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Kyren Williams Rams

Is Kyren Williams The Rams’ RB1?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 14, 2023
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Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams put forth one of the more surprising Week 1 performances. Williams was instrumental to the Rams offense throughout their shocking 30-13 upset over their NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks. Williams should receive the bulk of the workload moving forward.

A sophomore from Notre Dame, Williams rushed for 52 yards and two touchdowns via 15 carries. Williams’ first touchdown was a one-yard score that gave the Rams a 7-3 first-quarter lead. Williams’ second rushing touchdown presented the Rams with a second-half lead, an advantage they never relinquished.

The expectation coming into the season was that Williams would be the No. 2 behind Cam Akers. That wasn’t necessarily the case. Williams out-snapped Akers 53-28 versus the Seahawks. Williams accounted for 65% of all Rams offensive snaps, as opposed to a 35% snap share for Akers.

Williams was also considerably more efficient with his opportunities than Akers was. Williams averaged 3.5 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns compared to Akers’ 1.3 yards per carry mark and one touchdown. Akers rushed for just 29 yards on 22 attempts.

A deeper look into Sean McVay’s usage of Williams and Akers indicates the coaching staff is higher on Williams. Williams out-carried Akers 14-11 prior to the Rams taking a double-digit lead against the Seahawks. Akers then out-carried Williams 11-1, having received the majority of his opportunities in garbage time. Game script should typically favor Williams moving forward.

Williams nearly scored a third touchdown versus the Seahawks. Rookie guard Steve Avila did a terrific job clearing an eventual hole for a patient Williams to run through. Williams kept his legs churning and was tackled just short of the goal line.

Williams added two receptions to his offensive totals and is significantly more productive in the passing game than Akers is. McVay and his offensive staff trust Williams in pass protection. Akers, who totaled just 27 receptions in his first three seasons, has never proven himself to be a reliable third-down back. It gives Williams a clear advantage in a critical area.

A peek into Williams’ advanced metrics paints an exciting picture. Williams averaged 2.87 yards after contact per attempt, according to Pro Football Focus, meaning 43 of Williams’ 52 rushing yards occurred after contact. Williams routinely created additional yardage for himself. Akers wasn’t as impressive in this category, averaging just 1.68 yards per carry after initial contact.

Williams and the entire Rams offense will face a legitimate test from their rival San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. Last year’s top-ranked scoring defense began the season on the appropriate foot by holding the Pittsburgh Steelers to seven points in a Week 1 blowout victory. A stingy 49ers defense held the Steelers to a league-low 41 rushing yards. If Williams enjoys success via the ground game, it’ll position him nicely as the Rams’ go-to workhorse.

Williams handily outperformed Akers despite receiving fewer opportunities versus the Seahawks. His specific usage indicates the Rams view him as the lead choice in their backfield. Williams is the likeliest candidate to lead the Rams in rushing in 2023.

Written By

Justin Melo