The Los Angeles Rams travel to Seattle with NFC West supremacy likely on the line. To walk away with a win, LA must utilize Todd Gurley in a creative way.
The Los Angeles Rams great comeback season will boil down to the week 15 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. A win will pretty much guarantee that the Rams finish the year atop the NFC West. With a loss, the Rams would fall to 9-5 and enter a dogfight for a Wild Card spot as the Seahawks own the divisional tiebreaker.
The Seahawks defeated the Rams 16-10 in their last encounter and are 4-0 against their divisional counterparts. With the Rams set to square off against the Titans next week, the road to the playoffs becomes foggy with a loss in week 15.
This is the biggest game of the year for Sean McVay and his young team. They failed to knock of the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles last week in a slugfest. Taking that game, and their last game against the Seahawks, in consideration the game plan becomes simple — get creative with Todd Gurley.
Los Angeles has one of the best offenses and is squaring off against one of the best defenses with the 12th man behind them. Even without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor the Seahawks held the Eagles to 10 points. Seattle adopted the “bend, don’t break mantra” that shut out the Eagles offense both times they found the red zone.
However, the Seattle defense is not impenetrable. Last week the Jacksonville Jaguars put up 30 points on the Seahawks to cement themselves as legit contenders. Leading the way was rookie running back Leonard Fournette with 101 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown.
And therein lies the solution to beating the Seattle Seahawks: getting the run game going early. The Philadelphia Eagles were not able to do that in their week 13 matchup. Four runners combined for only 98 rushing yards; the team threw the ball 45 times.
Go back to week five where the Los Angeles Rams had the same problem. Running back Todd Gurley, who is in the best year of his young career, rushed for just 43 yards on 14 carries. Again, the passing game was heavy. Jared Goff attempted 47 passes.
That is never going to beat this hard-nosed Seattle defense. Instead, the Rams have to utilize Gurley and his versatile skill set in order to succeed. Gurley has rushed for 1035 yards this season with 10 touchdowns. He has also hauled in 602 receiving yards on 51 receptions with three touchdowns.
And there it is. Gurley is arguably the best running back in the game at both running the ball and receiving. Gurley possesses the receiving back traits of someone like Darren Sproles while holding the explosiveness and elusiveness of a Melvin Gordon. He is the best of both worlds. Los Angeles needs to utilize that to succeed.
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Get Gurley going early. Draw plays, counter runs, end-arounds to Tavon Austin that open up lanes later in the game. Start with quick passes, slants to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Mix check down passes and screens to Gurley in there. Every early play should play a purpose.
Gurley, whether he is getting the ball himself or drawing the focus of the defense, must be involved in these plans. Don’t go big early. Instead, march down the field on a seven-minute drive and wear out the Seattle defense.
From there it will be bread and butter. Los Angeles can begin to utilize the play action, can make big runs on first downs after a double-digit game. Gurley should be more than a decoy, he should be the Rams biggest weapon that they can pull out of their pocket at any time.
If Sean McVay can develop a game plan that utilizes this then the Rams should be able to open up the scoring on an exposed Seattle defense late in the game. Thus, the Rams would walk out of Century Link Field with a win as the likely champions of the NFC West.