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    Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    By Nick Wagoner

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams receiver Tavon Austin has made a living of doing things fast.

    For Austin, patience is not a virtue, but for right now it might qualify as a necessary evil. Four games into his NFL career, Austin hasn’t had any of his trademark explosive plays, the type of game-changers that he’s made his hallmark since he began playing football.

    It’s a frustrating change of pace for Austin to wait around for big things to happen. That’s why he’s leaning on his team to remind him not to try so hard to make something happen that he begins pressing too hard.

    “The coaches and other players do a good job of reminding me,” Austin said. “I do want to break out, but this game is a different type of game. I’ve got to be patient with it, and that’s what I will be, and eventually I will break out.”

    In the first quarter of his first season, Austin has posted 20 catches for 124 yards with two touchdowns. Playing primarily as a slot receiver, it’s not unusual to have a per catch average under 10 yards, but Austin’s 6.2 average tells us two things: he has yet to break off a big gainer, and he has little to no room to run after the catch.

    Those issues are essentially one in the same, and the Rams are well aware that they have to do a better job of scheming and game-planning so Austin isn’t inundated with tacklers as soon as he makes the catch.

    “Well, what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to get the run after catch,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We’ve got to get him in position to where he’s got a chance to make somebody miss and go. That’s just a matter of continuing to work on things, and maybe experiment with some different things.”

    Experimenting would be a welcome change from what we’ve seen so far. Austin’s strength is his speed and ability to elude tacklers in the open field, so it stands to reason that a lot of his work will be done in the short to intermediate areas.

    That doesn’t mean the Rams can’t find ways to get him the ball a bit further down the field. So far, Austin is averaging 6.35 air yards per target, which is to say on average he’s a little more than 6 yards down the field when the ball comes his way.

    The quick dump-offs and outs are going to be staples of Austin’s game, but ESPN Insiders analyst Louis Riddick believes more innovation is necessary to get Austin rolling.

    Riddick said he sees issues all over the offense, including how Austin is being used on routes, the struggles of the offensive line and all other blockers, an offense he views as predictable, and a lack of a running game.

    “I don’t really look at it as Tavon’s fault, quite honestly,” Riddick said. “I don’t think the problem really lies with him. It all comes down and piling on one problem after another. It’s making everything seem a little bit worse.”

    It’s certainly way too soon to judge any rookie at this point in the season, particularly a rookie receiver. Rare is the wideout that is able to come into the NFL and make an instant impact from Day One.

    With a competitive talent such as Austin, it's imperative to ensure he doesn’t get too down on himself for not making that impact every time he touches the ball. It’s up to the Rams’ leaders to ensure that doesn’t happen.

    “Obviously, Tavon is an extremely talented player,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “He’s a really good football player. He’s being asked to do some things right now that he’s probably not used to. In West Virginia, everything ran through him. He probably never left a game without eight to 10 touches. So, this is a little bit different for him, but we’ve got to keep him going, because there are things that he does really well, and he’s going to help us.”

    Just because he’s learning patience doesn’t mean Austin is sitting around waiting for things to happen, either. He’s working on being more disciplined in his routes, and working hard to improve his knowledge of the system and the route combinations within it.

    Last weekend, Austin returned home to Baltimore and surprised his 10-year old brother at his peewee football game. The younger Austin scored the winning points with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion.

    Those are the type of impact plays Austin expects of himself every time he plays. It’s easy to see that Austin has the talent to make that type of impact. The hard part is the waiting.

    “You know, I have got a lot to learn on my end,” Austin said. “I have got a lot I’m still working on, and hopefully as the games keep going by I’ll get better and better. With how competitive I am, I want to come in and be a top guy on this team and help us win. But I know it will take time and everything will work.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    20 touches (through 4 games) seems to make the investment a bit of a WASTE, thus far.
    "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

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    Re: Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    Those issues are essentially one in the same, and the Rams are well aware that they have to do a better job of scheming and game-planning so Austin isn’t inundated with tacklers as soon as he makes the catch.
    Great, they're aware of it. Now let's see them do it!
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    Re: Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Fargo Ram Fan View Post
    20 touches (through 4 games) seems to make the investment a bit of a WASTE, thus far.
    He has more then 20 touches, he has 20 catches, this does not include runs or punt returns. He's tied for the most catches with 20 for a rookie and has one less TD then the leading rookie so far. It's just a matter of time before he starts getting some big plays. He's on pace for 80 catches not sure what you consider a waste to be exactly. Mike Wallace only has 15, now that seems like a wast to me.

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    Re: Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    Given the current state of our running game and our kickoff return personnel, I would like to see Austin given more opportunities. In my mind, there is no question Austin can be effective as a running back. He's had plenty of experience at the position in high school and college. I am not suggesting that he's going to move the pile on 3rd and short, but he could be productive in a variety of scenarios given his unique skill set. Forget the end arounds and "trickerations" - just let him try and find a lane/crease. If Stacy can block, put em both in there now and then. One only need watch the highlights of Tavon versus Oklahoma to see that he isn't just a receiver.

    On kickoffs, it seems most times the ball is kicked through the endzone resulting in a touchback. Other times it is fielded in the endzone and a knee is taken. However, on occasion there is an opportunity for a return. Why not allow Tavon the chance? I'll admit that before the regular season started, I would have voted against this move, as I was besotted with all the hype over Givens, Cookie, Quick and so on, and thought it prudent not to use him as a return guy due to the possibility of an injury. At this point, however, we could really use a playmaker. Watching Benny Cunningham return kickoffs is not something I look forward to.

    Why not give Tavon more opportunities to handle the ball? Injury? Even if he were to be injured, I doubt our season is over solely because Tavon gets injured .. (I won't elaborate on that subject any further).

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    Re: Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    it comes down to 2 things when implemeting a short passing game that emphasizes YAC

    1) scheme--- to spread the field such that defenders cant reach the reciever quickly
    and or position the defenders such that the reciever is isolated 1 on 1.
    and
    2) downfield blocking.......

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    Re: Tavon Austin learning value of patience ..

    I'm not concerned so much with the volume of touches he's getting (Aj Green and Julio Jones both had around the same number of catches through their first 4 games iirc) as much as I am with the lack of yardage he's getting with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by punahou View Post
    1) scheme--- to spread the field such that defenders cant reach the reciever quickly
    and or position the defenders such that the reciever is isolated 1 on 1.
    I think this is our biggest problem right now. The guys drawing up the plays just aren't spread offense guys. Fisher wants to run it and I havent seen anything from Shotty to suggest he isn't getting his plays from Madden 14.

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