Rams-Jaguars study session: Defense

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A look back at the St. Louis Rams' 34-20 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars after reviewing the All-22 film.

Big Play: Rams safety Matt Giordano returns an interception 82 yards for a touchdown.

In a nickel defense with Giordano serving as the single high safety and Darian Stewart creeping into the run box, the Rams left cornerback Janoris Jenkins in man against receiver Cecil Shorts on the left side. Jacksonville had three receivers bunched to the right with a running back in the backfield.

The Rams send four pass-rushers, but do not blitz.

At the snap, Rams end Robert Quinn almost instantly beat Jacksonville left tackle Cameron Bradfield, forcing quarterback Blaine Gabbert to step up in the pocket. As Quinn closed in, Gabbert awkwardly dragged his back foot while trying to step into the throw and airmailed it over the head of Shorts, who was well covered by Jenkins anyway.

The ball sailed right to Giordano who spotted an opening across the field and immediately began to head that direction. He found a wall of blockers there, including key blocks from safety Rodney McLeod on Bradfield, Jenkins on running back Maurice Jones-Drew and finally Quinn on Gabbert at the final moment.

Giordano did his job on the play but special commendation should go to Quinn and Jenkins for their double duty. Quinn created the play with pressure and Jenkins had Shorts covered then both turned around and made important blocks to secure the touchdown.

Hidden Play: Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis intercepts a Gabbert pass in the end zone.

Leading 24-10 in the third quarter, the Rams nearly allowed Jacksonville to trim the margin to one score after penalties kept the Jags' drive alive.

Again in the nickel, even close to the goal line, the Rams again opted against the blitz and sent four rushers at Gabbert. Jacksonville had a running back, a tight end and three receivers on the field with Shorts motioning right to put he and Justin Blackmon together on that side.

At the snap, Laurinaitis dropped into a deep zone with linebacker Alec Ogletree stepping into the short middle and taking away any options there. Shorts ran an in across the back of the end zone with Giordano in coverage. Gabbert either didn't see Laurinaitis or tried to force it in but Laurinaitis was all over it.

Laurinaitis outmuscled Shorts for the ball; killing the drive and actually gaining the Rams 18 yards of field positions versus the alternative of an incomplete pass.

Other observations:

  • Quinn didn't have any sacks this week but he was again a terror on the edge. He consistently created pressure, coming up with three quarterback hits and five hurries. He did a nice job in run support as well and continues to show some signs of progress in that regard.

  • It should be noted just how bad Gabbert and the Jacksonville offense looked. Gabbert simply never looked comfortable in the pocket and his line didn't do much to help him get there.

  • It's probably going to take some time for Ogletree to reach his potential but he has a knack for making a great play then missing an easy one. He split two blockers to help setup Stewart's forced fumble and recovery and then in the third quarter missed what should have been an easy tackle on a quick pass after a dropped snap. Missed tackles continue to be an issue.

  • For someone coming off an illness with no practice all last week, Trumaine Johnson had a solid game. He got beat for a long pass but he mostly hung in there. After the play where Ogletree missed the tackle, Johnson showed some impressive athleticism as he elevated to knock down a pass that would have gone for a big gain even though he was stuck in a bit of no man's land.

  • It was a rough day for Stewart in some areas aside from his forced fumble and recovery. He was unable to get in position on the play where Blackmon ran free for his touchdown and later it appeared he was out of position again when Chad Henne found Blackmon down the left sideline. Jenkins looked surprised to see no help when the play was over as Stewart trailed behind.

  • Laurinaitis had another productive day at the office. He appears to be getting good depth on his drops and was solid in coverage for a second consecutive week.

  • The interior of the defensive line had one of its better outings of the season as tackle Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford did a lot of collapsing of the line on Jacksonville runs. Brockers did some good things in rushing the passer also, including a sack and a hit.

  • One thing the Rams didn't take advantage of that was there were fumble recovery opportunities. They got to one but Gabbert coughed up two more that Jacksonville got back. Awareness in that area needs to improve, as those chances don't come around too often.