Tavon Austin: The Gadget Man
Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Tavon Austin seemed to have disappeared on the Los Angeles Rams depth chart. Austin who sparked the eyes of many NFL Scouts at the 2013 NFL Combine when he unofficially ran a 4.25 40 yard dash. His impressive combine workout is all that Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher needed to solidify they need to do what they needed in getting Sam Bradford a weapon.
The front office did just that, as they executed the second trade of that NFL draft, sending their original 16th overall pick, a second-round selection, the 46th and a seventh-round 78th pick to the Buffalo Bills for their number eighth overall pick. In addition, the teams exchanged the 71st and 78th selections. The Rams selected Austin, the speedy wide receiver from West Virginia.
At West Virginia, Austin was a complete player, that could score in a barrage of ways on the field, as a runner, receiver, and return specialist. Austin was one of the nations most electric players, as when teams figured ways of stopping him, he executes a different plan like a Gadget Man.
In 2016, the Ram’s Tavon Austin, signed a four-year extension to stay in Los Angeles, the team that drafted him in the 2013 NFL Draft. Austin signed a 4 year, $42,000,000 extension including $28,500,000 guaranteed, an average annual salary of $10,500,000. In 2017, Austin will earn a base salary of $3,500,000 and a roster bonus of $11,477,116, while carrying a cap hit of $14,977,116. The lucrative contract extension brought frustration from numerous Ram fans, because of Austin’s stats didn’t compare to that type of monetary reward.
Just my opinion, I believe that its a Catch-22 of the “likes” and “dislikes” of Tavon Austin by the Ram fans. The catch, Austin never had an offensive-minded head coach or high-quality offensive coordinator that was able to utilize his talent other than on jet sweeps. Entering his fifth season, Austin has played under four different offensive coordinators, sub-par offensive lines, less of average quarterbacks, and a basic receiving core.
Excuse me for asking, but is it fair for that blame to be placed on his shoulders? Clearly, he’s not the entire team, but some of his lack of numbers can solely place on him too.
In the week five loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Austin was used primarily as a backup running back to Todd Gurley, and I have to say, he ran the ball pretty well. Austin carried the ball six times for 27 yards and touchdown. On a third and eleven, Tavon was given the ball, ran inside, and took to the house for a touchdown. (watch video)
Tavon Austin Skates Through Seahawks Defense
The Los Angeles Rams clinched the NFC West Title last Sunday that preserved them the opportunity to host an NFC Wildcard Sunday the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams clinched the division by a thrilling game over the Tennessee Titans where there pro bowl running back Todd Gurley had a record day. Nothing short of Gurley's performance, we can't leave out the fact that quarterback Jared Goff played almost a flawless games by tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions.
No touchdown pass was far more spectacular than his 80-yard screen pass to Gurley. He watched Gurley race through the defense and would be untouched the entire distance. They scored the touchdown two plays later, turning the ball over at their own 10-yard line. It appeared that right guard Jamon Brown missed a blocking assignment, which allowed Titan's defensive lineman Jurrell Casey a clean hit on Goff. As Goff attempted to hand the ball off to Gurley, he was hit by Casey, fumbling the football at the five yard and scooped and scored by linebacker Wesley Woodward. The Titan's relished a brief 10-6 lead, but the Rams responded quickly with the Gurley's touchdown.
Coach McVay's Responds After Clinching Division
Shortly after clinching the NFC West and their first playoff bid since 2004, Coach McVay made it publicly known that majority of the Ram starters were not going to be active. Resting the players is damage control by preventing any injuries to key players. Players were banged up and wanted healthy bodies for the playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins, will be skill players who will be inactive on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Austin certainly has his opportunity to shine against the 49ers, a team he's played big against in the past.
Despite limited playing time, when giving the opportunity, Austin been everything of a professional on the field. He's always jumping up and down when making a play or the first to congratulate a player after making a huge play. He continues to play hard on the field even not running or receiving the ball. For example, a play in London where Gurley scored a touchdown after making a defender miss, Austin makes a huge block on Arizona Cardinal's defensive back Patrick Peterson that helped spring Gurley for the touchdown. (Watch Video)
Tavon Austin's Key Block
Austin status on Sunday is still uncertain whether he will start at running back or back up Malcolm Brown, or will start at wide receiver. One thing that is for certain, the number will be called for plentiful opportunities. At receiver, he will platoon with rookie Josh Reynolds, second-year receivers Mike Thomas and Pharoh Cooper, and starters Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins probably will be limited to third downs.
Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur was asked about the receivers against 49ers, he responded that he was excited to see Austin play and definitely was going to get a lot of opportunities. He continued to say when Austin gets the ball in his hands, he is extremely explosive, and hope that they could get the ball in his hands down the field. He further was asked whether Austin would return kicks, LaFleur quickly responded he honestly didn't know, but those were a decision made by special teams coach John Fassel and head coach Sean McVay.
Austin lost his return duties after muffing four punts and losing two of them in the first five games of the season. His last turnover came against their division rival Seahawks as Austin signaled for a fair catch and misjudged the ball. The Rams could have taken over the ball at their own 30-yard line, with a 7-0 lead, but this was enough for Coach Fassel to bare. The Rams special teams have been nothing but clutch and nearly flawless this season, and this issue was causing frustration. Austin seemed to have lost his focus with fielding punts, as you can view him clearly muffing this punt in week three against the 49ers. (Watch Video)
Tavon Austin Muffs Punt
No doubt, Austin has lost many fans and many of them have been calling for his release or trade. However, throughout it all, Austin has remained positive and had shaken off his negative attention by positive social media posting. His positive attitude on the field, inside the locker room, and outside in the community continues to display his positivity.
Last week, Austin and fellow teammate Robert Quinn, provide a less fortunate family that was displaced with a fully furnished home, food, and Christmas gifts. Having lost fans, Austin at least gained more by his community outreach.
I'm excited to watch Austin to get significant play in today's game against the 49ers. Perhaps he can play with backups and provide the excitement many Ram fans are expected to be missing. The last couple of weeks, the Rams offense had been electric after Todd Gurley erupted against the Seahawks and Jaguars. Expect for Coach McVay and LaFleur create some mismatches for Austin to display his career type explosiveness. (Watch Video)
Tavon Austin's Career Highlights
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