Gurley, David Johnson, and the right situation

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2016 – 12:54 pm

Here we have the tale of two very different running backs.

Not necessarily in the way they play, although the styles of Todd Gurley and David Johnson — friends from their time in the 2015 draft — aren’t exactly parallel. No, this is about the seasons each is having, both on teams that have not been as good as expected. For Gurley, that has meant disaster. Johnson, of course, has been electric — arguably the best in the NFL.

A couple of weeks ago, Gurley noted after a Rams’ loss that the team “looked like a middle school offense.” He’s averaged just 3.2 yards a carry this season, and unless he torches the Cards’ defense for at least 155 yards, he won’t reach 1,000 for the season. Interim Rams coach John Fassel was asked about Gurley’s confidence.

“He’s struggling to maintain it,” Fassel said. “There’s really no other way around it. I’m sure he wanted more this season, and it really just hasn’t happened yet. But, he’s tough, practices every rep at practice, he’s there early and attentive at every meeting. But, there’s no doubt confidence deteriorates a little bit when you don’t have the success that you anticipate.”

Contrast that to Johnson, who is playing for an offense that is unquestionably much better than the Rams but still has struggled much more than expected this year. Yet Johnson has been spectacular, reaching 100 scrimmage yards in every game despite constant shuffles in the offensive line, threatening to become only the third 1,000-1,000 player in NFL history (like Gurley, he likely won’t reach his mark either) and scoring a franchise-record 20 touchdowns already.

The issues with the Rams’ offense were known coming into the year. L.A. has bigger offensive line problems than the Cards. But Johnson is having the kind of season running backs dream about — the kind of season everyone was waiting for Gurley to have.

David Johnson, Todd Gurley

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Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “Gurley, David Johnson, and the right situation”

  1. By joe holst on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    Just goes to show you do not need to spend a 1st round pick to get an awesome back, look at this year Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears) and Tye Hill (Kansas City Chiefs) we picked in the 5th round.

  2. By texascard on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    Last offseason i predicted 31 to be offensive mvp. The post got several thumbs down. So in an effort to honor that moment lets see if i can tweek the thumb downers once more. Keim and arians will take the success of this kid and pretend they found a gem in the draft. When in fact they wanted ameer abdullllah. 31 was an afterthought. Luck shot. If they were so brilliant they would have taken him in the second. They will spend the off season trying to revise history to get the draft monkeys off their back. I for one (and im sure i am alone in this) will not allow them to get away with it without comment. P.s. Second button from the left

  3. By texascard on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    J howard cant carry DJ’s pads and not sure what you mean by comparing a receiver. If cards had made playoffs 31 is top three for mvp. Those guys you mentioned are part time starters. Dont downplay how good this kid (31) is.

  4. By Andy Kw on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    I don’t know about everyone else but I want Carson Palmer back. Assuming we win this week, we would have won a total of 7 games. Should have defeated the Patriots, Rams, Seahawks (week7), Vikings, Dolphins, Saints. Even the Bills & Panthers games were closer than it looked on the scoreboard. The forced throws in these two games combined were absolutely ridiculous because we had so many chances to come back in both games. Palmer is playing a lot better of late than earlier in the season.

    The Cardinals are still one heck of a team. The team is still a playoff caliber. A few acquisitions here and there and we will be alright.

  5. By georgiebird on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    C’mon Darren.
    Gurley plays with two of the worst QBs in the league in Keenum and Goff. In reality, he has never played with an accomplished QB.
    DJ plays with Palmer who, despite his shortcomings, is at least a decent QB.
    When Larry played with the bad QBs between Warner and Palmer, I don’t think Larry was a happy camper with glowing stats.
    Gurley is good but no one runs against 8 man fronts. Gurley’s yards per carry at 3.2 is low enough to make anyone realize that something is wrong. And Gurley has only fumbled twice in about the same number of carries as DJ who has fumbled 5x.
    Gurley needs a change of scenery. I doubt he’s dogging it but playing for the Saints or Falcons would do wonders for his stats.
    DJ, on the other hand, is a special player who I hope never has to play with a terrible QB.

  6. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Gurley

    C’mon Georgie.

    I’m pretty sure I made that point. Doesn’t matter who he’s playing with — the point is he’s not in a good situation and hasn’t had a good season. I’m pretty sure I mentioned the L.A. offensive issues more than once above, and I never said it was Gurley’s fault either.

    But I should’ve realized you’d come to the rescue to make sure you’d point out the warts in Johnson’s season too. You’re nothing if not consistent.

  7. By georgiebird on Dec 28, 2016 | Reply

    You did mention the Ram’s offensive woes. Just thought you could have brought out the dismal QB situation for the Rams- like mentioning Keenum or Goff..
    But there I went and over-reacted to something you wrote.
    Did not mean to bring up DJ’s warts-. DJ is the best offensive player in the NFL unless he gets beaten out by Beckham.
    Thanks for the “consistent” compliment.
    Happy New Year, Darren.

  8. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: New Year

    Same to you.

  9. By Eric G on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    Texascard –

    Hindsight is 20/20. David Johnson was generally ranked the #9 or 10 back in that class. The Cards were looking to draft the #4 or 5 back in Abdullah in the second round, which would have been a good pick looking at it at the time. Fact is, no one knew DJ would be this great, NO ONE.

    Want a comparison? Is Antonio Brown the #1 WR now? Yes. He was drafted in the 6th round in 2010, the 22nd WR drafted. He was around the #24 ranked WR in his class. Would any team draft Brown with their first pick? Based on information now, absolutely, based on information then, not a shot.

    FYI, Cards draft Andre Roberts in 3rd round in 2010, and he was #9 WR on many boards. If the Cards had drafted Brown in the 3rd back then, we’d all be questioning the coach and GM, in 2010 of course.

  10. By D on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply


    If you see E. Dickerson on the sideline this weekend, tell him he could never catch the football as well as D. Johnson.

    Did you know that Jack Youngblood played in a Rams’ record 201 consecutive games and only missed one game in 14 seasons, that one miss coming in his final year in 1984. That is incredible for a DLine player back when penalties required blood.

  11. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    B-Train this am made a couple good points:

    Many of the younger, new guys on roster had never faced this kind of adversity, you grow from that;

    Like me (why it was a good point) he thinks we should return most of the roster, 2nd try might be the answer for this group;

    BA many times this year said the problems were not a lack of effort, nobody quit..
    so, I’m optismistic, especially after kicking the seahags butts.

  12. By texascard on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    Are you one of those fans who think that as long as the cards aren’t having the worst year ever then it’s successful. I guess we should all just ask you about the master list of who should be drafted in what position and continue to be average. Successful and great people do not look at consensus lists. If you believe keim and Arians cannot improve the job that they have done then you do not wish to be a super bowl champion. I expect more. Losing is not acceptable. Getting lucky in the draft is not acceptable. Keim and Arians must do better. Keim and Arians must do more

  13. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    Eric Dickerson w B- train said Rams roster so bad might be 3-5 years to fix. He never even got to Goff. Goff reminds me of that skinny, oft hurt QB in Minn that started with Rams, frail, thin…compare to Wentz, Savage at Houston, those guys are mountains by comparison, mode of C. Palmer… Even Smith at KC, Wilson and Brees are physical guys, even if smaller stature …fwiw. Rams may have blown it with Goff, but who knows, he’s had no chance…

  14. By creditcard on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    On a different note, about Larry Fitzgerald’s forthcoming decision: I believe his decision will be based on two primary factors: his health / body fatigue, and whether the Cards will make appropriate personnel changes, so that the Cards are not only competitive, but have a decent chance of not only entering but advancing deep into the play-offs.

    I am in hopes Trevor Simmeon does poorly with the Broncos this Sunday. Resulting in the Broncos releasing him, and the Cards picking him up in FA.
    Even though Kubiak is an excellent coach, and used to be a QB, I don’t think Denver really molds a QB as well as other coaches / teams do. Simmeon would answer the ‘QB of the future” hunt.

    I also hope the Cards continue to mine the DII market for late round picks. the Cards have done a very good job in finding smaller school players in the past.

  15. By Robert on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    i wouldn’t play 31 this weekend. For what? Running backs only have so many hits in their body, plus this game means nothing..BA..PLEASE DO the right thing and sit this kid..he has done enough. Who cares if he breaks a record then breaks his leg or blows out his knee. He is too valuable..

    Plus the drafts these past few years for the most part have been terrible. Hard to believe in 4 years our QB guru BA couldn’t find Palmers replacement..

  16. By clssylssy on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply

    While I agree in principal with what Robert said about David doing enough, the reality is that down the road, stats and records do matter when negotiating future contracts, so, while there is always the possibility of being injured, that is part of the game that these guys are fully aware of when they sign on. This is still a business and players have to help market themselves for the future. David is a big strong guy and it would be a shame to be so close and not play up to his potential for the season. It will be up to his teammates to all do their jobs so he can have a clear path.
    Hopefully, all of our guys will play full out to the max, as several are within striking distance of records and deserve everything they have worked for this season.
    The more I read about Fitz not making any decisions about retirement, the more it seems the Organization is trying to deflect attention away from him (no postgame interview after Seattle, great efforts to emphasize Palmer’s importance to the team, etc), and while Fitz has not made any decision, I know many fans will be watching the Rams game with a heavy heart at the possibility of seeing him play his last game in a Cardinal Uniform. I just hope this is a competitive, full out butt kicking game worthy of a great’s last ride…if that should be the case. If it’s not, so much the better– we deserve some retribution for the humiliation the Rams put on us earlier in the season!

  17. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2016 | Reply

    Clssy —

    RE: Fitz

    1) Fitz talked after the Seattle game. Not sure why you say he did not. In fact, I quoted him in my after-Seahawks blog post.
    2) Let’s be clear: I (and Kyle) pick our stories. The organization doesn’t choose what we write, nor do we have prior review.

  18. By Eric G on Dec 29, 2016 | Reply


    Um, no I’m not happy with any mediocre season. Was the Abdullah Johnson picks lucky? Yeah, but so are a lot of picks. Aaron Curry was a can’t miss sure pick for Seattle at #4 and he was out of the league in 3 years. Tom Brady is one of the greatest qbs of all time, 7th qb taken behind Giovanni Carmazzi, who was #2 qb taken, Tee Martin and Spergon Wynn. Get it yet? The draft is not an exact science, a lot of luck is involved. Who’s to say the patriots didn’t have someone else on their board and were forced to take Brady?

    Don’t get me wrong, Keim and co. have been awful with the draft thus far and must improve. Next year needs to be perfect and picks 1-3 must be able to contribute right away, unlike what has occurred the last few years.

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