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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
        • 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
          Gurley Day-to-Day With Inflamation in Knee
          by r8rh8rmike
          Rams RB Todd Gurley day-to-day with inflammation in knee

          9:24 PM PT
          Lindsey Thiry ESPN

          THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is considered day-to-day because of inflammation in his left knee, coach Sean McVay said Monday.

          Gurley was sidelined for a series in the third quarter of Sunday night's 30-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

          After the game, Gurley said, "I returned, so I was fine." He rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and caught 10 passes for 76 yards.

          The Rams (11-3) have clinched the NFC West, but have two regular-season games remaining against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

          Despite a secured playoff berth, McVay said the final two games remained important and that he would prefer that Gurley play, if he was available.

          "If he's able to go, we want him to be able to go," McVay said. "But if it's something that whether you're playing for the playoffs or whether you're not, we're always going to be smart with a player like Todd."

          Gurley ranks second in the NFL with 89.4 rushing yards per game and has scored a league-high 21 touchdowns.

          Backup running back Justin Davis, who replaced Malcolm Brown after he was placed on injured reserve, also is day-to-day because of a shoulder injury....
          -12-18-2018, 10:37 AM
        • Nick
          McVay on Anderson: “You can see him playing a role as early as this week."
          by Nick
          C.J. Anderson: “I know I’m going to do everything that I possibly can this week to be ready to play."
          Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 02:45 PM
          Clarence Dennis
          STAFF WRITER

          The Rams made a late-season transaction this week, picking up veteran running back C.J. Anderson ahead of the final two games and playoffs.

          Anderson joins the Rams after spending five seasons with the Broncos, having signed with the club as an undrafted free agent back in 2013. The veteran back most recently touted the rock for the Panthers in 2018 — playing in nine games and taking 24 carries for 104 yards.

          All indications point to head coach Sean McVay looking to Anderson as the first back off the bench behind running back Todd Gurley. And despite his comments on expecting Gurley to be ready for Arizona, the head coach says Anderson can make an immediate impact.

          “You can see him playing a role as early as this week,” McVay said. “Really impressed just being around him in the initial 24 hours, or whatever it's been.”

          McVay said his system is not that different from the running back’s previous experiences, and Anderson agreed, sitting in front of his brand-new locker at the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

          “Kind of knowing McVay, his background, where he came from, you know the Grudens and the Shanahans, things like that,” Anderson said, explaining his tie to McVay’s style. “Obviously I was with [former Broncos head coach] Gary Kubiak for two years, so some crossover over there and what they do — just a little bit different.”

          While the terminology and a few adjustments here or there may take some getting used to as a member of the 11-3 NFC West Champions, Anderson says he’s ready to fill whatever role he’s expected to.

          “Whatever they need me to do,” Anderson said. “I know I’m going to do everything that I possibly can this week to be ready to play. McVay and teammates and everybody can feel comfortable with me out there if that opportunity presents itself. But until then I’m just going to keep my head down and keep pushing.”

          Anderson provides some seasoned insurance in the second running back spot for McVay’s offense, as Gurley is dealing with inflammation in his left knee and second-year back Justin Davis is day to day after injuring his shoulder in Week 15 against the Eagles.

          Anderson’s former teammate in Denver and fellow Super Bowl 50 champion, cornerback Aqib Talib, spoke on Wednesday about what the newest Ram has to offer.

          “He’s a real smart player,” Talib said foremost. “Just him being there with [former Broncos quarterback] Peyton [Manning] — Peyton ain’t playing about no protection and stuff, so he’ll definitely on his P’s and Q’s as far as protections and all that. He’s a tough tackle, a real tough tackle, I’ve seen him break a lot of tackles especially at this time of the season.”

          -12-21-2018, 12:25 PM