THOUSAND OAKS — The Rams’ first offensive play from last Sunday looks better with every viewing.
Todd Gurley took the handoff, veered left, then stutter-stepped and waited for his guard, Jamon Brown, to finish a block. A half-second later, Gurley burst again to the left and completed a 36-yard run that put the Rams in the New York Giants’ red zone and led to the first of six touchdowns in a blowout victory.
It was, by all accounts, the perfect play. It was well-designed, for Brown to slide over and get his hands on Damon Harrison, the Giants’ massive defensive tackle. It was well-executed, first by Brown, who prevented what could have been a tackle for loss, and by Gurley, who showed immense vision and poise.
It was, more to the point, everything the Rams didn’t do last year, when Gurley and the linemen seemed disconnected and Gurley seemed frustrated. The Rams’ revived running game is a major reason why they’re the NFL’s highest-scoring team and why they take a 6-2 record into Sunday’s game against Houston.
“I just want to be able to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Gurley said after Thursday’s practice at Cal Lutheran. “What’s that saying? If it ain’t fixed… Or, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Whatever that saying is, that’s what we want to do.”
Gurley entered this week with the NFL’s fourth-most rushing yards (686) and nobody has more than his seven rushing touchdowns. He figures to get a good test against a Texans defense that has allowed only three rushing touchdowns (fewest in the NFL) and allows, on average, only 3.7 yards per rush.
Little has slowed Gurley this season. After that long initial run against the Giants, he totaled only 23 more yards, but the Rams didn’t need him much because of quarterback Jared Goff’s effectiveness.
But back to that play. A year ago, it probably would have gone for a 3-yard loss, because of a poorly designed blocking scheme, a missed block or impatience by Gurley. Or all…