Hey TSTers, I was literally writing a post about why I didn't want the Rams to draft Tavon Austin... For what I believed to be some very good reasons.... when it occurred to me: The Rams scheme is changing.
The fact of the matter is, Tavon Austin wouldn't have succeeded in our scheme from last year... At least, not without greatly diminishing the role of Chris Givens. We were a team built around power running, with Steven Jackson carrying the majority of the load.
But now as I look at the personnel we're bringing in, it appears that we're moving to a more spread-out, modern NFL offense. Here's the evidence:
Free Agent Signings - Jake Long and Jared Cook (and briefly Titus Young).... Specifically Cook and Young.... both are built to work in a lot of space. Cook is an absolute matchup nightmare for defensive backs, and Young is a speedster... also best suited for working in lots of space.
Roster Cuts - There haven't been many of these yet, but the two moves that stood out to me are releasing Matt Mulligan and not heavily pursuing Steven Jackson. Mulligan is a great blocking TE; someone you want around in a power run system... Also, Jackson is the ideal power back... We clearly wouldn't make these moves if we were trying to maintain a power running system.
Young Talent - Let's break it down by each offensive skill-position rookie (now sophomore) that we picked up...
Brian Quick - He's a guy that could honestly succeed in just about any system (hopefully) once he develops... Not much evidence here.
Isaiah Pead - Pead's struggles last year were in part due to getting in his own way... but also due to the Rams scheme really not fitting what he was used to... Pead succeeded in a very spread out offensive scheme, and could likely do so again. He's another guy who works very well in the open field, but not quite as well as a between-the-tackles runner.
Chris Givens - Givens is the kind of receiver you want in a spread system... He has great agility, and proved to be great moving around in formations last year. He also proved to be able to turn any play into a big play... something that the spread is really geared towards.
Daryl Richardson - He also seems built more for a spread system than a power run system... however, his skills seemed to translate better this past season. He's a north and south guy, but not a guy who could stand up and face 8 man fronts... All he needs is a bit of daylight, and he's off to the races... the spread makes these plays much more of a possibility.
So we've been drafting players more suited for a spread out system... And our scouting patterns would lead me to believe that we're continuing to do so..
The final reason this popped into my head is due to the formations we often used, that really didn't seem to match our personnel very well last year...
Often, we would bring out 4 receiver sets, ESPECIALLY in the big-time-Sammy-Jam clutch time.. The receivers were usually Amendola, Pettis, Givens, and Gibson... Not a group that will really strike fear into the hearts of men... However, we still went with that set.... And we even had good success with it (those were the times that Sam really seemed to shine). So to me, that points out that we were setting in the system of the future... to give Sam the experience to use with the players that we plan on bringing in.\
Personally, this makes me much more excited at the prospects of this coming year.... And as a teaser, let's look at an offensive with a receiving corps that our very own is starting to resemble: the Green Bay Packers.... (last year)
Greg Jennings - Route runner with solid hands and speed to break a big play (Chain Mover)
Ram's Comparison: Danny Amendola (Except without as much speed) Amendola is now gone...
Draft Comparisons: DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Quinton Patton
Jordy Nelson - Big receiver with strong hands and good speed (Red Zone and more)
Ram's Comparison: Brian Quick (This role is likely settled with Quick... but for giggles)
Draft Comparisons: Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers
Randall Cobb - Agile, quick receiver who works well with the ball in his hands (The Key Guy)
Ram's Comparison: Chris Givens (Givens could possibly step into Amendola's role as he did last season... Therefore, we'll look at the comparable prospects)
Draft Comparisons: Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson
James Jones - Route running receiver... Can't do much on his own, but sure handed and a great 4th option (Garbage Man)
Ram's Comparison: Austin Pettis (Pettis isn't given much credit, but he made some clutch catches last year)
Jermichael Finley - Matchup nightmare... If a team can't cover him, he'll feast. However, not always reliable (The Bully)
Ram's Comparison: Jared Cook (Really excited to see how Fish uses him... He can put up big numbers, but I wouldn't call him a go-to-guy by any standards)
Anyways, I realize that this wasn't necessarily well written... but at the same time, it's fun to think about... I'm excited to see the direction that the Rams are heading in.