Gurley has in many ways been the epitome of the Rams' offensive woes this season currently ranking 20th in rushing yards (403), 24th in yards per game (57.6), and 30th in yards per attempt (3.0). This includes zero rushes for 20 or more yards with his longest gain going for just 16 yards. In fact, he has recorded only six plays rushing for double-digit yardage this season and has totaled fewer than 60 yards with no touchdown on five occasions.
Despite these obvious struggles, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has remained cognizant of the unique ability that Gurley possesses in the running game.
"You just have to watch him every down, then you’ll have an explosive run and you realize and recognize why the guy got the accolades he got last year,' Rivera said. "He’s a solid football player who’s got a tremendous amount of ability and potential. Right now, it’s just one of those things. It’s kind of like us, we’re struggling to find our footing, and once you get it going, you know it’s going to happen, big time. It’s just a matter of being patient, the team has got to continue to work and grow, that’s the bottom line.”
The Panthers have been highly successful in limiting opposing rushing attack this season ranking third against the run giving up just 80.1 yards per game and tied for first in fewest yards per carry (3.3). They have also allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards in five out of their first seven games, including fewer than 70 yards four times. On top of that, Carolina is coming off their best defensive performance limiting Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson to just 24 yards on 10 carries.
All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly has been a primary factor in helping set the tone defensively for the Panthers since entering the league in 2012. Kuechly is in the midst of another Pro-Bowl caliber campaign currently ranking second in the league in tackles (74) while Pro Football focus has given him the third-highest grade at his position overall (90.5) and against the run (87.7).
With all that in mind, Kuechly has chosen to still not look past Gurley in the slightest ahead of their matchup on Sunday afternoon at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
“I think he’s still a dynamic player. He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s explosive. I think he’s a very unique running back that is a challenge for you," Kuechly said. "He can kind of do a little bit of everything. He’s not just a fast guy, he’s not just a strong guy, he’s not just a guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield, he’s able to do all three. That’s what’s fun to see, is a competitor like him, and gives ourselves a chance to compete against a guy like him. I think he’s a stud, and that’s what makes this game fun.”null