November 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson (26) carries the ball against the New York Jets during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Jets defeated the Rams 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Three Players On The St. Louis Rams Ready To Break Out In 2013


 

Tyson Langland, over at Bleacher Report, probed the St. Louis Rams’ Twitterverse a couple of days ago, asking who the fans believed would breakout during the 2013 season. Results from those responses were mixed. However, in the end, he mentioned six players in his article “6 Rams Players Primed for a Break Out Season in 2013,” including: Brian Quick, Michael Brockers, Jared Cook, Trumaine Johnson, Isaiah Pead, and Robert Quinn. Sadly, we at Ramblin’ Fan disagree with about half of that list. So, we figured we would give our soon-to-be stars, and given a subtle rebuttal to a couple of players from their list…

1. Chris Givens

Brian Quick should show significant improvement over last season; but, then again, that is not saying too much. If Quick can beat out Stedman Bailey for the other outside receiver slot, he definitely has the chance to make a huge impact in the offense… just not as much as Chris Givens. Givens was the lone star in the offense last season, at least at receiver. For a stretch in the middle of the season (Week 6 through Week 13), he averaged 4.8 catches and 74.5 yards per game, including four games with over 20.0 yards per receptions.

Although he did reach a rookie record in consecutive games with a 50+ reception, Givens showed he was more than a pure burner, even catching 11 passes for 92 yards against the San Francisco 49ers. He did all of that while the secondary focused nearly all of their attention in his direction, with Amendola still ailing and no other viable receivers on the roster. Now, with big-time threats in Jared Cook and Tavon Austin and more playing time, Givens should skyrocket to the next level.

 

2. Daryl Richardson

While most have jumped back on the Isaiah Pead hype-wagon, Daryl Richardson remains the only player on the roster to have taken starting-caliber carries in a game. As the stand-in for Jackson at the beginning of the season, Richardson gained 431 yards on 80 attempts, good for 5.3 yards per carry. Even after getting shut down to mere pity carries in the final five games of the regular season, Richardson managed to maintain 4.8 yards per carry for the entire year, including an average of 2.8 yards after first contact; right on par with players like Marshawn Lynch (2.8), Alfred Morris (2.9), and ahead of Steven Jackson (2.7), Frank Gore (2.6), and Arian Foster (2.2).

However, Richardson was also effective in the passing game, with 163 yards on 24 receptions, including 188 yards after the catch… no, that was not a typo. Unfortunately, Richardson was on the receiving end of some ill-advised throws from the backfield, getting the ball dumped to him in the flats, even with a defender draped all over his back, which often resulted in negative yards. However, he also took several throws for huge gains, tallying 137 yards after the catch from passes thrown to him behind the line of scrimmage. Not too bad…

While there should be an “open competition” for the lion’s share of first-team rushing reps, there doesn’t appear to be any reason why Richardson would not repeat as the projected front-runner coming out of camp.

 

3. Janoris Jenkins

As outstanding as Jenkins was in the turnover game, the Rams’ sophomore starting-cornerback was not always the best in coverage, with some fairly significant lapses in the middle of the season. In fact, Jenkins ranked in the Bottom 15 corners in the league in receiving touchdowns allowed (5), although part of that blame goes to Craig Dahl for failing to help overtop. Jenkins gave up the highest catch percentage on the team (61.7%), often giving extremely large cushions on the outside. However, Jenkins did rate among the top of the league with 10 pass deflections (T-13th),  allowing only 10.8 yards per reception (T-20th), and snagging 4 interceptions (T-4th). He also finished out the year strong, allowing only 13 catches on 23 targets (56.6%) in the final four games of the season, not allowing a single touchdown or more than 50 receiving yards in a game, and snagging an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the finals game of the season, Russell Wilson did not target Jenkins’ man on a single attempt, despite playing 62 of 65 defensive snaps in the game… the definition of “shut down.”

This is nothing against Trumaine Johnson, but it would be hard to imagine the third corner on the depth chart putting up “break out” numbers in a season. If the St. Louis Rams were to play 2013 out of the nickel package as much as they did in 2012, Johnson would be looking at anywhere between 600 to 700 defensive snaps, or about two-thirds the numbers of snaps as Cortland Finnegan or Janoris Jenkins. However, with the selection of Alec Ogletree, it would be hard to image the Rams not devoting more time to their base 4-3 defense in the coming year, especially if the rookie linebacker is an solid in coverage as he was through the rookie minicamp. When the Rams’ are in the nickel, Johnson does get the added benefit of playing on the outside, against some of the more targeted receivers. However, it would be hard to imagine a scenario were St. Louis’ other sophomore cornerback put up numbers that would make him stand out among all of the talented defensive backs in the NFL.

 

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  • bluenotebacker

    What, if anything, do you see as needing to happen for Bailey to get more time in the huddle than Givens? Is there room for all 4 receivers (incl Austin and Quick) in the field? Do you think the Rams will make some sort of decision in camp/preseason to go with 3 main guys, or do you think it’ll be “receptions-by-committee” this season, seeing as they now have multiple legit threats?

    I’m a fan of Pead but I really like Richardson’s all-around game. He reminds me of Faulk. That said, I really think Zac Stacy will give DR a run for his money as the “starter.” I think we might see an attempt at the tandem running game, though it’s proven uneffective (see New Orleans) more often than not. Pead may need to find a niche to get playing time, though I believe I’ve read he’s high on Fisher’s “A” list.

    I agree with you that Jenkins has nowhere to go but up and we should see him become the shut-down corner the Rams have lacked recently.

    I’m really excited for the youth and potential the Rams have going into camp this year. With Bradford getting better and better and now having more quality options to throw to, and the defense returning prime players who were stout last year, things in the NFC West could be very interesting.

    • Nathan Kearns

      Chris Givens showed last year that he can be a three-down, or even four-down receiver, and will be returning to the team as the veteran of the receiving corps in terms of time on the field (even over Austin Pettis). Givens will be a “starter” regardless. However, I think that Stedman Bailey could easily step up and fill the “Brandon Gibson hole,” especially if he proves to be more “field ready” than Brian Quick at the stat of the season; very likely, in my opinion.

      In terms of the actual numbers of receiver, the Rams will likely keep five on the roster, and use four of them heavily in the rotation. I think you are dead on with the receiver-by-committee approach, which the roster essentially mandates. The two biggest “weapons” on offense are an off-line tight end and a slot receiver. That means there will have to be more spread formations and four to five-wide sets. It also might mean a fairly frequent rotation of those players, especially if they are going to utilize Cook, Givens, and Austin for their straight-line speed. Look for Givens and Austin to get the bulk of offensive snaps, with others rotating on the outside and, periodically, into the slot.

      Would love to see Pead jump back to Uni. of Cinci. form, but will not hold my breath, especially after watching Daryl Richardson run with the football. He embodies everything I love in a running back: no dancing, hits the hole hard, doesn’t get brought down by any single tackler. There is already talk that the Rams will be moving towards the shotgun, spread formation that Bradford dominated with at Oklahoma. That could give Pead and Richardson a shot at time in the backfield, with Stacy lacking in the “after-the-catch” potential receiving out of the backfield. In terms of snaps, my projection would be Richardson, then Stacy, then Pead. However, Stacy won’t be able to make the edge rushing, and certainly will not be making anyone miss in the NFL with his limited elusiveness. It will be exciting to actually have some competition at running back this offseason

      • bluenotebacker

        The best thing about this is that we’ll hopefully see more shotgun from Bradford. I’m sure it was because of inconsistencies with the OL, but Sam did not show the kind of poise that I would expect to see from a talented QB with a couple years under his belt. He tends to go to the turf at the slightest sign of pressure, rather than trying to roll-out or create something from nothing.

        Again, he didn’t have the kind of protection he’ll have this year and he didn’t have the options he’ll have this year, but he didn’t seem to be very good getting quickly out of jams and took a lot of sacks that many QBs would have avoided. Not saying other QBs are turning those plays into yards, but an incomplete pass is better than a 7-10yd sack every time.

  • Guest

    Don’t write Pettis off. Early reports say he came back looking bigger and had a good off-season.

    • Nathan Kearns

      No one is necessarily writing Austin Pettis off, but there is a big difference between continuing to improve as a receiver and “breaking out” in the NFL.

      It is likely that no player on the St. Louis Rams will be able to put up break out numbers in this weapon-filled, spread the wealth offense… but, it is even less likely that a career #3 or #4 receiver will be the one to do it.

  • gregram

    seahawks will take a step back this year where as rams will continue to step up ,and with doable schedual should finally return to playoffs with one or two regular season upsets in hand.