The Los Angeles Rams made one splashy free agent signing last offseason when they brought in former Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson to replace Robert Woods. To say the least, Robinson’s debut in LA wasn’t what everyone expected it to be when he arrived.
Robinson finished the season with just 33 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns. Following an injury in Week 10, Robinson missed the final seven games of the season. Robinson’s 339 yards were his fewest in a season in which he played at least 10 games.
However, as is the case with most things in the NFL, the stats don’t necessarily tell the full story. Some stats, especially volume stats like yards and receptions can lack a lot of context.
That context being that there were times where Robinson would be open, but not targeted because he wasn’t the read on the play as well as other reasons.
The injuries on the offensive line certainly didn’t help this season as it forced Stafford to quicken his process, leading to force-feeding Cooper Kupp at times. The plays that Robinson would have typically made down the field, simply weren’t there because the protection wasn’t there.
With Stafford missing some of the offseason due to a reported elbow injury, he and Robinson took more time to get on the same page. It wasn’t until later in the year that the two found some chemistry, especially on back shoulder passes along the sideline and fades in the end zone.
Allen Robinson with a strong catch. #Rams pic.twitter.com/f3UQD77Sor— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 7, 2022
Robinson’s game isn’t perfect, but it was clear what the Rams were trying to do when they signed Robinson. The team had found success with a similarly built wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. in the postseason. Kupp could be the precise route-runner to attack the short and intermediate areas of the field while Robinson could add more of that physical brand of player on the outside.
This plan never fully came to fruition for many of the reasons stated above.
However, just because Robinson wasn’t getting targeted, doesn’t mean he wasn’t getting open. This season, ESPN Analytics developed receiving tracking metrics using Next Gen Stats. They broke these down into three categories: Open Score, Catch Score, and Yards After Catch Score. These ratings would then come up with a cumulative overall score.
There were many narratives when it came to Robinson this season that he wasn’t getting open. According to these metrics though, that simply wasn't the case. ESPN’s Open Score, “assesses the likelihood a receiver would be able to complete a catch, conditional on if he were targeted.”
Robinson was the 28th most open wide receiver in 2022 with a score of 65. This was in the same range as Keenan Allen, DK Metcalf, and Michael Pittman and higher than Kupp’s open score of 55. In fact, Robinson’s open score of 65 led Rams receivers.
Robinson’s open score of 65 matched his highest mark since tracking became available in 2017. He also had an open score of 65 with the Chicago Bears in 2020. That season, Robinson finished with 102 catches for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns.
It’s worth noting that Robinson’s open score of 65 was also better than Robert Woods in every season since 2019. In 2017 and 2018, Woods had open scores of 68 and 65. However, since then, he hadn’t had an open score higher than 59 in the Rams offense.
Robinson was getting just as open, if not more, as Woods, but simply not getting the ball. He was more open than one of his more productive seasons, but ended up with 27 percent of the production. Again, a lot of this can be place on the reasons mentioned above.
It’s fair to mention Robinson’s lack of separation. He ranked 118th out of 121 receivers in average yards of separation this season, averaging 2.1 yards. However, that has never been his game. That 2.1 yards of separation is one of the higher marks of his career. In 2020, he averaged 2.3 yards of separation which is his career-best.
However, just because he wasn’t separating, doesn’t mean he wasn’t necessarily getting open. Looking at ESPN’s receiving metric in open score, Robinson was, in fact, getting open.
Looking at Robinson’s other metrics, his catch score also wasn’t bad. Catch Score estimates the probability of a completion. If a completion occurs, the receiver is credited with the marginal difference.
Robinson finished 38th in this metric with a score of 59 which was in the same range as Michael Pittman, DJ Moore, Drake London, and AJ Brown. Robinson’s catch score was higher than it was with the Bears in 2021, but lower than his three years previously when he had scores of 70, 85, and 66. Still, Robinson’s catch score of 59 was better than Woods in every season with the Rams except for 2017.
Where Robinson wasn’t as good was in yards after the catch where he had a score of just 25. However, Robinson has never been a YAC receiver.
Some have criticized the Rams for swapping Robert Woods for Allen Robinson. Those criticisms aren’t necessarily unwarranted. However, in some of the major analytics, Robinson performed just as well, if not better.
Robinson also performed well in run-blocking where he graded as a top-10 run-blocker according to Pro Football Focus. Among wide receivers with at least 150 blocking reps, Robinson finished ninth. Woods was elite in this category, but the Rams didn’t take a significant step back by inserting Robinson in this area.
The Rams have a decision to make this offseason when it comes to Allen Robinson. He’s set to account for $18M against the cap. That’s a lot for a wide receiver who only had a little over 300 yards last season. If they can find a trade partner, that would be the best way to dump his salary.
Was the story of Robinson’s season simply due to a lack of opportunity and chemistry with Stafford in the passing game? This is something that Les Snead and Sean McVay will need to figure out. As the analytics and numbers suggest, Robinson’s 2022 season may not have been as bad as initially meets the eye. It may be worth giving the Allen Robinson experiment another chance.