Falcons: Raheem Morris names Ito Smith the starting running back

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Under Dirk Koetter, the Falcons running game has floundered the entire season. For a brief moment early in the year, it looked like the addition of Todd Gurley was going to be a positive one, but he’s quickly turned into a bust, and now the Falcons have stripped him of his starter’s role.

In his Monday press conference, Raheem Morris said that Gurley’s lack of touches is not because of his injured knee; rather, the Falcons feel that Ito Smith gives the running game the best chance of coming to life.

Of course, the Falcons didn’t lean much on their running backs in their loss to the Bucs on Sunday. They only ran the ball a total of 13 times. Smith led the team in carries with six, followed by Brian Hill with five. Todd Gurley only had one carry for a loss of a yard.

While the idea of bringing Gurley home on a one-year deal seemed like a low-risk, high-reward proposition, it has quickly turned sour, and it’s hard to argue with anyone who suggests that $5.5 million could have been spent much better elsewhere. On the year, he’s carried the ball 182 times for 644 yards (3.5 YPC); however, he hasn’t received more than eight carries since before the Falcons bye week, and he’s only exceeded 80 yards in a game once all season. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, especially for people who watched Gurley grow up through the Georgia program, but his career could be coming to a close at the young age of 26 — something nobody could have predicted just a few years ago.

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