Over the past three seasons, whenever someone would think of the Los Angeles Rams, the first name that would pop up would be Todd Gurley. Of course someone like Aaron Donald would come up, but when you thought of the Rams, you thought of Gurley.
That was for good reason of course. The Rams running back led the league in rushing and receiving yards combined in 2017 and 2018 and scored an astounding 40 touchdowns. That was hard to beat. Whenever the Rams needed a play, Gurley was there to make it.
He scored the go-ahead touchdown as the Rams defeated the Cowboys, 35-30, in 2017. Gurley broke off an 80-yard screen against the Titans later that year as the Rams clinched the playoffs for the first time in 12 years and won the NFC West.
Gurley found the end zone three times in a 33-31 win over the Seahawns in 2018. After struggling to get anything going on offense against the Packers, Gurley scored a touchdown and the two-point conversion as the Rams took control of the game in the second half. In the infamous Lions game that is said to be the beginning of the downfall of the Sean McVay offense, Gurley scored the final two touchdowns to put the game out of reach. And of course, in the playoffs against the Cowboys, number 30 rushed for 115 yards and scored twice as the Rams won their first playoff game back in Los Angeles.
Two all-pro selections and an offensive player of the year award. Then, just like that, it was over.
An arthritic knee, a potential feud with the coaching staff, and not being named team captain and that was that for Gurley. The Rams released the star-running back, eating $20.15M in dead money – the second-most in NFL history. The team decided it would rather pay $20.15M to a player no longer on their team than to have Todd Gurley. That speaks volumes.
While the Los Angeles Rams still have Aaron Donald and he will certainly be a face of the Rams, the face of the Rams now becomes Jared Goff. This is now Goff’s offense, Goff’s Rams, and Goff’s city. In 2016 when the Rams traded up to the No. 1 overall selection to take the Cal quarterback, they drafted him for the purpose of being their franchise quarter. Then, when they decided to make him the highest-paid quarterback under the age of 30, they did so with the purpose of being the face of the franchise.
Throughout the first three years of his career, Goff has heavily relied on a player like Gurley to carry the load. That is no longer the case. The time is now for Goff to step up and be the quarterback that the Rams drafted and paid him to be. No more excuses.
This can no longer be on the offensive line. This can no longer be because of the offensive scheme and play-calling. This is the same scheme and playcalling that turned Goff from rookie-bust into arguably a fringe top-10 quarterback.
It’s time for Jared Goff to step up and be the leader that this team needs and that’s a side he hasn’t show a lot of.
Yes, he showed that side in 2016 when he promised to fix the current situation that the team was in. And we’ve see how much Goff means to the team after Andrew Whitworth got emotional talking about Goff and the rest of the offense at the end of the year. However, that’s just a side that we don’t see that often and is necessary for the quarterback position.
You see that leadership from Phillips Rivers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethisberger, and other top quarterbacks.
Last season, Goff had a worse completion percentage (62.9%) than Mitch Trubisky, ranked bottom five in the league in touchdown percentage, bottom 10 in interception percentage, and had a bottom-10 quarterback rating and QBR. These are major quarterback stats in which Goff ranked in the bottom-third of the league.
That was the complete opposite of what we saw in 2017 and 2018 when Goff ranked in the top-third in the league in several key-passing categories before he took a step back.
This can’t happen again in 2019. Another step back from Goff or not elevating his level from where it was a year ago. Jared Goff must step up and take a step forward in what will be his fourth year in the Sean McVay offense. If he doesn’t, the Los Angeles Rams as an organization will be set back several years after being in the Super Bowl just 13 short months ago. There’s nobody to fall back on and nobody to blame for his short-comings but himself. This is Jared Goff’s team and it’s up to him to make of that what he will.