Without question, the Atlanta Falcons caught the attention of the league and the fan base with a key acquisition this offseason. Although just a one-year deal, adding former Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is a move that can likely make or break the Falcons 2020 season.
Gurley has scored 54 total touchdowns the past three seasons for the Rams. An impressive amount for any running back in any offense. However, a disclosed troubling knee issue gets more of the debate. Let’s take a look at how Gurley can have another big year in the scoring department for the Falcons.
As mentioned, Gurley posted 54 touchdowns in the last three seasons, which includes 21 total scores in 2018. While his scrimmage yardage has taken a step back over recent seasons, the Rams still understood how much of an asset Gurley can be in scoring, especially in red zone.
Gurley was tied for third in the NFL last season with red zone rushing touchdowns with 12. With of that factoring in, let’s set the baseline of overall touchdowns for Gurley at 13. That would tie for the third-highest output in team history, but Gurley’s good enough to do it.
The case for the over
Gurley has surpassed the baseline in each of the last three seasons despite a lowering volume of touches. The young, talented Rams offense was really good behind the play calling of head coach Sean McVay. On the other hand, Gurley was often the focal point for opposing defenses. Now that Gurley shares the same field with receiver Julio Jones and others, that is no longer the case.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has noted how below average the Falcons were in the rushing aspect of the offense, so io it appears that the emphasis on running the football has elevated even with the presence of Jones, receiver Calvin Ridley, and quarterback Matt Ryan. That is excellent news for the new lead back in Atlanta.
In addition, there is the never-expiring concept of a player of Gurley’s caliber playing with a chip on his shoulder after that mixed 2019 season. Keep in mind that Gurley is only 25 and his next big payday is hanging in the balance. So a rejuvenated, focused Gurley can quite possibly be a scoring machine in 2020.
The case for the under
Well, the obvious elephant in the room is the ongoing knee issue. Gurley suffered a torn ACL in college at the University of Georgia and over time, the left knee eventually became a matter of being reportedly arthritic. Which explains everything from his lesser workload over the years to the Rams not going out of their way to bring back the young rusher in some capacity.
We will see how much that plays a considerable factor in Atlanta. I also must not exclude the aspect of how often the run game is a disappearing act under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. In each of the past four seasons as a play caller in Tampa Bay and Atlanta, the running game under Koetter was ranked 24th or worse. Granted, he has never had a talent such as Gurley to rely on but it is hard to turn a blind eye to the neglect of running the football by Koetter. After all, Michael Turner has 3 of the top 10 scoring seasons in team history and Freeman has two of them, but those all came with either Mike Mularkey or Kyle Shanahan at the helm, not Koetter.
What’s your take?
One of the most talked about player acquisitions this offseason may have added a nice chess piece to the Falcons offense , or it may have muddied things even more for a talented unit that is in true need of offensive balance in order to reach their highest potential. How many touchdowns do you believe Gurley will account for in 2020?