The 2016 season was a year that the Los Angeles Rams want to put completely behind them for many reasons beyond missing the playoffs for the 10th straight year as it put them further into the abyss of mediocre.
It was also a season that All-Pro running back Todd Gurley is looking to distance himself from after experiencing a major decline in production in his compiling just 885 rushing yards with six
With that in the rear-view mirror, Gurley is confident about what may lie ahead for himself and his teammates.
“It feels good. Like I said, just come out here every day, try to get better each day," Gurley said. "I felt like we’ve been doing that, been able to put in a lot of the new system and we feel pretty comfortable with that. Coach does a great job of just giving us certain situations to deal with and handle and I felt like we’ve done a pretty good job.”
Beyond the lack of individual production, the Rams finished with a 4-12 record after dropping 11 of their last 12 games in the regular season despite starting the year with a promising 3-1 mark putting them atop of the NFC West. In light of that, Gurley made it point to focus on the big picture of the team's overall success ahead of his own play.
“4-12 is definitely not the season (anyone) wants," Gurley said. "I don’t really care about what I do individually. We probably wouldn’t have this discussion if we were 14-2 and I had 200 yards. It really doesn’t matter what I do or what anyone else does on this team. It’s about what we do as a team together.”
The Rams' struggles last season subsequently led to the organization making some major changes throughout the coaching staff led by the decision to bring in a new head coach in Sean McVay, who has implemented an entirely new offensive scheme. It has been a progressive transition process to adjusting and learning the playbook, but he is encouraged about how things are going this offseason.
“Coach, he does a great job of just communicating. He knows this is a new system for us," Gurley said."So it’s not like he’s pressing us like, ‘C’mon man, just get it.’ He’s been taking it day-by-day with us as well. Just like at the end of the practice, just going through it, jogging through it. We don’t have to go full speed (on) everything. He just does a great job of just handling each situation well and communicating with us and making sure we know the scheme.”
As for McVay, he once again voiced his strong belief that Gurley must head into his third season in the league with the mindset of looking to experience a bounce-back year that could be comparable to his breakout rookie campaign.
“He’s a great football player that’s motivated to respond in the right way. I think he’s been a great leader for us," McVay said. "He works extremely hard, extremely conscientious in the meeting room. I had never really been around (RB) Todd (Gurley) before I got here and I’ve been extremely pleased with him. I think he’s a much more complete player than maybe a lot of people would think with his ability to contribute in the
"He’s a special player and we’ve got to do a great job putting him in good spots. I think he’s certainly done his part in setting a good example for what it looks like to be one of the standards on this team.”
It's a similar sentiment that second-year quarterback Jared Goff shares regarding the former Pro Bowl running back.
“Yes, I think he’s one of the best in the league," Goff said. "He’s done it in the past and I think he’ll prove it this year. I’m excited to see what he can do and I know he’s excited to show what he can do as well.”
Ultimately, Gurley appears to be ready to take on the challenges that will come over the next few months with his eyes fixated on getting back on track in the 2018 season.
"You’ve just got to go out there and, obviously, stay on your tracks, stay on your reads, read your course, but at the end of the day, running the ball is nothing new,' Gurley said. "The same game I’ve been playing the last 18 years, so just take it day-by-day. Once the game comes, we’ll figure all that out.”