to razzle-dazzle his opponent and over-utilize guys that he shouldn’t (re: 6 targets to Malcolm Brown), but my hope is that he just sticks to the guys who should be touching the ball. I trust that McVay will figure this situation out as the season ensues and properly work these guys into a nice rotation, but there’s always the worry that he’ll try to out-McVay (it’s gonna be a thing!) Washington. I sure hope not.

Sean, you are great and I’m so happy that you’re the LA Rams head coach, but please, pretty please, do the right thing and utilize the talent you have in the backfield. I promise, even if the opponent knows what’s coming, they won’t be able to stop it. This is a good offense with lots of weapons, give them the opportunity! Rams fans (and fantasy managers) will be ever in your debt. 

(The author would like to note that it is very likely that Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown could take over the backfield for week 5 and dominate the Football Team and make him look foolish. However, he will issue an apology… FOR NOTHING!)

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