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Rams Offseason Recon: Running Back

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  • Rams Offseason Recon: Running Back

    Rams Offseason Recon: Running Back

    As we go through the offseason, I thought it would be useful to look at the position groups on the Rams and see exactly what the team has and where improvements could be made. The second installment in this Rams Offseason Recon series is the running back position. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on what I've provided and what you'd like to see the team do as we go forward with this and other position groups as those threads are made!

    Focus Position: Running Back

    Current Starter: Todd Gurley

    Back-Ups: Malcolm Brown, John Kelly, Justin Davis

    Roster Analysis: Oh boy, where to start here? What once looked like the strongest offensive unit of the team primarily due to Gurley’s dominance now has a big question mark going forward. Gurley led the league in touchdowns, and finished among the top five in yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards, and touches. But the workload apparently took its toll on Gurley; he sat out the final two games of the regular season, and was used sparingly (to put it mildly) through the playoffs. In fact, after Week 8 of the season, Gurley ran the ball more than twenty times only once, against Detroit. The signing and emergence of C.J. Anderson – who does not appear on the backups list above as he is currently not under contract – helped the Rams monitor and restrict Gurley’s usage as to not wear him out, but it’s clear this was a season of two halves for #30. With that in mind, where does that put him going forward? This is the last thing the Rams wanted for a number of reasons. Obviously, no one wants the centerpiece of their offense to suddenly look vulnerable, and concern for Gurley’s health are legitimate when it comes to his playing career and life after football. But from a team standpoint, the Rams just signed Gurley last summer to a near $60 million deal. If Gurley can’t regain his form, that’s a lot of money the Rams will be on the hook for over the next couple of years. Even assuming Gurley does regain his mojo, having a backup runner behind him capable of sharing some of the load and keeping Todd fresh long term will be vital, as Anderson proved late into the season. The Rams have some young players they seem to like in Brown, Kelly, and Davis, but none of them were called up to the plate when Todd was injured, as the Rams instead turned to the free agent market late in the season to find Anderson. It makes you wonder exactly what the Rams feel they have with their trio of young runners. At this point, I’m not sure any of them should be viewed as irreplaceable on this roster, though ideally you’d like to see at least one of them emerge into a capable backup who could step in when needed.

    Free Agent Options: The obvious free agent option is C.J. Anderson, whom the Rams did not resign prior to the start of free agency and hasn’t really received much attention on the market. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport back in early February, the Rams really wanted Anderson back this season. So what’s the hold up? Maybe the Rams want to see what their options are in the draft before bringing C.J. back, in case they’re able to get a young runner with less tread on the tires. Or maybe C.J. is waiting for an offer from a team with a bigger role before coming back to the Rams. It’s hard to say at this point, but the Rams should definitely have Anderson’s phone number on speed dial after he posted three games of 100+ yards in a row for the team, each averaging over five yards per carry in the process. His production late into the post-season wasn’t as impressive, but he definitely carved out a role that you’d think the Rams would want to fill. If they opt to go with a free agent back besides Anderson, there are some names out there to consider. At 33 years old, Marshawn Lynch is still managing to get it done on the field, averaging 4.26 yards per carry since returning in 2017, though injuries have been an issue and it’s unclear if he still intends to play football. Former Dolphins and Eagles running back Jay Ajayi might be the most talented option still available, but has had his own injury concerns and is coming off of a torn ACL. One name to keep an eye on if the Rams want a younger veteran who can grind out some situational yards is Isaiah Crowell. He turned 26 years old in January and has averaged over four yards per carry in four of his five seasons with the Browns and Jets.

    Draft Options: Head coach Sean McVay has said he wants to add explosive players this offseason, so perhaps a young, dynamic ‘back will catch his eye in the draft this year. In this year’s class, it doesn’t get more explosive than Oklahoma State runner Justice Hill, at least when it came to testing. He wowed at the combine with top showings in the forty yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump. He doesn’t have the size of an Anderson, but is more along the lines of John Kelly’s listing. Scouts will have to go back and see why Hill’s numbers didn’t always translate to bigger plays on the field, but he’s worthy of consideration near the end of Day Two. That being said, with what the Rams have on the roster both in Gurley and existing backups, it’s hard to see them spending anything more than a Day Three pick at this position, if they draft someone at all. There are some Day Three options that intrigue me, though. Nebraska’s Devine Ozigbo has nice size for the position and displays the kind of traits you look for in a capable downhill runner. Temple’s Ryquell Armstead is another downhill runner who can find room inside while bowling his way through tackles. Someone like Travis Homer of Miami could come in as an undrafted free agent and earn a spot, especially given his ability to help in pass protection.

  • #2
    The Rams never would have signed CJ Anderson if Malcolm Brown had not gotten hurt and Brown would have done very well. Said another way, the decision to bring in anderson had nothing at all to do with a lack of confidence in brown, brown was out for the year at the time anderson was signed. No disrespect, but the statement above that Brown was "not called up to the plate" when Todd was injured is not accurate. It is accurate as it pertains to Kelly and Davis, neither of whom has shown any capability of pass blocking at the nfl level.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


    • #3
      Originally posted by General Counsel View Post

      The Rams never would have signed CJ Anderson if Malcolm Brown had not gotten hurt and Brown would have done very well. Said another way, the decision to bring in Anderson had nothing at all to do with a lack of confidence in Brown, Brown was out for the year at the time Anderson was signed. No disrespect, but the statement above that Brown was "not called up to the plate" when Todd was injured is not accurate. It is accurate as it pertains to Kelly and Davis, neither of whom has shown any capability of pass blocking at the NFL level.

      Ramming speed to all

      General Counsel

      Thus, it sure would be GREAT to have, if feasible, TG / CJ / and MB in the Rams RB squad.

      Plus... ?


      • #4
        Originally posted by RealRam View Post

        Thus, it sure would be GREAT to have, if feasible, TG / CJ / and MB in the Rams RB squad.

        Plus... ?
        Yep. I definitely hope Gurley's problems get figured out, as we are obviously nowhere near as good of a team without him. Also Brown will probably be back since he's a RFA that few are probably interested in, and should be 100% since his injury was relatively minor. Such bad timing too as it would have been great to see what he could have done with the workload CJ got. It will good to retain CJ as a backup, but unless he gets back in game shape, no way he lasts even close to a full season if he was needed to be the #1 guy.


        • #5
          This has to be about the toughest decision the Rams have to make this off-season. Without knowing how Gurley's knee will respond to game conditions, the Rams have to decide how to proceed for their RB's. As there is little margin for error given the cap situation, the Rams must decide if they need CJ Anderson as their bona fide #2. On top of this they have to assume that Malcolm Brown is fully healed and can deliver the same performance as prior to his injury.

          Pass protection is a very critical matter going into 2019. The questions above make this a difficult issue about which to get comfortable.

          Finally the Rams will have to decide if they will need a change-of-pace RB, which is where Justin Davis could become a factor. No easy answers in my mind. Without a reliable running game our play-action tactic becomes ineffective and that will be horrific for Jared Goff.

          Go Rams!


          • #6
            Originally posted by general counsel View Post
            The Rams never would have signed CJ Anderson if Malcolm Brown had not gotten hurt and Brown would have done very well. Said another way, the decision to bring in anderson had nothing at all to do with a lack of confidence in brown, brown was out for the year at the time anderson was signed. No disrespect, but the statement above that Brown was "not called up to the plate" when Todd was injured is not accurate. It is accurate as it pertains to Kelly and Davis, neither of whom has shown any capability of pass blocking at the nfl level.

            ramming speed to all

            general counsel
            My apologies, GC. I forgot this detail while writing the post.


            • #7
              ps. Little need to fear that Brown won't come back & be fully ready to go. He injured his clavicle and had to have it reset. The injury was never spelled out specifically, but all signs point to it being a dislocation. Painful to be sure, but nothing of note 'soft tissue' wise that will hamper him much. He'll probably have lots to do therapy wise to make sure the joint doesn't slip again, and build his shoulder strength back up, but its doubtful to set him back in his arm strength or range of motion.

              I'm disappointed Justin Davis didn't step up. He's a good runner, so I suspect it has to do with poor pass pro skills. Too bad. I'm ok if the Rams use a late pick on a runner to compete with him and Kelly for the 3rd/4th spot


              • #8
                Malcom has reportedly received offer from the Lions. Rams have 5 days to match


                • #9
                  Brown signed the offer sheet from the Lions.
                  “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.”


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by isaacbruce4ever View Post
                    Brown signed the offer sheet from the Lions.
                    Some additional info - Rams will get no compensation if they decide not to match the restricted free agent tender. Terms of the tender are not yet available.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by macrammer View Post
                      Malcom has reportedly received offer from the Lions. Rams have 5 days to match
                      According to Breer, it's only $3.25 M for 2 years with a $100K signing bonus and $1 million guaranteed. And per DaSilva, that's an annual salary less than the $2.025 M the Rams were going to give him with the tender.

                      So all in all, if you think Brown is a better downhill runner than CJ, then you match the offer and be done with the back-up speculation. If not, you better go back and get CJ, who more than proved his worth - just a question of how much for the year, since they probably picked him up for nickels on the dollar in the year-end clearance sale.

                      Beyond that, if they intend to coddle the GurleyMan to save him for the playoffs, they better use him then along with more pass plays for him. Otherwise trade him now, free up cap room and go find extra pieces. Perhaps a RB rebuild is in order as a prelude to the grand opening of Kroeneke entertainment district ...


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                      • r8rh8rmike
                        Why The Rams Made A Huge Mistake Drafting Todd Gurley 10th Overall
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        Why the Rams Made a Huge Mistake Drafting Todd Gurley 10th Overall

                        By Brent Sobleski , NFL Draft Analyst
                        Jun 6, 2015

                        As the aftertaste of the NFL draft still lingers on the tips of everyone's tongue even after rookie camps and team OTAs, the St. Louis Rams selection of Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick remains a mistake.

                        Value, injury history and a lack of a supporting cast in St. Louis made Gurley the wrong decision for the Rams based on where they are in their building process.

                        Gurley's overall talent can't (and won't) be denied. The 6'1", 221-pound running back owns a rare combination of explosion and power. During his three seasons in Georgia, Gurley averaged 7.38 yards every time he touched the football. He also added at least one play of 75 yards or longer in each of the campaigns.

                        Due to this blend of physical running ability and consistent threat of hitting a home run each time he touched the ball, Gurley was often compared to Adrian Peterson or at least named the best running back prospect since AD left Oklahoma to join the NFL ranks in 2007.

                        “It’s a great comparison, but it’s not something I have any idea about," Gurley told's Peter King. "I’ve got a long way to go for that.”

                        King even revealed that the Rams rated Gurley as the best overall player in this year's draft class.

                        The running back was a difference-maker in Athens, Georgia, and the Rams expect the same from him in an offense that struggled under head coach Jeff Fisher's supervision—the unit hasn't finished better than 23rd in total offense during his three-year tenure.

                        Usually, an argument against selecting any running back in the first round—even one as talented as Gurley—starts with a nod toward positional value.

                        In today's NFL, workhorse backs are essentially a thing of the past with only two runners—DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy—accepting more than 300 carries last season.

                        And the investment needed to obtain a quality running back rarely requires a first-round pick, let alone a top-10 overall selection.

                        Last season, none of the league's top-10 rushers was the first running back selected in his particular draft class. Only one of them, Marshawn Lynch, was even a former first-round pick.

                        Positional value be damned, one can easily argue a legit top talent supersedes dogmatic views of today's league. Usually, that particular argument would be correct. But there is an instance where overall value as it pertains to an entire draft class can be even more important than simply collecting talent.

                        This year's draft class was the deepest in running back talent than it has been in years. It's likely that numerous starters will emerge from multiple rounds.

                        While Gurley is clearly very talented,...
                        -06-09-2015, 09:25 AM
                      • RockinRam
                        Rams' C.J. Anderson is as surprised at his relevance as you are
                        by RockinRam
                        Tim Keown
                        ESPN Senior Writer

                        WHEN CORTRELLE JAVON Anderson begins to run, when he has his short and fat (his words, not mine) body headed toward the line of scrimmage, you'd be forgiven if you were momentarily alarmed by the idea that he intends to disappear. His shoulders hunch, his torso appears to retract, and his Doric thighs look like they're going to sink into the turf. He's listed at 5-foot-8 (maybe) and 225 pounds (please), so he's low to the ground to start, especially compared with everybody around him. With a football in his hands, he practically tunnels. If it ever becomes possible, and legal, to take a subterranean route down the field, bet on him being the first.

                        There is very little in the way of decoration. Football guys describe runners like C.J. Anderson by saying they know how to use the field. He is wide. He is short. He is strong. He has remarkable balance and great vision and employs just enough subtle deception to leave linebackers tackling air. If he can't fool them, he is perfectly content to go directly through them. It is brutal art.
                        We don't get surprised much anymore. When we do, the surprises are usually delivered by the people we expect to surprise us. Tom Brady and Drew Breesdefying every known actuarial chart is an ongoing, low-grade surprise. Aaron Donald playing defensive tackle like a turbocharged Jeep retains its capacity to surprise. Patrick Mahomes seems to surprise everyone but himself. But this kind of surprise, The Anderson Surprise, in which a man emerges from nowhere in the most ridiculous and delightful way to become a recurring star in a late-season drama, is rare enough to qualify as preposterous.

                        His employment record over the past 10 months looks like this: released by the Broncos after five seasons, more than 3,000 yards, a Pro Bowl and two Super Bowls; signed and released by the Panthers after nine games and 24 carries; signed and released by the Raiders after five days, and no games, in Week 15.

                        "Every team I was with had a circumstance for why they felt like they had to get rid of me," he says. "Every one was understandable, and I understand this is a business first. If you look at the circumstances, it makes perfect sense. It would've been easy for me to get down on myself, but I didn't because it wasn't a talent issue."

                        He signed with the Rams a week before Christmas, after Todd Gurley dinged a knee and backup Malcolm Brown was lost for the season. Anderson has played three games with the Rams: 167 yards against the Cardinals, 132 against the 49ers, 123 and two touchdowns in the divisional-round victory over the Cowboys. He exudes all the radiance and none of the bitterness of a 27-year-old man who knew he wasn't finished but thought it was completely understandable if nobody else agreed. He knew he could do this, he says, which is an entirely different thing from expecting it to happen....
                        -01-18-2019, 03:40 PM
                      • r8rh8rmike
                        3 moves the Rams should make to boost their chances of getting back to the SB in 2019
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        Three moves the Rams should make to boost their chances of getting back to the Super Bowl in 2019

                        L.A. is up against the cap but could use some depth on the edge and at guard

                        by Jared Dubin
                        3 hrs ago • 4 min read

                        The Los Angeles Rams went all in for the 2018 season, and their boldness paid off. The Rams were one of the best teams in the NFL from wire to wire, and eventually represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. They came up short in that game and did not exactly shower themselves in glory with their performance, but they'll return much of the same core in 2019 and they should be expected to once again find themselves among the inner-circle contenders for the Lombardi Trophy.

                        Given that they have one of the best and deepest rosters in the league, and the majority of the players on it played significant roles on last year's squad, the prescription for the Rams to get back to the Super Bowl is largely about improving on the margins. Anything they can do to put guys like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Eric Weddle, and John Johnson in position to succeed is a good idea.

                        Here are three ideas we've got.

                        1. Sign Nick Perry to add depth on the edge

                        The Rams have the best interior pass rusher in the league in Aaron Donald, and a strong secondary rush man on the interior in Michael Brockets. They brought back Dante Fowler Jr. on a one-year, $12 million deal, and also brought Clay Matthewsover from the Packers on a one-year deal.

                        But Matthews will be 33 years old this season, Fowler sandwiched his eight-sack 2017 with four sacks in 2016 and 2018, and recorded only two sacks in eight games with the Rams last season, and there is not much in the way of depth behind those guys. Matthews seems likely to spend at least some of his time playing inside linebacker, with Samson Ebukam acting as the rush man off the edge opposite Fowler.

                        Can 2018 draft picks Trevon Young, Justin Lawler, and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo really provide the edge depth this team needs? Probably not. That's where Perry, another former Packer, comes in.

                        He missed much of last season due to injury, but recorded 18 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, and 18 tackles for loss in 2016 and 2017. With the Rams having only $6.6 million in cap room, according to Spotrac, they cannot afford to go big-game hunting, even now that signings don't affect the compensatory pick calculations. So taking fliers on low-money, moderate-upside guys is the fix here, and Perry fits the bill.

                        2. Sign Shawn Lauvao to provide interior OL insurance

                        Apart from the game-wrecking abilities of Donald, the real strength of the Rams over the past two seasons has been their offensive line. They got a boost for 2019 when star left tackle Andrew Whitworth decided to forego retirement...
                        -05-23-2019, 09:07 AM
                      • Nick
                        Rams facing this painful question: Are Todd Gurley’s best years behind him?
                        by Nick
                        Rams facing this painful question: Are Todd Gurley’s best years behind him?
                        By Vincent Bonsignore
                        Mar 3, 2019

                        INDIANAPOLIS​ — There is finally​ some​ clarity​ on the condition​ of Todd Gurley’s​ left knee,​ and the​ news over the​ weekend painted​​ a gloomy picture for the Rams’ star running back.

                        On Friday, John Breech of CBS Sports reported that the Rams might consider stem cell treatment for Gurley’s knee, which was surgically repaired in 2014 after an ACL tear during his junior year at Georgia. On Saturday, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported that recent tests have revealed Gurley is dealing with arthritis in the knee.

                        Both revelations cast doubt on the future of Gurley, who signed a four-year contract extension worth $60 million last summer that takes him through the 2023 season and guarantees him $45 million.

                        With head coach Sean McVay talking about putting a plan in place to manage Gurley’s workload and general manager Les Snead pondering the potential need to add another running back alongside him, a dreaded question the Rams and their fans never wanted to contemplate is now absolutely valid.

                        Are Gurley’s best years behind him?

                        Since arthritis is a common occurrence in knees that have been surgically repaired, it is possible Gurley could be suffering from the condition. An orthopedic surgeon, speaking anonymously to The Athletic, said: “When you use the words arthritis in a knee that had an ACL back in college, that’s the connection. You’ve lost the alignment, and the tires are wearing out prematurely.”

                        If that is indeed the case, it creates an ominous situation for Gurley based on multiple doctors consulted, including Dr. Jesse Morse of Florida Orthopedic Specialists.

                        “Without personally examining him, my answers will obviously be very generalized, but unfortunately I believe Gurley has peaked and will not be able to repeat his record-breaking effectiveness,” Dr. Morse said. “He could possibly have one to two more years of elite top-five running back talent, but he will likely lose a step.”

                        Publicly and privately, the Rams are not indicating anything more beyond the recent comments by McVay and Snead that Gurley was dealing with “wear and tear” issues late in the season.

                        McVay said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that surgery is not planned for Gurley. According to the doctors consulted by The Athletic, Gurley clearly has a condition that requires management rather than an injury that needs surgery.

                        As far as stem cell treatment — which some doctors insist is a radical and not-yet-proven treatment that should be approached cautiously — Rams sources said no such course of action has been discussed within the organization.

                        McVay and Snead have talked about putting a plan in place that will help keep Gurley...
                        -03-04-2019, 06:17 AM
                      • r8rh8rmike
                        Gurley rides 'impressive offseason' into year two
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        Gurley rides 'impressive offseason' into year two

                        Jake Rowe - Jun 4, 3:18 PM

                        Few would argue with the notion that former Georgia running back Todd Gurley was born with some special abilities. Afterall, being blazing fast at 6-foot-1, 228 pounds is something only a relative few can claim in the entire world. But the budding Los Angeles Rams super star is also known as a relentless worker.

                        That has shown in his second offseason as a professional player. The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has dropped close to 15 pounds this winter and spring and according to his head coach, Jeff Fisher, it's because he's going the extra mile.

                        ''He's not missed a day, and he's running extra after practice,'' Fisher said according to a report by the Associated Press. ''He looked pretty good running a straight line a year ago at this time. He's doing everything (this year) to the point where you almost say, `Let's back down a little bit.' He's had an impressive offseason.''

                        Gurley missed the first two games of the 2015 season before getting his feet wet in week three against Pittsburgh. The next week's game against Arizona would be his coming out party. The North Carolina native had 19 carries for 146 yards, beginning a streak of four-straight 100-yard games. He would finish the season with five total while also amassing 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns on 229 carries. He also caught 21 passes for 188 yards. All of that in 13 games.
                        -06-07-2016, 09:57 AM