St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo learned the defensive trade from the late great Jim Johnson, the long-time Eagles defensive coordinator known for his aggressive style of attacking the quarterback. Spagnuolo and Johnson both worked for Andy Reid, the Eagles head coach. Got that. Reid's Eagles used their knowledge of the Rams defensive system to exploit some key weaknesses this week, getting the mismatches they wanted for DeSean Jackson and the Rams secondary. How you ask, Jimmy K from Blogging the BEast shows us how.
I will not post the entire thing here, because you really must go read it and see the video. The Eagles split TE Brent Celek and WR Jason Avant out wide, and because the Rams' defensive scheme usually plays left and right corners, rather than assigned receivers, Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher end up covering those two. Yes, Bartell and Fletcher covering a tight end and Jason Avant; you do the math. That leaves Justin King, Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl to cover the Eagles' three best receivers, Steve Smith, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, lined up in a bunch formation on the right side of the offense.
As if the mismatch wasn't bad enough, Smith gets doubled up and DeSean Jackson get left UNCOVERED to make an easy 26-yard catch. That puts the Eagles on the 9-yard line, and two plays later, they score a touchdown to make it 24-10.
Plenty of things went wrong in this game, and clearly some fundamentals were lacking. Don't excuse the coaching decisions either. There was a breakdown on this play, but the notion of leaving DeSean Jackson covered by defenders other than the Rams two best corners defies logic. Maybe they could have doubled up coverage with King and Mikell or some combination, but that play, that series, proved to be a real back-breaker in a game full of back-breakers.
We've seen the Rams get beat with this kind of play before too.
Be sure to check out Coach Conners' review of Fred Robbins and Chris Long from the game too.