"Attack where he is unprepared; sally out when he does not expect you." Sun Tzu 'Art of War'
Well, as you can see, I'm a big fan of the great general. His readings not only apply to war, but in all sports as well. Sometimes, the translation (sally: To rush out or leap forth suddenly.) can be confusing, but in the many times I've read it, I try to use the trains of thought in everyday life. You say "What does it have to do with this article?" Well, I'm expecting to see a different look altogether this year. Yes, the West Coast offense will be used primarily, but with a few Jeff Fisher/ Brian Schottenheimer wrinkles, I promise.
Mr. Bradford seems to be very excited with the prospects in the fold now. But he has to be thinking "How many dropped balls, broken routes, misreads and penalties is this group going to have this year?" The injuries didn't help either, and along with the terrible line play there never was a time when the receiving unit could even be called O.K.
So, the expectations are so huge this year, that the G.S.O.T. receivers would be sweating this kind of pressure. But all is not lost with a new coaching staff that really does seem to get it. The past regimes had promise also, but Jeff Fisher's pedigree dictates success. The Unit is under the guidance of Ray Sherman (a great story on his back-round). This is a definite upgrade over what was here last year (Nolan Cromwell was a great defensive player, how he ended up a receiving coach is another story).
As I covered in my last posting Sam Bradford 3.0, the wide-outs and slots lack of talent were a factor in the offensive woes last year. As of this writing, however, this seasons hopes will be coming from the youth movement. Sam is excited, coaches and even defensive players have seen a changing stigma with the current group. Still, some of you aren't happy that spot-lighted draftees and free-agents aren't wearing horns. All I can say here is to let it all unfold before your eyes as the season gets closer. Don't expect a Greatest Show group, but again any improvement from 2011 is success.
When the receiver with the most experience on your team was wearing a different uniform last year, red flags mark most units on other teams as this being serious trouble. I see it as a fresh start for the players who struggled last year and for the returning injured players. Expect to see a much radical persona from this group as a whole. (Y.P.C. =Yards Per Catch)
Danario Alexander- If he hadn't missed time last year, he would have been the Rams primary target last year. Injuries are a big concern with him as well as his drop %. All DX believers have faith in him to do his part, but will he be available to do so? On the other hand, even with his restrictions, he did make plays that resembled some of the best out there.
- Targeted 60- Receptions 26-Yards 431-Y.P.C. 16.58-T.D. 2
Danny Amendola- Boy, did the rams miss him last year. He was the most valuable missing player last year in the N.F.L. An announcer for Fox once said "This team goes as Danny goes." So 2011 was a no go. The good news is he's recovered and that his play this year will make all of you forget that awful picture that writers still use on this site.
- Targeted 6- Receptions 5-Yards 45- Y.P.C. 9.0-T.D. 0
Brandon Gibson- I feel for this guy, he gets no respect here. Come on, he is not a primary receiver and he knows it. But he did fill his role last year and did everything asked of him. He did have a case of dropped balls like many on last years roster and his blocking was, well, he doesn't work hard enough at it . What he does bring is good short to mid level route running and is a team player.
- Targeted 71- Receptions 36- Yards 431- Y.P.C.11.97- T.D. 1
Austin Pettis- As many times as this guy was thrown to, it was difficult to find any film on him. What I do know is that he is on notice. Being suspended for the first two games this year may cost him dearly as his reps will likely go to the newer players. He will need to do that much more to hold on to a roster spot in the future. He did become a presence in the return game as the season went on, but there are many guys on the roster now that may be serviceable in that role.
- Targeted 48- Receptions 27- Yards 256- Y.P.C. 9.48- T.D. 0
Greg Salas- I'm thinking that this will be his coming out party this year. There had to be something with last years staff that kept from using him more. He is not blazing fast, but does have a physical advantage over most that cover him. He is not afraid of contact, blocks very well and has very good down-field instincts. He did have the best % of catches to times thrown to.
- Targeted 38- Receptions 27- Yards 264-Y.P.C. 9.77- T.D. 0
As a group, this years draft class is the best hope we have all seen in quite a few years. You can see the evaluation of the receivers drafted fitted the outside need. And not drafting Blackmon is turning out to be a blessing. There is too much to do this year to have to deal with that. While signing Steve Smith isn't headline news, his 3rd down effectiveness is welcome and needed.
What Brain Quick, Chris Givens, Nick Johnson and Michael Campell do this year will be determined on how much the vets bring to the new offense. Of these gentlemen, Brian Quick will be an instant factor in the Ram offense. Brandon Lloyd effect on the team last year will be minute to the possibility of how much Y.A.C. Quick will bring to the table this year. Watching the film on Chris Givens doesn't show me he will be a factor this year, but if he can contribute in other ways, his development will come. The other guys will be no more than camp guys to push the vets.
The hardest part of this is to predict numbers from this group. As sorry as I am to say this, injuries will be a factor again this year, but not on the same scale. Youth is a factor also, although I feel Brain Quick will start, Salas will get more reps and Alexander will find it hard to make the roster if not on the field in preseason to do so. (I don't think the Rams will carry more than six receivers)
Austin Pettis- 38 Rec 366Yds. 9.6 Y.P.C. 1Tds.
Brian Quick- 75 Rec- 996Yds. 13.3 Y.P.C. 7Tds.
Brandon Gibson- 30 Rec. 339Yds. 11.3 Y.P.C. 2Tds (6-8 games)
Chris Givens- 20 Rec.- 201Yds. 10.05 Y.P.C. 1Tds. (4-6 Games)
Danario Alexander- 49 Rec.- 606Yds. 12.3 Y. P. C. 4Tds. (10-12 games)
Danny Amendola- 82 Rec. 730Yds. 8.9 Y.P.C. 3Tds.
Greg Salas- 54 Rec. 557Yds. 10.3 Y.P.C. 2Tds.
Steve Smith- 30 Rec. 300Yds. 10.0 Y.P.C. 2Tds. (6-8 Games)
I realize that Chris Givens is #2 on the depth chart, but that is as off now. We won't know for sure til the end of preseason what will be in place on the roster pending injuries, trades and walking papers. As far as Certainties and Circuses, it is certain this 2012 will be better with this group and we may get some exciting high flying acts that rival a three ringed circus.