When Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams gave Todd Gurley a large contract extension two years ago, they envisioned him being their bellcow for a while.
Fast forward to now and the Rams are preparing for life without Gurley. They released the 2015 first-round pick this offseason after injuries limited his effectiveness and rendered him expendable.
Right now, Los Angeles’ running back depth chart features Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson Jr. and 2020 second-round pick Cam Akers. It looks like they will roll with a committee approach in the backfield this season.
That seems to suit McVay just fine.
“We feel we’ve got three really good backs,” McVay told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “What does that mean in terms of the distribution of carries? I think that’s to be determined based on how things play themselves out and when we get a chance to actually compete in practice and in those live opportunities.”
Brown was second on the team in rushing last season, tallying 255 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Henderson, meanwhile, was LA’s third-round pick in 2019 and entered the season as a popular dark-horse fantasy pickup. He only rushed for 147 yards and caught four passes, but has the ability to improve on those numbers in 2020.
As for Akers, the Rams wouldn’t have used a premium pick on the bruising Florida State back if they didn’t have the intention of making good use of his services.
“What we wanted to do was get a group that we felt really good about,” McVay said when asked about his approach to distributing carries. “This enables us to say, ‘We’re not necessarily committed to any approach, it’s a feel for the flow of the game.’ But you’d like everybody to create a role for themselves, and we’ll see what ends up happening then.”
The Rams are coming off a season in which they ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (20) but 18th in attempts (401) and 26th in yards (1,499).
The hope is that this committee approach will improve those numbers in 2020.