Sean McVay’s usage of Tutu Atwell against the Saints was baffling

Tutu Atwell is listed as being 5-foot-9, 165 pounds. By even college football standards, he’s a smaller receiver.

It doesn’t take an expert to know a player that size probably isn’t very effective as a blocker in the running game. Someone should tell Sean McVay that because against the Saints, he saw Atwell as more of a blocker than a receiver.

Atwell played a total of seven snaps against the Saints. He ran exactly one route, which resulted in a 62-yard touchdown – the biggest play of Atwell’s career. He was able to show off his speed, which is exactly what the Rams drafted him for in the second round last year.

On the other six snaps, Atwell was a run blocker. He didn’t run a single other route besides the 62-yard touchdown.

It’s not that Atwell is a terrible blocker; he actually held his own and earned a 58.3 grade from PFF in that department. It’s that there’s really no excuse for him to run one route and block on his other six snaps.

Dating back to last season, Atwell has played 40 offensive snaps. He’s run routes on 20 of them, been a pass blocker on 19 of them and took a handoff once. He didn’t run a single route last season. That’s a bizarre way to use a deep threat.

Atwell’s usage on Sunday is especially inexcusable when you consider he made a big play on the only route he ran. He flew by Chris Harris Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu for a touchdown. It was his second deep reception of the season after also catching a 54-yarder earlier this year.

Why not give him another shot to take the top off the defense? I know Stafford went down with an injury and missed part of the game, so the deep passes were tough to come by, but at least he can stretch the field and create some space for the rest of the offense.

Blocking is part of playing wide receiver in the NFL, particularly in the Rams’ offense. But Atwell isn’t built like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods or Allen Robinson. He’s a gadget player like Tavon Austin.

With the Rams sitting at 3-7 and missing Cooper Kupp for the next 5-plus weeks, McVay needs a better plan for Atwell. He’s never played more than 10 offensive snaps in a game and hasn’t run more than eight routes in a single contest, either.

Give him a shot to contribute and help fill the void left by Kupp. He doesn’t need to play every snap or be targeted six times a game, but there’s a role for Atwell on this team. McVay said as much this summer when he held Atwell out of the preseason to avoid any potential injury.

It’s up to McVay to find a way to incorporate the second-year wideout.


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Story originally appeared on Rams Wire