Rams Now Have More to Choose From to Increase Red Zone Production

Tutu Atwell

Getty Tutu Atwell crosses the end zone in a 2020 Louisville Cardinals game against Florida State.

On September 27, the Los Angeles Rams scored three of their four touchdowns inside the Buffalo Bills’ 20-yard line but still fell 35-32, in one of the more exciting regular season games of 2020.

That was the last time the Rams lost a game when they scored three red zone touchdowns.

The Rams enter 2021 with this rare streak: Five consecutive victories when they complete the hat trick of scoring inside an opponents’ 20-yard line. Overall, the franchise was 6-1 in games when they scored three red zone touchdowns or more.

However, this doesn’t mean all was consistent inside striking distance.

The production took a dive toward the end of 2020, with inconsistent blocking up front and an inability to find the end zone plaguing the team in December and January. And, according to sharpfootballanalysis.com, the Rams showed a distrust in quarterback Jared Goff by opting to run the football 60.5% of the time between the 20 and goal line. The Rams were additionally reliant on the ground attack inside the 10, opting for 60 total running plays over 23 passing plays according to the analytical report by Rich Hribar on June 30.

But changes on the perimeter, two backfield promotions and some rookie additions all point to the red zone production trekking upward this fall, and the Rams becoming a consistent three or four touchdown threat once the ball is inside the opposing 20.

The Ground Options

Yes, losing Cam Akers hurts. Especially from a versatility standpoint.

It’s not just the fact that Akers could catch out of the backfield, but could score off of direct snaps.

But fear not Ram fans. There are still ground-based scoring options left over.

One is Xavier Jones who is likely to see an increase in snaps. Even while playing in a pass-happy offense like the SMU Mustangs’ Air Raid, Jones still has the ability to be a TD threat inside the 10, proven by cutting back to his right and scoring from inside 10 yards out in the first touchdown highlighted here.

Plus Jones shows his nose for the end zone and the willingness to trust his blockers at the goal line near the 2:20 mark of this highlight.

But the one likely to make the ground game go is the new projected RB1: Darrell Henderson. Of his six touchdowns from a year ago, five came inside the 20 – already making him a valuable red zone option for the Rams.

Henderson isn’t just a running back option when the Rams are in close proximity to the goal line, but can be a WR presence too.

Even the seventh rounder Jake Funk could make his mark near the goal line, since he’s done it before at Maryland.

Funk could also get consideration as a goal line back on third downs for the Rams, proven here in this short-yardage situation.

Despite Akers’ loss, there are still red zone options the Rams can turn to who could run and catch. Speaking of catchers.

The Aerial Options

Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee have been effective between the one and 20-yard line before. But even that trio could use some help.

Enter rookies Tutu Atwell and Jacob Harris.

Atwell was drafted to spark the deep attack. But the first highlight clip shows he can get open inside the 10 as well.

The Rams may additionally be convinced to snatch this from Atwell’s alma mater, which shows the 5-foot-9, 165-pounder used in a gadget play at the 54 second mark. Watch how Atwell breaks out of his motion.

Louisville WR Tutu Atwell Is Explosive In Win Over FSUThe scary thing about Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell is that he does not need to touch the ball a lot to make a big impact on a game. This was proven again in the game against Florida State. Atwell had just three catches, but he went off for 129 yards and a touchdown. SUBSCRIBE:…2020-10-25T19:23:45Z

Atwell can create mismatches off of his speed. Harris, though, produces mismatches with height and speed. The 6-foot-5, 211-pound Harris was called “physical freak” by one scout.

Inside the Draft: ‘Physical Freak’ Jacob Harris Immediately Stands Out | Ep. 6Subscribe to the LA Rams Channel: bit.ly/3d9IrHe For More Exclusive Content follow the Rams: Twitter: twitter.com/ramsnfl Instagram: instagram.com/rams/ Facebook: facebook.com/Rams/ Website: therams.com Get the latest on the LA Rams news, photos, and more by downloading the app! Android: bit.ly/3fOjmU7 iOS: apple.co/2Nrijgw #LosAngelesRams #LARams #Rams #NFL2021-05-17T20:46:39Z

Though he’s penciled in to play tight end, Harris has been used in the slot before, shown here during his Central Florida days which could give head coach Sean McVay another playbook idea.

UCF masterfully placed Harris in one-on-one’s with cornerbacks inside the red zone, taking advantage of the height advantage he has while executing this corner route.

A personal favorite? At the 1:27 mark here, Harris is aligned to the right by himself against Memphis. Two Tiger defenders try to double him, but Harris slips by both and scores on the 10-yarder.

UCF WR/TE Jacob Harris 2020 Highlights ⚡️⚡️⚡️ ᴴᴰSubscribe, Like this Video & Turn On Notifications! (↓↓ click show more ↓↓) Instagram: instagram.com/justbombsproductions/ Twitter: twitter.com/JBP_Official Patreon: patreon.com/justbombsproductions Facebook: facebook.com/Just-Bombs-Productions-255863801590167/ UCF WR/TE Jacob Harris Senior 6’5 219 lbs UCF WR/TE Jacob Harris might be the most freakish athlete in the draft. He’s big like a Tight End & runs like a receiver. In fact,…2021-04-27T17:00:26Z

In 2020, the Rams ranked 19th in red zone TD production, making them the second lowest rated NFC playoff team in that category (Chicago was lower). This team has proven to thrive better when they hit the three TD mark inside the 20.

But now, the new weapons in place and the returners give the Rams the potential to become the league’s most dangerous team once defenses are backed into a certain 20-yard area of the field. The 2021 Rams red zone personnel has the look of a group that will keep the field goal unit on the sidelines.

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