Gurley Should Be Perfect Fit in Falcons' Dynamic Offense

Jeremy Johnson

Life will only get easier for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in 2020. Todd Gurley’s name will be penciled in the lineup when the NFL season starts in a few months.

The health of Gurley’s knee has been the talking point of the offseason. That’s a legitimate point of concern.

Gurley’s knee flared during preparation for Super Bowl LIII. Once gameday arrived, Gurley’s role was confusing and alarming. He carried 10 times for only 35 yards while the Rams tried find an offensive spark against the New England Patriots.

Gurley had carried the Rams throughout the 2018 season. He ran for 1,251 yards, scored 17 rushing touchdowns and caught 59 passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns.

That Gurley may not be the Gurley that will wear No. 21 for the Falcons in 2020. Gurley’s production dipped in 2019. The 1,251 yards of rushing turned into 857 yards and 12 touchdowns. His touches also took a hit. The Rams handed Gurley the ball 33 less times than he carried in 2018.

That doesn’t mean his impact will be unappreciated in Atlanta. The Los Angeles Rams don’t have Jones. They don’t have Ridley. That’s to say, the Falcons’ offensive weaponry is significantly superior to the skill players surrounding Gurley in Los Angeles last season.

His 67 PFF grade is still higher than Falcons 2019 starter Devonta Freeman. Gurley’s 857 yards are still more than the 656 yards put up by Freeman in 2019.

Gurley is an upgrade. Any upgrade to an offense that was fifth in the NFL in total yards, fifth in total yards per game and 13th in points scored is a positive impact on the Falcons as a whole.

The Falcons did some of that damage without Ridley healthy in 2019. The second-year star from Alabama missed three games last season. The Falcons also traded away Mohammed Sanu mid-season.

With Ridley back, another year of Jones, the addition of LaQuon Treadwell and a year of age on Russell Gage, the Falcons have weapons that need accounting for in the passing game.

More running lanes and big play potential for Gurley?

Exactly.

The Falcons wide receiver group will scratch Gurley’s back and he’ll scratch Ryan’s. With a consistent running option, even if only by reputation due to declining physical traits, the Falcons’ offense could be set up for some explosive plays.

Gurley alone may not be able to carry the load, but the Falcons have a successful experience in handling multiple backs with different skill sets in recent years. Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 1,599 yards rushing and 883 yards receiving on 85 receptions.

If the duo of Gurley and Ito Smith can replicate the production by Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the Falcons could put Ryan in position to be one of the players vying for another Most Valuable Player award and another attempt at a Super Bowl run.

It seems almost like a glove fit for a star back in need of some creative usage options.

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