Todd Gurley was a devastating force against Denver on Sunday, running for 208 yards.
It was the first 200-yard rushing game for a Rams player since Marshall Faulk rolled up 202 for the St. Louis Rams against Carolina in 2001.
Reached by phone Sunday night, Faulk said Gurley is unquestionably playing like the NFL’s most valuable player at this point.
“There’s no doubt,” said Faulk, who won that award in 2000. “I know they love giving it to quarterbacks, and unless a running back does something that’s unbelievable that hasn’t been done before, it’s hard to get it from a quarterback.
“But, man … I think the second half of the season is going to be even better for him.”
Faulk, enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, was regarded as the quintessential triple threat, someone who could not only run the ball, but also catch passes out of the backfield, and be a reliable blocker in pass protection. He sees the same in Gurley.
“The way that they use him, he’s going to last forever,” Faulk said. “He does a really good job of not just getting the tough yards, but also playing smart and not taking a lot of hits. When they need him to hit it up in there, he gets the tough yards. When he gets outside, he takes care of himself. And in the passing game, not just catching the ball but pass blocking as well.
“There was a huge play, and he stepped up in the middle — bam — cut a guy, which allowed Jared [Goff] to step up in the pocket and deliver a ball down the field. When you’re a triple threat like that, teams really don’t know what to do.”
Gurley, who scored twice Sunday, leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns from scrimmage and is the fifth player with at least 11 offensive touchdowns in his team’s first six games of the season, joining Shaun Alexander (12 in 2005), Emmitt Smith (11 in 1995), LaDainian Tomlinson (11 in 2005), and Priest Holmes (11 in both 2002 and ’04).
Faulk said the offensive creativity of Rams coach Sean McVay keeps Gurley mentally stimulated and engaged.
“It’s always fun when you look in the playbook and it’s like, ‘OK, what’s this play like? What are we going to do here?’ ” Faulk said. “A lot of the time, it’s the same plays, but it’s how you dress them up, and what you do to make it fun. I love it that Sean is making it fun for guys.
“I always prided myself on, ‘I’m going to out-think you.’ And I can see Todd’s game mentally understanding not just what he has to do in the run game and the pass game, but in pass protection, helping his guys, knowing when to chip, knowing when to knock a guy back, just understanding the little nuances.”