Dec 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Do Snead and Fisher Have Too Much Confidence In Their Receivers?


It is pretty much a known fact in Rams Nation that the St. Louis Rams haven’t had a 1,000 yard receiver since Torry Holt back in 2007 and really haven’t had anything close since the end of the Greatest Show on Turf days.

Believe it or not the Rams used to be like today’s Broncos, Saints, and Packers in which multiple receivers would have 1,000 receiving yards. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.

Instead, the Rams now have a core group of guys that are in their third year or less and the veteran of the group is Austin Pettis who hasn’t done a whole lot in his career up to this point.

The Rams have obviously had problems at wide receiver, but still, when the number two overall pick came along and the team had the chance to draft a so-called once in a lifetime wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, they passed and took offensive lineman Greg Robinson instead.

In fact, the only receivers the Rams added to the roster this offseason were wide receivers Kenny Britt who headlined the group, along with undrafted free agents Austin Franklin, Jamaine Sherman, and free agent T.J. Moe. Other than Britt, the others will most likely just be bodies in camp, but in no way shape or form can you really say the Rams got better at a position that they really needed to.

Sure Jeff Fisher and Les Snead can say that it takes a few years for a receiver to develop or that Sam Bradford was out the majority of last season which hurt the young receivers development, but how does that explain Chris Givens seeming to give up on balls that he would have come down with in his rookie year, the ridiculous amount of dropped passes, or ranking 29th in passing plays of 20 yards or more.

As mentioned earlier the Rams have a lot of young receivers, but its time for them to step up and play like veterans. The Rams have a lot invested in these guys, and just to have them flame out and make metal error after mental error is devastating.

According to Sporting Charts, the St. Louis Rams had the seventh most dropped passes last season with 30, but they were third worst in dropped pass percentage with 6.0, the league average was 4.55. Chris Givens, the Rams supposed number one receiver, had six drops last season, or one every 12 targets,  a 7.7 drop percentage.

That’s not even the beginning of the problem. Brian Quick had an 11% drop percentage with four drops on 34 targets and Tavon Austin had five drops on 65 targets for about a 7% drop rate. Austin Pettis was actually the Rams’ most consistent receiver as he only had two drops on 59 targets and had the highest catch percentage among the Rams receivers and even he only ranked 38th in that category. That doesn’t even include Jared Cook who lead all tight ends in drops last season.

Compare those drop numbers to the some of the NFL’s best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, and Marques Colston who all had a drop percentage of less than 7% and Fitzgerald only had one recorded dropped pass all year. The Rams receivers look like they rub butter on their hands before they take the field and are forced to play with a cold, wet ball.

Some fans blame offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer for not throwing the ball down the field which makes things difficult for the wide receivers to make a play, and that is partly true, but that isn’t the basis for all the Rams receiving trouble.

The Rams have problems at the wide receiver position and why this team didn’t draft a Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, or even Jordan Matthews in the early rounds of the draft is mind-boggling. The biggest move to the position that the Rams made is signing Kenny Britt who shows signs of greatness once every blue moon.

When it comes to the Rams most promising weapons, Chris Givens had a good rookie year, but failed to show heart on the field at times last season, Brian Quick doesn’t know the play half the time, and Tavon Austin can’t catch a break when it comes to penalty flags.

To be totally honest, Fisher and Snead have too much confidence in these young guys for their own good. Theres a difference in believing in what you have, and then just being stubborn, and at this point, Snead and Fisher are nearing that stubborn stage.

These receivers very well could pan out and everything that I am saying above could be a complete exaggeration. However, Fisher and Snead have said that they wanted to provide Bradford with some legitimate weapons, but as of right now, I’m just not seeing it.

These receivers have a lot of pressure on them in 2014, even if the Rams are a run-first team. If these receivers come out and get the job done, then everything that I just said can be put to rest. However, if these guys come out and have a season similar to last, serious question marks will be raised.

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  • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

    I understand the each fans sentiments about the Rams current wide receivers but me personally, they made a a move by signing wide receiver in Kenny Britt who knows Jeff Fisher during his Titans days and I consider this as a great signing. Britt not only gives the group a veteran wide receiver yet still has some upside. Sure he had some off the field problems and some injury issues but that’s in the past and he is now healthy and hungry to contribute. It was also good to know that in 2011 when Fisher was out of football he maintain contact with Britt and basically help him straighten up his life. I’m more confident having a veteran but still has some upside and is hungry to prove himself over another rookie who may or may not flourish in the NFL level.

    Aside from Britt, Chris Givens has seek some guidance from HOF Aeneas Williams. Williams might not really teach him to become a much better receiver but Williams guidance would help Givens in terms of being a professional and focus on the game.

    Overall all of these receiver would continue to improve their game and with Sam Bradford still at the quarterback helm and in their 3rd season on the same offense.

  • Gary Stewart

    Blaine, you failed to mention in the piece that the rams while considering wr a possible problem (just not out loud) had bigger fish to fry for instance robinson should bring an average of about 1/2 yard per offensive play improvement. which amounts to an extra 30 yards per game. this results in 1 or 2 extra first downs per game and forces defenses to bring more people into the box to stop the run which opens the passing lanes up. so that is the weapon of which you speak, and as for the 13th overall pick, aaron donald will help the defense up the middle so much that it also helps our achilles heel the secondary then we added joyner for the same depleted secondary then added tre mason to bolster the run game on a run first offense and mo alexander for the secondary. at this point we have 6th and 7th round picks left and finding a true #1 in these rounds is a real crap shoot. so saying the fish snead combo may have too much confidence in the wr corp is not an accurate statement they just knew they had to choose where the most important places were that needed improvement and while you believe it was at wr i (and apparently the management) believed it was the trenches and the secondary that needed the most help, and to stand up and say we have a problem with the receivers would not help their confidence!! GO RAMS!!

    • MichaelNupe Thompson

      Well snead did day he was confident in the receiversIf . if they were going to draft a receiver only Watkins and Evans made since. If
      They didn’t get one of them then it was no point to draft a receiver. They could’ve gotten Watkins with the first pick them made the move to trade back into the first like they said they were to get Martin. They could’ve even traded back into the first at the end of the round and gotten Xavier fula guard from ucla who can run block and pass protect. As talented as Robison is and will be there were still other options and other scenarios that could’ve been done, but they didn’t take it. I know addressing the trenches was an issue but you can’t run 80 % of the game and expect to win. Specially with a young team that draws penalties. When we get on third and long it’s always and always has been a struggle to convert on third down. Rams are one of the worst third down converting teams there are.

      • Gary Stewart

        a player of the caliber of robinson is is rare, when the rams were the gsot we had orlando pace blowing open holes for marshall faulk which in turn opened up the passing game there is no way watkins could be as important as robinson when you can’t get him the ball anyway instead of talking about who we didn’t get we should be talking about why we didn’t get him and its because shotty is so unimaginative it would have wasted another pick on a guy who has no chance to flourish my vote is keep the draft picks we got and get rid of shotty

        • MichaelNupe Thompson

          I agree. Getting rid of shotty is the best move. What i do think is even with his unimaginative offense Watkins simply would’ve taken what the wrs we have and done it better. Watkins excelled in a short passing offense. He caught screens, drags, and hitches and then did good thang. That’s basically the routes we run alot he knows how to make plays out of short passes. He’s more aggressive and has a better killer mind set than our receivers. It makes since what you’re saying. Why get him when we can’t get the ball to him but I doubt that’s the thought running through their heads. If that’s the thought then why did they trade up to get Austin. Naw I don’t know them and I don’t know exactly what they’re thinking but they don’t seem like the type to think like that.

          • Gary Stewart

            my thought was that we already got tavon for the role you perceive as the watkins role i agree sammy would have added another dimension and while i believe he would have been great the team did fine by getting a handle on the trenches and giving bradford time to stand in and throw as for tavon i expect him to have a much better year last year he was always jitterbugging around trying to make the home run this year i suspect he will settle for the 10 yard gains and move north and south more instead of as much east and west if we can get some more creative plays for tavon we may find we did not need watkins, as much as we just need to fix tavon!!

          • MichaelNupe Thompson

            I have a feeling tavon will always dance around. He’s just one of those kind of players that like to juke. They don’t like being hit. I feel that as far as our receivers teams will double Austin like they have been doing cause they don’t fear our other receivers. Watkins would’ve given them someone else in the WR core to direct their attention to freeing up Austin and taking 8 out of the box for the run game to prosper. Again another reason for Watkins. I’m sure his presence would’ve taken 8 out of the box. Now that teams know we’re running they’ll still stack the box making it hard to block, even with Robinson.

          • randal shacklett

            Britt will take the preassure off the inside routes and box with his speed and physical style of play.

          • MichaelNupe Thompson

            Hopefully

          • Jas

            Fix Tavon? We would have to replace Shotty. Hopefully they use him a little at tail, just run veer and counter off the edge for big yards, then use him as a distraction there. 4-6 plays a game would be a huge difference.

          • Gary Stewart

            about the first thing i mentioned was the need to rid ourselves of shotty!! that said i can’t help but try to come up with ways for tavon to improve even with shotty. i like him in end around slot reverses etc these are not the type plays that take a ton of imagination you just have to call them 3-4 times per game which as the year goes on forces defenses to game plan for the plays furter distracting them from their basic ruforn stopping jobs!!

  • Rick Talley

    Ditto to cesarnoel and Gary. Unless the Rams take Watkins or Evans, taking another receiver just didn’t make sense. The points made in the two previous comments hit the nail on the head!

  • MichaelNupe Thompson

    I agree. Even though I liked the draft. I felt that Watkins would’ve made more of an impact and with the other picks we couldn’t targeted Zach Martin or Xavier fula. But hey they draft is over. Im happy with their picks. Let’s get this season
    Going. If the receivers are still looking the same I expect that along with slb and maybe fs to be handled next year. Go rams

  • James Mullen

    You were probably on the Blackmon Bandwagon also. So far Watkins hasn’t been in an NFL game, so how he performs in the NFL means squat today. We draft Sammy, then what? Now we have to be lucky to get T. Lewan. Nope, he’s gone at 11. But we need a lineman, OK, we’ll take Zack Martin. Who’s the best of the remaining Tackles. But, then again, he doesn’t quite have the proto-typical length, but he’ll make an outstanding Guard & in a few years might turn into a fine LT. So, now we have another 6′ receiver, but everyone said he’s a, ( so-called ), once in a lifetime receiver, that other teams will be double teaming or triple teaming. They’ll be doing that because our other receivers, a couple who also had outstanding college careers, either don’t have the heart to play or didn’t pan out early in their careers because they dropped the ball. Wow, under a lot better circumstances I recall a couple of Super Players who had similar drops in their early years. J. Rice & V. Davis. Good thing their coaches stood by them. Ok, we have Watkins & I guess Z. Martin or maybe Ha-Ha Dix. Sorry, I’ll take Greg & Aaron any day. Greg’s a mauler we need & I’m so excited to see Aaron in action. Sammy who? Oh yeah, it’s a bummer that we lose Stedman Bailey for 4 games, but why did you fail to mention him in these drop percentage results? Is it because once they inserted him into the lineup he was a reliable receiver. Our receivers will only get better. I absolutely love the fact that T. Austin is carrying the football for the Rams. Go RAMS! One more thing, isn’t it devastating when the one word you misspell happens to be “mental”, not “metal”?

    • MichaelNupe Thompson

      There are other factors that go into this that you didn’t mention. As talented as Robinson is we cave run the ball 80% if the time and win the game we will have to throw the ball at times. There were other linemen in the draft that could’ve been drafted. Xavier fula, gabe Jackson. I’m happy with the draft but don’t act like the receiving core is not an issue. Also yes Bailey did come on at the end. Can’t wait till he gets back but with him being suspended of using peds. Being realistic we don’t know how good he’s going to be when he comes back. Watkins got as much hype that Robinson got and had a more productive college career. Don’t down play the fact that Watkins hasn’t been on the field without without including that Robinson hasn’t been on the field. No Watkins isn’t the tallest. But it didn’t always take the tallest to be successful. Cobb, bolding, Jennings, Crabtree. Roddy white, just to name a few.

      • James Mullen

        OK, first of all I don’t believe the Rams drafted Robinson for the sole reason being, to open holes for the running back. Although he’s very good at creating large holes in the line, he also is adept at protecting the QB. However, the Rams intend to start him at the guard position, where he can learn the nuances of being an elite starting LOT from Jake Long and the Rams exceptional OL Coach. I only mentioned Z. Martin because he was the only other OT who was valued to be picked in the top 15 picks. Xavier & Gabe are considered the top OG’s. I wasn’t comparing Watkin’s to Robinson, I was just pointing out my feelings on picking Greg & who I consider the top Defender in the draft, Aaron Donald. As, far as Watkins having a more productive college career than Greg. I don’t know how one compares the 2 positions, but I will say that Greg started every game in college, all the while opening huge holes for a running back who broke Bo Jacksons, school rushing record. And in doing so helped his team beat Alabama and lose a helluva game for the National Championship. Watkins also had a great college career, although in 2012 he managed only 3 TD’s, maybe it was the pot. But he came back & last year scored 12 TD’s & helped Clemson get to the Orange Bowl, where he single-handily overwhelmed Ohio St. Now, I’m not saying Watkins won’t be a good NFL receiver, I was reacting to the article written above, where he was called a, once in a lifetime receiver. How can you tell? Some said the same about Blackmon. The same goes for Greg, but the article wasn’t comparing the two, & neither was I. Also, from good sources, Bailey was late for his scheduled testing, which is treated the same as a dirty test. I didn’t mention, Watkins was charged & convicted of drug-related issues in 2012. And last but not least, 2 of my favorite Rams were H. Ellard & T. Holt, then their’s Bruce, Flipper, Hakim, Amendola, all 6′ or under, & all Rams. I don’t have a problem with small receivers. I just like the ones we have & can’t wait to see them in action again. GO RAMS!

        • MichaelNupe Thompson

          Watkins only had three tds because he missed games due to injury. The reason I say he was more productive is because Greg started only two years as opposed to Watkins starting three. I know it’s weird t compare a WR to a lineman but Greg has a major hole in his game while Watkins have very few. I do agree that Watkins is not a once in a lifetime talent but a once in a few drafts type of talent. However I do believe that they could’ve gotten Watkins along with another top lineman and Donald. I believe that Watkins would take what our receivers do and do it better. Didn’t hear that Bailey was late to his test.

          • James Mullen

            Actually Sammy was suspended the first 2 games of the 2012 season after he was arrested in May 2012 on drug charges. After that he missed the Boston College game with an abdominal virus, and against Maryland he injured his leg in the first half and did not return. I wasn’t aware of the Major Hole in Greg’s game. Usually when one is considered to be one of the top 5 prospects on virtually every teams Big Board or the top 5 of all the analyzers Big Boards, it’s assumed that player doesn’t have a Major Hole. But since were on the subject do these ring a bell. Not a polished route runner at this point. Will need time to refine route running skills. Suffers from occasional focus drop. Can improve the ability to absorb contact and hold onto the ball when defender times hit well. Ball security is shaky at times. Average size. You’d have to think that they were talking about the Rams receivers. Actually that was an ESPN analyst talking about Sammy’s weakness’s. We already have that and c’mon Tavon was, and still is, just as dynamic. Hell, Bailey had 25 TD’s the same year Austin was being dynamic in college and they were on the same team. I guess no ones heard of the Sophomore Slump, so lets give up on Givens. I thought Pettis did a fine job when the ball was thrown his way. If Britt focus’s on football, he’s only 25, who knows. Greg’s a earth mover. Dudes a beast & plays hard all 4 quarters. There is no Major Hole. He just has to refine his technique a bit. Your right he only had 2 years of college. He has upside+. This guy is only going to get better. What, 6′-5″, 332lbs., & he’s only 21. Hey, we’ll find out pretty soon. The sad thing is, with Schotty, it’s hard to score points. I don’t care who’s the receiver.

          • MichaelNupe Thompson

            No prospect coming out is perfect and everyone will have something wrong with them. Sammy because of the offense they ran of course had questions but he still had times to show he could handle it. Greg who at times barely pass blocked Didn’t really get that many snaps to prove it. It’s really to each is own and who you value. My opinion is that the rams biggest issue is scoring. The o line was better last year and was actually middle of the league in allowed sacks. They sucked at run blocking but then got it together towards the end of the year. You can call me impatient but I’m not on the Brian quick train. For the rams to have reached and the Fed us all that good stuff about him a few years ago and now he’s just a project. I just feel that Watkins despite being 6’1 could be or Roddy white/ Bolden with givens or Bailey as the other starter. But hey I’m happy with the draft and have nothing better to hope for than Britt coming back this year. I still see receiver as a big weakness cause there no sure thing. Cook is inconsistent and dropped the most passes for right ends, givens couldn’t handle being a number one. He’s an up and coming number two where he can beat ppl deep. Bailey has number one talent but we saw so little and with the fact that he’s 5’10 Not for sure.

      • Gary Stewart

        michael i did not fail to realize the rams cannot run the ball 80% of the time as you say, but what you forgot to mention is, if defenses cannot stop the rams run game the rams will continue to run until the defenses put 8 in the box and when they do it opens up passing lanes, and if bradford is good at anything it is the play action pass which, (as you know) is based on a run fake then pass. i am happy with the direction we are headed and will look forward to watching rams games all season!!

        • MichaelNupe Thompson

          I understand what your saying. It’s just my opinion on the wrs aren’t that high as of now. Last year I saw the rams give Stacy the ball 25, plus times and sometimes still can’t run or pass. We’ll just have to wait and see. The nfc west defenses are the best at stopping the run and pass at the same time. So we’ll see

    • seann

      where did u hear the Tavon thing? Is that for this yr he has been doing that? That would be cool to see him doing that more this yr.

      • James Mullen

        I get it. I like it. I’m just glad I don’t have to watch him carry the football for another team.

        • James Mullen

          Even if it is just a couple of carries.

    • Gary Stewart

      i view the rams quest for a number 1 wr as a 1-1-1 situation remember atlanta jumped us to get julio bad luck for the rams jax grabbed blackmon right before our pick good luck for us and then we passed on watkins the jury is still out. to me the big difference is we had really 3 options at #2 none of them bad 1, either tackle 2 khalil mack, and 3 watkins i had my preference at mack then robinson then watkins and then matthews (i prefer robinson for his run game upside) if we had gotten any of them and still gotten aaron donald our defense would be punishing. but either of those options the rams had a win win win as long as they did not pick manziel at #2 all was gonna be good!!

      • James Mullen

        Yeah, Mack would have been nice. We definitely could use an upgrade at OLB. I think you tend to feel like it’s Christmas when you have more than one 1st Rd. picks. You might even feel greedy, you want everyone. Myself, I was super pumped about one player and I don’t know how he fell to 13. But he did. This guy is small for a DT, 6′- 03/4″, 285 lbs. His arms are long, 32 5/8″, though which gives him leverage. At the combine his VJ was 32″, he ran the 40 in “4.68″. And benched 225 35 friggin times. Talk about College production, in 2013 to go along with his 59 Tackles, he had 28.5 TFL’s, 16 QB hurries, 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 blocked extra point. The guy loves to watch game film. His coaches say he works harder in practice than any player they have been around. He’s described as the energizer bunny & plays with a mean streak. On top of that he received every list of famous name awards. Hey, Santa came early. HELLO Aaron Donald!

        • Gary Stewart

          i agree on the donald deal at 13 i had been preaching haha but when i noticed donald had fallen i quickly jumped up and paced the floor hoping the rams would not have let him go and they didn’t disappoint although dix would not have been a total bummer either but when donald was there it appeared like a no brainer to me apparently the management of the rams felt likewise i so look forward to his up the middle disruptive force the only way quinn doesn’t get as many sacks this year is if donald gets to the qb before quinn this is gonnna be fun to watch!! GO RAMS!!

  • randal shacklett

    Watkins was considered the best reciever in the class of 14′ but where you get “once in a lifetime”, beats me.

  • Natedogg265

    Detroit has the best receiver in the game. What have they won?

    It doesn’t mean as much as some wish.

    • Corey

      Their secobdary is absolute garbage and thats how they always get beat plus they jus recently got megatron some damn help

      • Natedogg265

        It’s not like they’ve had him for 1 year. The point is, Sammy Watkins is just a receiver, not an entire offense.

        • Jas

          Yes, and an improved O-line will help all our receiving corps.

    • James Mullen

      I’m writing all this stuff in here and you summed it all up in one sentence. Good Call.

  • UhhDuhh

    Nope. That’s why they brought in Britt and Moe. I’m just concerned they have too much confidence in the OC. Watkins or not, it was a great draft and I can only imagine how hard SEA, SF and AZ is working to stay ahead of STL. NFC West- the new Black and Blue division. GO RAMS!!!

  • Nate Shead

    Agree a 150% with this article because it is a valid set of statements but one only has to look back at the decision to draft Brian Quick when other players specifically Ashlon Jeffery who produced in his first year and gained quadruple what Quick has in his career. Snead’s refusal to accept that fact is a major weakness to still try to justify that pick and the player chosen who is slow, bricks for hands, and seems to still not have grasped the play book. When and if the Rams ever get a true #1 big body receiver that will open up the field for Tavon and we will really see his playmaking ability. They will not contend and have a true shot to advance deep into the playoffs without a effective passing attack and their cannot shut down their opponents every game the offense will have to be able to score and the GM and Head Coach desire to act as if fans do not know these facts and the Achilles heel of this particular team and they continue to ignore throwing out some lies.

  • Corey

    Shouldve drafted watkins and gotten an ol with the 1st pick in the 2nd rd. im really disappointed they didnt go with watkins jus a great all around player who really couldve done great things in gold and blue. And we really needed a safety and in my opinion they failed to get a legitimate threat as a centerfielder. But i did like the draft. Just really thought we could get watkins and improve the depth. Its okay to have 6 good to decent receivers.

  • Corey

    Oh yeah and fuckin fire schottenhimer

    • Jas

      I down with tar and feathers

  • SF Guy

    You forgot to mention Sted Bailey. He will be a big contributor once he’s back from suspension….. I hope……