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Has Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley turned into an average running back?

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Gurley is off to his worst start since the 2016 season. Is it time to worry? Scott Wagner takes a look at the Rams’ star running back.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In an article over on Sportscasting.com, NFL writer Dave Consolazio posits that Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley is an average player getting paid like an elite one:

Through the first three weeks of 2019, Gurley ranks 11th in the league in rushing yards with 203. He ranks outside of the top ten in yards per carry with 4.6 as well, has only one touchdown, and his impact on the receiving game is non-existent.

It’s still a little premature to suggest that the former Offensive Player of the Year should be put out to pasture. We knew his usage would be down, and that Malcolm Brown (and perhaps rookie third-round choice Darrell Henderson Jr.) would cut into his touches.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps most alarming is his lack of targets in the passing game with just six targets through three games after averaging nearly six per game over the last two seasons. Then there’s the uncharacteristic drops and the two fumbles in the Week 1 game against the Carolina Panthers that suggest his hesitancy isn’t just due to a rebuilt offensive line enduring early season struggles.

And let’s face it: Gurley looks, well, slow. His 4.6 yards per carry are buoyed by a great 4th quarter in the Carolina game, but other than one run against the Cleveland Browns where he appeared to hit the hole aggressively, our former bellcow is looking like, you know...just Todd Gurley.

This isn’t the panic button. Maybe OG Joseph Noteboom, C Brian Allen, and a healthy OG Austin Blythe begin to gel, TG starts to look like his old self, and his receiving touches start to flow from the playaction.

You’ll get no complaints from me about a 3-0 start, no matter how clunky, but we may be dealing with inconsistent play from Gurley all season as evidenced by his strong game against Dallas in the divisional round followed up by his disappearing act in NFC Championship and the Super Bowl.

If you’re really in the “glass half empty” column:

$45 million of the $57.5 million that Gurley is owed over the life of this contract is guaranteed. The Rams don’t have a realistic out until after the 2021 offseason, when releasing him would only cost $4.2 million in dead cap money.

A big showing against the surprisingly stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers front (#6 against the run) on Sunday would go a long way towards assuaging some of these budding Gurley fears.

Another lackluster effort, and the Patella Novella will turn the page into what could be a pretty depressing new chapter.