Monday, October 3, 2016

Todd Gurley's Meteoric Rise, Followed by Fizzle.

By John Turney
Sportraits by Alex Ansara
Thanks to Pro Football Reference for the ease of use of looking up spans of player's careers. In this case we are looking at Todd Gurley's first 16 starts and then comparing his first four starts versus his last 12.

His first 16 starts are certainly Pro Bowl-worthy, over 1300 yards, 12 TDs and 28 catches.

However, even though his per-game average is 82 in those 16 starts in the first 4 he averaged 142 meaning that something has happened in the last 12.

In the last 12 starts he's fallen to 62 yards per game and a 3.4 yards per carry average (down from 6.4). The NFL is simply stacking the box with 8 or 9 players to limit his ability to get big gains.

NFL defenses are challenging the Rams to throw.

The Los Angeles Rams offensive line was built via the draft to be run blocking mauler-types with Greg RobinsonCody Wichmann, Jamon Brown (sometimes splits time with Wichmann at RG), Rob Havenstein all being recent additions whose forte was to be run blocking.

They, along with tight ends Lance Kendricks and TE/FB Cory Harkey they were to pave the way for regular 100-yards games for Gurley, but it is not happening. In fact, last year they allowed only 18 sacks, among the best in franchise history, perhaps showing more acumen in pass protection than zone blocking.

The Rams installed the zone blocking scheme last season to facilitate that, but for some reason do not run many plays with a lead fullback, which Gurley says he prefers. The Rams use Harkey more on the edge than in an I or Power I formation.

We will see what the next dozen games bring but if they are like the last 12 Gurley wouldn't reach 1000 yards this season. But if there are a few of those 140-yard games in the mix it will certainly be a help for the 3-1 Rams who are winning, but doing it with a inconsistent offense.

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