What’s going on in Los Angeles?
Rams running back Todd Gurley—2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and a consensus top-five pick in fantasy football—has struggled through two weeks of the 2016 regular season, totaling 98 rushing yards on 36 carries (2.7 yards per carry) and 14 receiving yards on two receptions.
And neither he, nor his team, have found the end zone.
Gurley has now failed to eclipse 100 yards of total offense in eight of his last nine games and has failed to score in four of his last seven.
But it isn’t Gurley.
Los Angeles Rams are a below-average football team.
Los Angeles is 1-1 and embarrassed Seattle in Week 2, but it is not a good football team. Defense is average, offense lacks talent, head coach is the embodiment of the term mediocre.
And those are not bold claims.
Defense allowed 28 points against San Francisco in Week 1, QB1 is Case Keenum and WR1 is Tavon Austin, Jeff Fisher has six winning seasons in 21 at the helm.
The (St. Louis) Rams finished 7-9 in 2015. In the 12 games Gurley started, (St. Louis) was 6-6.
San Francisco and Seattle have above-average run defenses.
San Francisco finished last in the NFC West in 2015, but only five opposing running backs reached 100 yards. Seattle did not allow a 100-yard rusher in 2015.
Defense is a strength of all teams in the division—even Los Angeles.
Rams offensive line is also below average.
ESPN’s KC Joyner’s good blocking rate (GBR) reveals Los Angeles is at the same percent it was in 2015 (near 34 percent). Gurley has not done as much with good block yards per attempt (GBYPA), according to Joyner (5.9 in 2016, 10.9 in 2015).
But Pro Football Focus posted another interesting stat: against San Francisco in Week 1, Gurley registered 52 yards after contact…despite rushing for only 47 yards.
So, even if there has been some good blocking, there hasn’t been enough. And Gurley is great in space.
This has happened before.
Gurley rushed for 1,106 yards on 229 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and scored 10 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. He added 188 receiving yards on 21 receptions.
In five of 12 starts, Gurley averaged less than 3.8 yards per carry. In those five games, his longest rush was 16 yards.
In back-to-back games at Cincinnati (Nov. 29) and against the Cardinals (Dec. 6), he tallied 60 rushing yards on 18 carries (3.3 yards per carry) and added only one reception for 11 yards. Those two and his first two starts were the only games in which he did not score a touchdown.
Brighter days are ahead.
Following his two-game slump in 2015, Gurley recorded 140 yards on 16 carries (8.8 yards per carry) and scored, not one, but two touchdowns against the Detroit Lions (Dec. 13).
Gurley has faced two of the top-five run defenses; he will face them both again. But before he does, he faces seven run defenses that allowed 100 yards or more per game on the ground in 2015.
- Week 3 at Buccaneers
- Week 5 vs. Bills
- Week 6 at Lions
- Week 7 vs. Giants
- Week 11 vs. Dolphins
- Week 12 at Saints
- Week 14 vs. Falcons
And it begins this week in Tampa Bay !!!