What on earth is going on with Todd Gurley? The Rams need him more than ever now as they are fighting to keep ground in the NFC West and staring down a three-game losing streak in the face. Gurley is averaging 2.9 yards a carry which is atrocious to any NFL back’s standards but definitely to a RB who won Rookie of the Year last year. As crazy as Gurley’s struggles have been, is it a surprise? Judging by the Rams previous history of drafting RB’s under Head coach Jeff Fisher and General manager Les Snead, it’s not exactly uncommon for their backs to start off strong and then start to struggle. Lets take a look.
2012: Isaiah Pead (2nd Rd) & Daryl Richardson (7th Rd)
We won’t actually get into Isaiah Pead because while he wasn’t given much of a chance to really play, he had an injury and fumble problem. However, with Richardson he went from being a guy not expected to play much his rookie year due to the dual headed backfield of impending 2nd rounder Pead and Pro Bowl RB Steven Jackson. Well, Richardson ended up with 98 carries for 475 yards rushing and even added 24 catches for 163 yards receiving. Richardson wasn’t amazing but he looked solid as a change of pace back who played in all 16 games his rookie year.
What went on after was Richardson winning the starting job for the 2013 season over Pead and new-comer rookie RB Zac Stacy. Richardson was victim of a poor blocking scheme that hurt the production of every back to start the season. He may have also been a victim of the fact he just isn’t built to be a bell cow type of back. He only ended up with 69 carries for 215 yards but showed improvement in the passing game with 14 catches and 121 yards. Later on after the season he admitted he was slowed down and was ineffective due to the fact he played with a turf toe injury which ended up ruining his chances at being Steven Jackson’s successor.
Richardson came into the 2014 off-season having to beat out standout rookie starter Zac Stacy, third-round pick Tre Mason, 2013 UDFA Benny Cunningham and fellow draft class member Isaiah Pead for the final spots, he lost and was waived.
2013: Zac Stacy (5th Rd)
The rookie out of Vanderbilt looked like a star in the making. He started off taking a backseat to aforementioned Daryl Richardson and shortly after went on to start the last 12 games of the season and almost eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Stacy finished his rookie season with 250 carries for 975 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He also added 26 catches for 141 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Stacy in his second season was not how he imagined. He only received 76 carries for 293 yards rushing and a touchdown. He added 18 receptions for 152 yards but it wasn’t the same Stacy. Stop me if you have heard this before, the rookie RB took over Stacy’s starting job. Tre Mason ran away with the job and looked to be the Rams true home-run threat. Stacy would soon after ask for a trade after the 2014 season due to the Rams drafting RB Todd Gurley no.10 overall.
2014: Tre Mason (3rd Rd)
Like mentioned above Mason made the most out of his opportunities and it ultimately won him the starting job over Stacy. Tre Mason started in nine games and ran 179 times for 765 yards and four touchdowns. He added 16 catches for 148 receiving yards and a touchdown. Mason didn’t get to start as many games as Stacy did in his rookie year which is why his production seems low but he actually ended up averaging over four yards per carry which is something Stacy never did.
Of course the pattern that is developing throughout this piece. The Rams drafted the rookie RB Todd Gurley who was rehabbing an ACL tear at Georgia. Tre Mason because of this he was supposed to open the season as the starter but had to sit out week one due to an injury so Benny Cunningham started week one. Mason started the next two games and looked lost and indecisive during them, clearly not the Mason we saw the year before. Then Gurley came in week four and blew up, went on to take the league by storm and suffered an injury week 16 that gave Mason his last chance to start in which he got in the end zone but his 2.4 yards per carry were lackluster.
After that game, we haven’t seen Mason since quite honestly I hope as well as every Rams fan I have talked to hopes Mason will get his life back together but he seems to completely have lost his mind and that could be due to foreign substances he’s rumored to have taken or the fact his play went downhill. Either way Mason has hit a wall just like the rest of the Rams backs and while we hope to see him on the field some day in the future, it doesn’t look realistic at this time.
2015: Todd Gurley (1st Rd)
Obviously he is the starting RB of the L.A. Rams but where is the real Todd Gurley? He started off his rookie campaign in week four when he made his first start. He finished with 1,106 yards on 229 carries and 10 rushing touchdowns. Gurley also added 21 receptions for 188 yards. The good news is that Gurley’s 21 career high receptions are going to be shattered this year since he already has 14 going into week seven. On top of that his yards should be shattered as well seeing as he’s already 55 yards away from tying his receiving yards last year.
Now on to the real worrisome stuff. Gurley is on pace for 317 carries so the Rams seriously need to start using Benny Cunningham and Malcolm Brown more if they want Gurley to last. Gurley is also on pace to not even hit the 1,000 yard mark which this year’s first-round rookie Ezekiel Elliott is actually on pace to almost hit 2,000 yards. Gurley fumbled three times last year and now he already has two so safe to say nothing is going right for Gurley. After it was explained by Rodger Saffold that the goal line play in which Gurley was stuffed was because Gurley went to the wrong side of the line Gurley has had some serious shade thrown at him by the same people that went out and bought his jersey this off-season.
I love Gurley and I think he is going to get it together so I’ll reserve my judgment past just the first six games of his sophomore year. Also while it is very impressive what Elliott is doing in Dallas, it’s not fair to compare him to Gurley seeing as Elliott has an incredible offensive line and the Rams offensive line has had a rough time this season. Perhaps the bye week after the Giants game will help Gurley if he doesn’t find his groove this Sunday. For now I would have to say this is a pattern to monitor but, I expect Gurley to retire as an elite back when it’s all said and done.