Remember Todd Gurley? Back before the Falcons traded for the immortal Charles Harris and other big news knocked him off the front page, he was one of the most exciting signings of the 2020 offseason, a 25-year-old dynamo with injury issues who could be a juggernaut for this offense if he can overcome those. Oh, and if the offensive line shows up, of course.
Here’s the thing, which we’re a : As William McFadden noted at AtlantaFalcons.com, Gurley wasn’t exactly working with a great offensive line or offense in 2019. The listless Rams were a shell of their Super Bowl form, and while Gurley really does have arthritis, he would likely have been much better had he been put into a position to succeed. As McFadden notes, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second best runner against stacked boxes in 2019, just behind MVP Lamar Jackson.
That’s great news for Gurley in Atlanta, as McFadden writes, because the offense is a very different animal.
Given how well the Falcons have thrown the ball in years past – they ranked third in passing offense in 2019, fourth in 2018, eighth in 2017 and third in 2016 – Gurley is entering a situation where defenses will have to pick their poison. Atlanta is also different from Los Angeles in the sense that it’s the personnel on hand forcing a defensive coordinator’s hand as opposed to the schemes of Rams coach Sean McVay.
Koetter can be way too predictable about when and where he chooses to run, and that plus an unproven offensive line (at least at both guard spots and right tackle) means Gurley will likely still take his lumps. But he was always churning forward after contact, as he is wont to do, and Koetter’s love of passing means defense won’t often be able to squat down with 8 or more defenders up front to put a hurting on Gurley. With a little more creative flair from Koetter—and if that seems preposterous, we’ll settle for better blocking—Gurley’s going to have plenty of opportunities to prove last year was a fluke.
With the fairly recent news that he’s passed his physical and with the evident talent on hand in Atlanta, it’s hard not to get excited about Gurley if he and the Falcons get to play this year. May he run over many hapless defenders in 2020.