Here we have the tale of two very different running backs.
Not necessarily in the way they play, although the styles of Todd Gurley and David Johnson -- friends from their time in the 2015 draft -- aren't exactly parallel. No, this is about the seasons each is having, both on teams that have not been as good as expected. For Gurley, that has meant disaster. Johnson, of course, has been electric -- arguably the best in the NFL.
A couple of weeks ago, Gurley noted after a Rams' loss that the team "looked like a middle school offense." He's averaged just 3.2 yards a carry this season, and unless he torches the Cards' defense for at least 155 yards, he won't reach 1,000 for the season. Interim Rams coach John Fassel was asked about Gurley's confidence.
"He's struggling to maintain it," Fassel said. "There's really no other way around it. I'm sure he wanted more this season, and it really just hasn't happened yet. But, he's tough, practices every rep at practice, he's there early and attentive at every meeting. But, there's no doubt confidence deteriorates a little bit when you don't have the success that you anticipate."
Contrast that to Johnson, who is playing for an offense that is unquestionably much better than the Rams but still has struggled much more than expected this year. Yet Johnson has been spectacular, reaching 100 scrimmage yards in every game despite constant shuffles in the offensive line, threatening to become only the third 1,000-1,000 player in NFL history (like Gurley, he likely won't reach his mark either) and scoring a franchise-record 20 touchdowns already.
The issues with the Rams' offense were known coming into the year. L.A. has bigger offensive line problems than the Cards. But Johnson is having the kind of season running backs dream about -- the kind of season everyone was waiting for Gurley to have.