Mailbag: How will Schottenheimer use both Zac Stacy and Tre Mason? Will it be a two-headed monster like he ran in 2010 with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson on the Jets? – Jacob, Prescott
Zac Stacy did exceptionally well for a rookie last year, even more impressive that he nearly topped 1,000 yards in just 12 starts. But he did amass a whopping 250 carries, which is way too many in 12 games, for any back.
The question isn’t will there be a second back complimenting Stacy, but who will it be?
Tre Mason was obviously drafted for a reason. Coming from the ultra-competitive SEC, Mason is built for the fierce NFC West. But, Benny Cunningham, who was the Rams’ no. 2 last year, will battle with Mason for that spot. I expect Mason though, to be listed as the no. 2 come Sept. 7.
Mason, at Auburn last year, racked up an astounding 1,816 yards on 317 carries (5.7 avg.), while scoring 23 touchdowns. The guy is durable, built like a fireplug and should fit in well with what Schottenheimer wants to do offensively, which is punish the opposing defensive front seven.
Jeff Fisher and co. will be keeping a keen eye on the backfield this preseason looking for a reliable backup who can step in and make an impact. Expect training camp and the first three preseason games to be fierce competitively as Mason, Cunningham, and perhaps even Isaiah Pead, battle for roster spots.
If it is indeed Stacy and Mason taking the bulk of the carries, then it’s not outlandish to think that as a tandem, they can total 1800+ yards. Last year, the Rams ran a total of 373 times with running backs. I expect that number to increase this year now that their identity will be ground and pound from day one. Rushing for 450-500 times will not only allow the Rams to control the clock and the line of scrimmage, it will also take a lot of pressure off Sam Bradford.
One aspect to not overlook in the running back’s potential success is the road graders they have in front of them: Roger Saffold, Greg Robinson, and Jake Long. If, and this is a big if, the line can stay healthy, expect this running back tandem to inflict some damage in 2014.