THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- It jumped off the page. The box score from the Los Angeles Rams' 43-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles showed Todd Gurley averaging 7.4 yards per carry, but running the ball only 13 times -- half the amount of times that Jared Goff threw it. It was the continuation of what has become a longstanding theme with Sean McVay, the Rams' first-year head coach and offensive playcaller. McVay isn't afraid to rely heavily on the pass, a luxury afforded by his ability to design simple ways for Goff to get yardage through the air.
But is McVay relying too heavily on the pass?
He seemed to project that on Monday.
"I look at it myself and say, ‘You’ve got to make sure that you’re cognizant of giving the runs a chance and trying to stay balanced,’" McVay said. "And that’s something that I haven’t done. You can’t keep standing up here and saying the same things; you’ve just got to get it fixed. That’s something that I’ve got to be mindful of."
Gurley received only 16 touches on Sunday, tied for his season low. The Rams are now 2-4 when Gurley gets 20 or fewer touches and 7-0 when he exceeds that number, an indication of how much better off they are when he is the focal point of their offense.
A prime example came Sunday. Gurley had only five first-half carries, so the Rams, McVay said, came out of halftime intent on getting him going on the ground. They ran Gurley on back-to-back plays to start the second half. Then they hit him with a screen and watched him pick up 20 yards. Then they ran play-action, with Malcolm Brown, and set up a wide-open Cooper Kupp for a 23-yard gain.
But McVay went back to relying mainly on Goff through the air, the most glaring example being the playcall that led to the fourth-quarter fumble that was caused by Chris Long -- a play-action passing attempt, on first-and-10 from the Rams' 35, while up one and with their starting right tackle out of the game.
"I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that he gets enough touches to get into the flow, especially when we were getting some good movement," McVay said of Gurley, who managed 135 scrimmage yards despite the minimal workload. "But it is a delicate balance."
McVay has spent a big chunk of his Monday news conferences this season pointing out flaws in his own playcalling, even in times when it doesn't seem warranted.
The run-pass balance has been a frequent topic of late, even though Gurley's workload remains high.
Gurley still has the NFL's third-most rushing attempts (236) and is tied for the second-most touches (287). But over the past five weeks, Goff has thrown the ball 174 times and a Rams player -- either Gurley, Brown, Lance Dunbar, Tavon Austin or Pharoh Cooper -- has run it 96 times. The Rams are throwing the ball more often than all but three teams during that stretch -- the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs -- even though they haven't fallen behind big in any of those games.
The Eagles entered Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the top rushing defense in the NFL, "But our guys were doing a good job getting some movement," McVay said. "Todd was running really well."
McVay brought up the fact that the Rams ran only 45 offensive plays on Sunday, about 20 shy of an ideal number, which limited Gurley's chances. He also credited a Jim Schwartz-led defense for mixing it up in early downs, which put the Rams in several second-and-long situations that prompted passing attempts.
But he also didn't want to make excuses.
"At the end of the day, however you want to cut it, I’ve got to get him going, give him more opportunities with the way he was running it and have a better feel for the flow of the game," McVay said. "That was something that I didn’t think I did very well [on Sunday].”