While there had been plenty of speculation regarding the state of the Los Angeles Rams’ backfield heading into the 2020 NFL season, the run game has not skipped a beat thanks to the committee of Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers.
Henderson has established himself as the top back in the pecking order with three stellar performances through the first five games. Meanwhile, Brown retained his role as a change-of-pace option and has served as a stabilizing factor thanks to his experience and pass protecting ability.
Akers has been sidelined with a rib injury that has prevented him from finding his footing. However, head coach Sean McVay indicated that the rookie is primed for an increased role moving forward after a solid performance in Week 5.
One coach that can appreciate the dynamic of having such a deep backfield is San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan. He shared some high praise for every option the Rams’ have in their stable, per Stu Jackson of the team’s website:
“I mean, just anytime you have a good running scheme, you block well, and whether you have one good running back or three good running backs, it’s going to lead to running the ball well, and they do a very good job schematically,” Shanahan said on a conference call with Rams beat writers Wednesday afternoon. “They have three guys who all are running hard, hitting the right holes and not messing around.”
Shanahan added that each running back boasts a versatile skill set and bring their own unique approach to the offense, similar to his own running back committee:
“I think they’re all similar to me,” Shanahan said. “I mean, they all could do things in the pass game and they’re all good runners. So, it’s not like they’re doing different things when they come in, they’ve got three choices and that’s similar to how we do it, too. We feel we have three good running backs, or even more than three, but that’s how it always works out.”
There is certainly plenty of truth to Shanahan’s comments. Despite the loss of Todd Gurley this offseason, the run game has not skipped a beat with the seventh-most rushing yards per game (139.6) heading into Week 6.
Shanahan is well aware of the perks of having such a deep backfield and knows his defense could have their work cut out trying to contain it. Although they have been one of the most injury-plagued teams to start the 2020 campaign, this has not prevented their run defense from giving up the third-fewest rushing yard per game (215.6).