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    St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think by Seth Doria (Analyst)

    In releasing Torry Holt on Mar. 13, St. Louis cast aside not only the face of the franchise, but a seven-time Pro Bowler with 869 career receptions for 12,660 yards and 74 touchdowns.

    And that was just the headliner on the decimation of last yearís receiving corps. Also gone from last year are Drew Bennett, Dante Hall, and Dane Looker.

    In their absence, the Rams now have the following receivers on the roster: Donnie Avery, Travis Brown, Keenan Burton, Jarrett Byers, Brooks Foster, Horace Gant, Nate Jones, Chad Lucas, Laurent Robinson and Derek Stanley.

    Ummmm...Who?

    Letís take a run down the career bios of these distinguished gentlemen:

    (Size and 40 times as measured at NFL Combine or playerís school pro day. The fact Iím using college highlights and combine measurement gives you an indication of how light the NFL resumes is on these guys.)

    Avery: The first wide receiver selected in the 2008 NFL Draft was one of four rookies last year to finish with 50 or more receptions and 500 or more receiving yards.

    Rookie totals: 15 games with 12 starts, 53 receptions for 674 yards and three touchdowns; 10 rush attempts for 69 yards and a touchdown; Put up 163 yards on six catches at New England, including a 69-yard touchdown; Caught nine balls for 93 yards at San Francisco; Runs a 4.34 40.

    Brown: Second year out of New Mexico; Undrafted out of college; Bounced from Seattle to Cincinnati to Chicago before signing with the Rams; No career stats in the NFL; three-year starter at UNM who was first-team All-Mountain West as a junior and senior; Good size at 6'2", 202 lb, though not great speed with a 4.49 40.

    Burton: Drafted out of Kentucky in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft; Rookie totals: 13 games with one start, 13 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown; Three rush attempts for eight yards; During final two years at Kentucky, totaled 143 receptions for 1777 yards and 21 touchdowns; At combine, finished first in the vertical jump (38.5) and ran a 4.44 40.

    Byers: Undrafted rookie out of Northeastern State University in Oklahoma (Division II); Selected by the Football Gazette as an All-American return specialist; Finished with school records for receptions in a career (165), receiving yards in a career (2,545) and touchdowns in a career (28); Returned two kick-offs for touchdowns in 2008. Ran a 4.45 40 at the NSU pro day.

    Foster: Drafted in the fifth round out of North Carolina in the 2009 NFL Draft; Never the primary guy at UNC playing behind Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate; Totaled 59 catches for 751 yards and four touchdowns his final two years on campus.

    A strong possession-type receiver who holds the school wide receiver record in the bench press (405 lbs); Underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after North Carolina's regular season finale and was forced out of Senior Bowl practices early with knee soreness

    Gant: Undrafted in 2008 out of St. Olaf college; Member of the Washington Redskins practice squad in 2008; No NFL stats; Three-time All Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference; Third Team Division III All American as a senior. Holds school career records for receptions (185), receiving yards (3,061) and receiving touchdowns (27); Big at 6-3, 218, but slow with a 4.60 40.

    Jones: Undrafted in 2008 out of Texas; Spent portion of 2008 season on St. Louis practice squad; No NFL stats; ran a 4.41 40 at the Texas pro day; As a senior, had 70 catches for 795 yards and 5 touchdowns; Was named Second-Team All-Big 12 by The NFL Draft Report.

    Lucas: Undrafted in 2004 out of Alabama State; Has been signed by Tennessee, Green Bay and Tampa Bay, but has only played in three NFL games, one with Green Bay and two with Tampa; Career totals: Three games with one start, five receptions for 82 yards (including a 52-yard reception).

    Has also played Arena ball and was allocated to NFL Europe by the Packers.

    Robinson: Drafted by the Falcons out of Illinois State in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft; Finished fourth in receptions by a rookie in 2007 with 37 (behind only Dwayne Bowe, Calvin Johnson and James Jones); Missed most of 2008 with head and hamstring injuries, finishing with five catches in six games.

    Career totals: 21 games with six starts, 42 receptions for 489 yards and one touchdown; Had a seven-catch, 114-yard, 1-TD game against Arizona as a rookie; Acquired from Atlanta in exchange for swapping positions in the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2009 NFL Draft; Big at 6-2 and runs a 4.38 40.

    Stanley: Drafted by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Split between active roster and practice squad in 2007 and 2008; Career totals: 13 games with no starts, 6 receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown (an 80-yarder against the Cardinals last year).

    In college, was an All-American in track and reportedly ran a 4.32 40; Still in the rehab stage from late-season knee surgery and was held out of recent minicamp.

    Now even the most die-hard, self-deluded, pie-in-the-sky Rams fans would have to admit that list is seriously light in the loafers when it comes to NFL production.

    Holt had 869 receptions on his resume. This group has a total of 119.

    Screwed, right?

    In the words of Lee Corso, ďNot so fast, my friend.Ē

    New offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer is out of the ďWest CoastĒ system. Though that term has been *******ized to death, one trait that carries through most iterations of the offense, particularly in Philadelphia, is that you donít need a dominant Pro Bowl receiver to make it successful.

    Just take a look at the list of leading receivers during Andy Reidís tenure with the Eagles (Shurmerís been there for all of it):

    1999: WR Torrance Small with 49 receptions

    2000: TE Chad Lewis with 69

    2001: Tie between WR James Thrash and RB Duce Staley with 63 each

    2002: WR Todd Pinkston with 60

    2003: Thrash with 49

    2004: WR Terrell Owens with 77

    2005: Tie between RB Brian Westbrook and TE LJ Smith with 61

    2006: Westbrook with 77

    2007: Westbrook with 90

    2008: WR DeSean Jackson with 62

    In 10 seasons, the Eagles have had only two receivers go over 1000 yards: Kevin Curtis with 1110 on 77 catches in 2007 and TO with 1200 on 77 catches in 2004.

    Total team record: 97-62-1 with five trips to the NFC Championship Game and one Super Bowl. And it wasnít just Jim Johnsonís defense that got them there: They finished in the top dozen of points scored in seven of the 10 years.

    So now that weíve established that having the second coming of Jerry Rice isnít a necessity for a successful Rams offense, letís take a look at what they do have:

    Speed and size. Plenty of it.

    Iíll admit that when the Rams selected Avery out of Houston ahead of every single other receiver in the 2008 draft, I was dubious. It wasnít so much that I thought he was a bad player, but that they needed as many impact defensive payers as they could get if they had any chance whatsoever at saving Scott Linehanís job through a brutal early-season schedule.

    But Avery has shown flashes of being able to be a true number one receiver in the NFL. The 163 yards he put up on the Patriots last year were the most by any one guy all season, a list that includes Dwayne Bowe, Laveranues Coles, Isaac Bruce, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Lee Evans, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Deion Branch and Larry Fitzgerald.

    And though he was playing against Conference USA defenses, Avery still had 11 100-plus yard games in his college career, including a 346-yard game on 13 catches with two touchdowns against Rice as a senior.

    Maybe Iím going out on a bit of a limb here, but it wouldnít surprise me in the least to see Avery make his first Pro Bowl in the next two or three years.

    As for the rest of the receiver corps, itís a list of maybes.

    Maybe Burton develops into a solid possession receiver (he was running opposite Avery with the first team in the recent minicamp).

    Maybe Robinson picks up where he left off as a rookie and becomes a solid number three (I actually think he'll develop into the second starter, perhaps as early as this preseason).

    Maybe Stanley continues to develop into a consistent threat.

    Maybe Brown or Byers or Jones or Gant or Lucas surprises and makes the club (though chances are only one of them will, and thatís if the Rams donít bring in anybody else).

    But with the particular brand of offense being installed, those maybes are far more acceptable than they would be somewhere else (say Denver, where Josh McDaniels is installing a spread offense that uses four and even five receivers at a time).

    The Rams may not have a fantasy drafterís dream at the position. Theyíre not the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf. Theyíre not going to be the Patriots or the Cardinals or the Saints.

    But they could be the Eagles. And recent history has shown us thatís more than enough


  2. #2
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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Avery is a fisherman....that's also a big plus for me. J/K. Ok, Avery had a decent rookie WR season. Gotta give him that. It's a misnomer that rookie WR have a great year. Jackson was more of an abberation than the norm. Looking at the stats provided, Shurmer uses the TE effectively and with McMichael healthy maybe I'm underestimating the offense so far. With a solid O line (which I think we have) a great running game (Jackson) the passing game will be ok.

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    something not mentioned in that report, Eddie Kennison & Drew Bennett each had more production in their Careers than the current crop of Wideouts combined in their careers to date..

    point? you dont win nothing for what your players have done with other teams in the past.

    let the rookies play..if it pays off with so many young players we have,not just at Wideout but throughout the team..we gonna be set for years to come..if that happens then we probably wont be able to keep them all long term due to the salary cap but we wont be caught in the same situation we have this year in trying to get somebody to trade for out past their prime players.

    if it doesnt pay off this year then they should all be better for the experience in 2010 and those that arent can be replaced.

    we will atleast know who weve got for the long term or not..

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    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    I would take the position that philly failed to get over the hump and win titles in large part because they didnt get front line weapons at the receiver spot for mcnabb to work with. Was the offense successful? Sure. But the one year they made the super bowl they did it with TO.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    I would take the position that philly failed to get over the hump and win titles in large part because they didnt get front line weapons at the receiver spot for mcnabb to work with. Was the offense successful? Sure. But the one year they made the super bowl they did it with TO.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    Agreed

    I was also going to finish the last line of the article "And recent history has shown us thatís more than enough".......to not win a Super Bowl.

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Another point to consider is that while Avery had a decent rookie season. Torry Holt was drawing the double teams. Holt is gone so guess who's going to get that special attention in 2009?

    Avery!


    GO RAMS!!!!

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    I would take the position that philly failed to get over the hump and win titles in large part because they didnt get front line weapons at the receiver spot for mcnabb to work with. Was the offense successful? Sure. But the one year they made the super bowl they did it with TO.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    I know we've discussed this before, GC, but technically, the Eagles made it to the Playoffs with TO. They made it to the SB withOUT TO.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Well, if we are talking T.O. and Shurmer football, what a great addition a healthy T.O. would have been in the playoffs AND the Super Bowl. T.O. wasn't 100% in that game. If he was, I honestly believe the Eagles would have won.

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Was Holt really drawing the double teams? I think teams laid off doubling the Rams WR and rushed the QB. I don't know though.

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Well, if we are talking T.O. and Shurmer football, what a great addition a healthy T.O. would have been in the playoffs AND the Super Bowl. T.O. wasn't 100% in that game. If he was, I honestly believe the Eagles would have won.
    2004 Eagles Playoffs:
    with TO - 0-1 (Owens 9 for 122)
    without TO - 2-0


    We're off the point now, but I think the impact of TO is greatly overblown on the 2004 playoffs. Yes, it makes a great story for him to come back from injury and have a good stat line in the biggest game of all. But the Eagles relied on him too heavily, got aware from their balanced attack, and was held to 21 points after putting up 27 in the NFC Champ. and the Division game.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Foster: Drafted in the fifth round out of North Carolina in the 2009 NFL Draft; Never the primary guy at UNC playing behind Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate; Totaled 59 catches for 751 yards and four touchdowns his final two years on campus.

    A strong possession-type receiver who holds the school wide receiver record in the bench press (405 lbs); Underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after North Carolina's regular season finale and was forced out of Senior Bowl practices early with knee soreness
    Well .. with a 405 lb benchpress Brooks Foster shouldn't have too much trouble beating the jam at the LOS. Foster vs Fletcher should be an interesting matchup during training camp ..

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    2004 Eagles Playoffs:
    with TO - 0-1 (Owens 9 for 122)
    without TO - 2-0


    We're off the point now, but I think the impact of TO is greatly overblown on the 2004 playoffs. Yes, it makes a great story for him to come back from injury and have a good stat line in the biggest game of all. But the Eagles relied on him too heavily, got aware from their balanced attack, and was held to 21 points after putting up 27 in the NFC Champ. and the Division game.
    The Patriots also had the 2nd best defense in the league that year while the Falcons and Vikings had the 14th and 26th ranked defenses.

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    Of course a dominant WR like TO or Holt in his prime would be reassuring but I think, & The Rams are obviously gambling, the edge that might give will more sustainably be provided by better o-line play and a healthy SJ/Mcmichael, among other things.

    I like the improved odds you get by spreading the bets around like that.
    Last edited by Azul e Oro; -05-13-2009 at 06:14 PM.

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    I dont think holt was getting a lot of double teams last year at all. Nice possession receiver, good blocker, sure hands. No YAC upside and no speed at this point in his career along with suspect knees.

    ramming speed to all

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    Re: St. Louis Surprise: Rams' Receivers Are Better Than You Think

    The first 4 or 5 games Holt was getting double teamed almost every play, and sometimes it seemed like there was a third man watching over the top. After that the offense was geared towards Avery which was why Torry was upset that he was being weened out. With a decent line and action Jackson our receivers will be fine.

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