Todd Gurley might not be an every-down workhorse for the Los Angeles Rams anymore, but he’s still very good.
The Gurley saga dragged on through the offseason, after his strange usage in the playoffs last season. Reports of him having an arthritic knee were troubling. We didn’t see any Los Angeles Rams starters in the preseason, so we had no idea what to expect from Gurley once games counted.
It seems Gurley won’t get as much volume, and he’s changing roles a bit, but he still looked pretty good.
Todd Gurley’s playing time scaled back
Gurley played 70 percent of the Rams’ snaps on Sunday in a 30-27 win over the Carolina Panthers, which is still a healthy amount but a change for him. In the Rams’ first 14 games last season, before his knee issues cropped up, Gurley was under 78 percent only twice and both times were in blowout wins. He logged at least 89 percent of the snaps in eight of 14 games.
Gurley had 15 touches against Carolina, with 14 carries and one reception. That’s a difference too; Gurley has averaged 21.2 touches per game through his career. Malcolm Brown had 11 carries and took most of the goal-line work, scoring two touchdowns. That makes sense, to avoid the heavy pounding for Gurley when the field shrinks near the end zone.
There has been a lot of talk of Gurley’s health for months, so it makes sense that the Los Angeles Times said he was “particularly irritable” talking to the media after the game.
“Felt good,” Gurley offered.
While it wasn’t the same as we’re used to, in terms of volume, Gurley did deliver 97 rushing yards for a robust 6.9-yard average.
“I tried to tell everyone he looks exactly the same, and no one wanted to believe me,” quarterback Jared Goff said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gurley still delivers
There’s not much reason for the Rams to change their backfield approach. Brown looked good, gaining 53 yards on 11 carries. Scaling back Gurley might be the key to keeping him healthy and fresh for the playoffs, and the Rams looked like a playoff team on Sunday.
When the Rams need Gurley, he can make plays. He showed that in the final two minutes when he had runs of 8 and 4 yards for a game-clinching first down. This is probably the new normal for the Rams and Gurley, and that’s fine.
“What he’s been through. What people have said about him. It pisses you off,” Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth told The Athletic. “You want nothing but the best for him. And to see him go out today and play and show why he is who he is, it makes me so proud.”
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