DeMarcus Robinson has never had a 500-yard season, he’s never had more than four touchdowns and has never had 50 receptions in a season for his career. This man is 29 years old and has a Super Bowl under his belt and has made some highlight reel plays but he’s never gotten the chance to flourish in the NFL.
Robinson had Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball for most of his career but even still he’s never been able to explode. It’s because it takes more than who your quarterback is or who your coach is. The bottom line is if you never get opportunities to go out on the field and make plays then you won’t really be able to show the team what you can do.
The Rams know full well of this. DeMarcus Robinson was a late free agent wave signing to provide depth for the backend of their receiver room. They had added Puka Nacua via the draft, they were excited about Cooper Kupp’s return and Tutu Atwell’s late season emergence not to mention Ben Skowronek or contract-year receiver Van Jefferson either. Robinson was mister reliable though as someone who had never missed a game and would just find ways to make plays when the ball was thrown his way.
The season started out as a waiting game for Robinson. He didn’t catch his first pass from Matthew Stafford instead he caught it from Brett Rypien who is no longer on the team. It took until week nine to get Robinson some love in the receiving game. Why? Is a pointless question now, all that matters is that the Rams decided to start doing so. They ramped up the repetitions against the Cleveland Browns in week 13, it was there he started a now, four-game touchdown streak.
Robinson has been everything the Rams could ever ask for over the last four games and especially since the Rams essentially lost Tutu Atwell for two of those games. He’s slid right in as the third receiver and in those four he’s caught 15 of 24 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns. It’s safe to say the Rams have found a role for Robinson and the role appears to be a similar role to what Odell Beckham Jr. played in the Rams quest for their fourth World Championship. As a matter of fact, the numbers between the two are eerily similar.
Robinson is just eight receptions away from passing the total receptions Beckham Jr. came down with for the Rams in the same number of games in 2021. He’s also just 27 yards away from passing how many receiving yards Beckham Jr. had for the Rams in his eight game regular season campaign. Now, Odell was brought in to play with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson and so forth. However, Woods suffered an ACL tear the day he signed and because of it OBJ was thrusted into the role of being a starter. It’s much less damning for the Rams but the short-term injury to Atwell could have hurt the team big-time, instead, Robinson stepped up and immediately contributed.
Odell was the spark on that 2021 Rams team even if his best came in the playoffs. Robinson is now the spark late in the season for the 2023 Rams and you could argue he’s been even better than Beckham Jr. was when he got to the Rams. To be fair, Beckham Jr. was learning the offense still and Robinson should know the offense pretty good by now. Still, we’ve seen Robinson inject an extra jolt of energy into an offense that needed it. Since the bye week the Rams are one of the game’s best offenses and Robinson has been a focal point down in the red zone.
The thing about comparing Robinson and Odell is that Odell is a superstar, his brand is global and everyone knows who you are talking about when you say O-B-J but DeMarcus Robinson on the other hand? He’s not. He’s the anti-OBJ in that regard and that makes it almost even more fun as its become a feel-good story. I mean the guy was mugged in Los Angeles as well, now here he is balling out for the team and making a name for himself. To further add onto the comparison we must also account for the blocking impact.
What Robinson does on a football field transcends just getting open, having nice footwork off the line of scrimmage and high-pointing the football on a contested catch. He also blocks, really well I might add. The film supports this but furthermore, Pro Football Focus’ grades support it as well. PFF in a minimum of 30% of run blocking snaps have the Rams new third receiver at 14th in the league. To compare, Odell who is not really known for his blocking was 80th in 2021.
The irony is that Odell was 28 the year the Rams got him and turned 29 in the latter half of the year. The same goes for Robinson. Both in contract years and both have eerily similar stats and presence on the teams. This isn’t at all to knock Odell, the man is a Rams legend just for what he did in the postseason. The point of this is to shed the light on the fact DeMarcus Robinson has become something bigger than a nice little Holiday feel-good story. This man is about to be a straight problem as the season goes on. How much easier does having a guy like that make it on a Kupp, Puka Nacua or even Atwell? Just think about the possibilities, especially when Matthew Stafford is playing the way he is? It’s kind of crazy to think about the potential of this offense right now.
This offense in 2023 whether people want to admit it or not is much more balanced. Oddly enough, the Rams Super Bowl winning offense in 2021 scored 30 points or more in three of the last seven games of the season. This offense in 2023 has scored 30 points or more in four of the last five games of their season with two more to go. The balanced nature of this team and how they aren’t over-reliant on one receiver and how this team wants to genuinely split the run and the pass down the middle. It makes a player like Robinson that much more important.
Make no mistake, Robinson has the trust of Matthew Stafford, the rest of his teammates, the fans and Sean McVay. His name is starting to grow in popularity and as he builds more confidence and gets deeper in the season, it’s also important to remember how little he was used earlier in the year, there’s a chance he’s going to be the most fresh receiver on the roster come playoff time. If that doesn’t sound like Odell Beckham Jr. and what he was and ended up being in 2021 then I don’t know who it sounds it. Keep an eye on Robinson, he’s not just a flash in the pan, something tells me he’s about to be a key component the rest of the way.