After a stellar rookie season, Todd Gurley figured to make a leap and become the star running back the Los Angeles Rams envisioned when they took him 10th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Instead, Gurley seemingly regressed and the Rams finished with a 4-12 record. While most of the blame can be attributed to the poor quarterback play, Gurley still deserves some of the blame. Still only 22 years old, the running back has plenty to improve on. According to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN, Rams running backs coach Skip Peete said Gurley needs to work on his pass protecting:
“This is going to blow your mind,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the running game. I think the most important thing in this league, as far as a running back is concerned, is his ability to pass protect, whether it’s first or second down. Because they think it’s easy. They’ve all come into the league comfortable as a runner. But that aspect of it is a little bit different than you’re accustomed to coming out of college. He and I talk about that all the time — your ability to completely understand the blocking scheme, whether it’s run or pass.”
Becoming a better pass protector would surely help quarterback Jared Goff and the rest of the offense. The Rams finished dead last in offensive rankings and after hiring head coach Sean McVay, they should be able to improve. Gurley should continue to be heavily involved in the offense and he will be needed to establish their run game.
Gurley’s 2016 season was disappointing, to say the least. After averaging 4.8 yards a carry, rushing for 1,106 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns his first year, Gurley only managed 3.2 yards a carry, 886 yards and six touchdowns this year. A better passing scheme should allow Gurley more room to run, but as Peete said, running is not the only thing Gurley needs to do well if he wants to be successful.