EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In the aftermath of last week's 31-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the frustration was written all over St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley' face. Gurley had carried just nine times for 19 yards, his worst individual performance since his first NFL game back in Week 3.
But Gurley's emotion had nothing to do with his numbers and everything to do with the additional tally that was going into his team's loss column.
"It’s frustrating," Gurley said after the game. "I’m just not used to really losing and stuff like that. Just trying to deal with that stuff. But at the end of the day, things could be a lot worse. We have just got to stay positive and just keep focused."
At the University of Georgia, the Bulldogs lost a total of 10 games in Gurley's three years. The Rams have already lost seven this year and appear to be on their way to more with five games remaining.
Of course, one way to reverse the team's recent losing trend -- they've lost four in a row -- is to find ways to get Gurley going again. Through little fault of his own, Gurley's production has dropped precipitously over the past four weeks.
In Gurley's first five starts, he averaged 141.5 rushing yards per game, 6.4 yards per carry and 4 yards before contact per rush. In the past four weeks, with defenses keyed on him, no passing game to help and an already struggling offensive line in shambles from injury, Gurley has averaged 54.8 yards per game, 3.1 yards per carry and 1.6 yards before contact per rush.
Asked Thursday if he felt like he'd hit a rookie wall, Gurley laughed at the notion.
“What wall?" Gurley said. "I’m good.”
No, Gurley's lesser numbers of late have little to do with him. He's barely had a chance to get going as the Rams have fallen behind big in losses to Chicago and Cincinnati while Minnesota and Baltimore made it a point to force the Rams to beat them elsewhere.
“He’s not frustrated," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He’s a team guy. He’s having fun, wants to help us win. He knows he’s a big part of this team. His production on the field not only helps offense, it helps defense, it helps everything. He’s in good shape.”
The hope for Gurley and the Rams this week is that seeing a familiar opponent might allow him to get rolling again. It was in the first meeting against Arizona that Gurley announced his presence to the NFL world with a dynamic second half that led the Rams to an upset victory.
In that game, Gurley averaged a season-high 7.7 yards per rush and ran for 146 yards, the most the Cardinals have allowed to a player in the past three seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also clinched the game with a late burst that ended when he fell down in bounds to ensure the victory.
“We had a slow first half against the Cardinals, then we had a big second half," Fisher said. "We’ve looked hard at it. We just have to continue to give him opportunities. So, we’ll get creative in the run game and got to get hats on hats and let him go.”
Throughout the past month, the humble Gurley has mostly demurred when asked about opponents loading the box to stop him or teams doing everything they can to slow him down. In his mind, the struggles in the run game have little to do with what defenses are doing and a lot to do with what the Rams aren't doing.
“It’s execution, doing what we’ve got to do," Gurley said. "Taking the right steps, taking the right track. Whether it’s getting a double block or a triple, single. Just basically execution.”
More execution should lead to far less frustration.