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Rams Mid-Season Report Card: Wide Receivers

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The St. Louis Rams have reached the midway point of their 2014 season. How have their wideouts performed and what’s the outlook for the remainder of the year?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams lost their leading receiver, Brian Quick, for the season.  Who’s there to pick up the slack? Only the 92nd ranked WR in the NFL!

Focusing on production - not potential - let’s have a look at each of the Rams’ five wide receivers have done thus far in the 2014 season.

Brian Quick:  25 catches, 375 yards, 3 TD’s

Having played in 31 games in his first two seasons, Brian Quick only managed to tally 29 catches for 458 yards and four touchdowns.  A disappointing start, to say the least.  Yet [some] fans were patient.  2014 was Quick’s year to "break out."  Year three, Vincent Jackson, yadda yadda...

And then - as a Rams’ fan’s luck would have it - Quick was lost for the season [shoulder] only six games, one quarter, and three minutes into the season.  He was clearly the Rams’ most dangerous wideout, and was displaying the characteristics fans have been clamoring for for two-plus [yet much longer than that] years: a big-bodied vertical threat who could use his size and strength to make plays.

To be fair though, Quick’s sizzling start to the season was fizzling...primarily due to playing familiar opponent’s with staunch defenses.  In the first four games [vs. Vikings, Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Eagles] Quick hauled in 21 of his 25 catches on the season, totaling 322 of his 375 yards, and all three of his touchdowns.  Against the 49ers and Seahawks [Weeks 6/7], he managed only three catches for 43 yards.

And now we wait.  We wait until 2015 - a contract year for Quick - to see if he can stay healthy and continue what he started earlier this season.

Grade:  Incomplete

Kenny Britt:  18 catches, 281 yards, 2 TD’s

Most viewed Kenny Britt’s offseason signing as an affordable, "boom-or-bust" type deal.  If he didn’t perform, it was a minimal risk, cost-effective deal.  If he did, Jeff Fisher could find vindication in [re]signing the former first round draft pick, who he selected 30th overall as head coach of the Titans in the 2009 NFL Draft.

The Rams, most likely uncertain of what they had in Brian Quick, needed a backup plan if he weren’t to pan out...or one to replace him if he were and got injured [].  Britt fit the mold, and lack of production in Tennessee allowed them to acquire him on the cheap.

Thus far, Britt has been more bust than boom though.  But with Quick sidelined, the window of opportunity has opened for the former Titan, and it appears he’s a likely candidate to lead the team in receptions and yardage; with Jared Cook looking like his only real competition to challenge for the lead in either category.

Sadly, that doesn’t say much.  Britt has played in all eight of the team’s games, but only been a factor in six [one catch for 17 yards in the first two games].  If his last six games are any indication of his potential 2014 production, he’d be on pace for 704 yards on the year.  I’d like to say that’s nothing special, but in St. Louis...well, you know the deal.

Britt’s targets, receptions, et al are going to increase for the remainder of the season with Quick on the sideline.  At this point, despite the lack of production, it seems like the Rams were wise to sign him.  Having a WR with size in the NFL may not be a necessity, but it certainly won’t hurt matters, especially in the red zone.

Britt scored the lone touchdown for the Rams in last week’s win against the 49ers.  That should, minimally, earn him another week in the good graces of the fans.  Prior to being signed by St. Louis, he stated he was going to be a "No. 1 wide receiver somewhere" in 2014.  Now would be the perfect time to step up, and put his team-friendly money where his mouth is...

Grade:  D+

Tavon Austin:  15 catches, 134 yards, 0 TD’s

I’m not sure what’s going wrong here, and I’m not sure who to blame.  The reality of the situation, though, is that the Rams traded up in the draft in 2013 to get the "most electric player [WR] in college football," and it’s just not working out.  Some of the blame can go on inability to properly utilize his skill sets...some can go on his lack of production with the ball in his hands.

He’s shown flashes, but flashes aren’t what fans - or coaches - expect from the 8th overall pick in the draft.  You’ve seen the highlights from the Colts' game last year.  Maybe you saw him run during the Bears’ game.  End around in Arizona? You know it. His play...those plays...certainly helped the Rams win two of those games.  But he’s been relatively quiet, certainly not a game-changer, since.  This year, it's Tavon getting handed the ball - in Iso - with Cory Harkey as his lead blocker.  It’s not producing the desired results; nowhere near what the creativity/design of the aforementioned plays from 2013 yielded.

I was a big fan of the Rams drafting him [and I still think he’s got the talent to make it in the NFL] but it hasn’t come to fruition in St. Louis.  He’s rushing the ball more [17 attempts] more than he’s catching it [15 receptions] this year, and that recipe just isn’t equating to success.

[Taking both play-calling and production into the equation...]

Grade:  D-

Chris Givens:  12 catches, 118 yards, 1 TD

You tell me what happened.  Givens was targeted 81 times in his rookie season [2012]:  a year in which he hauled in 50+ yard catches in five consecutive games.  That’s an all-time NFL rookie record, by the way.

Since then, the 4th round selection from the 2012 draft has essentially gone missing.  Givens tallied 698 yards and three TD’s in 15 games in his rookie year.  He’s since played in 22 games, totaling 661 yards with no scores.

What appeared to have a been a gem discovered in the mid-rounds of the 2012 NFL draft is looking more like fool’s gold just over two years later.  His fault?  I strongly doubt it.

Grade:  D-

Stedman Bailey: 5 catches, 60 yards, 0 TD’s

"See what had happened was..."

The Rams surprised most in 2013 NFL Draft when they selected Stedman Bailey in the 3rd round...fresh off taking Tavon Austin with their first pick in said draft.  The excitement of a Mountaineer reunion was there, though.  And Bailey, statistically, was the receiver to be most excited about; having caught 25 TD’s with 1,622 yards [to Tavon’s 12 TD’s and 1,289 yards].

After being mostly relegated to special teams for the majority of the 2013 season, Bailey got more involved in the offense in the latter third of the season.  What he lacked in size and speed, he made up for with reliable hands, solid route running, and body control.  He was the player to monitor...to keep your eye on...to expect big things from...over the course of the offseason.

And then - as a Rams’ fan’s luck would have it - you heard in May that Bailey would be suspended for the first four games of the season due to violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing substances policy.  Prior to those headlines, conversations surrounding this potential breakout performer were in regards to whether he was the next Steve Smith Sr. or Greg Jennings.

Bailey [and the Rams] got good news early, as he was eligible for return in Week 3 vs. Dallas, after the league passed new policy pertaining to performance-enhancing substances.  Since then...well, you see the results above.  Your offseason "breakout" prognostications have come up way, way short.

Fans were waiting to see what an increased role as a starter could do for Stedman and the Rams’ offense in 2014.  A suspension + five receptions =

Grade:  F

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After initially tallying the 2014 season totals of the Rams’ wide receiver corps, the numbers appeared startlingly low.  A quick search confirmed my fears...

Quick + Britt + Austin + Givens + Bailey = 75 catches, 968 yards, 6 TD's

Steelers' WR, Antonio Brown = 71 catches, 996 yards, 8 TD’s

Brown is having an amazing season.  And while that’s great news for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense, it’s unacceptable for five WR’s, with this kind of potential, to be single-handedly outperformed.

The potential is there.  The Rams, however, are playing this season with what they intended to be their 3rd string QB.  Brian Schottenheimer is still calling the plays.  That said, we’ve seen very little "special" from anyone outside of the now-injured Quick.

Given the fact that the Rams’ leading receiver is now a TE [for the second consecutive season], and their leading [active] WR ranks 92nd in the NFL in reception yards...

Overall Position Grade:  D-