Todd Gurley is off to a rough start in 2016, even though the Rams are 3-1. Teams are keying on the young star running back, and he is averaging less than 3 yards a carry. Of course, by Hall of Fame selector logic, he should be a lock to wear the mustard-colored jacket someday. You see, back in 2010, Floyd Little got into the Hall of Fame as a Veteran’s Committee selection with career numbers that didn’t necessarily separate him from many others. Peter King had this to say about the process that led to the selection.
Though I can’t tell you what Legwold said in his presentation, I can tell you I discussed this with him after the presentation and Legwold said he kept records of each carry and where Little was first contacted by a defender behind a subpar Denver offensive line. Legwold said about 30 percent of the time Little was first hit behind the line. That’s an amazing number. “I saw a runner who had to struggle to get to the line of scrimmage often,” Legwold said afterward. “He had no time to be a patient runner, because he was in a bad offense with no other options.”
Well, if that was amazing, then Todd Gurley’s season should be mind-blowing. I went through each Rams game so far and looked at each Gurley run. Gurley has been first hit behind the line of scrimmage on almost half of his runs in 2016.
Gurley has 82 official rushing attempts this year. He has been first contacted by a defender before he gets to the line of scrimmage on 40 of them.
Here is the breakdown:
- On 42 carries where he gets to the line of scrimmage without being touched, Todd Gurley has 192 yards (4.6 yards per rush);
- On 40 carries where he is touched by a defender before he gets to the line of scrimmage, Todd Gurley has 24 yards (0.6 yards per rush).
He is crushed in the backfield as soon as he gets the handoff. He gets early penetration at his feet, forcing him to move as soon he looks up. He often drags tacklers who are reaching out a big arm before he gets to the line, for a 1-2 yard gain. On a couple of occasions, he has been able to stiff-arm or bounce off contact for a modest gain. Here’s a snapshot of one right when he gets the handoff, where he ended up getting a 0-yard gain, and back to the 45-yard line, which is a minor miracle.
Even on those 42 carries where he gets to the line, it’s a matter of degree. On almost all of them, he doesn’t have a clean hole and is being hit within a yard of the line.
If Gurley endures this for his career, he may have an iron-clad Hall of Fame case in 30 years.