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Rams-Jaguars study session: Offense

10/8/2013

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 quarterback Sam Bradford hits receiver Austin Pettis for a 31-yard touchdown to seal the victory.

The Rams lined up in '21' personnel with two receivers, one tight end and two running backs. Jacksonville had four linemen and a linebacker at the line of scrimmage with a single high safety in the form of Josh Evans.

At the snap, Bradford faked a handoff to running back Daryl Richardson with fullback Cory Harkey sliding down from the left side of the formation to the right to pick up a blitz. Richardson also picked up another blitzing linebacker to create time for Bradford.

Pettis got a free release against cornerback Will Blackmon and did a small stutter step before accelerating to Blackmon's outside shoulder. Pettis quickly gained a step on Blackmon and Bradford dropped a perfect ball over his left shoulder for the touchdown.

Bradford's throw was pretty close to perfect and Pettis did a nice job of hauling it in but extra credit goes to Richardson and Harkey for picking up the blitz as well as they did.

Hidden Play: Bradford narrowly misses a deep ball to receiver Chris Givens.

With a 24-13 lead near the end of the third quarter, the Rams had a golden chance to hit a big play to effectively put the Jaguars away but just missed it when Bradford and Givens couldn't connect.

In '12' personnel with two receivers split right, two tight ends stacked left and a running back to the left in the backfield, the Rams lined up against Jacksonville's defense in its base 4-3 alignment with one cornerback on the left side and two high safeties.

At the snap, Givens got a free release to the inside against Blackmon, who presumably was to have safety help over the top. Jacksonville safety Johnathan Cyprien, who otherwise played well, got lost on the play and took a step toward the line as Givens raced down the field to the post.

Bradford didn't see Givens right away and the pocket closed in around him from the left side with end Tyson Alualu and tackle Sen'Derrick Marks providing pressure. Bradford took a couple of little hops before letting it go and as he threw, the pressure appeared to force him to take something off the throw.

By the time the ball arrived, Blackmon was able to recover and time it up to break up the pass.

Other observations:

  • Bradford had a couple of other issues with the pocket, including a third-quarter play where he didn't send the pressure quick enough and tripped over left tackle Jake Long's foot for a sack.

  • Tight end Lance Kendricks isn't completely healthy but he looked much better against the Jaguars. He was solid in his blocking and made some plays in the passing game. He was on the field a lot, too, playing 66 snaps.

  • Speaking of tight ends playing a lot, the Rams are using Harkey more and more. He played more snaps than Jared Cook and had good moments blocking. He also had a drop in the passing game, which won't help get more looks there.

  • Harkey also provided a glimpse into the world of working with so many young skill players on offense. During one sequence in the fourth quarter, Bradford signaled for Harkey to go in motion three times before he turned around to tell him to move.

  • Receiver Brian Quick also continues to work his way into the mix more. He played more snaps than Tavon Austin and had a couple of nice grabs. On one, he saw the pocket collapse around Bradford and did a good job of coming back to the ball, making himself available and hauling in the catch for a 17-yard gain.

  • Shelley Smith played about a third of the snaps at left guard and Chris Williams handled the rest. There didn't seem to be much dropoff between the two. Both were solid in the run game and just OK in pass protection. As I mentioned this morning, it seems inserting Smith is intended to have him ready in case a tackle gets hurt and Williams has to shift outside.

  • Richardson still doesn't look healthy to me. He ran a little better in this one but he looks a bit tentative hitting the hole, not at all like the guy we saw last year. Also, plays designed to throw him the ball just don't seem to do much. It's clearly not his forte.

  • Obviously the Rams are trying to get Tavon Austin going in the pass game but Bradford missed a golden opportunity for a touchdown to Cook on a play where Austin dropped a short pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Defenses throw a lot of attention at Austin on plays like that and it seems to allow chances to hit elsewhere.

  • Nice power running from back Benny Cunningham late when Zac Stacy was off the field with a rib injury.

  • Stacy was as expected. Powerful, breaking tackles, all the things you could see live showed up on film. He also did a nice job when asked to pass protect.

  • Bradford was mostly solid for the day. He did miss a couple of opportunities but he took care of the ball and didn't make any huge glaring mistakes.

  • The offensive lineman who looked the best to my eyes? Right tackle Joe Barksdale. He was solid in all aspects but caught my eye a couple of times in the run game, especially. He appeared to give up a sack but that was about it in terms of anything from the man across from him.