That title belongs to Kadarius Toney of the Giants…and he’s the one dynamic wideout the Rams need to be on the lookout for during Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium.
Toney was one of the injured Giants from the 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys from Sunday, October 10. However, he is planning to practice on his injured ankle for Wednesday’s session according to CBS Sports.
And considering the Rams’ early woes against containing explosive plays especially against the pass, Toney could be in for a breakout afternoon in East Rutherford, New Jersey unless the Rams draw up a brilliant plan to slow him down.
Impact of Toney
Here’s how the 22-year-old Toney has fared this season:
- The 6-foot, 193-pound rookie is averaging 14.1 yards a catch this season as of Week 5.
- The last two games, however, has seen a spike in targets, catches and yardage: Toney caught 6 passes for 78 yards in the 27-21 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints. Then followed with a 10 catch, 189-yard day versus the Cowboys. He’s been targeted a combined 22 times in the last two weeks.
- Per Pro Football Focus, he’s caught 80% of his targets and has 166 yards after the catch.
Toney isn’t just someone who has added a much-needed speed element to the 1-4 Giants, but has the jets to slip between two defenders as seen here:
Here’s a sky view of that same catch — which resulted in Toney getting New York inside the Cowboys’ 5-yard line.
And while the talk of the Cowboys’ defense focused on Trevon Diggs, Toney did get this personal victory on the talented Dallas cornerback: He created separation off this 2-step pivot move during man coverage:
Oh, with that reported 4.39 40-yard dash speed, the Giants can plug him in as a wildcat QB, as seen below:
Toney is so shifty, he was once called “the human joystick” during his University of Florida days by his former college head coach Jim McElwain.
Rams Pass Defense Must Improve
The Rams have surrendered six aerial touchdowns through five games. However, they’ve given up five TD passes in the last three games.
That includes the 39 and 23-yarder DK Metcalf had against the Rams on Thursday, October 7. Plus the 41-yarder A.J. Green scored in the Week 4 loss to the Cardinals.
More astonishing is this: Via Stathead, the Rams have allowed 11 completions of 25 yards or more in 2021. One year ago, the league’s best defense only surrendered 23 passing plays of that yardage mark or higher — giving them an average of just 1.4 passes per game in that category. This time, the Rams have allowed an average of 2.2 25+ passing plays.
Per PFF, six different Ram defenders have witnessed a 25 or 42-yard connection go up their side. This includes All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey (25-yarder), slot CB David Long (was the targeted defender on the Green TD) and safety captain Jordan Fuller (42-yarder).
What can the Rams do to Contain Toney?
So how do the Rams control this “joystick” on the Giants?
I would say bracket him, but the Giants are most likely going to move around Toney to draw mismatches. Head coach Joe Judge will likely try to get Kenny Young on Toney, as the Rams inside linebacker is among the defenders who has struggled against the pass through Week 5. Via this chart from PFF, Toney has gained 105 of his yards in the short center of the field — which is the side Young mans.
Although, it’ll be fun to see Ramsey and Toney match speed on speed. I won’t rule out Raheem Morris placing Ramsey on him to test the rookie WR. Another likely scenario? Rams rookie Robert Rochell gets assigned to Toney, which becomes a battle of guys who ran a 4.3 before.
Regardless, Sunday presents an opportunity for the Rams to improve upon their pass defense lapses. Containing the “joystick” Toney is a great way to improve.