2016 may have been the most important year yet in the career of Kenny Britt. The Rams receiver was in his final contracted year and staring down the barrel of free agency. Yet to reach a 1,000 yard season and with an unstable Offense around him, Britt had a tall Mountain to climb. It was one that the former first round pick conquered however, as he became the first Rams wideout since 2007 to receive for 1,000 yards, averaging 14.7 yards per reception and scoring 5 touchdowns in the process.
With a new era beginning in LA, it remains to be seen whether or not the Rams will attempt to retain Britt, but if they don’t, should the Eagles be a team looking to pursue the 28-year old? To examine this, we will once again be using the same criteria used to grade both Kenny Stills and Kendall Wright.
Getting off the line:
In the four full games worth of the coaches film watched on Britt, getting off the line didn’t seem to be a pro, nor a con. His 6’3, 223 pound frame often means that corners are going to be at an immediate setback if they attempt to jam him at the line, so it doesn’t happen all too regularly. Britt is usually left with some breathing room to start his route, but in the situations he isn’t, he still finds ways to get a leg up.
This was no clearer than in the team’s second game against the Seahawks of 2016. Britt, at the bottom of the screen, does a fantastic job of fighting through Richard Sherman’s aggressive and extended attempt to jam him. Although being forced inside to break free, he’s able to work his way back toward the sideline later in the route. The light footwork caused nightmares for the shutdown corner..something he’s more than familiar with by now.
Britt does a similarly good job on this route, working from the top of the screen on a drag route. Sherman stayed close, but a subtle stutter enabled Britt to get a nice angle over the middle and some room to work with. Britt took full advantage of the offset position Sherman started in and forced his way inside.
Sherman is one of the few corners to consistently play press coverage against Kenny Britt and moves like this make it easy to see why. Britt has Sherman completely fooled that he’s charging into the endzone but a quick break gives the Rams an easy five yard completion. It took just ten steps for Britt to complete his route, working in a small box but he did more than enough to create the room needed for Goff to throw the ball into off the line.
Britt’s solid frame means that he’s often able to really dominate the stem of the route, or at least keep contact to a minimum. Against the Lions, Britt had arguably his best game of the season and demonstrated just how powerful he can be. There was a lot of contact initiated on this play after Britt began his route, knowing he has to come back outside. He was able to drive forward and create separation between himself and the defender when breaking into the corner route, showing strength when it mattered.
Even though he wasn’t targeted on this play, Britt worked out of the slot and broke inside at the 10 yard line. A slight hesitation was enough to keep that door wide open for Britt who had a big mismatch to take advantage of, ensuring that the middle of the route was as fluid as possible.
There’s no better example of Britt’s ability to stay strong in the Heart of the route than this battle against Darrelle Revis. The aging corner is still as physical as ever, but it wasnt enough to slow down Britt, who got a great jump off the line of scrimmage. Revis was in recovery mode for the entire route, but asserted his physicality once it was clear that the ball was coming his way. Britt stayed on course and Keenum was able to drop it into the bucket as a result.
Nothing shows toughness like this catch however. Britt again was pressed heavily at the line but was never pushed off of his route as he edged his way to the sideline before putting on the afterburners, fending off the contact and making a tightrope catch on the sideline.
Britt can be truly electrifying at times and even though his most notable highlights are some eyebrow raising catches in tight coverage, he’s able to create separation with ease. He lined up 1-on-1 with Malcolm Butler in this shotgun look and was able to split the Pats Defense with a gorgeous double move. Faking outside did enough to send Butler on his way while a snap cut through the hole left a huge window for the quarterback to complete the pass.
Britt wasn’t Sherman’s favorite person after this game, that’s for sure. The former Titans receiver was pressed out of the slot but it didn’t stop him shrugging off number 25 and creating space after a break for a quick check-down.
The Eagles run a lot of curls and comebacks..and they also happen to be a playground for Britt. A hesitation move before a quick cut was enough to create more than enough space for the completion, even with the nickel corner dropping back into a zonal look. It’s this kind of intuitiveness and expression in Britt’s play that makes him so explosive.
As of right now, Carson Wentz is still struggling with consistency when it comes to accuracy. Passes are still sailing on him and he still targets the back shoulders of receivers at times. With this in mind, the catch radius of Britt would help combat this issue massively.
Whether it’s his 6’3 size or just a combination of his physical attributes mixed with incredible amounts of effort, Britt can often be seen going up to make catches or extending his body to just tip the ball toward his chest. Leaping, diving and jumping are all verbs regularly associated with Kenny Britt completions..and it’s not hard to see why. Even on simple routes like slant below, Britt still has the wingspan to make life easier for his quarterback.
Nothing quite shows Britt’s catch radius like this stunning one-handed grab against the Lions. Battling Darius Slay off the line, Britt forces his way outside and extends his body for a huge one handed completion, sending the Rams 46-yards up the field.
A leap into the air on this quick slant route is something that the Eagles would have loved to see more often in 2016. Britt uses his strength to turn his back to former Eagle Byron Maxwell but hauls in the highly thrown ball with ease.
Need more one-handed goodness to be convinced? Say no more. Britt was at his best against the Jets, receiving for 109 yards. The most glamorous of his 7 receptions was this one handed snag however. It wasn’t just the grab itself that was impressive, but his ability to get to the sideline and push for those extra yards.
Britt hasn’t been in many situations where he has had to make a huge adjustment to aid his quarterback, most of his in-route adjustments aid separation or send a cornerback the wrong way. However there was one play that really stood out, against the Patriots. Goff scrambled outside, with Britt stopping on a dig. Once the rookie began to scramble, Britt pointed his arm toward the sideline and began to motion back outside, giving Goff a window to throw the ball into and as a result, moving the chains.
Britt ranked 55th in YAC this season, averaging just 4.5 yards. However, that is still a whole yard more than both Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews. Britt is a possession based receiver and as aforementioned, his brightest moments are making those incredibly tough catches, which often end at the spot of the reception. The YAC can be seen in a few of the plays in this All-22 so far, but it’s difficult to find plays where Britt truly shows the YAC ability of Kenny Stills for instance. Where he really shines however is in a category directly linked to YAC, effort.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a 45 yard reception or a 3 yard slant, the fight of Kenny Britt is what jumps off the screen when watching any game. Every single reception is finished with a determined push for extra yards. Pushing defenders back, bouncing off tackles and trying to dive for those extra yards.
His two touchdowns against the Lions show this better than any play this season. Britt makes a reception before shrugging off one tackle and spinning his way into the endzone. Extending his arms above his head and forcing his way in for the score, the effort on this play after making the catch stood still was beyond impressive.
His second of the game was just as impressive. Shaking off one tackle and running into a wall may stop most, but Britt shook off ANOTHER tackle and pushed his way in for the score. It’s this commitment that the Eagles see from Jordan Matthews on a weekly basis, but struggle to see consistently throughout the rest of the corps.
The effort of Kenny Britt is easily his best attribute, every catch has the possibility to go five yards more because of the way he keeps the motor going and his natural drive to force an extra few yards with a dive. In a West-Coast Offense, that can be extremely valuable.
A 1,000 yard season was exactly what the Doctor ordered for Kenny Britt. He should now have plenty of teams interested in securing his services going forward if a move away from L.A is what the receiver desires. The only problem is going to be the price tag. Britt has a lot of upside and fits Roseman’s “28-year old” FA prototype and he plays with a lot of heart. His biggest asset aside from the effort will be providing Wentz with a large catch radius. With that said, I don’t think Britt is the dominant number one receiver that the team want to acquire. He wouldn’t stretch the field as much as someone like Kenny Stills, instead taking on and enhancing a Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham type role.
The Eagles certainly need help outside and if the price is right, then Britt would be a healthy addition to a roster craving consistency and leadership by example, someone to unite the corps and iron out any lingering issues. With the Eagles interviewing the Rams WR coach, Mike Groh, they could well be setting the stage for an even more unified locker room and leverage to sign the free agent to a long-term deal. Britt had his best season under Groh and following him to Philadelphia, if signed, would make a lot of sense for every party.
If the Eagles were to sign Britt as a number one receiver, I don’t think the investment would be worth the reward. However if Groh were to sign as a WR coach and Britt were to work within the rotation, helping grow and extremely young position that could get even younger through the draft, then he is an incredibly exciting signing who still has that “star” potential.
Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports