After playing well as a rookie, Todd Gurley’s 2016 fell short of expectations, as he was limited to 885 rushing yards, six touchdowns and 3.2 yards per carry.
This past year, however, was a different story. Gurley led running backs with 19 touchdowns (13 rushing, six receiving) and ranked second at the position in in both rushing yards (1,305) and receiving yards (788).
“It feels even better because you appreciate what you had to go through,” Gurley said on Tiki and Tierney. “It was crazy, it was fun, we were winning – everything was just going real smooth this year. We definitely enjoyed it and we want to have that feeling again next year.”
Gurley led the Rams from 4-12 to 11-5. It was the franchise’s first playoff appearance – and winning season – since 2004. The Rams, though, fell to Atlanta, 26-13, in the NFC Wild Card, this after resting many of their starters in Week 17.
In hindsight, was taking a week off a mistake?
“We didn’t get it done,” Gurley said. “I don’t know if that had something to do with it or not. All I know is we didn’t get the job done. We came out there and kind of gave them the game, started off with some turnovers. As you now, you can’t do that, especially against the (defending) NFC champions. They just came from the Super Bowl. These guys have been in situations we haven’t, so we have to take advantage of the opportunity while we can.”
Afterward, Rams coach Sean McVay told his players to hold their heads high.
“Coach always does a great job,” Gurley said. “Even if something is not his fault, he’s always taking (blame) for it and being a team player. (He said), ‘At the end of the day, just look at how far we came and what we accomplished this year. Obviously no one wanted to lose, but at the end of the day, you have to look at the bigger picture and see how far you came and the steps that you’ve taken to get in the right direction.’ So that was kind of the message. Obviously the team is never going to be the same. There’s going to be changes. But (he was) just thanking everybody for what they did during the year and looking forward to getting back to it next year.”
So are Rams fans, especially given Jared Goff’s improvement. Goff was abysmal in 2016 but morphed into one of the top quarterbacks in football in 2017. He finished 10th in passing yards (3,804), fifth in passing touchdowns (28) and third in yards per attempt (8.0).
What changed for the 23-year-old?
“It starts with the protection, man,” Gurley said. “He probably got hit more times last year in those seven games than he got hit all of this year. You got to be able to protect your quarterback, and we were able to do that this year. We were able to win our one-on-ones and just make plays for him, and he made plays for us. Everything was just clicking for him this year. The guy went No. 1 for a reason. It shows you that he has the potential, and this year he was able to show why he was picked as the top quarterback.”