What is a pocket rocket?
- A miniature motorcycle meant for racing?
- A pair of aces in poker?
- A small vibrating dildo?
If you answered #3, you have a dirty mind and should head over to Tehol Beddict’s page. [Jay’s Note: The writer the world needs, not the writer the world deserves.] For the sake of this article, a pocket rocket is a miniature motorcycle meant for racing. It is small, light, agile and fast. Kind of like a certain NFL player on the St. Louis Rams, who’s nickname happens to be Pocket Rocket…
The Rams traded up from pick 16 to the eighth pick in the 2013 NFL Draft in order to select Tavon Austin. The diminutive wide receiver out of West Virginia was the explosive piece that was to improve the 25th scoring offense (18.7 points per game) in 2012. At the 2013 NFL Combine, Austin measured in at 5 feet 8 inches, 174 pounds and ran a 4.25 second 40-yard dash.
Explosive plays and exciting times were expected in St. Louis. Then Brian Schottenheimer got his hands on him. As offensive coordinator of the New York Jets from 2006-2011, the team ranked 18, 25, 9, 17, 13 and 13 in points scored per game.
During Austin’s rookie year, he caught 40 passes on 69 targets for 418 yards and four touchdowns. A paltry 10.5 yards per average. Hardly explosive. He did miss the last three games due to an ankle injury. It takes some players time to adjust to the NFL game, especially at the wide receiver position, so maybe he’d figure it out his second year. 2014 Austin caught 31 passes on 44 targets for 242 yards and zero touchdowns, but he carried the ball 36 times for 391 yards and one touchdown.
Schottenheimer had Austin running gadget plays and even lined him up in the backfield. I can understand trying to get creative but, lining your 5 foot 8 inch, 174 pound wide receiver in the I-formation and “pounding” him between the tackles is going a little too far isn’t it?
After the 2014 season, Schottenheimer took his “talents” to the University of Georgia and became the school’s offensive coordinator. As for who would replace him, head coach Jeff Fisher elected to promote from within and named Frank Cignetti, former quarterbacks coach, as the new offensive coordinator.
“The foundation of the playbook is the same.”
That’s not good…
“Every place I’ve been, I’ve looked at the players and said, ‘How can I put them in a position to be successful?”
Okay, now we’re talking.
I haven’t seen Austin pounding the rock between the tackles out of the I-formation yet, so Cignetti has been a marked improvement so far. In Week 4, Austin caught six passes on seven targets for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran twice for 20 yards. On his first touch, the Rams were at the Cardinals 12-yard line and came out in a formation with three receivers on the left and one on the right. Austin was bunched up with Jared Cook and Stedman Bailey on the left. Cook ran a corner, Bailey ran a drag and Austin faked like he was going for the pylon and cut back into the middle of the field. Since the Cardinals were in man defense, the routes cleared out the middle of the field and Austin was able to dart into the end zone for a touchdown.
His second touch was a jet sweep that went for good yardage. On his third, he was lined up on the left side of the formation and motioned in closer to the linemen. It was a play action pass with Austin running a post past the safety to the opposite hash mark. Nick Foles delivered a nice ball and Austin hauled it in. Austin’s fourth touch was a wide receiver screen that netted 12 yards. His fifth was another wide receiver screen on the left side of the formation that lost two yards.
On his next target, he was lined up on the outside to the right of the formation. He ran a go route with Patrick Peterson covering him. Surprisingly, Foles took a shot and gave Austin a chance to make a play but could not connect. His next touch consisted of running another jet sweep for 10+ yards. The next catch was another wide receiver screen that he almost took to the house. On his final catch, the Rams were once again on the Cardinals 12-yard line. This time the Rams have two receivers to each side of the formation. Austin, who is at the bottom, motions toward the middle of the field. Patrick Peterson follows him but Austin runs a slant and beats him for the touchdown.
Watching the tape, I was impressed with how Austin was being utilized. Wide receiver screens and routes that utilized his quickness in space. With that said, here is his game log for the previous three games:
Fantasy football is all about talent and opportunity. The more times a player touches the ball, the more potential fantasy goodies for owners. Austin has received 20 targets on the season. Julio Jones has received 52. Touchdowns are difficult to predict, but Austin only has 10 in his career. Let’s all remember that he still plays for the Rams. If Fisher had his way, the Rams would probably never pass the ball. He wants to pound the rock and play good defense. With the emergence of Todd Gurley, he may get his wish.
With that said, Austin is explosive in space and Cignetti is devising ways to get him in space. What a novel concept! What makes me most optimistic are the passes thrown to him while matched up against Patrick Peterson. The coaching staff and Foles had confidence to call the play and deliver the ball. That’s big boy football, not.
I’m thinking he will be good for 3-4 catches with a couple of carries every week. That’s a nice asset to have, considering the upside that Austin provides. The 6-for-96 with 2 touchdowns he put up Sunday probably won’t happen often, but you never know. I do have trepidation whether Fisher and Cignetti can actually be competent on a week to week basis, but the cost to acquire that upside is worth it.
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