The Los Angeles Rams haven’t had the season they envisioned, especially less than a year after making it to the Super Bowl. They’re 7-5 and third in the NFC West, but the Rams have looked more like their old selves over the last few games. Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley has been getting in on the action more, and there’s a reason for that.
“Me not being an idiot,” Rams head coach Sean McVay told ESPN on Wednesday.
McVay has been using Gurley more over the last three games — Gurley had over 100 scrimmage yards in both of the Rams’ last two wins. The Rams had been depending on the passing game a lot more in earlier games, limiting Gurley’s use. McVay said that decision was based on feeling his way through the current season, and it definitely wasn’t related to managing Gurley’s load as he continues to deal with arthritis in his left knee.
"It has nothing to do with that [load management]," McVay told ESPN. "It was really just, you're just kind of working through the 2019 season — the best way to utilize all of our players and figuring out what our identity is."
As for McVay waking up and getting Gurley more time on the field to be the outstanding running back he is, quarterback Jared Goff doesn’t necessarily agree with McVay’s “idiot” assessment.
"He's being hard on himself," Goff said. "We all want to get Todd involved as much as possible. I think these last couple of weeks we've seen that, and good things tend to happen."
McVay revealed to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry the turning point that led him to get Gurley more involved.
McVay pointed to the Rams' Week 10 loss to the Steelers as a wake-up call when it comes to Gurley, who was averaging 6.1 yards per carry but was kept on the sideline early in the fourth quarter, despite the Rams trailing 14-10. By the time Gurley was inserted late in the game, it was too late to utilize the run and the Rams lost 17-12.
Week 11 is when the Gurley renaissance began, and with just four weeks left in the regular season there could still be enough time for the Rams to remember who they are and sneak into the playoffs. They’re currently the seventh seed in the NFC, and they need to rise to that sixth spot to make it into the wild-card round. The 8-4 Minnesota Vikings are currently in possession of that spot, but their final four games are far from challenging — they face the Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
On the other hand, the Rams’ final four games are a gauntlet of challenging teams. They start with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, then move on to the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and close out with the Arizona Cardinals.
Having Gurley on the field will help the Rams, but it might be too little, too late.
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