Brandon Gibson got off to a pretty solid start through the first two games of the season. Quarterback Sam Bradford found him twice in the first two games, once in each outing, for a touchdown. He trailed only Danny Amendola in snaps for wide receivers, and looked like the player that he has always had the potential to be. But a rough day in a 23-6 loss to the Bears reignited old questions about the fourth-year receiver.
Gibson finished Week 3 with two catches for 19 yards. He was targeted six times in that game, including what could have been, should have been, a game-changing catch on the doorstep of the end zone.
His two touchdowns have been big plays for the Rams, a 23-yard catch against Detroit and a 34-yard catch against Washington. He got jobbed out of a touchdown too on a missed call that said he was out of the end zone.
In Week 1, he caught all four passes throw his way. In Week 2, he caught two of three.
But things didn't go so well for Gibson on Sunday against the Bears, and his dropped pass sums up four quarters of offensive struggles. Take a look:
Gibson puts a little hitch in his route that pushes the safety over, though the defensive back catches it and comes back toward Gibson. Bradford has all kinds of time in the pocket, a rarity that day, to wind up and make a perfect throw right on Gibson's outside shoulder. Gibson even has the coverage beat, all he needs to do is make the catch.
That was the second to the last play of the first quarter. A touchdown would have given the Rams a 7-3 lead, and I suspect changed the tone of the game a little. Hell, maybe they would have stuck with the run a little more.
Gibson made another crucial error, with a little assistance from missed call, on a slant route in the third quarter. First drive of the half for the Rams. They're facing 4th-and-1 at the Chicago 43-yard line, trailing by only seven points.
Bradford gets the snap and makes a quick throw to Gibson. The ball is right on target, but he comes up short. The Rams are forced to punt the ball away. You can argue that Gibson was interfered, but that's a tough call. Defensive backs are allowed to make contact with a receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The key here is whether or not Tim Jennings was actually holding Gibson
.The image quality here isn't great, but it sure looks like Gibson is being held there. The sideline wanted a call too. It never came. As incompetent as the replacement refs have been, this is one of those calls that any crew misses on occasion.
Here's where I start to wonder about one of the team's bigger receivers. Would Austin Pettis or Brian Quick have been a better option for a play like this? Their size and strength are tailor made for a slant route in tight quarters for short yardage. And with Gibson's rough outing, I wonder if we'll see more from either of those players this week.