Basically, he just ‘double-moved’ me...My eyes were in the wrong position. Basically that was it...
...That was all on me...I take full responsibility on that as a man. That’s what happened.
He doesn’t make mistakes on purpose, understands our defense, and he will take responsibility for the play. I think it was more something that we should’ve kept him out of.
That's from the Jim Thomas piece this morning from Janoris Jenkins and Head Coach Jeff Fisher, respectively, on perhaps the most important play of the Rams' 2014 season.
The Rams were 14 seconds away from a 14-3 halftime lead on Monday Night Football. Instead, Brandon Lloyd got Jenkins to bite on his initial move, freeing him to streak down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown that sparked the Niners eventual 31-17 win.
What a world.
As I thought about the play's significance in the game, what I came to realize is that it was more than just one play. It had elements of everything that's wrong with where the Rams are as a franchise and who they are as a team.
First, though, let's go back and look at how it all went down.
The Rams are in a nickel set with James Laurinaitis deep to set up a Tampa 2 shell. Here's how the teams looked when they lined up and the coverage (the safeties are highlighted in yellow as they have free zone play to move forward and smother any receptions to get to halftime:
On the snap and initial moves, here's what it looks like (safeties still highlighted):
Note how Jenkins at the top is beginning to check his coverage down to stop what he thinks is either a hitch or a dig from Lloyd. It's not.
Right at the point of Kaepernick's release below, you can see the safeties have great coverage in the middle of the field and Joyner and McLeod have Crabtree well dealt with. Too bad Lloyd's already gone:
Here's the GIF to see it in full:
It's got everything in there. The four major aspects of the 2014 Rams are all on full display: poor execution, insufficient line play, coaching inadequacy and reliance on underdeveloped talent.
Obviously, there's just no excuse for Janoris to bite on the move. He barely got cut out in the GIF, but we all saw it. If you want a better look on Jenkins' bite, here's the replay video at NFL.com. I'd embed it here, but the NFL doesn't allow you to embed videos because it's the NFL.
In any case, Jenkins knows he can't do that. He knows it's the wrong move. And he does it anyway. In college, you can get away with mistakes. In the NFL, the talent level of your opposition is just too damn good. Mistakes get paid for. Sometimes, dearly.
Insufficient Line Play
One other aspect of this play that isn't brought up much? The defensive line. I often remind people that every play starts with the lines. EVERY play. This one's no different. Go back up and look at Kaepernick's protection. The Rams are nowhere close to him. Lloyd fakes Janoris and gets down the line successfully only because his line allows him the time to do that. If someone from the D-line swats the ball down or pressures Kaepernick out of the pocket, we might not even be talking about Jenkins here.
Fisher admitted the coaches were part of the problem on this one. You've got just seconds left in the half. Why is the best option you have to keep a top on the defense James Laurinaitis? What was the mitigation plan in case Jenkins got burned? Or was the reason Jenkins didn't have backup because the coaching staff trusted Jenkins' cover skills so completely that they didn't feel that there was enough risk of an 80-yard touchdown? Regardless, the coaches set the play up for failure. San Fran had a play in to take advantage. The misexecution from Jenkins was the play, but the coaches who dialed it up made the play possible.
Consider what you're looking at. A defensive line full of young talents like Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald. One of the three longest tenured defensive backs on the entire roster. A coaching staff on the defensive side that includes a head coach in his 20th year at that level and a defensive coordinator with a dozen seasons as DC under his belt.
There's just no excuse. These are the players Fisher and Snead brought in. There's no pointing to Spags or Devaney anymore. Janoris should know not to commit to the initial move because it should have been drilled in his head by Fisher or by Williams or by anybody. Is it the kind of thing you're taught early in football defense? Sure. Is it something you need repeated? Obviously.
The Rams are the youngest team in the NFL. That inexperience manifests in various ways. It's incumbent on the coaching staff to get those young talents straightened out to perform, to ensure that the offensive and defensive lines are winning consistently to give the team the chance to win football games.
It's not happening. And Lloyd's touchdown was a perfect example of all of it.