What was Jamal Adams doing on DeSean Jackson’s 68-yard reception?

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It’s never easy to know what a coverage was unless you talk to coaches and players about what happened — and in the case of bad or blown coverage, what was supposed to happen. You can pick up general concepts, but you don’t know what the intentions were unless you ask the people involved in design and execution.

With that said, let’s take a look at the biggest play from the Rams’ 27-16 Thursday night win over the Seahawks. With 9:27 left in the third quarter, and Seattle up 7-3, Matthew Stafford hit receiver DeSean Jackson on a deep vertical route for a 68-yard gain. That set up a five-yard Darrell Henderson touchdown run two plays later, and the Rams never trailed again.

The Rams were in a 3×1 with Jackson as the frontside iso receiver with no presnap motion, so the receivers were in the same place before and after the snap. On the backside trips formation, safety Marquise Blair had Cooper Kupp on the intermediate

Here was the broadcast view:

And here’s the overhead.

Adams got pilloried on social media during and after the game because from the broadcast view, it looks like Adams was wandering around and just missed Jackson over the top. The All-22, as it always does, tells a different and more comprehensive story.

The Seahawks were in dime on this play, and they were playing man, with Quandre Diggs (No. 6) as the single-high safety, and Adams (No. 33) hanging out as either a potential robber underneath, or as a second deep safety with his drop depending on the coverage call. Now, what you don’t know unless you’re asking the coaches and players involved is what Adams was supposed to be doing here. Adams didn’t speak to the media after the game, and neither head coach Pete Carroll nor Diggs had specifics right after the game. I asked Diggs what he saw, and he said that his focus was to his side of the field. Based on that comment, and the quickness with which Adams dropped to the deep third, one can assume that this was a man across coverage with Adams as the other deep safety.

If that was the case, this may have been a Cover-1 pre-snap look, spun to 2-Man as the play unfolded.

Carroll did discuss the play, and Seattle’s overall coverage busts, during his weekly day-after-game segment on ESPN 710 Seattle.

“We’re getting antsy in our coverages, and we’re biting on stuff we don’t need to bite on,” Carroll said. “We need to be more patient, and let the ball be thrown underneath us. We’ve been doing this for years, and we’ve been working on it. That’s the part that’s disturbing to me. It’s a focused area for us, and we didn’t get it done.”

As to the specific play, Carroll said that Adams “got himself into a situation where he was deeper than the guy running the route, which is where he was supposed to be, and because it was DeSean Jackson, the guy who’s their bomber, y’know, Jamal took off to guarantee that he wouldn’t get beat deep. The ball was well underthrown, and it was just a funky play. Unfortunately, nobody else could help him, and we had [Jackson] double-covered at that time. Unfortunately, they made a huge play out of it.”

As my Touchdown Wire colleague Mark Schofield pointed out when I asked him about the play, Adams was paying attention to Kupp on the crosser to the other side because Stafford manipulated the safeties with his eyes. From the end zone angle, you can see how Stafford looked it off, and then made the throw.

That Stafford underthrew it isn’t a surprise at all, because he missed short several times in this game, with at least five deep incompletions on throw to Stafford’s left. This play just happened to bite Seattle’s defense right in the posterior.

Not that Seattle’s defense has needed any help in that regard this season. The Seahawks have a long week to get everything right before they take on the Steelers next Sunday. If similar issues show up against Pittsburgh’s vertically-challenged offense, the Seahawks will be in just as much trouble this season as they appear to be.