Southern California residents are not the only ones excited for the return of the National Football League to Los Angeles. Rams players have begun to feel the excitement of returning to the bright lights of Los Angeles for the first time in over twenty years. It's romance renewed. It's love lost and love found. It's distance making the heart grow fonder. Whatever it is, it's the NFL coming back to Los Angeles.
The Rams will return to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, playing in the Coliseum alongside the USC Trojans until their new stadium is completed. Though there are still a lot of things to be worked out and a lot of lives being uprooted, the team is ready for their new beginning. They're actually jazzed for the move. Speaking with the NFL Network, Rams running back Todd Gurley said that the move will be exciting and the team is excited for it.
"I think it will be a very exciting move," Gurley said. "It's definitely going to be a big jump from St. Louis to Los Angeles, but a lot of guys are excited. Now we just gotta go out there next year, get some wins, and give the fans something to be excited about, too."
As it were, Gurley is one of the things that Los Angeles Rams fans can get excited about right now. After missing the first three games of the NFL season while recovering from an awful ACL tear in college, Gurley shined when his chance finally came. Finishing the '16 campaign as a Pro Bowl selection and a Rookie of the Year finalist,
Gurley rushed for 1,106 yards and ten touchdowns. He finished third in the NFL in total rushing yards and didn't even play a full season. Only four players finished with more rushing touchdowns than Gurley, too. Adrian Peterson led the league with 1,485 rushing yards, but he had to carry the ball 327 times to get that total. Peterson finsished with 379 more yards, but Gurley ran up his total on nearly 100 fewer carries.
Gurley was hoping to have an impact, but even he couldn't have predicted the type of impact he would have with the team in his first year. Of course, anytime a recovering player has this type of season, the first question anybody wants to ask is "what could they have done if..." At his '16 rate of 4.8 yards per carry, Gurley would have finished with 1,576 yards and probably more than the eleven total touchdowns Peterson put up, but Gurley doesn't even spend time thinking about that. His teammates do that and bring it up for him. Gurley was, is, and always will be focused on what he needs to do getting better moving forward, focused on putting in the work.
"I didn't think I would have this kind of impact," Gurley said. "Not after going through the rehab and ACL surgery. My biggest key was trying to get back on the field. It kinda wasn't a surprise because of all the hard work I put in, but I did not expect to have the impact I did and as early as I did. I don't really think about 'what if' scenarios, but my teammates always bring it up to me. They'll be like, "man, just imagine what you could have done if you had four or five more games under your belt."
Whether or not Gurley has a repeat of last year remains to be seen. The Rams will no longer have the element of surprise with Gurley, they will have to set up their run game the same way every other team does in the league. They will need to develop consistent and proficient quarterback play or the burden will be shifted to Gurley unnecessarily. The Rams simply have too much talent at most positions for them to rely on one man to get it all done.
Even if that one man is Todd Gurley and has proven he can do everything.