After a stellar 2015 season in which Los Angeles Rams running back, Todd Gurley, won rookie of the year, the now second year running back will look go avoid the infamous “sophomore slump”.
The league’s third-leading rusher, Gurley, who accumulated 1,106 yards in 13 games and made a pro bowl, will now be 100% healthy as he will be more than a year removed from his ACL tear in his knee. However, the Rams running back will also no longer come as a surprise to NFL defenses this season. As good as he was last season, Gurley will need to be even better in 2016 to avoid the sophomore slump.
Running backs, who have notoriously short careers, year one can be a tough act to follow.
Since 2006 or in the last ten seasons, 12 running backs including Gurley have rushed for over 1,000 yards in their rookie seasons
As you can see, of the 11 running backs that dont include Gurley, nine of them has less yards in year two than year one. Of those nine running backs six had more than a 20% decrease in production from year one to year two.
Some of the names are pretty big two. Running backs such as Doug Martin, Matt Forte, and Alfred Morris are all considered to be number one running backs in the NFL or have at some point in their careers.
Luckily for Gurley, the two names that would seem to be most comparable to him are Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Peterson and Gurley are both elite running backs and have drawn comparisons. Meanwhile, Johnson rushed for 2,000 yards under Jeff Fisher and with Fisher as head coach, Gurley is going to get the football.
Another reason for optimism is that Gurley only played in 13 games last season and he will also be playing with a rookie quarterback. Therefore he will be playing, if he stays healthy, three more games than he did last year. He will also be playing with a rookie quarterback meaning that he will get a lot of touches to take some of the load off of Jared Goff’s shoulders.
With Goff at quarterback, things could also open up for Gurley as the rookie quarterback is without a doubt more talented than anyone that Gurley played with last season.
There are running backs who have succeeded in year two such as Johnson and Peterson, but there are also a good number who validate that the “Sophomore Slump” is very real.
Gurley will have expectations of a 1,500 yard season in year two because of what he showed in year one and because he will be healthy and playing a full season. Not to mention the fact that he will be playing in LA.
Gurley’s transition from year one to year two won’t be easy, but with Fisher as head coach and the help of Jared Goff, he should be able to avoid the sophomore slump.