I’ll be breaking down which person in the Los Angeles Rams organization “won” the week after each game.
Before I get into it, I just want to explain what it means to win the week. On-field performance is a major factor in the decision making process, but it isn’t the end all. The ultimate factor is who comes out of the week with the most positive impact or buzz. For example, if the Week 1 score was flipped and the Colts manhandled the Rams, Aaron Donald would have likely won the week. This is as much of a narrative award as it is a performance award.
This week’s winner is Todd Gurley.
The 2016 campaign proved to be a rough one running back Todd Gurley. Playing in a self-described “middle school offense,” the Rams passing game played so horribly that defenses centered their gameplan around Gurley 16 times, and his performance suffered. Not only did he never rush for 100 yards, he never even tallied 100 total yards in a game all season. Gurley crossed the 80-yard rushing mark only once. The 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year entered the season as someone that was going as high as No. 1 overall in fantasy drafts. The season ended with Gurley suffering one of the most disappointing sophomore slumps in recent NFL history.
However, his struggles didn’t stop there. When experts dug into how bad his 2016 season was, they realized his 2015 season may have not been as great as it appeared. Outside of a dominant four-game stretch where he ran for 566 yards on an average of 6.4 yards per rush, Gurley crossed the 100-yard mark just once in his final eight games, which added up to one 100-yard performance in his last 24 games. The narrative shifted from Gurley being an elite running back prospect to being a potential flash in the pan.
Gurley extended streak to 1 for 25 to start the 2017 season. Despite scoring a touchdown and totaling 96 yards on the day, Gurley’s rushed for a measly 40 yards on 19 carries. That’s an average of 2.1 yards per rush. Head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff were applauded for reviving the Rams offense. Gurley just garnered more talk about whether he could get back to form in the Rams running game.
Then Week 2 happened. The Rams got out of the gate slowly as Washington hammered the Rams early. But when they got going, it was Gurley that ignited them. He scored the team’s first touchdown of the day in the second quarter. Later in the day, he caught a pass at the line of scrimmage, leaped right over a defender and took the ball to the end zone to make it a one-score game. The Rams lost 27-20, but this time it wasn’t on Gurley.
Gurley totaled 88 rushing yards and a touchdown along with 48 receiving yards and another touchdown. It was Gurley’s highest rushing total since his rookie season. He went from being a sell-high fantasy option to a potential top five running back in just one week. Now he’s once again the talk of the town in the Los Angeles football scene. His hurdle featured on nearly every highlight reel from the Week 1. GurleyMania has finally returned.
The funny thing about Gurley’s comeback performance? He extended the streak to 1 for 26. And nobody even cares.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.