One particular match-up I imagine the Rams will try to exploit is Lance Kendricks working on the Giants linebackers and safeties. This is a similar game plan to the one they had against the Eagles. Perhaps if Kendricks does not drop two of the balls thrown his way, that plan would have been a little more successful last Sunday.
While Kendricks was struggling in his first game last week, Redskins tight end Fred Davis was having a career day against the Giants. Davis caught 5 passes for a career-high 105 yards. Three of catches went for 20-plus yards. Quarterback Rex Grossman was able to find success in the air against a banged up Giants secondary and Davis was his number one target.
Below is Davis’ longest catch of the day. On this particular play, the Redskins are facing 3rd and 11 from their own 30 yard line. The Skins come out in 31 personnel. Davis is in the slot to the bottom of the screen. He has taken a very tight split, but nevertheless is off the line to allow for a free release.
Pre-snap: The Giants are out of their base defense and in 3-man front (something they normally do not do). The look is a 3-2-6. Out of the game is defensive tackle Livall Joseph and into the game is Deon Grant. Grant is 5 yards off the ball, stacked over the top of Davis.
Notice that both Giants linebacker, Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka are up on the line of scrimmage showing blitz.
Post-snap: The Giants drop 8 into a Cover 2 with two high safeties. Some would call it Cover Two – Sticks. The two safeties split the field in half with coverage over the top. The underneath guys go the first down marker, here at 11 yards, and try to take away anything underneath.
In Cover 2, the middle of the field is often vulnerable in the window between the linebackers drop and where the safeties sit. As mentioned above, the Giants linebackers are up on the line of scrimmage at the snap. On top of this, the safeties are deep. I believe they are probably deeper than they usually would be if the Giants corners were not so banged up. As a result, there is about 12 yards between Boley and safeties.
Execution: Davis runs a deep inside hook route right into the vulnerable window between the linebackers drop and where Giants safeties Tyler Sash and Kenny Phillips sit. Grossman delivers a fantastic ball. Davis takes a wicked hit, but holds on for the reception. The result is a 28-yard gain for a first down on 3rd and 11.
Conclusion: Of course, this play doesn’t happen without great protection up front. If the offensive line can give Sam time, the passing game could be relatively successful come Monday night. The Rams have to attack the middle of the field. The safeties will be preoccupied helping out the Giants corners, and the linebacking corps for the Giants is below average in coverage.
The Rams have the tools to follow the blueprint that the Redskins laid out. I expect a heavy dose of Kendricks, Illinois Mike, Salas and maybe Norwood challenging this defense. It’s time to “stress” the defense.