Rams mailbag: Everyone wants to know what’s up with Todd Gurley

0
119

Rams running back Todd Gurley has had an underwhelming season so far, making fans nervous. (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

The Rams have not started 4-1 since 2006, but they have a chance to reach that mark Sunday when they play the Buffalo Bills at the Coliseum.

The Rams rebounded from a season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers and won three consecutive games against the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.

Now, on to your questions. Keep them coming at @latimesklein or gary.klein@latimes.com

The Rams have yet to spring running back Todd Gurley for the long runs — or mid-range gains — that characterized his rookie season.

Some of the problem is the defensive schemes the Rams have faced. But some responsibility rests with the offensive line, offensive coordinator Rob Boras and Gurley.

“Hate to say it, but we’ve been so close on way too many plays,” center Tim Barnes said this week. “We just hope we can eliminate that word ‘close’ and make it happen.”

OK, I sense a trend.

I would answer this question with a two-word answer, but the people who put this mailbag together tell me that one-sentence answers mess things up.

So, now that we’re down the third line, I would direct you to the question above.

Boras has said the Rams are “taking a look at everything.”

I do not foresee any major shake-ups on the offensive line or in the way Gurley is deployed, though perhaps his emergence as a receiver will open up some things.

Quarterback Case Keenum is not the kind of quarterback that is going to pick apart a defense without the benefit of play-action fakes. So getting Gurley going also would aid the passing game.

I’m sure Gurley is experiencing the aches and pains all NFL running backs endure once the season gets rolling.

But he has not been slowed or limited by physical setbacks.

He is, however, clearly frustrated. Perhaps that factors in to his inability to break loose because he is trying too hard to make it happen.

That is a timely observation.

I was speaking with a former Rams defensive lineman this week, and we were talking about LeSean McCoy and Gurley.

McCoy has mastered that ability to start one way and take the defense with him, and then cut back against the grain.

Gurley, in his second NFL season, appears to still be learning.

He has scored three touchdowns in the last two games and is making plays in games and practices, something that was not happening during training camp and exhibitions.

Quick suffered a major shoulder injury in 2014, so perhaps this is an indication he is finally healthy.

My sense is that Kenny Britt remains Keenum’s go-to receiver in third-down situations.

Time will tell.

Quick has scored on two long touchdown pass plays and also made an impressive catch for a short touchdown that proved to be the game-winner against Arizona.

He has dynamic jumping ability, so it will be interesting to see how much of that he is able to take advantage of as the season goes on.

Rookie receivers Pharoh Cooper and Nelson Spruce could be activated for the first time against the Bills.

Cooper, who suffered a shoulder injury against Denver, is probably on track for a bigger opportunity against Buffalo.

Spruce, who suffered a knee injury against Dallas, might need another week.

With Paxton Lynch starting this week for Denver, it again puts the spotlight on Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Goff has been Keenum’s backup the last three games — and that situation will not change until Keenum falters or is injured.

Goff gets limited reps in practice as the backup, though I would guess more than most No. 2 quarterbacks.

If the Rams get a big lead — or fall way behind — perhaps Coach Jeff Fisher would give Goff a series or two to acclimate him to the speed of regular-season football.

I thought I saw Keenum run at least one read-option play against the Cardinals.

Not sure it’s wise to make that a staple of the offense, but anything Boras can do to take some of the focus off Gurley would help the running game.

Keenum showed his running ability against the Cardinals on a 27-yard scramble that was nullified because of a holding penalty.