It's 7-2 49ers early in the 4th quarter and they have driven into the redzone. The Rams line-up to defend a 3rd and 3 from their 16. Janoris Jenkins is lined up on Mario Manningham and he gives him about 8 yards of space. Collin Kaepernick takes advantage and completes the gimmie first down throw on a slant route. Rams fans are pissed.
This season the Rams have decided to play off-coverage with their corner backs this year, which is a huge change from the press coverage system Steve Spagnuolo preferred. Opposing teams often take advantage and dink and dunk their way down the field. Even as the Rams are being carved up with the short passing game, they continue to play off the WRs, even in obvious short passing situations, such as the 3rd and 3 early in the 4th. Why?
It's no secret that the Rams have horrible safety play. Quintin Mikel is a shade of the player he was with the Eagles, and Craig Dahl is just plain bad in coverage. Early in the season, the Rams were very susceptible to the bomb, especially rookie Janoris Jenkins, and the safeties were not able to provide help over the top.
The game against New England was the last straw for the Rams coaching staff. They've made an adjustment to the coverage, playing the CBs deeper; much deeper and keeping the WRs in front of them. This has allowed the Rams to keep the big plays to a minimum, but now the shorter passing game is open.
Since the Rams started playing extreme off coverage, which to my eyes started week 10 in San Fransisco, they are 2-1-1. This "bend but don't break" style of defense is in large part responsible for the defensive resurgence that has lead the Rams back to their early season form. It's maddening to watch, especially on 3rd and short, but it has been working for the Rams.
Expect the Rams to keep playing the CBs deeper in the coming weeks, but Jeff could you scoot Janoris up a couple yards on short yardage plays? Please?