“Todd Gurley is different, man,” he said, according to the Kansas City Star’s Lynn Worthy.
Fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens told the Star that in order to stop Gurley, the Chiefs have to limit him in space:
There’s a lot of times where off of play-action, he’ll sneak out of (the backfield) and, real sneaky, catch a 2-yard pass and it (ends) up being 20 yards.
Gurley is different (man), and he just might be the difference in Monday’s game. Everyone is talking about the arms race with Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff, and rightfully so. However, this game is going to come down to which defense makes more stops. More accurately, it’s going to come down which defense makes THE stop because with offenses likes these, there won’t be many defensive stops.
With Gurley in the backfield, the Chiefs’ could have a slim chance of being the defense with the most stops.
Space and screens
This is just Jared Goff taking full advantage of what the defense is giving him. On the fake handoff, the defense shifts away from the right sideline, which could be up to lack of awareness by the linebacker here.
The defensive back is taken out of the area with coverage of Robert Woods, which helps Gurley gain 20 yards on the short pass.
If it’s not the short pass outside the tackles, it’s the screen pass where Gurley is a threat to the pass-defense. According to ESPN, the Rams are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to gaining big yards off the screen pass (As are the Chiefs — CC: Rams defense).
These teams are getting the most mileage out of the SCREEN GAME this season.— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 15, 2018
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A little help from his friends
Gurley’s production is a testament to not only his talent as a football player. but the work that his teammates do. Gurley plays behind a Top 5 offensive line and receives often-unnoticed help from LA’s wide receivers and tight ends in the passing game.
Look at that hole, it’s as big as the one in my heart.
Granted, the holes are never going to be that big on every play. But even when they aren’t, the Rams offensive line does a great job of giving Gurley just enough of a lane to gain yards and do his thing to get to the second level.
Tyler Higbee gets a lot of flack for not being a solid blocking tight end and that’s warranted. But he is a great asset when it comes to setting the picks in the passing game. He can’t always hold off a defensive end, but he can make “accidental” contact with a linebacker to derail coverage on Gurley.
The Rams have sent Gurley out as a receiver quite a few times this year. On this play — which went for 32 yards — Higbee runs a comeback route and sets a perfect pick for Gurley, who makes an amazing catch with tight coverage inches from the sideline.
Gurley actually catches the ball when it bounces off the defenders arm, making it a great heads-up play, too.
Again, Higbee sets up another great pick by accidentally making contact with the Packers’ linebacker, who would have picked up Gurley on the play as he was following Goff’s eyes prior to contact with Higbee.
Gurley gets 30 yards and a touchdown.
To stop Gurley, you need to be aware of where he is going
The New Orleans defense did a great job containing Gurley as a rusher and a receiver. He finished the Week 9 game with 68 yards rushing and just 11 yards receiving.
The Saints were aware of Gurley throughout the game. Here, the Rams run their sweep-pass (it’s recorded as a pass but whatever) and New Orleans recognizes it from the get-go.
The Chiefs will need the best from their front seven if they want to have a chance at beating the Rams and Gurley, because their pass-defense is horrible. It ranks dead-last in the league for overall passing defense, allowing a league-high 2,890 total passing yards and the 5th-most passing yards-a-game (289).