Brandon Gibson poised for a breakout...we told you so

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 20: Brandon Gibson #11 of the St. Louis Rams catches an 83 yard pass for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at the Edward Jones Dome on August 20, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images)

A number of players from the St. Louis Rams have stood out in training camp this year. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been wide receiver Brandon Gibson. The race to settle the wide receiver depth chart overshadows his work in camp and the preseason so far. Even his 83-yard touchdown reception last week gets bandied about in the context of the receiver derby. I'm not entirely surprised at Gibson's breakout performance.

We've talked about before...and even got some hints about it from Gibson himself.

On April 1, I wrote a short post looking at a couple of very interesting comparability scores from Football Outsiders for Brandon Gibson based on his first two seasons in the NFL. The two most similar players for Gibson: Anquan Boldin's 2004 season and Steve Smith's (then of the Giants) two year span from 2007 to 2008. From my April post:

The two-year comparisons offer a little more insight in that they have more data to compare. Smith's '07 and '08 seasons were his first two in the league. In 2007, he had 8 receptions on 14 passes for 63 yards and no TDs in five games. In 2008, he had 57 receptions on 82 passes for 577 yards and 1 TD in 16 games, 4 starts.

Gibson, in his 2009 rookie season, had 34 receptions on 69 passes for 349 yards and 1 TD in 10 games, 4 starts. In 14 games last season - remember he didn't dress for the first two weeks of the season - Gibson had 53 receptions on 91 passes for 620 yards and 2 TDs.

I went on to note that various QB situations for both Gibson and Smith, the later having had Eli Manning and Gibson playing through the three quarterback monster of 2009 then working with a rookie in 2010. Rookie or not, the improved QB play went right along with a big jump in Gibson's play. Gibson even improved his play over the course of the season last year. That he's looking better in camp and the preseason this year should not shock. 

In 2009, Smith's third year, he caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and 7 TDs. Gibson's numbers will depend on just how much variety Sam Bradford and Josh McDaniels use in their playcalling, i.e. they may spread the ball around with a new tight end and the ever reliable Danny Amendola. That might make 107 passes hard to replicate. Brandon Lloyd caught 77 in Denver last year under McDaniels, and that looks like a more realistic number for Gibson this year...and would still be amazing. 

Gibson worked hard during the lockout. He even revealed in an interview with TST over the summer that he spent time working with Matt Hasselbeck and players from the Seahawks; he's from Seattle.

It's what he said about the potential of this offense that really stands out. 

I really feel like this offense has the chance to be explosive. Each position, we know our plays. They may not all be home run type plays, but I guess we'll see.

Funny, Gibson has the only home run play of the preseason. He even alluded to the difference for him as a second year player and clues about what might lie ahead for him in 2011.

I can honestly say that Sam was a huge help. Coming in with a quarterback as talented as him, the team kind of rallied around him.

Once players are in the second year of their system, they're going to get more comfortable and just relax and play fast; that's what the second season was about. We're starting over offense-wise, but we don't want to take any steps backwards. We're going to work as hard as we can to become a very potent offense and make sure we put up points.

The Brandon Gibson breakout...you heard it here first. 

Don't forget to follow him on Twitter @BGibson04

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