Gurley ran for 18 yards on nine attempts while securing his only target for a 17-yard gain during Sunday's 44-27 loss to Tampa Bay. Gurley and Brian Hill split carries atop the Falcons' backfield at an even 9:9 ratio. However, Hill was far more explosive with his opportunities on the ground, largely because of a 62-yard run in the fourth quarter. Gurley's debut campaign in Atlanta did not go according to plan, as he labored to 3.5 yards per carry over 195 attempts while seeing himself get overtaken by Ito Smith (ribs) for lead RB carries down the stretch. The man largely responsible for acquiring Gurley, Thomas Dimitroff, was fired as Falcons general manager Oct. 11. The 26-year-old Gurley is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, as is Hill, but Smith remains under contract with Atlanta for one more season.
Gurley registered 16 yards on four carries while securing all three of his targets for 34 yards during Sunday's 17-14 loss to the Chiefs. Gurley made a 26-yard reception down the right sideline on Atlanta's opening play from scrimmage, but the drive stalled three plays later to result in a punt. That gain alone contributed more than half of Gurley's Week 16 yardage production, as Ito Smith and Brian Hill combined for 17 carries atop the Atlanta backfield. A 3.5 yards-per-carry average with limited passing-game upside from Gurley has led the Falcons to look elsewhere for running back contributions down the stretch. Week 17 offers a matchup against the Buccaneers, against whom Gurley virtually disappeared last Sunday when he totaled minus-one yard on his lone carry.
Interim coach Raheem Morris said Monday that Gurley's role has changed and Ito Smith has usurped him as the Falcons' lead runner, Kelsey Conway of the Falcons' official site reports. Gurley only had three touches during Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, and he's been outpaced by Smith in terms of carries, 25-15, since Week 13, so even without Morris' admission it was clear that Gurley has fallen out of favor in Atlanta's offense. The three-time Pro Bowler is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry through 13 games, putting him on pace to log a second straight season below the 4.0 mark. Meanwhile, Smith is up to 4.3 YPC on the year, and he's been the definitively better option on the ground in recent weeks. As D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Morris named Smith's performance as the reason for the role swap, rather than any sort of injury on Gurley's part.
Gurley lost a yard on his lone carry, adding two catches for 15 yards during Sunday's 31-27 loss to Tampa Bay. Gurley made an impressive one-handed grab to help Atlanta move the chains on a 3rd-and-9 during the game's opening drive, but a key missed block in pass protection led to decreased involvement down the stretch. It's hard to believe Gurley would have enjoyed much success on the ground anyhow in a matchup against Tampa Bay's top-ranked rush defense. The three-time Pro Bowler has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry since Week 6. Ito Smith, meanwhile, has equaled or exceeded Gurley's rush attempts total over each of the past three games both backs have been in the lineup.
Gurley collected 19 yards on six carries, adding two catches for 12 yards during Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Chargers. Gurley's involvement all but dissolved in the second half, as he received one offensive touch between the third and fourth quarters combined. Ito Smith, meanwhile, fielded nine touches over the second half Sunday. The 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year has scored four touchdowns since Week 6, but he's been incredibly inefficient as a rusher during that span, managing just 2.7 yards per carry over 102 attempts. Atlanta's upcoming matchup against Tampa Bay's top-ranked rush defense provides a formidable opponent for both Gurley and Smith in Week 15.
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