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.