Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
In the 2015 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles), surprised many, when they selected Todd Gurley, RB from the University of Georgia as their 10th overall pick.
Gurley earned All-SEC honors in 2012 and 2013, however, in October 2015, he was suspended by the University of Georgia for his alleged violation of NCAA rules. Georgia was able to decide in just two days from their investigation which and determined that Gurley has accepted over $3000 for at least a two year period for signing autographs and memorabilia. Gurley suspension would be for three games.
However, the NFL was shocked that he was drafted not because of the sanction violations, their surprise was that he had suffered a significant knee injury tearing his ACL during his junior year at Georgia. Gurley was still drafted in the first round and had not fully recovered from his season-ending injury.
Gurley made his NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, where he played sparingly and finished the game with only nine yards on six carries. Gurley’s next game, the Rams visited then, the undefeated Arizona Cardinals for an NFC West contest. Anticipated that perhaps the Rams may have gambled on a bust because Gurley on had rushed for only two yards by the half. However, by the second half, Gurley showed the Cardinals why the Rams picked him tenth overall by carving up Arizona’s defense for 144 yards in the second half while the Rams stunned the Cardinals 24-22. Gurley’s next three games, he rushed for over 100 yards each eclipsing the 1,000 marks later that season with earning him the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Gurley’s 2016 season, well let's say it just not quite what Gurley and the Rams fan base had expected. Gurley has yet to have rushed for over 100 yards in six games played. If its any consolation, its honestly not all been his fault. Although the Rams had played in a few games that were favorable matchups, however, with the lack of production from his offensive line, the finger can be pointed mostly the line’s direction. Ram's opposition has done chiefly nothing but given Gurley eight and nine-man fronts, and daring the offense to run.
At this point, I’m would address these following questions:
1. Has Todd Gurley been subjected to the sophomore running back jinx?
2. Has Todd Gurley become frustrated due to the lack of production of his offensive line?
3. Has Todd Gurley been a victim to Space Jam?
One is to assume of answering these questions, my selection of choice would be none other than he’s frustrated with the offensive line play.
Todd Gurley has yet to rush for a one hundred yard game this season. His rushing average is at 58.4 yards per game. It is my opinion that he is running as conservative as the play calls thus far this season. Facing nearly eight and nine-man fronts per down, he has continuous pressure meeting him in at the line of scrimmage or even in the backfield. This pressure seemed to have taken his desire to read his blocks efficiently. Analyzing Gurley’s runs, I have determined him to protect the ball and run forward riding his lineman and hoping for a crack of daylight.
On fourth down and goal with the ball lying on the half yard line, (see photos below), my opinion a play called was designed for Gurley to run left, with a lead block from fullback Corey Harkey and right guard Jamon Brown pulling left. Gurley missed the read, had he continued to run left; he would of almost certain scored untouched. However, it wasn’t the first time that he's misread a play. Once in the first quarter, quarterback Case Keenum audible to run left, and Gurley went right. Again in the third quarter, an audible was called, where Gurley was to run up the middle instead, he started running directly but cut back just enough to get the handoff from Keenum and was hit for a loss.
It looks like something had physically bothering Gurley, or didn't have his mind into the game. Despite the bad play of the offensive line in recent weeks, they started with a beneficial run game. Fans were at ease waiting for that home-run rush, but it never materialized. There have been games had Gurley ran upright and cut back, he may take it the distance.
Rams host the New York Giants on Sunday at Twickenham Stadium in London, England. This game will serve as a reunion for several Rams and Giants players and coaches. Ex-Ram defensive backs Janoris Jenkins, who signed a free agent deal with the Giants this past off-season and Coty Sensabaugh who was released by the Rams after the fourth game into the season will have all eyes on the both. Rams love to have Sensabaugh matched up one on one with a receiver because they will take many shots as possible. Ex-Rams head coach and Giants current defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnoula, is preparing to put together a masterpiece defensive scheme to try and stop Gurley. Gurley will have to be ready to go with a healthy mind because the Giants will blitz early and often.
Many are speculating that this will serve as Gurley break out game this season. The crowd will be of a neutral setting, but the Rams are the home team. Look for the Rams offensive line try and overmatched the smaller sized defensive line when 6’4” 350 pounds, defensive tackle Damon Harrison is not in the game. Without Harrison, the Giants Defensive Line averages 265 pounds across the front. Rams center Tim Barnes and guards Jamon Brown and Roger Saffold will need to anchor down and contain Harrison. If the offensive line can be productive and capable of providing Harrison, look for Gurley to have size-able carries. If not, then Gurley will remain frustrated, and the choice two will apply of the sophomore jinx.