FanPost

Why Allen Robinson wasn't productive this season

Allen Robinson only had about 33 receiving yards per game this year, approximately half of the number required to have a 1,000 yard receiving season. What went wrong? Why weren't the Rams able to integrate him more into the offense? Watching some plays, I pulled out a few examples that I feel illustrate what held him back.

1. Offensive line problems

On this snap, the defense is playing zone coverage. Cooper Kupp is going to run a very basic hitch about 4 yards past the LOS. On the other side of the field, Robinson in the slot is being covered by a linebacker. Ideally, the WR vs LB is where the QB should go, this is a mismatch and Robinson wins, he gives the LB a hesitation fake, then is going to cut behind the defender on a deep in-cut.

Stafford doesn't wait for this route to develop, he throws the ball quickly to Kupp for a completion, never looking in the direction of Robinson. Even if the QB had tried to wait for the deeper route, there wouldn't have been enough time to throw the ball. Noteboom the LT is beaten to the inside and the LG is late to provide help, resulting in pressure right in the face of Stafford. He has to throw the pass quickly, otherwise he would have risk being sacked or flushed from the pocket, in which case he would have been rolling out in the opposite direction towards the other side of the field away from Robinson.

If the pass blocking doesn't hold up, it becomes challenging to consistently throw the ball more than 10 yards past the LOS.

2. Doing Dirty Work

Allen Robinson is a big, physical WR. The Rams often used him to clear out space for other WRs and TEs, resulting in him not running a normal route on the play. For example, there was a long TD by Cooper Kupp earlier this season against Dallas where he runs a shallow crossing route, Stafford hits him in stride and CK makes a long run after the catch, going all the way down the field for the score. On this play, Tyler Higbee is wide open, Stafford had the option of throwing it to Higbee instead of Kupp if he wanted to and the reason Higbee is open is Robinson at the top of a bunch formation provides the rub that allows Higbee to get ahead of his defender in man coverage. Robinson's ability to fight through the jam and get to the necessary landmark is key.

The Rams use Robinson as a blocker on screen passes as well or as the lead WR to create room as they stack a 2nd WR behind him to get a free release. It isn't Robinson's fault that he doesn't gain more separation from the DB on those types of plays, because his primary job on those snaps isn't to run away from the defender. Indeed, you could say his job is to intentionally run into the defender to help a different Ram get open.

3. Nothing Routes

These were frustrating to watch, because there are several plays where it seems like Allen Robinson isn't even a viable option in the progression, as if there is almost no way Stafford would ever look at him, no matter what ARob did on the snap. For example, it is 3rd down, Robinson is in the slot against a CB. Robinson does a nice job against the jam to win to the inside, creating good leverage and space for a pass. The design of the play, however, appears to be primarily intended for the QB to throw the ball to Higbee towards the sideline. Cooper Kupp and Robinson are running crossing routes in opposite directions, so there is too much congestion in that area for a throw, even though Robinson has "beaten" his CB. The 2 WRs only enter the equation later, if the TE isn't open.

4. Stafford elected not to target Robinson

These plays are different than category 3, because on these snaps Stafford could have thrown it to Robinson, but decided to throw it to Cooper Kupp instead.

It is 3rd down and the defense is in a single high safety coverage. Robinson is an outside WR and his CB is playing inside technique. Robinson does a great job with a hesitation fake, getting his shoulder inside of the CB, which isn't easy to do with the CB playing inside. Having gained leverage, Robinson pushes his route upfield, then breaks inside, creating a window for the throw, he is "open", because there is plenty of space for the pass, even though in terms of distance there isn't much separation between the WR and the CB.

Instead, Stafford makes a very nice, accurate pass to Cooper Kupp, who is running a slightly shorter route. Like Robinson, Kupp is able to win inside, but between the 2 WRs, I'd say that Robinson actually ran the better route on this rep. I don't have any issue with the QB choosing Kupp, because he's the slot WR and the throw more towards the middle is an easier throw for the QB. But, it isn't Robinson's fault he didn't get a catch here, he was just as open as Kupp on the play.

Another 3rd down snap. Robinson again is an outside WR, but against a 2 deep coverage. This time, Robinson releases to the outside and gets over the top of his CB. Once again, Robinson is "open". He has put the CB in trail position and the deep S is too far away to get over to the sideline in time to break up a pass. Stafford could have thrown a fade or back shoulder to Robinson and there is a good chance to get a conversion, but he never even looks in the direction of Robinson, throwing to Kupp instead, resulting in a first down. Again, this isn't a bad play, it worked out for the Rams, but individual receiving stat goes to Kupp, even though the team might have gotten more yardage if the pass had gone to Robinson.

Sometimes, the pass protection was good enough for Stafford to target Robinson on a deeper route, but he went short instead. Robinson in a 1 vs 1 situation against a CB wins on an out route about 13 yards past the LOS. A relatively straightforward throw if Stafford wanted it. Instead, the pass goes to Cooper Kupp about 5 yards past the LOS for a completion. Probably a slightly higher percentage choice, but Robinson's route had the potential to result in a bigger gain on the play.

Summary

Allen Robinson isn't a "bad" wide receiver. He wins against press coverage and creates opportunities for the QB to get him the ball. A variety of factors in 2022 caused him not to see enough targets, including the QB not having enough time in the pocket to throw, the way Robinson was used in the scheme and Stafford being locked in on Cooper Kupp instead of making it a point of emphasis to look for Robinson more. I feel that Robinson can still be a productive player for the Rams moving forward, but only if the Rams address all of those issues for next year.