The Rams have started to establish their identity on offense, and it’s one that clearly starts with the run game. With running back Todd Gurley rushing for 305 yards over his last two games — 146 against Arizona and 159 against Green Bay — the offense has certainly done well to open up holes for […]
The Rams have started to establish their identity on offense, and it’s one that clearly starts with the run game.
With running back Todd Gurley rushing for 305 yards over his last two games — 146 against Arizona and 159 against Green Bay — the offense has certainly done well to open up holes for him. The running back, however, did admit Wednesday he didn’t necessarily realize he’d taken so many carries up at Lambeau Field. That is, until he did.
“I looked up at the scoreboard midway through the fourth quarter and I was at 25 and was like, ‘dang, it didn’t really feel like it.’ Then once I said that, I started to get a little tired,” Gurley said with a laugh. “I’ll try not to jinx myself next time.”
After that game, Gurley said he was able to utilize the bye week well in order to get fresh for Cleveland.
“Came back and felt good,” Gurley said. “Had a good practice yesterday (Tuesday) and today (Wednesday). Definitely a good couple days off.”
The rookie went back to Georgia to watch the Bulldogs beat Mizzou and enjoyed his time at the old stomping grounds. In a way, going back and watching the game accentuates the differences between the college game and pros.
“[Players are] bigger, stronger,” Gurley said, adding that there’s a level playing field. “Everybody is the same speed or even faster. Guys react a lot faster — they know their stuff.”
And that’s the case with this week’s opponent, Cleveland. Though the Browns rank No. 30 in overall defense and No. 32 against the run, players and coaches alike quelled the notion Cleveland is a pushover.
“They’ve got a good combination of experience on the defense and some youth on the defense,” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “They drafted well. Big man from Washington [DT Danny Shelton] is a load. Inside, he’s a penetrator. He’s going to be a tough match-up for our interior three.”
“They’re very well-coached, excellent players,” offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said. “You look at them on the back end, they have proven players — three ex pro bowlers. Excellent front seven, athletic, can run, play hard, well-coached.”
Gurley said Cleveland’s defense has played better than its ranking.
“Those things sound good, but at the end of the day, when Sunday hits and you get on the field it’s all about executing and not letting that man across from you beat you,” Gurley said. “Those guys can come Sunday and play like the No. 1 defense. Those guys had a great game against the Broncos, so I never look at the ranks.”
Still, as Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine said on Wednesday, Sunday’s matchup will pit one team’s weakness against another team’s strength.
“What it comes down to is the fundamental stuff,” Pettine said of the Browns’ run defense. “It’s something we’re well aware of and we know that — by far — this is our biggest challenge of the year to stop the run.”
As the Rams continue to establish their strong ground attack, Gurley realizes the likely consequence is facing more defenses with a safety in the box. But that’s no matter to him.
“That just leaves room for the receivers,” Gurley said. “As long as we win, I’m not complaining.”
But Gurley’s two road performances provide a lift not only for the running back, but also the offensive linemen.
“When you run the ball how we’ve run the ball, you become confident in what you do,” offensive guard Jamon Brown said. “Obviously, there’s still things we can do better and constantly try to work on those things day in, day out. We are confident with the things we’ve done to this point.”
“I’m definitely confident in myself and know what I’m capable of,” Gurley said. “But those guys up front have done a great job putting in extra work every day at practice. So we know what we’re capable of.”
The Rams had one of their longest injury reports of the season on Wednesday with a number of players sitting out.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin (knee), tight end Lance Kendricks (hand), defensive end Chris Long(knee), running back Tre Mason (ankle), and defensive end Robert Quinn (knee) all did not participate.
“Tre’s got a little ankle going. He didn’t practice today,” Fisher said. “Tavon did not practice with a little hamstring. Rob didn’t practice with the knee. We had a couple other guys that we rested.”
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (concussion) participated on a limited basis.
Also, while he’s listed on the injury report because he remains on the active roster, linebacker Alec Ogletree(DNP, ankle) will be out this week.
CONSISTENCY OUTSIDE THE DIVISION
Though the Rams have played only five games, the club has played better inside the division than they have outside of it. Fisher has often said the team is built to compete and win within the NFC West. While there may not be a specific factor the team can put its finger on so far, St. Louis will need to to improve its consistency no matter the opponent in order to achieve its goal of playing football after Week 17.
“I don’t think there’s anything there,” quarterback Nick Foles said. “We just didn’t execute well in those games. Defense gave us opportunities to win the games we lost. We’ve just got to put more points on the board and stop hurting ourselves, really.”
And while the defense may have looked solid up at Lambeau Field on Oct. 11, linebacker James Laurinaitisviewed the game differently.
“Every Sunday, our goal is to be the best defense on the field. You look at last week and a lot of people, I feel, said, ‘Gosh the defense played good against Green Bay.’ I don’t see it that way,” Laurinaitis said. “They forced four takeaways, scored on one of them, we only had three and we didn’t score. That’s a big difference there.”
“If we get to work with six points, we hold them to three and we go on,” Laurinaitis continued. “If we can have that mindset — because we have that talent — then we’ll start to elevate our game.”