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

Rams Must Avoid Sophomore Slumps

Over the past two seasons, the St. Louis Rams have drafted well and gotten good production out of their rookie classes, and this season should be no different. However, where the Rams have had problems, is getting consistent production out of their second year players.

For all of the potential and promise that the young players offer, the team has just as much uncertainty about them in the future.  Last year, the showings of some second-year players helped to affirm that hesitance when it comes to the team’s success. The Rams have a corps group of young players, and falling victim of the infamous “sophomore slump” can be detrimental to this team moving forward.

In 2013 it was most notably Chris Givens and Janoris Jenkins who suffered sophomore slumps as Givens wasn’t that play making receiver he was his rookie year and failed to score a single touchdown in 2013. Whereas Jenkins  only had one interception last season compared to five his rookie year.

The numbers for Jenkins weren’t really the big concern. What was troubling, however, was the amount of times he was burned deep in 2013 while becoming a liability in coverage. Some of this is due to the defensive system that Tim Walton was running and lack of help in the secondary, but for Jenkins to have any foreseeable future on this team, he will need to take a big step forward in 2014.

The same can be said for Givens at receiver as he had just 34 catches for 569 yards this year with his zero touchdowns being the most concerning stat. Givens was without starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the majority of the year, but he was still given opportunities. 

This season the Rams have a large group of young players that will need to step up and continue to be the player that we all got to know their rookie year. Tavon Austin, Zac Stacy, and Alec Ogletree with all need to take a step forward if this team plans on taking the next step. Where last year’s sophomores failed to take a step forward, the Rams can’t afford this year’s to do the same.

One thing that could differentiate this year’s group with last year’s, is that Stacy and Ogletree both looked like they were future pro bowlers and stars of this team. Stacy basically carried the offense on his shoulders all season and Ogletree was the first person not named James Laurinaitis to lead the team in tackles. Both players showed promise and look like they will play big roles on the team moving forward.

For as much promise as the previous two showed, the eighth overall pick, Tavon Austin was as inconsistent as it gets. For every big play that left you amazed on how a player could possibly pull that off, therew as a dropped pass or negative play. Austin showed that he has the skill sets, but like everything to do with this team, he needs to show that he can do it consistently.

The Rams do have a lot of young players, but slowly they are all learning from their mistakes. Chris Givens is putting fourth a lot of effort as to not disappoint once again in 2014 and Jeff Fisher hired Gregg Williams to help out with the problems in the secondary.

Stacy, Austin, and Ogletree will all be learning along the way as well, which is all fine and dandy, however, what they can’t do, is take a significant step back that will hurt the team along the way.

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