Washington Redskins-St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson's Play of the Day
The "Play of the Day" is a weekly Washington Redskins feature throughout the 2009 NFL season. It takes a critical play, turning point, or a play that is representative of a larger theme and examines it in-depth.
Similar to NFL Matchup on ESPN, the Play of the Day is intended to provide insight and knowledge by breaking down a key play from the Redskins' previous game.
This week, there weren’t many highlights to choose from.
In the second quarter, Steven Jackson broke open a 62-yard run to setup the lone touchdown in the game. The Rams went up 7-6 at halftime, sending the Redskins fans into a booing frenzy.
It was just one play in the arsenal of plays the Rams ran for Jackson: whether as a runner, split out wide as a receiver or in the slot.
The Rams moved him all over the field with great success and against an elite player, the Redskins tackling was sub-par on this play.
Note: The drawings are to scale and accurate to where each player was located on the field. All the images in this slideshow are my original creation and copyrighted material. Please do not use them without express written consent, implied oral consent, or imagined telepathic consent of the author. Well, really just the first one.
Setting Up the Play
The Redskins had just taken the ball down the field and settled for a field goal for the second time in the half.
The Redskins defense forced St. Louis to punt after four plays on their first possession, and stopped them at midfield after an 11-play drive on their second.
Up 6-0, the Rams began their third drive at their own 16-yard line and started off by throwing an incompletion on first down.
On 2nd-and-10, the Rams lined up in a three-wide receiver, one tight end set, with Jackson as the lone set back. The ball was snapped from the left hashmark.
They ran the ball off the right guard, away from the tight end, in just a very simple and well blocked running play.
Along with some poor tackling and poor timing, the Redskins allowed a huge gain on an otherwise dominant defensive performance.
The Rams gained 245 net yards in this game, 62 of them on the “Play of the Day.”
The Redskins are highlighted in red and Steven Jackson, No. 39, is highlighted in blue. The only player not shown on the field is LaRon Landry, who is playing center field at the 35-yard line in between the Rams right tackle and right guard.
Steven Jackson Receives the Handoff
We pause for the first time with Jackson receiving the handoff from quarterback Marc Bulger and beginning to assess his running lanes and the blocking of the offensive line.
Movements of Redskins players will be shown in red and movements of Rams players in blue.
The Front Six
The point of attack on this play is between the right guard and right tackle, and the Rams do a great job of sealing off those lanes.
Right tackle Jason Smith, No. 77, was able to get a good jump and engage Philip Daniels by pushing and turning him away from the play.
Richie Incognito (right guard, No. 68) and Jason Brown (center, No. 60) double team Cornelius Griffin and effectively seal him inside while Incognito begins to move off Griffin and work towards the second level and London Fletcher, No. 59.
Albert Haynesworth, No. 92, pushes left tackle Alex Barron, No. 70, about three or four yards back towards the play as the left guard, No. 63, squeezes through the line to attack Rocky McIntosh.
As defensive coordinator Greg Blache said on Monday, this gap over right guard was Chris Horton’s responsibility (No. 48). He is unblocked and flowing downhill straight towards Jackson when he receives the ball.
The Missed Tackles
The Rams were able to get into the second level and get the four defensive linemen and the two linebackers blocked on this play.
Albert Haynesworth continued driving his man towards the play and tried to jump between and over Nos. 60 and 70, but his outstretched hand couldn't grab Jackson as he went by.
As he jumped, Chris Horton went in to tackle Jackson around his legs.
But just after he misses the initial tackle and still had an arm on Jackson’s legs, Haynesworth landed on him. Jackson fully slipped out of the tackle and ran into the open field.
Poor Recognition and Angles
Even though Coach Blache said this play was Chris Horton’s responsibility, there are two other players on the Redskins defense that took bad angles and failed to stop the play.
Carlos Rodgers, No. 22, began this play about eight yards from the line of scrimmage. He backpedaled a couple yards and when he saw the running play get bogged down in the hole, he jogged up to the 20-yard line.
He figured the play was over and that Jackson was tackled. It’s only when Jackson goes by him, as indicated in this slide, that he began to turn around and sprint after him.
After the 62 yards, it was Rodgers and DeAngelo Hall who finally caught up to him.
But if Rodgers would have been in the right place on this play, and didn’t assume it was over, he could have been another body to plug up the hole along with Landry.
LaRon Landry saw this play develop as he was playing center field almost 20 yards downfield. Landry comes flying into the picture just as Jackson is escaping the tackle from Horton. But he takes a horrible angle as Jackson bounced it outside past the flailing arm of Landry.
Now, Jackson made a great move, so I’m not sure many safeties in the NFL could have stopped him, but Jackson can’t bounce it outside if Rodgers is in the right place.
The two of them could have brought Jackson down after a gain of eight or nine yards. Instead, he continued up the sidelines for 50 more yards (as indicated by the dotted blue line).
The Redskins defense, as great as it played on Sunday, was out of position on this play. They had trouble with Jackson all day, allowing 104 yards on 17 carries and four catches for 15 yards.
He was the Rams only offensive weapon and he exploded for 62 yards in the Week Two “Play of the Day.”