Sony Michel wouldn't mind if opponents chose not to stack the box against him, sure.
But when they inevitably do, he's got a reputation for punishing would-be tacklers. And there's a philosophy behind his ability to finish runs – most recently in a 24-carry, 121-yard performance against Jacksonville.
"Obviously, any running back would want to run with the lighter box. But if they stack the box, that's a good thing," Michel said on this week's Rams Revealed podcast. "(That means) you're doing something right.
Against the Jaguars, Los Angeles deployed more diverse and heavier personnel packages than in 11 games prior, combined.
Joe Noteboom aligned as a sixth offensive lineman. Brycen Hopkins and Kendall Blanton joined Tyler Higbee as attached tight ends. And the Rams plowed through the Jacksonville defense, moving the chains and controlling clock.
But it was Michel taking every rep in the backfield until the lead reached 30 points, keeping the offense in favorable down-and-distances throughout the wire-to-wire victory. In fact, after the Rams failed on third and 11 on their opening possession, their average yards to gain on third down for the rest of the game was 4.9. And they were never in third and more than 10 again.
Is that the Sony Michel Effect?
"It starts with (running backs) Coach Thomas Brown, emphasizing so much of pad level. Just limiting the surface that these guys, the defenders, are hitting," the fourth-year pro said of how he finishes forward on each attempt. "As running backs, we like to be the physical ones, delivering the blow. So, we're trying to run through contact and just keep your feet moving."
Perhaps Michel's knack for YAC (yards after contact) stems from his youth football days as an offensive linemen. He and his older brother, Marken, now a wide receiver on the practice squad in Washington, started in the trenches.
"First year playing football, we thought we were better than what we were," Michel recalled of his childhood in Florida. "We went out there; we (were) in for a rude awakening. And the coaches were like, 'Alright. Y'all are big. So we're just going to put y'all on the offensive line.'
It may not have been his favorite role, but it set him up for long-term success as a tailback.
"I do have appreciation for the position, especially because now that I'm a running back, I lean on the offensive linemen."
At 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, the 26-year old Michel was meant to churn out yards not pave the way for others. He and the Rams feel like the disposition and execution they put on display in a Week 13 win at SoFi Stadium can travel with them to Arizona for Monday Night Football, and wherever the stretch run takes them.
For more from Michel, including the similarities and differences he sees between Bill Belichick and Sean McVay, catch this week's Rams Revealed on YouTube, or listen to the podcast.