What is it about the psychology of this business, covering a team in the fan-driven new media environment that draws a guy to the most negative aspects of one of the most satisfying wins of the year? Rather than go into a long winded response to a deeper existential question, I'm just going to say to you that it's victory Monday and we'll be focusing on the positives of the St. Louis Rams 36-33 win over the Denver Broncos. Tomorrow, we can delve into the rest of it.
The offensive line did a fine job yesterday in pass blocking. Sam Bradford had ample time to find open receivers. That's been a trend all season.
But there is another important factor at play here, something fans and the media haven't said much about all year: Steven Jackson's pass blocking.
The highlight reels aren't exactly filled with running backs in pass blocking, at least not specifically. You can see a nice example of Jackson's blocking work on the Hoomanawanui TD pass. And again on the 2-yard TD pass to Bajema. Those really aren't even the best examples of SJ39's work in keeping Bradford on his feet. On the Uh Oh touchdown, you can't tell from the highlight clip who exactly Jackson blocks. Denver was a in 3-4 and it looks like an OLB. Whoever it was, Jackson keeps him from coming around while Bradford waits for the play to develop and hit his TE on the screen.
Screens have been a big play for the Rams this season, and those don't happen without good blocking the backfield.
The running game may be a little circumspect for the Rams this year for several reasons, not the least of which is run blocking. Nevertheless, Jackson's mere presence on the field forces defenses to account for him at the expense of covering other players. That's made for lots more success on play action passes, misdirection, etc. Still, without his pass blocking acumen, much of that would be impossible.
It wasn't all that long ago that Jackson was criticized for his pass blocking. That he's since made it into a strength speaks volumes of what kind of player Jackson has become with experience, a player who leads by example, quietly excelling in everything he's asked to do. And that's a big reason for the Rams turnaround this year.