There’s been a decent amount of talk of Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley being in the mix of the MVP race in 2018 that has grown louder today thanks to a piece at the Ringer by Robert Mays.
But that talk is misguided.
Todd Gurley shouldn’t be in the MVP mix right now because Todd Gurley isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team.
No, that designation as of now goes to QB Jared Goff.
Through seven games, Gurley is averaging just shy of 100 rushing yards per game and just under 40 receiving yards per game. Last year, those averages were over 100 and 40. So in terms of yardage, he’s dipped just slightly, but that’s not worth criticizing as he remains arguably the best two-way threat in the entire NFL. The real difference between his 2017 and 2018 seasons to this point is touchdowns. Through seven games last year, JTG had five rushing touchdowns and three receiving TDs; this year, those numbers are 11 and three.
So really if we’re making a case for Gurley as the MVP, it’s largely on the back of the increase of his touchdowns. At the midpoint last year, I thought LT Andrew Whitworth was the team MVP. I’d still have Whitworth above Gurley in terms of MVP, but I’d press harder on the offensive line as a whole as the unit overall is much better and looks absolutely stellar through seven games. But the main reason Gurley has that half dozen more touchdowns?
The passing offense has put him in position to pick them up.
Through seven games a year ago, Goff had 1,719 passing yards averaging just more than 245 yards per game. This year, that number’s up to 2,130 with Goff averaging more than 300 yards per game. Whether it’s the system or the system QB, the passing game has taken a huge leap this year.
And there’s no getting around how much more valuable that is.
So while I’d make a case for the offensive line on principle and Gurley’s getting much of the acclaim, the most valuable player on the Rams in 2018 has been Goff. And it’s not close.
Take this line from Mays’ piece in which he lauds Gurley for his skill, performance and versatility (and rightfully so):
If the trophy goes to the most valuable player, then, based on the structure of the modern game, a quarterback has to win.
And that’s ultimately true.
What made an impressive case for Gurley last year was how impressive he was down the stretch and how relatively unspectacular Goff was for much of the final run. And what’s different this year is that Goff has been quite spectacular at times and even when he hasn’t, for the most part, has been very good.
So we can and should praise Just Todd. He’s a damn fine running back and maybe the best weapon in the entire sport. But the most valuable player this year has been Goff.