By all accounts Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley had a disappointing 2020 campaign. He posted career lows in carries, yards, receptions and yards from scrimmage in his six year NFL career.
But the prospect of rejuvenating his career under new coach Arthur Smith is tantalizing to the Falcons free agent to be.
“You get excited about a coach that runs the ball which you know doesn’t happen very often,” Gurley said on the NFL Network on Wednesday. “So you definitely get super excited about that. I definitely have to reach out to him and [Terry Fontenot] just to be able to talk to them to see what they’re thinking and just get a head start on the free agency thing.”
The shelf life of a running back is notoriously short, but Gurley’s lack of production went way beyond the normal wear and tear expected. Gurley looked lost at times, especially in the passing game. Not just in routes, but in protection schemes.
Gurley had a career high 64 catches for 788 yards in 2017 with the Rams. He saw that number drop to 31 catches in 2019 and a career low 25 in 2020 with the Falcons.
Gurley simply has to take a look at the career progression of Titans running back Derrick Henry to see what a featured back can do in a Smith offense.
Smith broke 1,000 yards for the first time in his three year career in 2018, but then exploded for 1,540 yards in his first season under Smith. Henry then rushed for 2,027 yards last year.
While a 2,000 yard rusher for the Falcons is far-fetched, Gurley’s 678 yards as the Falcons featured back last season should be an easy mark to beat.
Gurley is thinking he might be the man for the job in 2021.