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Sean McVay made right call riding hot hand in C.J. Anderson over Todd Gurley

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  • Sean McVay made right call riding hot hand in C.J. Anderson over Todd Gurley

    By: Andrew Ortenberg | 12 hours ago Follow @AndrewOball

    Sean McVay rightfully gets a ton of praise for his innovative offense and play design, as well as his gutsy situational calls like going for it on certain fourth downs. But the best decision he made Saturday night to help lead the Rams to their first playoff win in 14 years was keeping running back C.J. Anderson in the game ahead of Todd Gurley.

    Even though Gurley was healthy and running well in his own right, Anderson deserved all of the touches and playing time that he got. It’s not like many other positions, where being forced to split time could affect a player’s mentality. And running back is the one position where the hot hand should always be played.

    Anderson finished with 123 yards and two touchdowns, and ended up with 23 carries to Gurley’s 16. While the thought of giving a free agent who just signed weeks ago nearly even playing time with a multiple-time All-Pro who was recently given the largest contract for a running back in NFL history might seem absurd, it’s the latest in a long line of bold decisions McVay has made that turned out right.

    Anderson is competent in pass protection and picked up chunk yardage the entire night. His longest run went for 15 yards, which tells you all you need to know about how consistent he was to still average over 5 yards a carry. McVay also left him in during some of the most crucial situations, showing the confidence he has in the 27-year-old back after just a few weeks.

    It was Anderson who got the carry on fourth-and-goal with seven minutes left in the game, and he ran through contact at the line of scrimmage for the score that proved to be the difference in the game. It was also Anderson taking the final three handoffs of the game, and picking up the first down with just over a minute left that sealed the victory.

    If someone had told you a month ago that Anderson would be carrying the ball 23 times in a playoff game, you’d have thought something must have gone disastrously wrong. You’d probably have thought Gurley suffered a season-ending injury.

    Instead, everything has gone perfectly for the Rams backfield, and McVay handled the situation just as he should’ve. If Anderson continues his fantastic play next week in the NFC championship game, he should receive plenty of run in that one as well.

  • #2
    And Gurley is gentleman enough to realize it was the right call. We have a TEAM here.


    • #3
      I really enjoyed the RB split. I think it is one of the things that bewildered the Cowboys D.
      "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

      Jack Youngblood


      • #4
        Originally posted by MoonJoe View Post
        I really enjoyed the RB split. I think it is one of the things that bewildered the Cowboys D.
        I wonder if we might sport 2 back looks the next game. That could be a whole new dimension.
        “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”


        Related Topics


        • Nick
          Was Rams coach Sean McVay out of touch with use of Todd Gurley?
          by Nick
          Was Rams coach Sean McVay out of touch with use of Todd Gurley?
          By RICH HAMMOND | | Orange County Register
          PUBLISHED: December 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm | UPDATED: December 11, 2017 at 7:37 pm

          THOUSAND OAKS — For all the good that Coach Sean McVay has brought to the Rams this year — an enormous amount — a persistent question remains. What’s going on with Todd Gurley’s usage?

          The Rams are 7-0 when Gurley touches the ball at least 20 times in a game, either on handoffs or receptions, and they’re 2-4 when he doesn’t reach that mark. Gurley had 16 touches for 135 yards on Sunday in the Rams’ loss to Philadelphia, which tied his lowest touch total of the season.

          That requires some context. The Rams ran only 45 offensive plays against the Eagles, so Gurley’s touches accounted for 35.6 percent of their offense, which is on par with his usage all season.
          Still, McVay’s usage of Gurley didn’t pass the eye test. Philadelphia entered the game with a superb run defense that had averaged only 3.5 yards allowed per attempt, but Gurley ran for 30 yards on the Rams’ second play and scored a touchdown on the next play. Gurley averaged 7.4 yards per rush attempt.

          Gurley and the Rams’ offensive line clearly could move the ball against the Eagles, but Gurley had only 13 carries (for 96 yards), while quarterback Jared Goff attempted 26 passes (and completed 16).

          “Any time we’re running the football like that, I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that he gets enough touches to get into the flow, especially when we’re getting some good movement,” McVay said during his Monday news conference at Cal Lutheran.

          “It is a delicate balance. At the end of the day, however you want to cut it, I’ve got to get him going and give him more opportunities, with the way he was running, and have a better feel for the flow of the game. That was something I didn’t think I did very well.”

          McVay also pointed out, correctly, quite fairly, that the low number of plays took the Rams out of sync, and credited the Eagles defense for doing a good job against the Rams’ first-down plays, particularly some of the play-action stuff that had been successful all season.

          McVay also talked about the need for run-pass balance, and at times, McVay seemed to stray too far.

          The Rams held a 35-34 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter when, on a first-and-10 play, McVay called a play-action pass. Eagles defensive end Chris Long sprinted around Rams tackle Darrell Williams, who had entered the game two plays earlier, and forced a Goff strip-sack fumble.

          Philadelphia went on to kick a go-ahead field goal, and after the game, McVay was forthright in saying that he should have called a better play. Perhaps the Rams should have kept the ball on the ground?

          It’s not as though the Rams have been ignoring Gurley. They’ve...
          -12-11-2017, 08:09 PM
        • kman1521
          Mcvay play calling absolutely horrendous
          by kman1521
          Not only does he forget about running Gurley, he calls all these 7 step drop plays that take forever to develop whike bears are getting tons of pressure. Wheres the quick slants? Quick any pass!?!.. just awful playcalling..goff was awful too
          -12-09-2018, 09:11 PM
        • Nick
          McVay: Todd Gurley will be 'focal point of our offense'
          by Nick
          McVay: Todd Gurley will be 'focal point of our offense'
          By Kevin Patra
          Around the NFL Writer
          Published: April 12, 2019 at 02:28 p.m.

          Questions about Todd Gurley's knee issue that stretched into the playoffs have lingered all offseason, leaving us to ponder how the Los Angeles Rams would utilize the running back moving forward.

          Despite whispers that the Rams might try to curtail Gurley's workload, coach Sean McVay said Friday on The Rich Eisen Show that the All-Pro running back will continue to be the center of the offense.

          "You can expect Todd to be a focal point of our offense going forward," McVay told Eisen. "He's in a good place, he's feeling good and will continue to be a central piece of our offense and I don't see that changing."

          McVay's response appears to answer the query Les Snead posited during the NFL Scouting Combine in February when the GM suggested Gurley's workload might need to be monitored moving forward.

          It's no surprise McVay would insist Gurley remain the centerpiece of the offense. As a dynamic runner, threat out of the backfield as a pass-catcher and goal line hammer, Gurley is a preeminent running back threat when healthy.

          Still, managing his workload more delicately in 2019 seems like a prudent move. Through his first four seasons, Gurley has handled 1,042 carries in the regular season alone. Compare that to two other prominent running backs from his draft class: Melvin Gordon (897) and David Johnson (687). Gurley's 1,229 touches over 58 career regular-season games give him an average of 21.2 touches per tilt.

          McVay wouldn't have to relegate Gurley to a complementary weapon in the offense to monitor his workload. Given the knee issue appears like it's one that could pop up at any moment, shaving a few reps and allowing the running back a few more respites each game could work just as well.

          After the Rams handed Gurley the largest contract in the NFL for a running back, there was never a real question about whether he would remain the focal point of an offense that makes headlines for its passing attack, but at its core is a run-focused, play-action assault.

          The biggest question is how Gurley's leg will hold up over the course of 16 games. It's one we might not have a hard answer to until January.
          -04-12-2019, 06:01 PM
        • fearsome foursome
          Which would you choose?
          by fearsome foursome
          Considering the Rams second team lost last year to the whiners when the coaches decided to rest the starters, which would you prefer? The Rams play their starters and win but lose a valuable player for the playoffs such as Goff, Whitworth, Gurley or Donald or... the Rams lose the whiner game but come out healthy. I imagine this is something that the Rams coaches are thinking about....
          -12-26-2018, 10:14 AM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Todd Gurley Absent As Rams Begin Voluntary OTA Workouts
          by r8rh8rmike
          Todd Gurley absent as Rams begin voluntary OTA workouts

          Key defensive veterans Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Dante Fowler also skip drills

          By RYAN KARTJE | | Orange County Register
          PUBLISHED: May 20, 2019 at 7:04 pm | UPDATED: May 20, 2019 at 7:04 pm

          THOUSAND OAKS – The Rams contend to have a “really specific” plan for Todd Gurley this offseason. But starting offseason training activities with the team was apparently not a part of it.

          The former NFL Offensive Player of the Year was not the only player absent from the Rams’ first OTA practice on Monday. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, as well as edge rusher Dante Fowler, were also not in attendance, all of whom, according to Rams coach Sean McVay, communicated ahead of time that they would be absent.

          OTA’s are entirely voluntary, and it’s not without precedent that players secure in their star status skip out. But the absence of Gurley, who signed the largest guaranteed contract for a running back in NFL history last summer, is bound to raise a few eyebrows anyway, given the uncertain status of his knee at the end of last season.

          The last we saw of the Rams star running back, he ran for just 35 yards on 10 carries in a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. Ever since, reports doubting Gurley’s long-term health have swirled endlessly, even as he and the Rams have shrugged them off.

          McVay said that Rams staff members sat down with Gurley to work out a plan for his offseason. That plan, like the team’s agreement with star tackle Aaron Donald, includes allowances for Gurley to use trainers unaffiliated with the Rams.

          “As long as we’re on the same page, we feel good about that,” McVay said. “And most importantly, Todd feels good. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s staying up to date with everything that’s going on. But that’s where we’re at with him right now.”

          Gurley said last month that his knee felt “pretty good.” Surgery, he said, had never been seriously considered. Over the course of the offseason, Gurley has certainly seemed fine as he traveled the world, from New York and Miami to Milan and Barcelona, “doing everything I always wanted to do,” he said.

          But until the two-time All-Pro running back is back on the field, questions about his health will continue to linger. That return could take place some time over the team’s nine remaining OTA sessions, which are spread out over the next three weeks. Or we may not see Gurley until training camp begins at the end of July.

          The absence of a star player from offseason workouts should be familiar territory for the Rams, who spent the last two years of OTA’s fielding questions about Aaron Donald and his contract. But on Monday, while Gurley stayed away, Donald was on the field in May for the first time since McVay took over as coach.

          “It’s nice having him around this time of year,” McVay said. “I didn’t...
          -05-23-2019, 09:34 AM