The questions keep coming for Rams coach Sean McVay and running back Todd Gurley.
The Rams’ offense is out of balance and McVay continues to deploy running back Malcolm Brown, seemingly to reduce the workload on Gurley and his much-scrutinized left knee.
Through four games last year — all victories — Gurley rushed for 338 yards and four touchdowns in 79 carries.
Going into Thursday night’s game at Seattle, Gurley has rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns in 49 carries. In Sunday’s 55-40 defeat by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gurley rushed for 16 yards and two touchdowns in five carries, and caught seven passes for 54 yards as the Rams suffered their first loss.
On Tuesday, Gurley offered clipped answers when asked about the Rams offense and alternating series. Asked if he had any ideas about how the offense could start faster, he shook his head no.
McVay, the Rams’ play-caller, acknowledged the offense’s struggles. He said he speaks with Gurley and other players throughout the week about the offense.
“If everything went exactly like we had planned during the week, I would be a lot happier and a lot less stressed,” he said.
Is he stressed about the Gurley situation?
“I’m stressed because I’m always stressed out” during the season, he joked.
McVay and Gurley have been fielding questions about Gurley’s condition since the latter part of last season, when Gurley was sidelined and slowed by an unspecified issue affecting his surgically repaired knee. Gurley has said he feels fine and that he does not call the plays. But he appears to have grown weary of the queries.
“I can’t imagine how he feels having to answer all those questions,” McVay said.
McVay still is trying to find answers for an offense that he acknowledged is searching for an identity.
“Figuring out and kind of continuing to get to know what’s going to be the best way for this offense and this season for us to really be the most efficient week in and week out,” McVay said. “That’s definitely been something that we’re working through.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has noticed a change in how the Rams are utilizing Gurley, but apparently no change in the running back.
“Looks like they’re just mapping out a course for the season and keeping him healthy and fresh,” Carroll said during a teleconference. “He looks pretty darn good to me.”
Questions about Gurley’s situation are “just kind of silly,” Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. He pointed to Gurley’s performance at the end of the season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers, when the running back carried the load down the stretch.
“We haven’t executed as well,” Whitworth said of the offense, “and that’s the bottom line. It’s the whole offense.”
The Rams defense also must address some issues after surrendering 55 points, though that number was skewed by the situations created by four Rams turnovers. Quarterback Jared Goff had three passes intercepted and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
Safety Eric Weddle says he’s not concerned.
“That’s an anomaly — we won’t play like that the rest of the year,” he said. “So I’m not even going to stress or worry.”
The Rams’ pass defense and tackling were the main problems against the Buccaneers, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. The quick turnaround of having to play Thursday night enabled the Rams to move on, he said.
“You can get humbled quickly,” he said, “but you can also get back quickly.”
Safety Taylor Rapp, who suffered an ankle sprain against the Buccaneers, said an MRI exam was negative and that he was “feeling great.” McVay has said that Rapp and linebacker Bryce Hager (shoulder) would be game-time decisions. “Trying to do as much as possible in the training room,” Rapp said. Rookie linebacker Troy Reeder could start or play significant snaps if Hager is unable to play. ... Nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day got his first sack against the Buccaneers, but the second-year pro refused to celebrate after the game because the Rams lost. “It doesn’t feel better,” he said, “because we’re still 3-1.”