Todd Gurley named NFL Offensive Player of the Year


It was the version of Todd Gurley the Rams' faithful knew they'd see again. The version that flashed brilliantly in St. Louis before dimming amid a challenging sophomore campaign.

Gurley's on-field renaissance for a resurgent Los Angeles Rams team was one of the most remarkable feats of the 2017 season -- a spectacular performance worthy of Gurley being named NFL Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press at NFL Honors on Saturday. Gurley secured 37 of 50 votes, beating out Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (8), New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (4) and Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (1).

Gurley's memorable campaign played a decisive role in helping the Rams reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The third-year back churned out a league-best 2,093 scrimmage yards (accounting for 35 percent of team's offensive output) and finished second in league rushing with 1,305 yards. He became only the third player in NFL history to tally 2,000 scrimmage yards, 10 rushing TDs and six receiving TDs -- a feat replicated only by Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and O.J. Simpson. His 19 total touchdowns were the most by a Rams player since Faulk's 21 in 2000.

In addition, Gurley had 788 receiving yards -- a big chunk of which came in a truly spectacular late-season showing against the Tennessee Titans (158 receiving, 118 rushing). His 152-yard, four-touchdown output against the Seattle Seahawks in a Week 15 cemented his offensive player of the year credentials. Over his final four games of the regular season, Gurley had 440 rushing yards and five touchdowns along with 22 catches for 302 receiving yards and three touchdowns en route to NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors.

The sustained excellence Gurley produced over the course of helping the Rams take their first divisional title since the Kurt Warner-Faulk era was a byproduct of the 23-year-old's superb natural talent coupled with Coach of the Year Sean McVay's offense. In the midst of a frustrating 2016 season, Gurley famously described the Rams as running a "middle school offense." Under McVay, both Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff transformed into two of the NFL's most potent offensive weapons.

"Coach McVay he's just such an offensive-minded coach," Gurley said this week on FOX Sports. "And just, you know, how he changed the whole offense around. You know, obviously last year we were, you know, last in offense and this year we were number one."

For his part, McVay knew what he inherited when he took over the Rams' coaching job last year. He told reporters at the Annual League Meeting in March, he was confident Gurley was "going to be a great back year-in and year-out."

It can't be understated how much Gurley's emergence from his second-season slump not only helped push the Rams to an 11-5 record, but also established the franchise as a force to be reckoned with among the NFC's elite. If Gurley gets close to matching his 2017 output next season, a more experienced, balanced Rams offense could truly live up to its new "Greatest Show on Surf" moniker.