THOUSAND OAKS — The Rams have a room, lovingly dubbed the “nerd’s nest,” in which staffers pore over analytics. Here’s one that doesn’t require much work: give the ball to Todd Gurley and win.
Gurley needs 498 yards from scrimmage in the Rams’ final four games to become the 37th player in NFL history, and the fourth player in Rams history, to reach the 2,000 mark in a single season. That’s certainly within range for Gurley, and the Rams might be wise to help him achieve it.
The Rams have an 8-1 record this season when Gurley tops 100 yards from scrimmage, and 3-0 when he exceeds gets more than 150 yards, as he did Sunday in the Rams’ victory over Arizona, with 158.
“He’s a special player,” Coach Sean McVay said during his Monday news conference at Cal Lutheran. “He continues to demonstrate, week in and week out, how important he is to our offense. When Todd is having a good day, usually that’s going to be good for our whole offense and our whole team.”
McVay has been self-critical at times this season when it comes to his play-calling, and not getting Gurley involved. Indeed, Sunday, the Rams passed the ball on 18 of their first 23 plays, and the offense increasingly struggled and the Rams held only a 16-13 lead late in the second quarter.
Then, the Rams fed Gurley. A 6-yard run. A 14-yard run. A 23-yard screen pass. On an eight-play, 78-yard drive that ended in a field goal, Gurley had six touches and 70 yards. Gurley finished with 19 carries for 74 yards and six catches for 84 yards (both team highs).
“We always try to find ways to get Todd involved,” McVay said, “whether it be through running it or in the pass game. When we really needed a play, he had a couple huge screen plays.”
That could be important again Sunday against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that allows an average of only 3.5 yards per carry, tied for third best in the NFL. The Rams could look to get Gurley involved in the pass game with screens, which has been a formula for success this season.
The Rams have a 7-0 record when Gurley catches at least four passes, and a 2-3 record when he doesn’t. They’re also 7-0 when Gurley receives at least 20 touches in a game.
At times this season, opponents have become wise to the Rams and effectively spied Gurley and kept him from getting open for screen passes. Minnesota did this two weeks earlier, when Gurley caught only three passes for 19 yards, but for much of this season, the screen pass has been an…