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Sean McVay: Todd Gurley poised to be a great for Rams

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Are you ready to be sucked into Todd Gurley as a trendy bounce-back candidate in fantasy football?

The 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year suffered through what he conceded was a "nightmare" second season under the dubious leadership of Jeff Fisher's coaching staff.

Now that whiz kid Sean McVay has arrived on the Los Angeles scene, he's already making major changes designed to get Gurley back on track.

Speaking Wednesday at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, McVay emphasized that the ground attack "takes all 11" to generate consistent success.

To that end, the Rams have signed Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth, hoping for a domino effect with several position switches on the offensive line.

McVay also expects better blocking from his receivers and timely run-pass options from himself as the play caller.

Still, Gurley bears plenty of the responsibility for eradicating bad habits that saw him missing open holes at the line of scrimmage over the past season and a half.

"The back's got to do a great job pressing it or reading out his keys," McVay explained, "because everybody is tied together. Those landmarks up front are tied up with where the back is supposed to initially start his read."

Gurley averaged a minuscule 3.2 yards per carry last season, extending his streak of games under 100 rushing yards to 24. No other running back since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger has played all of his team's games and averaged as many carries per game as Gurley (17.4) without reaching 100 rushing yards at least once in a season, per NFL Research.

When McVay studies the No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft, though, he still sees the obvious talent that once inspired NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger to rave, "My mom could scout Todd Gurley."

"I think what you still see is -- a lot of time you have a tendency to look at the stats instead of the actual tape -- I think you still see a natural runner," McVay said. "He's got a great body lean, he's got a natural feel for how to work edges on people. And I think that showed up in spurts last year."

When Gurley erupted for more than 125 rushing yards in each of his first four NFL starts, lofty comparisons to Hall of Famers such as Gale Sayers and Eric Dickerson began rolling in.

McVay hasn't given up hope of seeing that version of Gurley again in 2017.

"Clearly what he did in his rookie year," McVay continued, "I think sets the expectations where this guy is going to be a great back year-in and year-out, and that's what we feel, too.

"I think Todd's motivated, challenged in the right way to respond and have a bounce-back year, but it's going to take everybody. ... We feel like he's going to be a really good, consistent back that is kind of one of the better ones in this league for a long time. That's the goal."

Gurley is talented enough to emerge as a top-five NFL running back in the right environment. The pressure is on McVay to unlock that prodigious potential by elevating the production of "all 11" in the Rams' offense.

Can the neophyte head coach pull off that dramatic transformation in his first year on the job? It's a question that will be hotly debated in fantasy football circles over the next five months.

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