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Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Rams-Jaguars study session: Defense

By Nick Wagoner

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.

St. Louis' James Laurinaitis
James Laurinaitis' end zone interception kept the Jaguars from pulling within one score.
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: