Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson isn’t going to blame Todd Gurley for his slow start to the 2016 season.
In fact, Dickerson knows first hand that a running back can’t get going if he has nowhere to go.
“If you watch the games, there’s nowhere to go; there’s nowhere to run,” said Dickerson, via ESPN. “Any time a defensive lineman gets to the backfield, that’s a win for them. And nine times out of 10 it doesn’t turn out good. You get hit with the ball, you’ve got to make a cut in the backfield before you get the ball — it’s just not good. And there’s been a lot of that this year. That’s the problem.”
Gurley has rushed for only 288 yards on 105 carries through five games. He’s averaging 2.7 yards per carry—the worst among qualifying running backs in the NFL—and he ranks 19th in rushing yards despite having the fourth most carries. Gurley also doesn’t have a run over 20 yards.
Last season, Gurley averaged 4.8 yards per carry and finished with 10 runs over 20 yards. He rushed for 1,106 yards on just 229 carries.
Gurley is currently on pace to rush 336 times for 992 yards. Only two players in NFL history have rushed 300 or more times for fewer than 1,000 yards a single season.
Dickerson points the blame at the Rams’ offensive line.
“Sooner or later, somebody’s going to knock into that backfield and hurt him,” Dickerson said. “I feel for him, because I know how much he wants it. Look, he’s in a new city, he’s in Los Angeles, the second-largest market. It’s Hollywood. People are asking me, ‘What’s wrong with Todd? What’s wrong with Todd?’ There’s nothing wrong with Todd.”
Running back is one the most team-dependent positions in football. Consistently running the ball well takes an offensive line creating running lanes, and a passing game capable of putting pressure on the defense. The Rams have neither right now, which is a big reason why Gurley has been unable to break through in 2016.