St. Louis Rams: Wide Receivers and Trips to Hawaii

Dilip Vishwanat

Since the conclusion of the 2007 season, there has been only one Rams wide receiver that has accomplished enough - statistically - to earn the honor of playing in the Pro Bowl. That man, in case the suspense is killing you, is Torry Holt. Sending him to Hawaii was an easy decision. His successors are struggling to come close.

In his 9th year in the NFL [2007], Holt hauled in 1,189 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Those figures were enough to earn him his 5th consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. Since then, 1,000+ yard seasons, along with Pro Bowl appearances, have been non-existent for the St. Louis Rams’ receiving corps.

As a matter of fact, Holt’s 2008 season - which ended his consecutive streak of 1,000-yard seasons - is still the highest single-season yardage total [796] for any Rams’ receiver to date. Statistically, the ‘worst’ year in Holt’s career was his last one. In Jacksonville, at the age of 34, Holt caught 51 balls for 722 yards. Still higher than any Rams’ WR since.

Where are you headed with this?’ is probably where your mind is right about now. Let’s cut to the chase. If you’re a Rams fan, [even if you’re not] you know that there are no Hall of Fame caliber wide receivers on the team right now…or at least one that you can say is clearly headed in that direction.

The question I pose to you is "Do the Rams currently have a Pro Bowl caliber Wide Receiver on the team, and if/when should we expect to see one get the honor?"

First, I suppose, we should probably look at what it takes to be a Pro Bowler in 2013. We’ll take it from there…

AFC
Offense
Position Player(s)


Wide receiver *-A.J. Green, Cincinnati
*-Andre Johnson, Houston
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis
Wes Welker, New England


NFC
Offense
Position Player(s)


Wide receiver *-Calvin Johnson, Detroit
*-Brandon Marshall, Chicago
Julio Jones, Atlanta
Victor Cruz, N.Y. Giants

...I’m betting that you recognize some of those names. Without going into too much detail about each one, let me hit you with the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of the bunch you see above:

* Most Receptions - 122 [Calvin Johnson]
* Least Receptions - 79 [Julio Jones]
* Most Yards - 1,964 [Calvin Johnson]
* Least Yards - 1,092 [Victor Cruz]
* Most Touchdowns - 11 [A.J. Green]
* Least Touchdowns - 4 [Andre Johnson]
* Most 40+ Yard Receptions - 7 [A.J. Green]
* Least 40+ Yard Receptions - 0 [Reggie Wayne]

In a lot of folks eyes, Danny Amendola is a prized possession in the Rams’ aerial attack. Amendola, possibly with the exception of Brandon Lloyd [who stuck around for 11 games in 2011], has been the best receiving threat that the Rams have had in recent memory.


Amendola’s reliability, however, has begun to come into question, as he's has only played 12 of the team’s last 32 games. An elbow injury in 2011, and a clavicle injury in 2012 has sidelined Sam Bradford’s ‘safety blanket’ for the majority of the past two seasons.

When Amendola is on the field, though, you can appreciate his passion for the game, his feistiness, and his ability to make plays when the Rams need them most. Unfortunately, as you might have guessed from the figures above, not being able to successfully finish an entire season will seriously hinder his ability to go from being likened to Wes Welker, to being able to head to Hawaii with him. A quick look at Amendola’s young career:

RECEIVING STATS
SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS AVG LNG TD FD FUM LST
2009 14 43 63 326 7.6 25 1 20 1 0
2010 16 85 123 689 8.1 36 3 35 1 1
2011 1 5 6 45 9.0 18 0 3 0 0
2012 11 63 101 666 10.6 56 3 38 2 2
Career 42 196 293 1,726 8.8 56 7 96 4 3

The 2012 draft, which probably concerned the receiver-hungry masses, was void of big-named/elite/‘true number one’ receiver selections, as it pertains to the Rams. Justin Blackmon appeared to be the most sought after WR in the draft, and he was snagged early on by Jacksonville.


Brian Quick, who the Rams selected with the first pick in the 2nd round [33rd overall], was not as much of a factor in the Rams’ passing game as most would’ve preferred. Quick’s rookie campaign consisted of 11 receptions [on 27 targets], totaling 156 yards, and two touchdowns.

The 6’3" product of Appalachian State didn’t accumulate the most impressive rookie stats in 2012. Quick, who will likely play a much larger role in the Rams offense in 2013, finished 24th amongst rookies in receiving yards. Who was 23rd on that list? Rams rookie running back - and 7th round selection - Daryl Richardson [163 yards].

One of many Rams’ rookie immediate-impact contributors was 4th round selection Chris Givens. Givens made his name known in Week 4 [vs. Seattle] with a 52-yard catch that put the Rams deep into Seattle territory at the end of the first quarter. He then decided that he really enjoyed long bombs, and went on to set a rookie record for most 50+ yard completions in consecutive games [52, 51, 65, 56, 50].

Not only did Givens’ speed earn him the status of ‘deep threat’ during that span, but he eventually went on to become the Rams’ leading receiver on the season; finishing with 42 catches, 698 yards, and three TD’s. The yardage figure is still shy of Torry Holt’s ‘least productive' season, but the results are encouraging.

A quick note: As a reminder, Givens stood no threat of catching his sixth consecutive 50+ yard catch [in as many games] in San Francisco in Week 10. Not because the 49ers defense is stifling, which it is, but because Givens was deactivated by Jeff Fisher [violation of team rules] prior to the first snap. Would Givens have gotten 99 yards in that game, and had the highest single season total since 2007? Probably not. But he would’ve become the first receiver in six years to have eclipsed the 700 yard mark in a single season.


Brandon Gibson, who might not seem like the most likely candidate and is in a contract year, finished just eight yards shy of Givens in receiving yardage in 2012 [691]. Gibson came up big for the Rams late in the year - on several occasions - and often times looked as if he were Sam’s go-to receiver. Having just finished the fourth year of his professional career, it marks the second time that Gibson has amassed 50+ catches, and 600+ yards.

It’s clear that the Rams still have a ways to go if they intend on sending a wideout to the Pro Bowl. The talent may be there, but statistically they’re making it a relatively easy decision to be overlooked.

Danny Amendola could easily reach the 100-catch mark on the season if he could just stay healthy. At the rate he was headed in 2012, he would’ve reeled in approximately 92 catches for 968 yards. At that point he’s surpassed Julio Jones for receptions, and is knocking on Victor Cruz’s door for total yards. He’ll need to find a way to stay on the field, as well as find a way to get into the end zone, for there to be any shot at a trip to Hawaii.

For Givens, Quick, and Gibson - and for the Rams offense as a whole - the future appears to be bright. A regime overhaul, coupled with a great offseason, put the Rams in a position to compete in 2012. Who knows how this offseason will unfold? There are many that still feel the Rams still need a ‘true number 1’ wideout if they’re going to be in serious contention to win a very tough NFC West.

It’s not likely that the Rams will have the cash to bring in a big-named wide receiver in free agency. Could the 2013 NFL draft bring about a future Rams Pro Bowl wide receiver…or his he already on the team?


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