So that’s what the Rams star Todd Gurley has become. Once a Georgia product, he’s now a powerful, speedy locomotive of a running back for a young and flashy team. His size, speed, vision and rare abilities to dart around tacklers and leap over bodies stamps him as one of the greatest backfield players that the game has produced.
In a bounce-back year, after slumping to just 885 yards and six touchdowns in 2016, Gurley reverted back to his normal self. He has done the Rams a favor by piling up yards and touchdowns and taking the weight off the shoulders of second-year quarterback Jared Goff. With Gurley slashing and dashing, he caught 64 passes for 788 yards, which is second among NFL running backs behind New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara. Going by observation and production, he unquestionably had an MVP season and should receive serious consideration.
Every game, it seems, he wowed the masses with his stutter steps and leap frogs over a horde of tacklers. Surely, he has established himself as an elite running back and spurred the team’s resurgence. Of course, what’s happening in Los Angeles is what delights a marquee city, where the return of a pro football team has altered the local landscape. The upstart Rams have flourished, which so far has been anything but a repeat of last year’s woeful season. No, this isn’t the Rams bunch that finished a miserable 4–12 a year ago under ex-coach Jeff Fisher, missing the playoffs for a 12th straight season.
The buzz leading up to Saturday’s playoff game is growing around the league’s best offense. This whole year has been a redemption story of sorts for the Rams’ upgraded offense, particularly for Gurley, the NFL’s comeback kid. He flew past and through defenders and gained big chunks of yards. It makes all the sense in the world to strongly consider him for the MVP, even if New England’s Tom Brady seems to have locked up the award with a signature victory over Pittsburgh in Week 15.
Now seems like a good time for everybody to appreciate Gurley, who is as exquisite as they come. The marvelous heights he reached validated his MVP season and has probably put himself squarely on the league’s radar. Everybody already knows he’s a big part of why the Rams have blown out their oppositions and played so efficiently and effortlessly.
Playing at a Pro-Bowl level, he should’ve convinced the world that he’s evolved into perhaps the most productive player at his position. That was on display all season as he was the catalyst for a new-look offense that best served as the model of efficiency. The prevalent view coming into the season was that the Rams were least favorites to win the NFC West. Now that the odds have skyrocketed, they’re probably a year away from Super Bowl contention.
Believe it or not, Gurley, explosive and unstoppable, rushed back to superstardom. He was largely unproductive during the 2016 season but he was a breakout star this year and gave the league’s best rushing attack a shot of energy. And, after stringing together one of his greatest individual performances two weeks ago when he took a screen pass 80 yards to the end zone against Tennessee, there’s now clarity.
It was the sort of resurrection that radically changed a dynamic running game, making a difference for these charmed Rams. This is a team that greatly benefits from Gurley and also thrives behind Goff. This is because, since the arrival of Sean McVay, the Rams offense has become the paradigm of not only an unexpected turnaround but also a perennial contender on the horizon.
McVay has proven himself as a savvy mastermind when he’s worked wonders for the Rams by putting his team in the best position to succeed. This young, creative, brainy coach in Los Angeles seems more than up for the challenge after transforming the team in his first season.
His offensive acumen helped accelerate his quarterback’s development and contributed to Gurley’s reinvigoration. Gurley especially is the centerpiece to McVay’s blueprint and came alive on offense for a Rams team. On paper, they’re not supposed to be this good, let alone a playoff team. Off paper, they’re a better team than everybody expected.
This weekend—the first NFL playoff game at the Coliseum in 39 years—Gurley has a legitimate chance to make an argument that he’s deserving of being this year’s league MVP. Two years after coming home, the Rams are hosting a playoff game in Southern California and one can only hope Gurley puts on the greatest show on Hollywood’s turf.