The LA Rams had several difficult decisions to make in the offseason, in addition to a few that either weren’t difficult or that were basically made for them. Perhaps the hardest to accept was letting go of Todd Gurley, even if it sadly made the most sense. Through 10 games with the Atlanta Falcons, Gurley has only made the move that much more justifiable.
Since rushing for 121 yards against the Carolina Panthers in Week 5, Gurley has struggled to make plays as either a runner or a receiver. In his last five games, he’s had 88 rushing attempts for 235 yards (2.6 yards per carry) and caught eight of 11 targets for 44 yards and no touchdowns. He’s rushed for four touchdowns but also had a fumble during that stretch, his second on the season.
Gurley’s overall YPC average of 3.7 is even lower than the 3.8 he posted in his final season with the Rams.
At this point it would seem that Sean McVay and Les Snead were correct in their evaluation of Gurley that presumed he would not regain the form he had as a first team all-pro in 2017 and 2018. Gurley was a premier weapon in the passing game in 2017, averaging 9.1 yards per target that year. But in 2020, that number is 3.4 yards per target and he hasn’t caught a touchdown yet.
Gurley has nine rushing touchdowns thanks to a nose for the goal line that has not disappeared since his time as one of the NFL’s most dangerous players with the ball in his hands, but if you had concerns that LA cut ties with him too soon, it would be fair to say at this point that those worries were overblown.
I believe the same would go for Brandin Cooks, even if he does finish with more volume stats this season than he had in 2019.
The Texans traded a second round pick for Cooks and he’s caught 47 of 73 targets for 634 yards and three touchdowns. That gives him more receptions, yards and touchdowns than he had last season but his overall stat line with Houston is almost the same as what he did with Los Angeles in 2019:
He caught 42 of 72 targets for 583 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games.
Cooks’ 13.5 yards per catch is close to the 13.9 he had with the Rams last season. His 8.7 yards per target is not significantly higher than his 8.1 last season. If anything, I think Cooks is showing why LA traded him despite taking a financial loss in 2020 on the deal and that he would not have been able to help them significantly on offense anymore. At least Van Jefferson is a cheaper player to place your bets on from 2021-2023.
Another key player that the Rams had to watch leave this year was inside linebacker Cory Littelton. He signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Las Vegas Raiders but he only has 48 tackles, no sacks, no interceptions, no passes defensed, no forced fumbles, no QB hits and three tackles for a loss in eight games. He has missed the last two games while sitting on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Coincidentally, Dante Fowler has also missed the last two games while on the COVID-19 list for the Falcons. Fowler had 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss with the Rams last year. He has two sacks and three tackles for a loss in eight games with Atlanta this season. Fowler is also on pace for fewer tackles and he has no batted passes after getting six last season.
Given some of Snead’s other offseason moves, like grabbing Leonard Floyd for one year and deciding to rebuild the offensive line with internal options, plus hiring Brandon Staley as the defensive coordinator to replace Wade Phillips, it’s worth taking into him into consideration as Executive of the Year. Not only for what the Rams did, but what they didn’t do.