February 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm #65287
Todd Gurley wanted another chance with Rams RB coach
By Alden Gonzalez
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay was in the process of putting together his coaching staff and was getting ready to sit down with the incumbent running backs coach, Skip Peete, when he got a call from an unrecognized North Carolina phone number. It was Todd Gurley. He wanted Peete back. He wanted another chance to work with him.
“When you’ve got a key player like that,” McVay said, “I think you want to be able to try to demonstrate that you’re going to listen to your players. Their opinion matters.”
Peete inherited Gurley as the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. He finished that 2015 season with 1,106 rushing yards — third in the NFL — despite coming off the torn ACL he suffered at Georgia and starting only 12 games. But Gurley dropped off considerably in 2016, gaining only 885 yards (lowest ever for a running back with more than 275 carries) and averaging only 3.18 rushing yards per attempt (41st among 42 qualified running backs in 2016).
Peete pointed to frequent miscommunication between Gurley and the offensive line, something young guard Jamon Brown alluded to the day after the season.
“Everybody has to be cohesive and be on the same page,” said Peete, heading into his second season with the Rams. “The key is the timing of the block, you as the runner setting the front for the linemen, so when they come off the double team, the back is in a certain position so he can come off the block. You can’t predetermine and say, ‘OK, I’m going to make it look like I’m going to do this, and then I’m going to go over here.’ It’s got to naturally happen that way; you can’t predetermine. It’s kind of a combination between all of that.”
Gurley ascended quickly, totaling 566 rushing yards in the first four starts of his NFL career. But then defenses began to pick up on his tendencies and game-planned around stopping him, and the Rams were never able to adjust. Gurley has now rushed below 100 yards in 23 of his past 24 games. This past season, he broke off runs of 20 or more yards only two times, 10 fewer than in 2015.
When holes didn’t open up early, Peete noticed Gurley getting impatient and going away from the playcall.
“He started changing what he was trying to do,” Peete said. “The most important thing, like we talked about, is you have to have total confidence in the scheme of the play.”
Those who don’t contribute on special teams typically get together with their position coach during special teams meetings, so Gurley and Peete spent a lot of alone time this season. Peete talked to Gurley about how fleeting success can be in the NFL. He preached patience with his runs, and he told Gurley that sometimes failure can be a blessing.
“I think sometimes he pressed, and he wanted to make more things happen,” Peete said. “Sometimes it worked out, and sometimes it didn’t. But he is a very talented runner. He has good run instincts and runs with good balance.”
Gurley was called on to do a lot more in his second year, as expected. He was utilized far more frequently in the passing game, targeted more than twice as many times. He received 67 of his carries with the quarterback operating out of the shotgun, 60 more than he did as a rookie, which can be a major adjustment for downhill runners like Gurley. And he was on the field for 711 offensive snaps, fourth-most among running backs.
Peete believes that might have taken a toll and suggested it might be better to limit his workload once again.
Asked to identify the biggest thing Gurley needs to correct, Peete smiled.
“This is going to blow your mind,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the running game. I think the most important thing in this league, as far as a running back is concerned, is his ability to pass protect, whether it’s first or second down. Because they think it’s easy. They’ve all come into the league comfortable as a runner. But that aspect of it is a little bit different than you’re accustomed to coming out of college. He and I talk about that all the time — your ability to completely understand the blocking scheme, whether it’s run or pass.”
Peete has spent 18 years coaching NFL running backs, making prior stops with the Raiders, Cowboys and Bears. He usually starts his end-of-season meetings by putting the onus on the player and asking them what they believe they could have done better. Peete asked the same of Gurley at the end of his disappointing 2016 season.
“He had a long list,” Peete said.
Gurley talked about becoming more patient in the running game, becoming more disciplined with his footwork and becoming more physical in pass protection, all music to Peete’s ears.
“He was very disappointed in the season and in himself,” Peete said. “Very prideful guy. Works hard, understands what he needs to do in order to get himself prepared to play. But like I always tell young players, sometimes you’re not necessarily sure if that’s true, what you think. What you think you’re fine at, you might not be truly fine at. You still need to fine-tune some things.”February 14, 2017 at 5:24 pm #65288
There’s some missing puzzle pieces with this whole Gurley/OL/scheme/can’t run story.
Nothing I read about it clears it up either. It just adds more pieces, and ones are still missing.February 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm #65289
There’s some missing puzzle pieces with this whole Gurley/OL/scheme/can’t run story.
Nothing I read about it clears it up either. It just adds more pieces, and ones are still missing.
Yeah, Gurley and the o-line not being on the same page is something I’ve never heard of before regarding the critique of a running back. That is just bizarre and I don’t have a clue what the cause for that would be…February 14, 2017 at 9:15 pm #65291
just curious if its fixableFebruary 14, 2017 at 10:13 pm #65292
just curious if its fixable
Depends on what it is, and, there’s probably not one explanation.
There’s several possibilities and I think more than one is in play.
* Gurley. Lost weight, lived in the fast lane, lost explosion, didn’t work out like he did before the 2015 season.
* Boras. My theory is he could not adjust well to defensive adjustments. So the Rams always scored more in the 1st quarter. This is significant because in 2015, a lot of Gurley’s big runs came in the 2nd half after the Rams adjusted to the way defenses were playing the run.
* teams tried to take Gurley away and they never quite had the qb who could take advantage of that. I like Keenum and think he’s a great #2 but he got worn down as defenses tightened up on the Rams passing game.
* OL? I suppose it’s a lot to ask to get a solid OL overnight from a group of same-year draft picks. Hav playing hurt made it even worse. I think moving took time away from football prep and study for the whole team, and on top of it they installed what was in effect a new offense…which personally I would not have done during a move. So a combination of factors just made the OL less effective.
* Cause of the above and more, they were all pressing and uncomfortable, you could see that practically all season.
I’m sure that’s not all.
I keep saying it was a perfect cluster storm of different things.
.February 14, 2017 at 11:24 pm #65297
Drove me crazy how they always had to change so much year after year.February 23, 2017 at 9:00 am #65544
Rams want Todd Gurley to improve his pass blocking
Michael David Smith
Rams running back Todd Gurley was one of the most disappointing players in the NFL last season, falling from 4.8 yards a carry as a rookie in 2015 to just 3.2 yards a carry in 2016. But running the ball isn’t what the Rams think Gurley needs to improve.
Asked what Gurley needs to work on, Rams running backs coach Skip Peete said pass protection.
“It has nothing to do with the running game,” Peete told ESPN. “I think the most important thing in this league, as far as a running back is concerned, is his ability to pass protect, whether it’s first or second down. Because they think it’s easy. They’ve all come into the league comfortable as a runner. But that aspect of it is a little bit different than you’re accustomed to coming out of college. He and I talk about that all the time — your ability to completely understand the blocking scheme, whether it’s run or pass.”
The Rams like the running back they drafted in 2015, but the player they really need to develop is the quarterback they drafted in 2016, Jared Goff. The NFL is such a pass-oriented league that even when you’re a franchise running back, your biggest job is protecting the franchise quarterback.February 23, 2017 at 9:03 am #65546
Peete Stays in L.A. to Coach RBs
After a 2016 season full of transition, running backs coach Skip Peete is glad to have the stability that will come in 2017. Peete is one of three coaches to be retained from Los Angeles’ 2016 staff, including special teams coordinator John Fassel and assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson.
Of course, there was plenty of uncertainty through the coaching change process — one that resolved in a positive way for Peete and his family.
“You’re in limbo. You don’t know,” Peete said Feb. 10. “When you do it a long time, you kind of go through those types of deals. And like I told my wife, I said, ‘Well, we’ll see what happens.’
“I think it’s a little bit more uncertain for my family than it was for me. ‘Are we going to have to move?’ ‘Daddy, do we have to go to another school?’ Those types of things,” Peete continued. “But I think the transition’s been good now.”
Peete has not previously worked with head coach Sean McVay. But with friends on the 2016 Washington staff, Peete kept up with the team and was familiar with the scheme McVay implemented.
“Some of the things they were doing in the play-action game and the run game were things that excited me,” Peete said. “And so, we had that kind of conversation.”
Much was made about the reported phone call McVay received from running back Todd Gurley endorsing Peete staying on to lead his room. While Peete did not address the address that directly in an interview with therams.com, he did say he’s developed a pretty good relationship with the 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
“The one thing that was interesting is when I first arrived, obviously there was a lot of change and things going on. So he was kind of a stand-off guy, kind of had a guard up,” Peete said. “But I think as time went on, we kind of built a bond where we kind of felt comfortable with one another. He felt he could say whatever he needed to say and get if off his chest.”
Clearly, Gurley’s numbers in 2016 were down substantially from his rookie season. Peete said there are many factors that led to Gurley’s sophomore campaign, and the coach sees ways for Gurley to get back to the gash runs that dazzled the league a season ago.
“Sometimes you look at the big picture and what produces that — I don’t know if there’s a true back in the entire league where you can just hand him the ball and they’re going to run 80 yards,” Peete said. “It’s a combination of everyone working together, wether it’s you and the runner being disciplined in your footwork, your course, your press, setting the defense to help the linemen, the tight ends, receivers all get in position to get their job done. And then that’s where you have naturally large and big gains.”
But there’s one particular aspect of Gurley’s game Peete would like to see improved to make the Georgia product a premier NFL running back.
“The biggest thing he and I talked about had nothing to do with the run game, though. It was more about the importance of a running back, in my opinion, in this league [to have] the ability to be a very dominant pass protector,” Peete said. “I think you as the runner as you step up to protect the quarterback — it’s very important that you physically do that in a manner where there’s no pressure in the framework of the pocket to where the quarterback can finish his throwing motion. And he and I had a lot of conversations about that.”
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