There has been a mystery surrounding the Los Angeles Rams all offseason and that is Todd Gurley‘s knee. Nobody knows what to expect heading into the 2019 season. Here we’ll try to do that as when healthy, the Rams running back is one of, if not the best.
Gurley’s Recap and Coverage
Todd Gurley. The touchdown machine, the Georgia Bulldog speedster, and the loyal Ram; he has been the talk of a mostly boring offseason for Los Angeles Rams fans. Gurley’s 2019 season will be quite the show. Concerns over his knee, along with Sean McVay and the Rams’ constant suspiciousness over the issue, spread all over twitter and all the big-name networks. We here at Downtown Rams already covered Gurley’s knee and the issue in a couple of different pieces on the site. They are all linked below:
- Fantasy Football: Todd Gurley’s Outlook by Max Perez
- Los Angeles Rams: The Curious Case of Todd Gurley’s Knee by Blaine Grisak
- Los Angeles Rams: Why Todd Gurley Was Paid at The Right Time by Joseph Isola
Along with other pieces on the site, Blaine, Joseph, and I have covered the knee and what Gurley’s future looks like in horns, in fantasy, and what it all means for the Rams. That’s not why I am here today. Today, predictions are afoot: Gurley’s 2019 season will be a show that everyone has been waiting to see. A show that no one knows the script to. His next season could be the most mysterious one for a single player in NFL history. I’m here to break it down.
The first step in breaking down and predicting a player’s stats in a future season is looking back to the past. Gurley has had a highlight-filled career, full of hurdles, touchdowns, and breakout runs; over one-thousand yards in three of his four NFL seasons is not a small feat. Especially when two of them is in Jeff Fisher’s offense. Breaking all of this down will be fun, so let’s get to it.
Gurley’s Career to Date
In his rookie year, Gurley saw immediate success. In thirteen games, Gurley racked up 1,106 yards, 10 touchdowns, on 229 attempts. Those numbers chop up to 18 attempts per game, 4.8 yards-per-carry, and 85.1 yards per game. When Gurley popped on the scene for the then St. Louis Rams, he gave fans someone truly special to root for. Gurley had SIX runs for over forty yards and eleven runs for over twenty yards: that’s explosive. It seemed like every-other carry went for a score, and yet the Rams still finished with a 7-9 record. In the pre-Jared Goff days, Gurley got handed a star’s role in only his rookie season, and he performed.
One negative about Gurley’s first season was his receiving numbers. In those thirteen games mentioned before, Gurley only caught 25 balls for 188 yards, not the greatest showcase. He also didn’t have the greatest quarterback play, so his numbers could have been dampened in that way. 2015 was his worst year in terms of turnover for Gurley. The star running back averaged nearly a half-fumble per game, having three on the year.
Aside from the lack of receiving and the excess of fumbles, Todd Gurley’s rookie year was an astounding success.
Sophomore slump, second-year slide, whatever you want to call it, 2016 was a down year for Todd Gurley. In what would be Jeff Fisher’s swan song as Los Angeles Rams’ head coach, he unleashed the worst offense we would ever see from his reign. During the 2016 season, Gurley would amass 885 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns, on 278 attempts. In that year, he would only run for over twenty yards TWICE. He never had a run of over forty yards. The breakaway speed we once saw looked gone. In the worst year in his career to date, Gurley averaged 3.2 yards-per-carry, and kept his pace for fumbles, having two. During this offensive purgatory period of Rams football, Gurley put up average running back numbers. Despite being on one of the worst offensive teams in league history, he survived.
As mentioned before, Gurley had near league lows in yards-per-carry, but he also was horrifically average in yards per game at 55.6. The whole year was about Gurley having a down year in terms of his vision and overall ability on the field, but it was equally about the Rams’ offensive line being legitimately horrible. These problems got fixed the very next year.
A player’s best playing years or the years where the player exerts himself in the best way possible and produces the best statistics are often called their prime. 2017 was the beginning of Todd Gurley’s best years, the beginning of his prime, and the beginning of something special. 2017 was also the year Sean McVay became the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach, and he changed the game. This year, Gurley upped his game in almost every statistical category. He recorded 1,305 rushing yards on 279 attempts, 13 touchdowns, 8 runs for twenty or more yards, and one for forty or more. His yards-per-carry were near the top in the league at 4.7, and he averaged 87 yards per game on the ground.
2017 was also Gurley’s best year in terms of receiving, where he caught 64 passes for nearly 800 yards on the season: he had become a real dual-threat. The first year of the McVay-Gurley pairing would end up being the best statistical year for Gurley, and that granted him tons of “MVP” during games in LA.
In 2017, Gurley had his worst year to date when it came to fumbles; he racked up five total in 15 games, averaging almost a half-fumble per-game. This was the only real downside of his uptick in workload during the 2017 season, but Gurley would make sure this whole would get filled come next season.
What a year 2018 was. Even though Gurley’s all-around stats weren’t better than the year prior, most would agree that his 2018 season would be the most memorable for the young back. With the Rams being so overwhelmingly successful during the regular season, Gurley was able to sit out two games of the regular season. He only played in fourteen. In those games, he performed better than any back in the game. He accumulated 1,251 rushing yards on 256 attempts, 17 rushing touchdowns, 11 runs for twenty or more, and 0 runs for forty or more. He broke his record in yards-per-carry at 4.9 and was near tops in the league for first down percentage at 27.3 percent. Gurley also had no fumbles when rushing in 2018, making this year his best year for turnovers and ball security.
While this can be seen as a negative for his 2018 season, most running backs in the NFL would love to have Gurley’s 2018 receiving stat line. His stats for receiving were as follows: 59 receptions for 580 yards, 4 touchdowns, and one fumble on a catch-and-run. His longest reception was a 56-yard bomb and that was his second-longest in his career to date. These numbers were dampened from his 2017 year. in 2017, he hit career highs in almost every stat you could think of, but he put up starting receiver numbers as a running back en route to being named the Offensive Player of the Year in the NFL.
Now comes the part that follows the name of the article, the prediction of Todd Gurley’s stats in 2019. Predicting a player that is coming off of a somewhat serious and vastly mysterious injury could be tough. My faith will be in Gurley’s health and the Rams’ ability to play him a good amount to keep him upright. Here are Todd Gurley’s 2019 stats, predicted.
The rushing numbers and rushing attempts per-game are the numbers that will be the most affected by the changes in playing time due to Gurley’s injury. If limited playing time is taken into consideration I have Gurley having this stat line: 195 rushes for 956 yards on the year. While these might seem like career lows in terms of effectiveness, in this situation Gurley would average 4.9 yards-per-carry. With these numbers in place, Gurley would average 59 rushing yards a game (playing sixteen games) and I’d mark him at one fumble lost. Career lows in rushing attempts would lead to less first down runs (40) and less explosive runs (10).
Receiving would take a hit as well. With Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown included in the running back room, Gurley will see a lot fewer snaps as a dual-threat piece. Henderson Jr. and Brown will eat up a lot more of the snaps than any of Gurley’s backups in years past, he will see a lot less passes come his way. I have his receiving numbers stacking up to more of what he put up during his 2016 down-year. Assuming again he plays sixteen games, I have Gurley receiving 35 passes for 378 yards. A better, more efficient version of 2016 for him. In his best year, Gurley caught 32 balls for first downs, and in his worst, he caught a mere 8; in 2019 I see him catching 16 passes for first downs in limited snaps.
This upcoming season will be full of expectations and excitement for this Rams team. For Gurley, this will be a year to prove he is still a capable Pro-Bowl back in today’s NFL. The numbers that I have predicted for him are the more dampened version of Todd Gurley. From watching what the Rams did in the playoffs and in the offseason surrounding Gurley, I think that’s fair. A professional franchise doesn’t act so shady with a player’s well-being when said player is one-hundred percent of themselves. Gurley will be different. In any case, this season will be the most important one to date for Gurley. We will all bear witness to the show he puts on from week-to-week, whether it be good or bad.