It was very easy to get caught up in the Todd Gurley hype during the 2015 season.
The Rams had broken the current NFL trend and selected a running back with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft even though he was recovering from an ACL tear and no one was sure when he would be ready to play.
After finally being able to make a minor debut in week 3, Gurley broke out in his next 4 games and became the first rookie to rush for over 125 yards in 4 consecutive games and his jersey and cleats were immediately sent to the Hall of Fame in Canton.
Suddenly, “Gurleymania” was in full force and fans everywhere began to anoint him as the 2nd coming of Adrian Peterson.
People were so entranced by that stretch of games, that no one even seemed to notice that he didn’t go over the century mark again until 6 weeks later when he rushed for 140 against the Lions in what would be his only other 100 yard performance of the season.
He finished the year with a 4.8 ypc average, on 229 carries, for 1106 yards.
What the experts have failed to tell us, is that 706 of those yards came in five games, four of which where against teams who were ranked in the bottom 14 against the run in 2015, and two of them were against the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns who gave up 126.3 and 128.4 yards per game on the ground and ranked 29th and 30th respectively.
They’ve also failed to mention that 566 of those yards came in his first four starts when teams had very little tape on him, and that 157 of those yards came in a game where the Green Bay Packers had a decent lead after intercepting the Rams 4 times and had no reason to stop Gurley from running out the clock while they sat back in coverage.
There is no question that Gurley was very impressive and almost superhuman in those 5 games. He had the attention of every true NFL fan in the country and gave us hope that we were seeing something special.
However, in the other 8 games, he had just 400 yards, on 125 carries, for a 3.2 ypc average.
It seems clear that once teams had more material to study before game day, Gurley became very pedestrian in all but one game for the rest of the season.
If you take the time to look closely at his big runs, you will see that they were all a product of Gurley’s straight line speed after the Rams offensive line opened up massive holes for him. He did have a few decent quick cuts and a couple of flashy hurdles, but you will see very few broken tackles or actual jukes. As a matter of fact, what you will see, is that when he runs into a group of defenders that he knows he can’t outrun, Gurley is quick to slide or run out of bounds.
It won’t take long for defenses to figure out that his only real asset is speed and stack the line accordingly.
For example, in his first game against the Arizona Cardinals he rushed for 146 yards. In their next matchup, when the Cards knew what to look for, they held him to a very unimpressive 41 yards.
It’s hard to anoint a guy who did most of his work in less than half of his games, and was barely impressive in the others, as anything more than just another rookie sensation who caught the league by surprise with superb vision and a great set of wheels.
You can’t deny that Gurley has a ton of talent, but you also can’t deny the facts…