Todd Gurley and his knee could be deciding factor in NFCBy Matt Verderame
Todd Gurley and his knee. If it holds up, the Los Angeles Rams are serious contenders to not only reach the Super Bowl again but win it. If it doesn’t, the Rams are likely on the fringe, opening up avenues for opponents.
It’s only the second week of July, so plenty can and will change. Players will unfortunately and undoubtedly get hurt throughout the season. Rookies will step up and emerge as playmakers come fall, while aging stars will finally decline sharply. It’s all inevitable.
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However, Gurley’s knee might be the biggest unknown factor of all going into 2019. Last year, the Rams rolled to a 13-3 record largely on the legs of Todd Gurley, who rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry. The first-round pick also shined in the passing game, notching 59 receptions for 580 yards and another four scores. In the playoffs, though, Gurley touched the ball exactly 34 times, and on only 16 occasions between the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII.
Still, Gurley told NFL Network he won’t be changing the way he plays this season despite arthritis in his knee.
“No, man,” Todd Gurley said. “For me, I’ve been doing this my whole life, so it would be so hard for me to even try to change my style of play. That’s not even me. I don’t even know how to describe my game. I’m just going to keep doing what I can do until I can’t do it no more. That’s why we play this sport. But I’ve been feeling good. I’m definitely not going to change anything. I’m going to come with that same mindset like third-and-1, fourth-and-1, I’m gonna try to go get it. So I’m just excited. I know it’s always been a lot of talk going on this whole offseason, so it’s just like, hey, it’s the offseason. That’s what everything is supposed to be about: speculation and reporting. Once the season comes, you gonna see what happens.”
Should Gurley’s knee hold up for 16 games, it’s hard to see Los Angeles falling off in a significant way. Without his supreme talents, though, it will force much more of the onus to fall on quarterback Jared Goff and head coach Sean McVay. The duo is certainly talented, but without Gurley, teams like the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles are favorites to usurp the Rams in the chance for the NFC crown.