When it comes to the world’s greatest mysteries, one might immediately think of the meaning of Stonehenge, the Bermuda Triangle, and Todd Gurley‘s knee – alright, maybe not so much the last one.
But you get the point. What happened to Todd Gurley’s knee last season at the end of the Los Angeles Rams’ season is one of the most mysterious topics in the NFL since it happened.
One week Gurley is leading the NFL in touchdowns and on his way to MVP candidacy only to return and rush for over 100 yards in the NFC Divisional playoffs against the Dallas Cowboys.
The following week, Gurley carried the ball four times in the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints. The Rams’ biggest offense weapons carried the ball just four times in the most critical game of the season to that point.
That number would increase to 10 in the Super Bowl, but he was nowhere near the player he was during the regular season.
The Rams running back would remain adamant that was healthy, saying, “I know there’s been a lot of concern about my knee and stuff but I really am fine,” after the Super Bowl loss.
The week of the Super Bowl, head coach Sean McVay said, “[I] Fully expect him to be the Todd Gurley that we all know, and he’s going to be a big part of this game.”
But that wasn’t the case.
After Gurley got just ten carries in the Super Bowl, McVay said, “Todd is healthy. We just didn’t really get the chance to get anybody going offensively.”
Gurley averaged 22.5 touches per game in the regular season which dropped to 11.3 in the postseason – eight if you don’t include the game against the Cowboys.
Yes, there was the emergence of C.J. Anderson. The former Denver Broncos running back recorded three straight 100-yard games with the Rams. He debuted with a 20-carry, 167-yard performance against the Arizona Cardinals and his 132 yards in the Divisional Round against the Cowboys led the team.
However, should Gurley have been splitting carries 50-50 with C.J. Anderson in the first place? After all, Anderson remained unsigned after being released by the Carolina Panthers while Gurley, who would have won the NFL’s rushing title in 2017 had the Rams not benched him in Week 17, was on a rampage.
Yes, Anderson had been the hot hand, but Gurley was on pace for a career-high in rushing yards before his knee injury against the Philadelphia Eagles and had already surpassed his career-high in touchdowns.
Gurley remained off of the injury report the week of the Super Bowl, and the Rams held their stance that he was healthy in the months after the Super Bowl. But given what Gurley did during the season, that didn’t seem right. The Rams have been vague about precisely what’s wrong.
Since then, it’s been a lot of ‘he said this, he said that’ in an attempt to put the broken pieces together. The latest being Gurley’s trainer, saying that he has arthritis.
“Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it’s a shoulder, a knee, an ankle. He’s now at the year-five mark, all we’re doing is managing that.” -Gurley’s Trainer.
This isn’t the first time that Gurley has dealt with a knee injury. The Rams running back tore his ACL in his final year at Georgia in his first game back to action after a four-game suspension for breaking NCAA rules. It’s what caused his draft stock to fall.
However, that didn’t stop the Rams from draft from taking the running back with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. It was a gamble, but it was one that paid off. Gurley went on to win the 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year two years later.
It’s hard to say that Gurley has been through this before because we don’t really know what this is. Gurley didn’t have offseason surgery, yet he was held out of OTA’s and remained in the rehab facility.
According to Gurley though, he, “had bigger problems to worry about coming out of college. This is small.”
When it comes to Todd Gurley, unlike a map or cryptic puzzle, this isn’t something that fans and analysts are going to be able to decode. We can trust what the trainer said just as much as we can believe what the Rams have said, which isn’t much and isn’t a lot.
Only Gurley and the Rams know what is wrong with Gurley. They’ve been mute about it up to this point, and that’s how it will stay.
What we do know is that the Rams have gone out and covered their bases by drafting Darrell Henderson, they’ve said they are going to take some of the workload off of Gurley, and they said he’ll be ready for training camp.
It’s a long offseason with not a lot to talk about, so this won’t be the last time we’ll hear about Gurley’s knee between now and Week 1.
The only person who can say how healthy Todd Gurley is is Gurley himself. He’s come back strong after a knee injury before, and it would be hard-pressed to say that he isn’t capable of doing that again.
Unlike the mysteries of Stonehenge and The Bermuda Triangle, this is a mystery that will be solved. It’s only a matter of time.