It’s quite clear that the LA Rams had something in mind for veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson in 2021. In his first game for the LA Rams, he was targetted just twice and caught both for 21 yards of offense. He would be completely ignored in Week 2. So much build-up, and then? Nada. Hrmph.
But it was not until the Week 3 contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that the Rams offense unleashed him for three of five catches for 120 yards and a sizzling touchdown. That would be his best game for the LA Rams last year, a flash of brilliance like the flash of a light bulb before burning out. He would go on to catch three of eight passes for 80 yards over the next four games before getting his release.
This year, the LA Rams have another speedster wide receiver in the form of Tutu Atwell. Unlike Jackson, Atwell is in the second year of his rookie contract. But much like Jackson, his training camp praises were quite honestly over the top. The similarities with Jackson do not stop there:
So far in three games, Atwell has seen 12 offensive snaps and has been targeted just twice with no catches. Now, do you see where this is going?
Is Tutu Atwell the Week 4 secret weapon?
Whether or not this has been the intention all along, the LA Rams have set the perfect stage for a huge showing by WR Tutu Atwell. Much like DJax, Atwell has only been targeted twice so far. And much like DJax, the best use of Atwell’s speed is the element of surprise. The San Francisco 49ers defense is very formidable, allowing just 227 yards per game. In terms of passing offense, they currently top the NFL, allowing just 148.3 yards per game.
But, before you get the wrong impression, the 49ers have faced the offenses of the Chicago Bears (32nd), Seattle Seahawks (28th), and Denver Broncos (16th). The LA Rams, normally a productive offense, is currently the 25th-ranked NFL offense.
We know that whenever the LA Rams face the San Francisco 49ers, you can toss the records out the window. The 49ers always seem to regroup when facing the LA Rams and turn things around. Is the opposite true? Will the fact that the Rams offense, stuck in an early season malaise, snap to attention and regroup to put up a big show against their NFC West Division rivals?
And, if they can, will Tutu Atwell be a big part of that sudden burst of offensive output?
Yes, this is all speculation, but to a point. The similarities between DeSean Jackson in 2021 and Tutu Atwell in 2022 are tough to ignore. And the LA Rams coaching staff so far was either lying about Tutu Atwell’s potential in the offense this season, completely fooled by him in praising his potential, or simply recognizing that he could be a valuable offensive secret weapon to spring on the 49ers defense in Week 4.
I have to believe that it’s the last scenario. After all, shocking the 49ers and the NFL with a huge game from Tutu Atwell seems very much like the Sean McVay thing to do. We’ll find out soon enough.