McVay: Opportunities, not plan, limited Gurley

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said Tuesday that the game plan going into Super Bowl LIII was to have running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson share the workload.

Gurley had 11 touches for 34 yards, while Anderson had nine touches for 34 yards in the 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

“We just didn’t get a lot of attempts off,” McVay said. “So that really ended up being a big result of what ended up happening where neither Todd nor C.J. got involved.”

The Rams ran 60 plays and gained 260 total yards as they scored the fewest points in McVay’s two seasons as coach. They were 3-of-13 on third down.

Gurley, who signed a record-breaking, four-year, $60 million contract extension before the season, declined to speak with reporters through a team spokesperson Tuesday as players cleaned out their lockers.

Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards and scored a league-best 21 touchdowns before he was sidelined for the final two games of the regular season because of inflammation in his left knee.

He played a limited role in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl following a performance in a divisional-round victory over the Dallas Cowboys in which he rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Speculation regarding Gurley’s health grew as his numbers declined, but Gurley has not appeared on the injury report since Jan. 10, when he was listed as a full participant in practice, and he has repeatedly said in the days and weeks since that his knee has felt “fine.”

Players underwent routine end-of-season physicals Tuesday, and McVay said there were no plans for any offseason procedures on Gurley’s knee, which is the same knee he had surgery on in 2014 to repair a torn ACL.

“As far as I’m concerned and as far as I know, that isn’t the case where we’re planning to do anything like that,” McVay said.

The Rams signed Anderson with two games remaining in the regular season, after a string of injuries to their running back corps. Trusted backup Malcolm Brown suffered a clavicle injury in Week 13 and was placed on injured reserve, and second-year pro Justin Davis suffered a shoulder injury in a Week 15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, before Gurley was sidelined for a series in the third quarter. Rookie John Kelly was inserted and struggled in pass protection, all of which prompted Anderson’s signing.

In Gurley’s absence, Anderson rushed for a combined 299 yards in victories over the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

When Gurley returned in the divisional round of the playoffs, he shared carries with Anderson, and the two combined for 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

McVay said Tuesday that the game plan through the NFC championship and Super Bowl was to replicate that model.

“They both were just in a really good rhythm,” McVay said. “And I think the ideal scenario that we had gone into the playoffs with was what you saw in Dallas, where it was both of those guys getting involved.”

But that’s not how it panned out.

Against the Saints, Gurley had five touches that resulted in 13 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run. He also committed two uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half when he let a ball bounce off his hands for an interception, and when he let an open pass fall incomplete on third down in the red zone. Anderson rushed for 44 yards in 16 carries.

After the game, Gurley called his performance “sorry” and expressed relief that the Rams would advance to the Super Bowl. McVay said he failed to get Gurley into the flow of the game.

In the two weeks leading to the Super Bowl, McVay said he felt obligated to get his star running back involved. But a lack of plays against the Patriots, McVay said, made it difficult.

Gurley played 43 snaps (66 percent), while Anderson played 22 (34 percent).

“We didn’t get the amount of plays off and didn’t really have any drive continuity where we’re punting more than we did,” McVay said. “And that’s a big result of why those opportunities were limited for him.”



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