Sean McVay on using Gurley more: 'Not being an idiot'

Print

In Week 13's thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals, Todd Gurley looked like Todd Gurley again, gashing through holes, pulling his way past arm tackles and dashing to the edge for chunk gains.

Finally in the past few weeks, Sean McVay has shed the early season trepidation of overusing his star running back, who saw the end of last year derailed by a knee injury.

Gurley has 95-plus rush yards and a rush TD in two of his last three games -- with the whitewash against Baltimore squeezed in the middle -- after generating no such bouts in the first eight weeks of the season.

Asked what's gone into Gurley's usage increase the last several weeks, McVay quipped:

"Me not being an idiot," he said before expanding. "I think he's felt good and really, he's done a nice job with that. You look at the Chicago game and then kind of just going from there, you don't want to make the same mistakes that you ended up making earlier on in the season. I think he's done a nice job handling a bigger workload, but then also, you do have confidence in those other guys if they need to give him a spell."

All offseason, McVay stubbornly resisted the notion that they would take it easy on Gurley's knee. Yet, to open the season, actions spoke louder than words as the RB's touches were curtailed, including stunningly not giving him the ball at all in the fourth quarter of a close game against Pittsburgh.

Despite being "an idiot" about Gurley's usage, McVay didn't blink when asked if he regrets not using the star back more.

"I think you're just feeling it out," he said, via the team's official transcript. "I think there's some instances where, certainly, you look back and it's always hindsight in terms of, 'What can you do?' I think the Steelers game stands out in terms of where we were running the football well and you didn't really give him a chance to get back going based on how that thing played out. You always try to learn from your previous experiences. I think it's always a reflection of -- I think we've been able to -- in the games that he's gotten more touches -- be efficient when we've been able to give him the ball. That's a reflection of him, but also the guys blocking."

McVay admonished the idea that he was saving Gurley for a potential playoff run -- one that they'll need to finish strong to even have a shot at now.

"No, no. It has nothing to do with that," he said. "It was really just, you're just kind of working through the 2019 season -- the best way to utilize all of our players and figuring out what our identity is. I think we're still working through that, but didn't have anything to do with (load management). Shoot, we're just trying to win a game. So, certainly it wasn't ever with the mindset of looking ahead before anything was accomplished."

Perhaps, McVay wasn't waiting for the stretch run to ride Gurley, but it's certainly worked. The running back is averaging 71.8 rush YPG since Week 10 (50.7 rush YPG in Weeks 1-8).

Sitting one game back of the sixth seed in the NFC, the Rams need to end the season on a hot streak to avoid the dreaded missed playoffs post-Super Bowl loss season.

The schedule isn't easy down the stretch, starting with Sunday night's tilt versus the Seattle Seahawks. However, if history is instructive, it's a game in which Gurley could once again play a key role. The Rams' RB has averaged 127.5 scrimmage yards per game in his last four matchups versus the Seahawks.

Print