Dec 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) returns a kickoff past Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (31) in the first quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Can Tavon Austin Make The Leap In 2014?


May 10, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Auston (11) runs a drill during rookie minicamp at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

May 10, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Auston (11) runs a drill during rookie minicamp at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, it seemed like every 2013 Rams rookie had a so-called sophomore slump. For the Rams to have a successful 2014, that absolutely cannot happen again, especially with the team’s top ten pick, wide receiver Tavon Austin.

According to Jeff Fisher, he doesn’t think Austin will struggle like he did in 2013 and that he could make the leap.

“We’re not disappointed in what his production was last year at all,” Fisher said last week at the NFL Annual Meeting, per ESPN.com. “One of the things that was misleading was he had two or three returns called back — one against Dallas — and then he got hurt.

“I think another year in the program, in the offense, OTAs, training camp, you’ll see more production. I think we’ll do a better job of using him now that we know what he’s capable of doing. Kind of looking forward to see him improve from Year One to Year Two.”

Austin had 40 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdown catches in 2013. He also carried the ball nine times for 151 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run against the Bears and a punt return for a touchdown against the Colts.

Austin’s three touchdowns against the Colts put him in some pretty good company. He, Randy Moss and Gale Sayers are the only rookies to ever score three times in a game from 50 yards out or more. And in posting 140 or more yards from scrimmage and 140 or more yards as a punt returner, Austin joined Carolina’s Steve Smith as the only players in league history to hit those numbers in a single game.

Fisher is right about one thing, Austin did get snubbed by quite a few penalties last season, enough to at one point, frustrate the young playmaker. However, Austin finally got it going and made his mark on the NFL.

One thing that is concerning that Fisher said is that he thinks they will know how to use him better this season. As much as I hope so, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer isn’t necessarily on the most creative offensive coordinators in the game list.

Schotty had his moments last year, but for the most part it stayed pretty vanilla and therefore predictable. That could have been due to Sam Bradford’s injury, but that doesn’t mean the offensive coordinator won’t have a lot to prove in 2014.

There is no doubt Tavon Austin has the skill set to succeed at the NFL level as both a wide receiver and punt returner. Whether or not he can make the leap however will depend on the return of Sam Bradford, the Rams not committing penalties, and the play calling of Schottenheimer.

If Austin can overcome or avoid all that, he will have a big 2014. If Bradford gets hurt or has a disappointing season, the Rams continue to commit special teams penalties, and Brian Schottenheimer can’t use him in a creative way, Austin having a good 2014 will be unlikely.

The Rams moved up in the draft last season to get Austin and he has yet to really prove he was worth it. There is no doubt that the West Virginia wide receiver has potential, but next year he will need to step up and be the guy that the Rams expected when the drafted him.

 

 

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  • Gary Stewart

    to think tavon will have a bad season is just not using good judgement he did enough to show his capabilities in 2013 and still came close to expectations (of the sane people of the world) i had him at about 900 total yards and 9 tds i think he wound up at around 750 and 6-7 while missing the last 3 games which if he played to 50 yrd per game and added 1 more td he would have hit the mark i set. or very close. lets not worry about tavon lets worry about finding another 2 for the defense !! if we keep getting the ball back for the offense things should work out just fine.

    • Blaine Grisak

      For me it all depends on Schotty and if he can figure out how to use him. The Rams have a multitude of playmakers on offense from Stacy to Tavon, to Jared Cook, heck you can even throw CG13 in there. Rams have the players, if they could add a Watkins or Evans, that would be great, but the corps in there, just have to figure out how to incorporate them all.

      • Gary Stewart

        by the way blaine have they decided to use extra footballs in the game this year?? the biggest reason i am not for watkins is not watkins its shotty, he has not figured out how to utilize the tools in his tool box as it is why spend a pick on a wr i say mack for williams on defense of robinson or matthews and continue to pound the rock at least shotty seems to be ok at that!!

        • Blaine Grisak

          Thats what the Jets did when they went to back to back AFC Championships, they played stellar defense and pounded that rock. If Sanchez can do, it, Bradford should be able to do it. I think for now the NFL is sticking to one ball for now, but don’t think Goodell hasn’t at least brought the idea up at the owners meetings LOL.

          • Gary Stewart

            because i agree with fisher and his philosophy that is why i have touted a monster rb as the change of pace relief back as opposed to a scat type, if d rich is healthy we already have that and if we can get a 240 lb stud we can make those 3rd and 2-3 yards much more manageable. it could mean the end for benny or isiah or both but thats football a 2nd rounder that barely cracks the 53 man roster is a dissapointment but it may be time to admit they missed one and move on from isiah!!

          • Andy Swan

            I read your article on drafting Hyde, and while that seems reasonable, I think we have too many other pressing needs to spend that kind of pick on a RB. What do you think about Terrance West from Towson? I’ve had my eye on him since the combine and apparently he just put together a solid pro day. I think he could be the kind if guy we need and could be had on the mid to later rounds.

          • Gary Stewart

            i appreciate you calling my comment an article i am not the author but i have been a ram fan for 50 years now so i fill capable of an opinion i would be happy to see the rams trade back a bit from number 2 then taking a stud rb to share carries with zac works for me if they do not trade for more picks i agree with you rb is not as pressing a need, remember however we want zac fresh for another 5-6 years not 5-6 games so lets get him a solid stud as a back up

      • Andy Swan

        I have to agree. I felt like towards the end of the season we started to see Schotty become a little more creative/ less predictable. I think it just took time. We went into the preseason with a set mindset of how our offensive system would be but with so many young and inexperienced players it didn’t quite work. In the end we had to allow our scheme to develop organically. We had to allow our personnel to dictate what our scheme would be. Just took a little time. Now that we have that in place and a full offseason to improve upon it I’m confident our offense will be efficient enough to help us win some games. If we utilize the draft to solidify a top tier defense we will be on our way to winning some games and being a playoff hopeful.