The Rams have a new head coach, but they’re keeping their running backs coach. Sean McVay says Todd Gurley called him to lobby for Skip Peete to be kept in that role.
I have no problem with Peete being kept around. Probably way too many coaches are fired way too quickly around the league. I see on the wire that Peete has worked with Curtis Martin and Marion Barber in the past, and they were successful enough running backs.
But I thought that it was a little funny that Gurley was the one going to bat for him. Gurley is 22 years old, and he was remarkably bad last year. I believe he set a record for the most carries by a running back in a season without a 100-yard game. He averaged under 3.2 yards per attempt.
Why things went so poorly, I am not sure. It might have been mostly a blocking problem. The Rams didn’t have much of a passing attack, and that might have allowed many teams to key on Gurley. Scheme and play-design could have been a factor. Or maybe Gurley got too caught up in the LA lifestyle, not working hard enough. With a similar group around him, Gurley went over 125 yards in each of his first four starts as a rookie.
It could have been some combination of a variety of things.
However you slice it, the Rams have a lot of work to do. Gurley has shown he has some talent (early in his rookie season), but historically, it hasn’t been easy to get struggling runners back on track.
In the last 20 years, 24 other running backs have had 200-plus carries in a season and averaged under 3.4 yards per attempt. Only three of those players came back the next year and went over 1,000 yards.
|AVERAGING UNDER 3.4 YARDS PER ATTEMPT|
|1996||Leonard Russell, S.D.||219||713||3.26||7||0-0-0|
|1996||Rodney Hampton, NYG||254||827||3.26||1||23-81-1|
|1997||Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, Mia.||283||892||3.15||15||270-960-6|
|1997||Lawrence Phillips, St.L.||201||677||3.37||8||0-0-0|
|1997||Natrone Means, Jac.||244||823||3.37||9||212-883-5|
|1999||Curtis Enis, Chi.||287||916||3.19||3||36-84-1|
|1999||Jonathan Linton, Buff.||205||695||3.39||5||38-112-0|
|2000||Ron Dayne, NYG||228||770||3.38||5||180-690-7|
|2001||• Eddie George, Tenn.||315||939||2.98||5||343-1,165-12|
|2001||Lamar Smith, Mia.||313||968||3.09||6||209-737-7|
|2001||Maurice Smith, Atl.||237||760||3.21||5||0-0-0|
|2002||• Anthony Thomas, Chi.||214||721||3.37||6||244-1,024-6|
|2003||Jerome Bettis, Pitt.||246||811||3.30||7||250-941-13|
|2003||Eddie George, Tenn.||312||1,031||3.30||5||132-432-4|
|2004||Kevan Barlow, S.F.||244||822||3.37||7||176-581-3|
|2005||Curtis Martin, NYJ||220||735||3.34||5||0-0-0|
|2005||• Jamal Lewis, Balt.||269||906||3.37||3||314-1,132-9|
|2007||Warrick Dunn, Atl.||227||720||3.17||4||186-786-2|
|2009||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||223||730||3.27||12||219-914-6|
|2012||Darren McFadden, Oak.||216||707||3.27||2||114-379-5|
|2013||Ray Rice, Balt.||214||660||3.08||4||0-0-0|
|2013||Rashard Mendenhall, Ariz.||217||687||3.17||8||0-0-0|
|2014||Andre Ellington, Ariz.||201||660||3.28||3||45-289-3|
|2014||Andre Williams, NYG||217||721||3.32||7||88-257-1|
|2016||Todd Gurley, L.A.||278||885||3.18||6||?|
I’m not suggesting that Gurley has only a 1-in-8 chance of reaching 1,000 yards. He’s a lot more talented than the vast majority of those guys (six of them didn’t even play the next year). But none of those running backs came back the next year and really crushed it. Eddie George came closest, running for 1,165 yards and 12 TDs, but he averaged only 3.39 yards per attempt.
The success rate gets higher if you look at backs who averaged 3.4-3.5 per attempt (with 200-plus attempts). There have been 15 of these backs, and over half of them went over 1,000 yards in their next season.
|AVERAGING UNDER 3.5 YARDS PER ATTEMPT|
|1997||• Jamal Anderson, Atl.||290||1,002||3.46||7||410-1,846-14|
|1997||Terry Allen, Wash., Wash.||210||724||3.45||4||148-700-2|
|1998||• Curtis Martin, NYJ||369||1,287||3.49||8||367-1,464-5|
|1999||• Ricky Williams, N.O.||253||884||3.49||2||248-1,000-8|
|2000||James Stewart, Det.||339||1,184||3.49||10||143-685-1|
|2001||• Travis Henry, Buff., Buff.||213||729||3.42||4||325-1,438-13|
|2002||• Eddie George, Tenn., Tenn.||343||1,165||3.40||12||312-1,031-5|
|2006||• Edgerrin James, Ariz., Ariz.||337||1,159||3.44||6||324-1,222-7|
|2006||Reuben Droughns, Clev., Clev.||220||758||3.45||4||85-275-6|
|2007||Shaun Alexander, Sea.||207||716||3.46||4||11-24-0|
|2008||• Cedric Benson, Cin.||214||747||3.49||2||301-1,251-6|
|2009||Kevin Smith, Det., Det.||217||747||3.44||4||34-133-0|
|2010||• Cedric Benson, Cin.||321||1,111||3.46||7||273-1,067-6|
|2013||Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac., Jac.||234||803||3.43||5||43-96-0|
|2013||BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cin., Cin.||220||756||3.44||7||0-0-0|
Plenty of unknowns with the Rams, but if I were putting down a forecast for Gurley today, I would go with about 1,000 rushing yards and 7 TDs – probably about the 10th running back on my board.