So Tavon Austin is pretty good right? I definitely wouldn't disagree with you on that one. He has unmatched speed and athleticism that makes him flat out dangerous not only as a Wide Receiver but also as a return man. During his rookie season we saw many flashes that made us see why we traded up to get Tavon Austin at #8 just a year ago.
Offensive stats- 40 rec, 418 receiving yards, 151 rushing yards, 4 rec TD's, 1 rushing TD.
Special Teams stats- 38 punt att, 280 yards, 1 TD, long 98 yards.
Now I in no way think these are bad numbers, and for a rookie they are that much more impressive, but I thought we would get a little more from him this past year. Granted, I probably elevated him too high and was over optimistic, but who cares, I can do that if I want. From what I can tell, Tavon is going to be a special player in the NFL if he can hold up to all the hits. We all know he is small and that he is more likely to be injured than say Brian Quick or Chris Givens just because of their size.
In his rookie year I think it was obvious to almost everyone in the NFL that Brian Schottenheimer had no clue whatsoever how to use our special weapon. He was clueless in the begininning, but luckily he started to catch on as the season dragged on. I wasn't expecting Tavon to be the best slot receiver in the league immediately when we took him, but I was hoping he would be a little more effective.
Going into year two
I'm wondering if he will ever be that guy that Fisher envisioned him being without a #1 receiver.. (Side note: This post isn't a knock on our draft. I loved almost every pick) The good news is that we have many young receivers, including Tavon Awesome himself, who are showing a lot of promise. Maybe Chris Givens breaks out after a rough sophomore year, or perhaps Brian Quick (Who the FO has always said would take time) will be a force in the ever important 3rd year. Or here's a shocker, what if Kenny Britt actually starts playing the way he did when Jeff Fisher was in Tennessee. Lastly, you have my favorite, Stedman Bailey who has been suspended for the first 4 games this year so you know he'll be hungry when he comes back.
The Rams to this date do not have a No. 1 Receiver that Bradford can just throw it up to and count on them to catch it. This means the defense is not overly focused on that one guy which then opens up an opportunity for Tavon to get open and then make plays. If one of our receivers does break out this coming year and reaches the 900+ yard mark (I don't think that we will have a 1,000 yard receiver with how much we should run the ball) then I would expect Tavon Austin to have at least 700-800 receiving yards. Who knows maybe good ole #11 will exceed my expectations and be that 900+ yds type guy. Either way, having a go to guy would really benefit both the Rams as a whole and Tavon Austin in his development. There is another way though..
As the Seahawks proved, you don't need a elite receiver to win the Superbowl. They did by playing tough, lockdown defense and running the ball up the opponents throat followed by play action. Hmm.... Sound familiar to another team you might be accustomed to? It better because that's exactly our Rams strengths. I think this is the way Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are and should be going with this team. To me, this is the only way Tavon Austin will be as good as we expect him to be. Obviously we are going to run the ball quite a bit this year while we try to bully the rest of the NFC West. Just like everyone says, it all starts up front. If our offensive line can get the run game going early and often then those pesky edge rushers will have to hold back a little bit to cover the run. Zac Stacy, Tre Mason, and Benny Cunningham will have a fine time running behind our much improved oline from last year. Yes, Greg Robinson alone helps that much. Once we have Aldon Smith, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin back we can work the play action pass. That is when the Cheetah will have his time to shine. One on one, Tavon can outrun, he can juke, and make anyone miss that we can think of. We just need to be able to get him into those one on one situations.
I'm not expecting another highlight reel that looks like the Tavon Austin from college, but I'm expecting more big plays as a Ram and I think that the organization has put him a great position to do so. This way he isn't the center of the offense and we can utilize him best without all of the pressure on him.