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Previewing the Preseason, Part 1: The Blitz Is On

One thing (of many) that should be interesting to watch in this Friday's preseason game against the Vikings, is how the Rams newish look defense plays the blitz. I've not been much a Vikings follower, but their future is now in the hands of second year QB Tavaris Jackson.

In John Clayton's piece over at ESPN (hat tip to the fine folks over at the Daily Norseman), the long-time NFL pundit reports on watching Jackson struggle some with the blitz early in camp. Against the Vikings last year, in the last game of the season and Jackson's second start, the Rams sacked him four times. He did, however, still manage to pass for 213 yards (20-34), 1 TD and 2 INTs and tacked on 1 rushing TD while gaining 34 yards on 7 carries. If you'll recall that game, it might have been the finest performance the Rams defense put together all year, evidenced by the fact that they limited the Vikes to just 82 total yards rushing.

Of course, Jackson won't carry all the weight. The Vikings figure to have a solid running game with Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson, with Peterson likely to get a good like this week. So let me amend my first sentence, it's not just how the Rams play the blitz, but how they balance that with their new look run defense. Even though the starters and the "real" game won't last beyond the first quarter, the new defense will want to put the pressure on Jackson which will of course mean first taking away the run game. For the Rams, the interplay between the new run defense and Haslett's want and need to blitz will occupy the spotlight for the Rams coaches and fans hungry for a record above .500 this season.