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The Tape: Rams @ Seahawks 3rd Quarter

I've become enamored with drive stats. Saint Louis averaged 21.36 yards per drive. 4.5 of that is locked in Steven Jackson's 50 yard reception.


Seventh play, first Saint Louis drive. Rams spread Seattle 4 WR, Rb. Seattle responds with a 4-2 nickel. Seattle employs a nickel instead of a dime, because running back Steven Jackson is in the right slot. In other words, Seattle matches Saint Louis' personnel rather than their formation. Linebackers Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu are playing up, behind the center of the line. At the snap, Tatupu blitzes in, Hill drops into a short zone offensive right, and right defensive end Lawrence Jackson drops into a short zone offensive left. Steven Jackson stops, receives and breaks towards the outside -- towards Torry Holt. Lawrence Jackson has a bead on him, looking capable of tackling Jackson or at least slowing him and allowing free safety Brian Russell to establish deep containment. Instead, Russell plays with the fire and discipline of a rookie and the abilities of an old man, shoots down the line, screens Lawrence Jackson away from Steven Jackson, forcing Lawrence Jackson to awkwardly bubble up and left, loses Steven Jackson on a simple spin off Holt's back, careens out of bounds and generally fucks up the whole damn play. Lawrence Jackson is forced to Steven Jackson's side, Lawrence grips Steven's jersey, is shed by another spin move and put into an irretrievable trail position. LoJack looks frustrated, likely with himself, but two players made this mess, one a rookie and one a seven year vet, and while the rookie did his job but failed, the vet shot his buddy attempting glory.

Sign Leroy Hill?: Hill is excellent at defending screen passes, but has taken a step back in zone coverage. Before Seattle re-signs Hill, we should consider how important that is. It's a worthy discussion.

Eleventh play of Saint Louis' first drive. Same drive. 3rd and 21 following an uncredited forced fumble by Peterson. Rams break 3 WR, SB. Seahawks 4-2 nickel. At the snap, Seattle rushes four but never accomplish pressure. Dane Looker drags from the right to the left in a slow developing route. Seattle needs to collapse the pocket better, and that must be recognized. Seattle's secondary is in a zone, with Tatupu and Hill manning the right and left underneath zones, respectively. Looker flashes behind Hill. Hill who only notices Looker after he's past him and has a clear route to the end zone. Marc Bulger targets Looker, Looker receives and scampers in for the score. A great goal line stop undone in a single play. There's blame to go around, but, ultimately, Hill has to keep the receiver ahead of him. Allowing Looker to streak behind him from the offensive right is exactly the kind of unaware zone play that caps Hill's potential.

Deon Grant, Executioner: Final play before we finish this defensive quarter. The offense played ball control, which has its charms, but misses the cut. For those scoring at home, Ray Willis missed the block that allowed Will Witherspoon to sack Matt Hasselbeck.

Fifth play, final Saint Louis drive of the quarter. 3rd and 1 from the Saint Louis 29. Rams break 3 WR, TE, Rb. Seahawks in a 4-2 nickel. Russell plays down, or in the box, on many of Seattle's 4-2 nickel looks, and this play is no different. What is unconventional is Leroy Hill playing the right end position, a spot typically filled by Julian Peterson. Hill starts wide in a three point, motions in and stays somewhat upright. Peterson and Tatupu start shaded right, with Russell ashoulder left. Peterson and Tatupu move over center, Russell drops deep and in from the off-camera abyss streaks Deon Grant. The ball is snapped, Grant barely breaks stride on an exceptionally executed safety blitz, comes untouched into the backfield, nearly drops Jackson for a loss but still forces him left and into the waiting arms of Hill. Hill gets the tackle, the close-up, the not in our house head shake, but Grant's execution on the safety blitz - the disguise, the timing, the breaking to the ball carrier - is flawless.