After running back Todd Gurley was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year for his outstanding 2015 season, there were high expectations for his sophomore campaign. But as we all know, last year didn't go as planned for anyone essentially anyone on Los Angeles' offense.
So now Gurley enters his third NFL training camp. He's healthy and he's motivated. But he's also staying even-keel when broached about his approach entering 2017.
"It's football. Everybody that's been playing football [in the NFL], we've been playing it our whole life," Gurley said over the weekend. "You catch it. You don't turn it over. You score points. And you stop people from scoring points. So that's about it, honestly."
That, however, doesn't mean Gurley hasn't studied what went wrong last year — or even what went right the year before. It seems like it's more of a matter of Gurley trying to stay in the present and use whatever experience he can, while not making any issue bigger than it needs to be.
"Obviously you need to go back and critique yourself and see the things that you do good and see the things that you need to work on," Gurley said. "That's just watching film — game film — so that always helps out a lot. But particularly that helps out more if you are playing Seattle and I need to go look at what I did last year against Seattle or the year before. Just studying tendencies like that."
Much has been made about how head coach Sean McVay should be able to help Gurley to a bounce-back season in 2017. The running back has not publicly set any goals or expectations, but did note that he trusts the coaches to implement a successful system.
"They have been doing a great job with putting in the offense and then obviously you have seen coach McVay's work in Washington, so I don't understand why it wouldn't be able to work here on this level," Gurley said. "It's the same game, [and conference], NFC. So, like I said, we're just coming out here every day trying to get better. We're trying to learn the system and make sure we master our technique."
McVay has watched Gurley progress in his system from the offseason program through two days of camp. And so far, he's liked what he's seen from No. 30.
"I think in terms of doing all the little things the right way and being a player both in the pass and the run game and being mindful in protection — I think he's done an excellent job," McVay said Sunday. "He's definitely setting the standard in that room, for sure."
But more than the Xs and Os, Gurley still has to get acclimated to the players who will be blocking for him. As currently constructed, the Rams' first-team offensive line has only one starter at the same position as last year. The additions of two veterans, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan, should aid Los Angeles grounds and air attack. But it will take some time for the group to jell.
"Most of it is reactions," Gurley said. "A lot of time in football you know what you want to do, but it doesn't go that way. As a running back, for us it's more just instincts and reaction. But like you said, just knowing what those guys are going to do from the beginning is a major help, so obviously understanding that and being able to be on the same page as those guys is just going to help everybody together."