The Pro Football Writer’s Association released their All-Rookie team a couple days ago, and two Rams – punt returner Tavon Austin and outside linebacker Alec Ogletree made the cut.
The Detroit Lions led the way with three rookies receiving honors, and the Rams were one of four teams that had two rookies receive honors. That’s a pretty impressive honor for the Rams, but did they actually deserve three rookies on the team rather than two?
After all, the Rams rookie who earned the team’s Rookie of the Year Award, Zac Stacy, did not make the squad.
The PFWA instead handed out their two rookie running back honors to Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy and Cincinnati’s Giovanni Bernard.
Here is a look at how the three running backs (Stacy, Lacy and Bernard) compare to each other. (If the screenshot is blurry, either click to enlarge or click this link).
Pretty tough to argue against the likely Rookie of the Year Lacy deserving a spot. But what about Bernard vs. Stacy? Stacy was clearly very valuable to the Rams, as the team played much better when he was inserted in the lineup in Week 5. The Rams finished 6-6 after a 1-3 start when the offense shifted from pass-heavy to Stacy-heavy – and nine of those games featured Kellen Clemens at quarterback, not Sam Bradford.
Had Stacy played in all 16 games, he probably would’ve been named to the PFWA All-Rookie team with ease, and very well might have been the favorite for Rookie of the Year. But even though Stacy would have gladly played in those first four games had he been given the choice, the voters had no choice but to hold those missed games against him.
Bernard, on the other hand, played in all 16 games, on a winning team no less. The fact that the Bengals went 11-5 and the Rams went 7-9 should not be overlooked in this matter. Voters, rightly or wrongly, often consider team success with these awards. Bernard’s not a scrub by any means though. He was very valuable as a receiver out of the backfield, catching almost as many passes (56) as Stacy and Lacy combined (61).
The stats are pretty much equal between Stacy and Bernard, but Pro Football Focus breaks the tie. PFF ranks Bernard as tied for the fourth best running back (+17.8) according to their grading system (he’s tied with Lacy actually). Stacy ranks 31st with a still-impressive grade of +3.1.
So to answer my own question: No, Stacy did not get snubbed. That doesn’t take anything away from his great season and positive impact on the Rams. But Bernard and Lacy were just a tad better. All three backs have a bright future ahead of them obviously, and I doubt many Rams fans would trade Stacy for the other two guys at this point.
The Rams could lose a key piece of their coaching staff to an SEC school.