Though Gurley did not play in the Rams’ first two games, made his fourth start in their fourth, and sat out the Week 17 contest due to a toe injury, the running back nevertheless finished No. 3 in yards rushing with 1,106. That mark, as well as yards from scrimmage (1,294), and 100-yard games (five) led all rookies. Plus, Gurley’s 10 total touchdowns ranked second.
The Georgia product became only the second running back in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie season. The other, of course, being Eric Dickerson in 1983.
Though there were some questions over the merits of selecting Gurley with the No. 10 pick in the 2015 draft -- the running back had torn the ACL in his left knee in November 2014 -- all those doubts were cast aside once the running back made his first start against Arizona. Gurley rushed for 146 yards on 19 carries in the Rams’ 24-22 victory, with 136 of those yards coming in the second half -- including a 52-yard scamper that signaled the rookie’s arrival.
From there, Gurley went on a torrid pace, rushing for at least 125 yards in four consecutive games en route to being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October. Gurley became the first rookie in NFL history to rush for 125-plus yards in four straight, and his 566 yards rushing were the most in a player’s first four starts in the Super Bowl era.
“I keep bringing up that ‘s’ word, which is ‘special,’” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said midseason. “He’s obviously getting a lot of people’s attention.”
In all, Gurley tallied five games of at least 125 yards rushing, after breaking through for 140 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Detroit on Dec. 13. With his many strong performances, Gurley earned his first Pro Bowl berth. The rookie performed well in Hawaii, scoring a touchdown on a check-down pass.
While the running back unquestionably had a strong year coming off the ACL injury, Fisher maintained throughout the season Gurley should be even better the further he’s removed from the surgery.
“You come off this injury and that first year back, you can see the light and things,” Fisher said just after the regular season. “But, with an offseason program and strength and conditioning, he should be a different running back next year.”
Gurley received this award Saturday night, but he was named the Pro Football Writers of America Rookie of the Year/Offensive Rookie of the Year earlier in January. Gurley is the third Rams running back to receive both the AP and PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year honors -- the others being Eric Dickerson (1983) and Jerome Bettis (1993). Quarterback Sam Bradford was the last Ram to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, receiving the honor from both outlets in 2010.