Any Sean McVay offense is predicated on having a running game that allows the passing game to work off of the ground attack.
The Rams entered the year with expectations that second-year rusher Cam Akers would handle the lead duties. However, after an offseason Achillies injury, the team was forced to pivot, finding other ways to produce a successful running game.
Darrell Henderson has moved into the lead role while Sony Michel, who the Rams acquired from the New England Patriots during training camp, has provided a solid complementary option.
The pairing of Henderson and Michel may not be as star-studded as other backfields such as the Cleveland Browns and others but nonetheless, the Rams' running back group has delivered when called upon through the first five weeks.
On Friday, McVay spoke about the development between Henderson and Michel sharing the backfield, and he gave a ringing endorsement of what he's seen thus far.
“I think it's been great, McVay said. "I think it all starts with (running back coach) Thomas Brown. His leadership, the command that he has, the ability to connect with these guys is, is really vital to the success of that room. And I think Darrell (Henderson) and Sony (Michel) are both two great guys, and I think their skill sets really complement one another."
McVay's assessment of the two rushers not only centered around what they can do with the ball in their hands but also their willingness to engage in pass-blocking.
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"I thought they both did an excellent job," McVay said. "I thought it was good to get the run game going, but what you saw from both those guys too, that I think epitomizes the toughness of their coach is watching them stick their face on people and protection. Both of those guys had huge blitz pickups that we ended up creating explosive plays from. And Matthew (Stafford) did a great job being able to move off of it. And these are some of the better blitzing linebackers in the whole league. With the (Bobby) Wagner, with the (Jordyn) Brooks’ of the world, these guys do a great job with some of their internal pressure packages."
The combination of Henderson and Michel has combined for four touchdowns. The Rams offense has largely been pass-heavy to start the year, but in the last two weeks, their yards per rush against the Cardinals and Seahawks has averaged 4.7 yards per attempt.
"I thought Darrell ran hard," McVay said. "I think you see Sony, he falls forward. I thought Darrell ran really tough last night, he's playing tougher. And I’d love to be able to see that from Darrell, was great to be able to see him the last two weeks. I think he's been a real bright spot for us.”
Henderson suffered a rib cartilage injury in the Colts game, forcing him to miss the Week 3 contest. Since returning to action, he's averaged 16 carries for 86 yards on a per game basis.
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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel.