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Thread: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

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    Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Schottenheimer pushing competition at RB

    June, 18, 2014
    By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When asked about the St. Louis Rams' collection of running backs Tuesday, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer offered an interesting response.

    As part of an effort to promote competition at all positions, Schottenheimer identified the running back spot as one to watch. While stopping short of declaring it wide open, Schottenheimer intimated that the plan is for Benny Cunningham, Tre Mason, Isaiah Pead and others to push incumbent Zac Stacy.

    “Well right now, competition is for who’s the starter," Schottenheimer said. "We’re just going to let them all roll and see what happens. You saw some guys that worked with the young guys today. Zac’s obviously a really, really good player, but we’re going to create competition for all the guys. That’s a long way off, but we know we have a good stable group of backs and they all have different skill sets, which we’ll try to use throughout the course of the year."

    Before you go crossing Stacy's name off your list of potential fantasy football picks, though, it should be noted that pushing the competition angle is a common refrain in the coach's playbook, especially at this time of the year. In theory, every job is up for grabs. In execution, it's a solid ploy to ensure that everybody brings their best to the practice field on a daily basis.

    “We’re just trying to create competition," Schottenheimer said. "(Quarterback) Sam Bradford is going to compete. That’s what we’re trying to do and whoever wins the job, wins the job. But I expect to see multiple guys carry the football.”

    It's in that final statement where Schottenheimer cuts to the most likely outcome for whatever competition the Rams have at running back. Stacy's name might not be etched in stone as the starter heading into the season but he remains as the frontrunner because he's simply the most proven back on the roster.

    Stacy finished last season with 973 rushing yards, 141 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. That production came in just 12 games as the starter, and Stacy's emergence in the final three quarters of the season helped rectify a failed attempt to become a more wide open passing attack.

    Cunningham flashed potential as the backup to Stacy, especially in games where Stacy missed time with nagging injuries. Pead has never earned the opportunity to get consistent work with the offense but also remains on the roster. And Mason is the newest addition, coming to the Rams in the third round of this year's draft and generally considered the player most likely to make a push for more time.

    But, as Schottenheimer points out, the Rams will seek ways to get multiple backs involved and not rely on just one player to handle an overwhelming bulk of the work.

    During these organized team activities, Pead has even earned reps with the first team, especially in third down and passing situations. In Tuesday's practice, Pead beat linebacker James Laurinaitis on a wheel route which would have gone for a long touchdown in a real game.

    “He’s doing good," Schottenheimer said. "Obviously again, took a big step up for (Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (John) Fassel on special teams. When a guy does that he’s obviously going to be dressed every day on game day, which is big thing for us because you don’t get everybody dressed for game day. He’s really getting better. I think getting comfort in the system helps. Terrific match-up problem for the defense coming out of the backfield and he’s made some big plays for us."

    There's more to holding down the running back job than making big plays, things like picking up the blitz, for example. But in promoting the idea of competition, Schottenheimer and the Rams can take their time in determining who fits where in an offense that will ask much of its running backs.


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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    All that Schotty said makes real sense to me, compete for work at RB and spread it around to use each guys skills! RB by committee just makes a whole lot more sense than trying to give Zac 70% when the guy did not even play that much last year, due to injuries. Would be wise to give all our backs work and try to keep the guys healthy as possiable.

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Keep 'em guessing Brian, good move. We've got to keep the Sqawks and the ***** off balance if we want to beat them. No reason to let them know our plans.

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Alright, I'm officially pulling for Pead again. I still think there's talent there if he is past his knuckleheadedness.

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    So it sounds like Tre Mason was right after all? Interesting.
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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    “We’re just trying to create competition," Schottenheimer said. "(Quarterback) Sam Bradford is going to compete. That’s what we’re trying to do and whoever wins the job, wins the job. But I expect to see multiple guys carry the football.”
    I think this statement puts things into perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randart View Post
    RB by committee just makes a whole lot more sense than trying to give Zac 70% when the guy did not even play that much last year, due to injuries.
    I know it may seem like Stacy didn't play a lot last year because of injuries, but that simply isn't the case. He was healthy the first 4 games, but wasn't used, getting only 1 carry, missed a half because of the NFL concussion policy, and a few other quarters after being dinged up, but he didn't miss a single start. And as far as his ability to be a 70% of the carries guy, despite basically only playing in 12 games, he ranked 11th in attempts for all NFL backs. Whether that translates to 70% of the Rams carries, is another story.

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Zac battled some injuries but kept playing. He had a concussion, hip injury, chest, rib, and an ankle / foot injury that lasted several weeks. He also missed multiple practices during camp for an undisclosed injury.

    He had a ton of carries, don't see how anyone would imply he didn't play much.

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    Zac battled some injuries but kept playing. He had a concussion, hip injury, chest, rib, and an ankle / foot injury that lasted several weeks. He also missed multiple practices during camp for an undisclosed injury.

    He had a ton of carries, don't see how anyone would imply he didn't play much.
    Being as I am the anyone mentioned in your quote I will elaborate and explain what I meant, taken in context to 70% of our offense or offensive snaps he was not there sometimes when he was there he was a mere decoy and not able to really operate due to his multiple injuries. His being able to handle 70% of the carries on this team seemed a bit much imho due to his lack of ability to stay healthy. He really should not even have played as much as he did but with DRich, & Bam Bam already out the coaches opted to use him instead of Peadster even being beat the heck up! I reckon that about sums it up...

    I think Zac should be the starter for sure and he should get 50% or so of the carries as long as he can go and be viable and healthy the rest should be spread around to the rest of our backs. That is how I view our offense being able to be effective and still execute at its highest optimum level. All just my opinions....

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Quote Originally Posted by Randart View Post
    I think Zac should be the starter for sure and he should get 50% or so of the carries as long as he can go and be viable and healthy the rest should be spread around to the rest of our backs. That is how I view our offense being able to be effective and still execute at its highest optimum level. All just my opinions....
    I hear what you're saying Randart, and it sounds like Schottenheimer is looking towards a backfield where "multiple guys carry the football", but I'm hoping Stacy gets a lot more than 50% of the carries. IMO, backs like Stacy get stronger and more effective when their carries increase as the game progresses, and get not only themselves, but the OL in a more effective rhythm and flow.

    It'll be interesting to see what the Rams do with the running game.
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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    11th most rushing attempts during the season (after missing the first 4 games) and that's not playing a lot?
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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    I think the Rams have the ground game covered...but it doesn't matter who the starter is if an opponent can stuff the box to shutdown your ground game if your pass attack isn't creditable. Am just saying...

    All armchair GMs know that pounding the ball is important aspect of the game. Good armchair GMs know its play calling and execution that matters the most be it through the air or on the ground. Of the RBs on the roaster, who can better execute the plays and has the toughness to fight for those extra yards will be what most of us will be looking at. Right now Stacy has the edge over the RB corps being a known commodity where as Pead is more likely at the bottom of the peeking order

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    IMO, backs like Stacy get stronger and more effective when their carries increase as the game progresses, and get not only themselves, but the OL in a more effective rhythm and flow.
    I don't think the numbers support that for last year. In 2013, Stacy's first half YPC average was 4.2 whereas his second half YPC average was 3.4. He scored twice as many touchdowns in the first half of games than in the second half.

    Maybe that will change in 2014 with improvements on the line in front of him, but in 2013, Stacy was more effective on average for each carry in the first half of the game than he was the second.


    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    11th most rushing attempts during the season (after missing the first 4 games) and that's not playing a lot?
    According to Pro Football Focus, Stacy played 573 out of a possible 742 snaps in the final 12 games of 2013. Meaning that over the course of those games, Stacy was on the field for about 77% of offensive plays. His 276 combined rushes and receptions represents him touching the ball on 48% of the snaps he was on the field for.

    It's worth pointing out that his workload in those games varied, sometimes substantially, and I think there is something to be said about the four different injuries (rib, ankle, concussion, hip) that he accumulated during that span that forced him to the sideline for varying amounts of time.

    This is why I'm glad that, contrary to what others believed would be the case a few weeks ago, the Rams aren't just handing Stacy the starting job. Let him fight for it, let him prove he's the best man. But also, let some other guys taste what it's like, because if history is any indication, Zac's going to miss some time in 2014 and someone else will need to step in.
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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I don't think the numbers support that for last year. In 2013, Stacy's first half YPC average was 4.2 whereas his second half YPC average was 3.4. He scored twice as many touchdowns in the first half of games than in the second half.

    Maybe that will change in 2014 with improvements on the line in front of him, but in 2013, Stacy was more effective on average for each carry in the first half of the game than he was the second.
    Very fair points, and I do think the stats you presented will change with an improved line, and a healthy Stacy. The question will be, do the Rams want to go that route, or will they want to go with multiple backs late in games.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    This is why I'm glad that, contrary to what others believed would be the case a few weeks ago, the Rams aren't just handing Stacy the starting job.
    Well, if Schottenheimer is to be believed, nobody is being handed a starting job, and everyone is competing.

    Sam Bradford is going to compete. That’s what we’re trying to do and whoever wins the job, wins the job.
    Just my opinion, but I still think for all intents and purposes, Stacy is the de facto starter, unless someone else does something extraordinary during the preseason to change that.

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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    I'm sure for all intents and purposes Stacy will be the feature back. But I think the breakdown on carries will be close.

    Stacy 14
    Mason 10
    benny/Pead 6

    something like that makes sense to me.
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    Re: Schottenheimer Pushing Competition At RB

    Just my opinion, but I still think for all intents and purposes, Stacy is the de facto starter, unless someone else does something extraordinary during the preseason to change that. - R8rh8rmike
    I'm sure for all intents and purposes Stacy will be the feature back. But I think the breakdown on carries will be close.

    Stacy 14
    Mason 10
    Benny/Pead 6

    Something like that makes sense to me. - Mikey
    Very likely plans for Rams running game distribution.

    I'm leaning more on Ben than Pead for RB support.

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