As he does daily with quarterback Jared Goff, Rams coach Sean McVay regularly seeks feedback about possible play-calls from star running back Todd Gurley.
“Oh yeah,” Gurley joked Thursday, “I kind of run the whole offense, man.”
Gurley is making an early sprint toward a possible NFL most valuable player award with a first-half performance that surpasses last season’s, when he was voted the league’s offensive player of the year.
Gurley leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns — 11 rushing and three receiving — and has rushed for a league-best 681 yards. His 4.8 yards-per-carry average is the best for players with at least 100 carries.
Gurley is expected to play a major role for the unbeaten Rams on Sunday when they play the Green Bay Packers at the Coliseum.
The Packers feature quarterback Aaron Rodgers, considered by Gurley to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
“We're playing the mini-G.O.A.T. at home,” Gurley said, adding that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was the main G.O.A.T.
Gurley elevated his own status when he signed a $60-million extension before the season, a record for a running back.
McVay said he checks in with Goff, Gurley and other players to make sure they “feel good” about possible play calls.
“If they don't,” McVay said, “then that's something that we'll either try to explain why we're trying to do it, and then maybe they feel better. Or if they still don't, we've got a lot of plays on that call sheet we like.”
Gurley doesn’t question McVay’s decisions very often.
“I kind of always give him the same answer,” Gurley said. “It doesn't really matter to me. It’s whatever those guys up front are more comfortable blocking and I'm just going to follow their lead.”
Gurley is the main ball carrier but not the only reason the Rams leads the NFL with 153.1 yards rushing per game.
“It’s not just a one-man show,” he said.
Backup Malcolm Brown, receivers Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds and tight end Gerald Everett also have taken handoffs behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.
Woods has rushed for 90 yards, Kupp 25 and Cooks 23.
“All of us can take jet sweeps and fly sweeps and take them to the house or get 20, 30 yards and get a first down,” Gurley said. “So, that just tells you about the balance of our offense.
“You don't know who's going to get the ball.”
Two weeks ago, Gurley rushed for a career-best 208 yards in a victory over the Denver Broncos.
In last week’s 39-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Brown finished with a team-best 65 yards in 13 carries.
Much of Brown’s playing time the last two-plus seasons has been in spot or mop-up situations.
But against the 49ers, Brown carried the load during one key scoring drive. He ran four times for 24 yards, also catching a short pass to help set up a touchdown pass.
“I’m just glad that this organization and the coaches and my teammates got trust in me to go in there at any point in the game and trust in me to go do my thing,” said Brown, who has rushed for 182 yards in 26 carries. “Really, that’s all I can ask for. ... I just go in and try to make the most of it.
“And it turned out well.”