When Roger Goodell announced Todd Gurley as the Rams’ 1st round draft pick this past April, my initial reaction was, “Really? A first round running back? With Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham already on the roster? Literally, why?” I knew Gurley was an outstanding player, but coming off a November ACL tear, suffice it to say that I had a lot of questions.
And I wasn’t alone. CBS’ Pete Prisco questioned it as well, saying, “Drafting a running back in the top 10 is always risky, but it’s also a luxury for teams and I am not sure the Rams can afford that.” ESPN’s Mel Kiper echoed that sentiment, adding, “Todd Gurley is a special talent…but I’ve said a 1,000 times I don’t think taking RB’s in Round 1 is a good strategy.”
But, as Kiper did mention, there was a silver lining among all of the questions. And that silver lining is the fact that “Todd Gurley is a special talent.”
I don’t think anyone doubted Gurley’s talent, and he showcased how special he was at the University of Georgia. In his freshman season he racked up 1,502 yards from scrimmage with 17 total touchdowns in 13 games. And the season after he racked up 1,430 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns in only 10 games. And the November ACL tear in his junior season ruined another sparkling campaign.
So unless you hadn’t watched him, there was absolutely no denying the talent. As the late Stuart Scott once tweeted:
But Todd Gurley as a pro? Nobody knew what to expect. Would we even see him in 2015? How much of the formerly dazzling Todd Gurley player could we expect? Would he just be a hurt shell of the player he once was?
Todd Gurley has heard all of our questions and is having none of it.
After missing the first two weeks of the season, and only seeing limited action in week 3 against Pittsburgh, Gurley has exploded onto the NFL scene during the past three weeks. Following impressive 146 and 159 yard games against stout Arizona and Green Bay defenses, Gurley shredded the Cleveland defense this afternoon to the tune of 128 yards on 19 carries with a pair of trips to the Promised Land.
I could throw all of the stats I want at you. I could tell you that Gurley was 12 yards away from being the first running back since Eric Dickerson to rush for 140 yards in his first three NFL starts. But I’m sure you already know all of that. And I’m really not here to spew out endless numbers on how great Todd Gurley is. You want to know how great he is?
Just watch him.
That’s all you need to do. All it takes is your attention to realize the rare greatness that is evident every single time he graces the field. As Mel Kiper said, he truly is a “special talent.” He runs with a grace, power, and ferociousness reminiscent of a young Adrian Peterson and even, dare I say it, Walter Payton.
Gurley does absolutely everything that elite running backs do. And he does it exceptionally well. Running the ball? Big check. Catching the ball out of the backfield? Yup. Picking up blitzes? With authority. And as he showed at Georgia, he can even return some kickoffs for you.
We really haven’t seen this kind of pure talent at running back in St. Louis since Marshall Faulk. Steven Jackson was good, but not this good. And Gurley might even be better than the immortal number 28.
Which gets me to my bigger point. With all of this shady Stan Kroenke relocation talk/speculation bullshit, we don’t know how much longer the Rams will be here in St. Louis. Which means that we don’t know how much longer we’ll get to enjoy the rare talents that the Rams currently employ; Gurley being one of them.
When I turn on my television to watch the Rams, I’m often maddened and frustrated by the inconsistency and the inability to ‘get over the hump’, if you will. But there are players that I do not take for granted that find a way to shine through all of the stuff that drives me crazy.
Robert Quinn two years ago was such a spectacle to watch week in and week out. Aaron Donald’s weekly breathtaking brilliance. The playmaking emergence of Alec Ogletree this season before his ankle injury robbed us of him for presumably the rest of the season. And now Todd Gurley’s name can be added to that list of things that I so enjoy about the Rams.
So on the one year anniversary of Oscar Taveras’ tragic death I say this, nothing is guaranteed. As cliché as that is, it’s beyond true. And these Rams are most definitely not guaranteed to us. So while they’re here, enjoy them. Watch them, cheer for them. Don’t act like you’re too good to be a Rams fan, because when this team finally ‘gets over the hump’ and starts making big time noise nobody’s going to be too good for this team.
Todd Gurley, I thank you for helping me enjoy the Rams again; keep shining. And to the rest of you I say this, enjoy the Rams while they are here, because someday Todd Gurley won’t be ours and when that day comes it’ll be a damn shame. But until then, turn your television on and enjoy his brilliance. We may never see anything like it ever again.
Thanks for reading…