The Atlanta Falcons addressed their backfield situation this offseason by signing NFL star Todd Gurley in free agency. Gurley is no stranger to the city of Atlanta as he played nearly 90 minutes away for the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Falcons expect Gurley to revamp their rushing attack. Last season, the Falcons ranked 30th in the NFL with just 85.1 rushing yards per game. The lack of a running game made the Falcons one-dimensional and led to a 7-9 overall record.

NFL analyst Bucky Brooks believes Gurley could be the Falcons’ X-factor this season. Brooks joined local Atlanta-based radio station 92.9 The Game to discuss Gurley’s addition with hosts Carl Dukes and Mike Bell.

“Todd Gurley’s ability to control the offense as a runner and then be a playmaker in the passing game will really change the way people cover the field with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley,” Brooks said. “It will also open up the field for Matt Ryan.”

Gurley was stellar in five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in three seasons with the Rams. He became a three-time Pro Bowler and was the 2017 AP Offensive Player of the Year.

His production has placed him as one of the NFL’s best running backs. He rushed for 857 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Gurley added 31 receptions for 207 yards out of the backfield as well.

The Falcons look to give Gurley around 20 touches per game. He has dealt with knee injuries throughout his career. However, he passed his physical this offseason and is already impressing Ryan and head coach Dan Quinn.

“I’ve gotten to work with Todd, and he’s awesome,” Ryan told ESPN. “Really, really good guy. A hard worker. He’s super smart. The stuff I was telling him one day, the next day he had it down. I was really impressed with his ability to retain information. You don’t have to tell him twice. He’s on it.”

Quinn said the Falcons will not limit Gurley this season. They plan to feature him as a big part of the offense. For years, the Falcons have struggled in the red zone. Gurley can remedy that problem as he has a career 58 touchdowns.

“He has definitely put the work in this offseason in terms of training,” Quinn said. “You can feel the chip on his shoulder and a man definitely on a mission. It is not to manage or limit, it is the best way to feature him. I think that there are a number of ways we are going to do that.”

Brooks felt the Falcons made a great investment in Gurley. The talented running back signed for $5.5 million this offseason. According to Spotrac, Gurley will make an additional $5.05 million from the Rams too.

In his opinion, Brooks says that Gurley can be the difference in helping the Falcons challenge the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints in a tough NFC South.

“The supporting cast that Matt Ryan has around him is as good as what they have down in Tampa with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and certainly as good as what New Orleans has in Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Alvin Kamara,” Brooks said. “I think the X-Factor to all of those when it comes to Matt Ryan’s play is Todd Gurley.

“If Todd Gurley shows anything close to what he was when he was the Offensive Player of the Year when he helped the L.A. Rams get to the Super Bowl, Matt Ryan is going to return to the playmaker that earned MVP accolades.”

Quinn is ready to get Gurley on the practice field. He said both sides have great communication and that will be an asset this season.

“We are going to have to fast-track some parts of our relationship because we have not been together. But that is going to be really good communication,” Quinn said.