As the Rams' offense looks to build off last week's performance against the Colts, the Redskins understand that they need to bottle up Todd Gurley to have success.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley took the NFL by storm in 2015. At just 21 years of age, the 10th-overall draft pick did not crack under the significant pressure surrounding his debut season.
He ran for 1,106 yards. He scored 10 touchdowns. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year.
2016, however, was a much different story.
Hampered by a volatile quarterback situation and a shaky offensive line, Gurley saw regressions in his rushing yards (885), touchdowns (six) and yards per carry (3.2). The low numbers across the board were a big surprise, considering the promise he showed as one of the youngest players in the league just a year prior.
The only bright spot might have been the spike he saw in the passing game, more than doubling his total receptions from the previous year.
2017 is, of course, a new season and a chance for Gurley to have the bounce back year that many expect him to have in his third season. The situation around the Georgia product seems to be better this year. A more experienced Jared Goff is under center and Sammy Watkins is holding down the top receiver spot, which should help take some attention away from Gurley.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden spoke highly of the young running back and his tools, not putting too much stock into his 2016 showing.
"[He's] a big threat. He is still a good running back," Gruden said this week. "He has great vision, good sight lines. He has got burst through the hole. He is a good back."
Despite the praise, Gurley has yet to truly get it going this season, even after the Rams' 46-9 thrashing of the Colts last week in Los Angeles. He struggled for the most part in the running game, rushing for just 40 yards on 19 attempts, but did find the end zone once. He was unable to get much of anything going on the ground, but Goff completed five passes to Gurley for 56 yards.
The 23 year old's continued growth as a pass catcher is surely a positive sign, but for a guy who averaged just 3.2 yards per carry last season, the Rams organization would undoubtedly appreciate a more efficient performance on the ground.
On the whole, it was a slightly underwhelming showing for Gurley, but Gruden pointed out that he had a few runs that were called back due to penalty.
Despite the dip in his production in the past 12 months, the running back continues to be a focal point of the Rams offense.
"They're going to give us a lot of different formations," Gruden said of the Rams' offense. "A lot of change-of-tempos offensively, quick counts, speed breaks, no huddle, a lot of different formations, a lot of stacks and they've got a good running game with Todd Gurley and he changes it up with good play-action passes."