Do the St. Louis Rams Need Consistency or Big Plays?

Austin Pettis

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams opened the year with the hopes of Brian Quick improving his consistency from last year. He has the body and physical abilities to become an Anquan Boldin type receiver that moves the chains and fights for the ball. At 6-foot-4 and 220-pounds, Quick has the build to be a physical receiver. He has shown flashes of this potential while finding himself at fourth on the Rams depth chart. Last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars he made a 28-yard catch late that put the Rams in position to score. These are the type of plays he was made for, but his drops and inability to find open spaces against defenses have cost him Sam Bradford‘s trust.

He is getting on the field more often than he did last year leading up to Week 6. This means that the coaching staff is putting more faith in him to make plays, but he is only catching 46 percent of the throws coming his way (6-of-13). Yet, when he catches the ball it is for a typically large gain averaging 15.8 yards per catch. Part of gaining Bradford’s trust is going to be placed on Quick going up to get the ball at its peak and not letting defenders tip passes like they did against the San Francisco 49ers. During that play Bradford threw up a jump ball hoping Quick could use his size to make a play for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Instead, San Francisco’s CB Trumaine Brock tipped the pass into a trailing Donte Whitner‘s hands. In situations like this Quick has to realize it’s his ball or no ones.  Brian Quick needs to watch tape on Boldin to see how he uses his similar strengths to get open and fight for the ball.

The Rams drafted Tavon Austin to fill the shoes of Danny Amendola as chain-mover and safety valve for Sam Bradford. So far this year Austin has struggled to pick up enough yards to be considered a playmaker.  Sam Bradford found his new safety valve in third-year receiver Austin Pettis.  Pettis may not have the speed (4.61-40 yard dash) that teams look for in receiver, but he just might have the best hands of the Rams receivers.  His 6-foot-3 209-pound frame may not be as intimidating as Quick’s, but he uses it better than any receiver on the team.

The key for Pettis is that Sam Bradford seems to trust Pettis to either come down with the ball or to keep defenders from making interceptions. He has the second highest amount of catches on the team at 22, while averaging 10.1 yards per catch.  He has earned Bradford’s trust by catching 61 percent of the passes coming his direction.  His ability to find the open spot against zone defenses is something that he has excelled at since he was drafted in 2011.  Look for Austin Pettis to average five or more catches the rest of the year as Bradford will continue to look for him on third downs and in the red zone where sure hands are of the utmost importance.

For a team looking to win now, the Rams need to place trust in Pettis to continue to find the open areas against zones and give Quick looks on intermediate routes allowing him to use his athletic ability to make plays. Bradford will have to show his willingness to trust Quick to go get the ball at its highest point.  As of now, the St. Louis Rams need Pettis to continue his trend of picking up first downs.

Roy Whitehead is a St. Louis Rams writer for rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @roywhitehead1, or add him to your network on Google


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  • Jonathon Shivers

    1) If you listened to the commentary on NFL Network, Mike Mayock said Sam Bradford horrifically underthrew Quick on the deep ball, just as he did Chris Givens against the JAGS. When is the last time you have seen Bradford throw a jump ball to Quick besides his 4 yard TD against the Vikings last year? It’s on the QB to get the ball UP, plain and simple. Quick is only catching 46% of his targets because Sam isn’t on the same page as a receiver who doesn’t run with the 1st team. He has had 2-3 drops but the other throws to him are awful…hence why ESPN.com had this article published:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/st-louis-rams/post/_/id/1512/a-closer-look-at-sam-bradfords-struggles

    2) Tavon Ausin is unsuccessful because of Brian Schottenheimer. When you draft someone 8th overall and he is unproductive, that means you aren’t finding ways to make him useful. Tavon has had a worse problem with drops than Quick but he is a rookie, and this is to be expected.

    3) If Austin Pettis is your leading receiver and you are OK with that, then your team won’t finish the season with a winning record. And if Brian Schottenheimer and Sam Bradford don’t realize this, then they need to get the f*ck out of St. Louis….because they are making the Rams looks like a college offense trying to function in the NFL. Bradford has always been sucessful when he has time to throw, which is the trait of a QB who plays untouched in practice. Well, I have news for you…this is the SHIELD. The NFL. If Sam doesn’t learn how to throw the ball with accuracy under pressure then he can kiss his starting job goodbye. Do you hear Andrew Luck complaining about pressure? How about Russell Wilson? My point is this….Sam was never worth a #1 draft pick and is not built to be a starting QB in the NFL. His numbers are all misleading. Watch the tape and you will understand why