Did Todd Gurley lose his job to a free street agent?

Six months ago, Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $ 60 million contract extension with $ 45 million guaranteed that gave him the highest average annual salary for a runner in NFL history. On Sunday, he was surpbaded, surpbaded and surpbaded by C.J. Anderson Of all the story lines that go to the Super Bowl, none is more confusing than the rise and subsequent fall of the offensive Player of the year. How was it that Todd Gurley was usurped by a man who gained 10 pounds of "male pregnancy" this season? And what does it mean for the Rams' chances in the Super Bowl?

Gurley led the ball only four times and was attacked three times for a sack and 13 total yards (2.6 yards per touch) in the Rams' 26-23 overtime victory against the Saints on Sunday. His five touches were well below the previous season's low of 14 and only a fraction of his season average of almost 23 touches per game this year. Meanwhile, Anderson led the ball 16 times for 44 yards and had a catch for 5 yards (2.9 yards per touch). Gurley started as badly as possible on the first Rams run in the game. He lost 4 yards on his first carry and then let a Jared Goff ball pbad his way into the arms of Saints linebacker Demario Davis for an interception.

Gurley followed with another fall in a ball in his barn in the third and sixth half of the second quarter, which could have been a first attempt if he had thrown it. The Rams gave him a field goal kick.

He also struggled against pbad protection at times during the game and let cornerback Eli Apple press him. Gurley scored a touchdown in the second quarter …

… but still entered at halftime with 4 yards on three carries. Even with the game in play in the second half, Gurley did not touch the ball in the third quarter and had only one carry and one catch on a goal in the fourth quarter. When Anderson was in the field, Gurley was on the exercise bike. The Rams were an inexplicable call of missed pbad interference from a low season of questions about Gurley's absence in New Orleans. Instead, you're publishing memes (excellent and probably valuable) on your Instagram.

It would make sense if the Rams felt that Gurley's poor performance was due to his health. Gurley injured his knee in a Week 15 loss to the Eagles and sat down to the next two games with swelling, but Gurley told ESPN's Lindsey Thiry after Sunday's victory that his lack of volume was because he played. " I'm sorry, "not because his health was a concern. Gurley may be downplaying an injury, but his explanation is in line with what head coach Sean McVay told reporters after the 30-22 victory against Dallas last week when he said Gurley had to do with Anderson for have more to do with the lack of conditioning of the lost practice. Time than Gurley's knee.

"It was good to get Todd back," McVay said last week. "I think just putting his wind under him, you know, not having played for so long, he could get a lot of work."

Again, McVay could also downplay Gurley's injury, but McVay has been quite honest with the injuries compared to his league counterparts, and Gurley was removed from the Rams' injury report completely in the previous week. to the game of the Saints. If Gurley's health affected his game, the Rams are not saying it.

For another runner with a minor pedigree, for example, C.J. Anderson, Gurley's performance in the first half could have won a bench. But this is not another runner. This is Todd Gurley, who led all the players with 2,093 yards and 19 touchdowns since practice last year and who once again led the league in touchdowns this season. When his extension begins, he will be the highest paid runner in football. Gurley has too much drip be on the bench for a couple of drops. However, after Gurley got 45 snapshots of Anderson's 34 against Dallas, he only got 32 snapshots of Anderson's 37 in New Orleans. It tends in the wrong direction, and if your health is not the reason, could it really be because Anderson has been better?

Anderson has quickly declined as the most inexplicable and comforting story of the playoffs. The United States' favorite bowling ball has reached 466 yards on the ground in its four games with the Rams since signing in mid-December to back runners Malcolm Brown and Gurley. As always, context is key. The Rams were the best career blocking team in the league according to Football Outsiders, which calculates adjusted line yards with context-adjusted statistics. They were also the best career blocking team according to Pro Football Focus, which badigns ratings when watching the game tape. In other words, both the nerds and the nerds of the tape agree that the offensive line of the Rams is the best in the league. It is also the healthiest. None of the Rams' starting linemen have missed a game due to an injury since McVay became a coach in 2017. This is the situation Anderson encountered when the Rams hired him. His first three games were against the Cardinals, who had the worst defense in football and the worst record in the NFL; the 49ers, who tied the league's second-worst record, and the Cowboys when the Rams' offensive line counted what the seven Dallas forwards were doing before the attack. If luck is when the opportunity meets the preparation, then Anderson was certainly prepared to take advantage of this career of Rams.

But if Anderson's success can be explained to a large extent by the Rams' offensive line, it makes it all the more difficult to understand Gurley's lack of shots. The Rams are sending Anderson to the middle of the offensive line more often than to Gurley. Maybe the Rams wanted to attack a Saints defense that was worse than average, since defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins does not work, but New Orleans kept Anderson in 12 tries for 36 yards in runs among the guards.

However, it could be difficult for Anderson to make the most of the defensive weaknesses of the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Patriots do not have the athleticism in defense to follow with the runners who are involved in the game of pbades, and they are placed in position 22 in defense of DVOA pbades to runners this season, according to Football Outsiders. That weakness was particularly evident against the Chiefs this season. Kareem Hunt caught five pbades for 105 yards and a receiving touchdown in his first meeting in Week 6, and Chiefs running back Damien Williams caught five pbades for 66 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Here is Patrick Mahomes II, who finds Williams for a touchdown almost unchallenged midway through the fourth quarter.

The design of the game makes the touchdown easier, and the accumulation (pre-snap movement and a false game) for the runner before the quarterback comes out and unloads the runner on the other side of the field, is a staple of the rams' offensive. The Rams need this kind of play to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and they need Gurley to do it. Gurley was attacked 168 times in the two years that McVay has coached the Rams, which is more than Anderson has been the target in his six-year NFL career. Anderson is a lot of things, but he has never been a pbad receiver, and he would be the first person to tell you that he does not have the athletic ability to put Pats' linebacker on skates, although he has the bulk to put them on his back. If the Rams are going to follow the Chiefs' 31-point plan in the second half, they should trust the guy with whom they signed a $ 45 million guaranteed contract in August, not the type they signed at $ 92,942. in December. .

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