Packers film room: A closer look at CB Rasul Douglas vs. Rams

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Green Bay Packers corner Rasul Douglas was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 12 performance against the Los Angeles Rams. Douglas had a career day on his way to six tackles, four passes defensed and a pick-six to help lift the Packers over the Rams 36-28.

According to Pro Football Focus, Douglas had the best game of his career with an overall defensive grade of 91.2. Quarterback Matthew Stafford targeted Douglas 10 times in coverage and only completed three passes. Douglas did allow a long touchdown to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but it did not take away from an incredible game.

Desperate for help in a battered secondary, Green Bay signed Douglas from the Arizona Cardinals practice squad earlier this season. Since then, he has played in seven games, including four starts, and emerged into one of their most productive defensive players. He secured the game-winning interception against the Cardinals in Week 8 and has continued to receive praise from teammates and coaches.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry recently called Douglas a “gym rat” due to his late nights spent watching film in the team’s cafeteria. Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Rodgers raved about Douglas’ instincts and ball skills following their win over the Rams.

Looking at the box score is one thing, but to get a better understanding of what went into Douglas’ stellar performance, let’s dive into the film for a closer look.

We’re starting with Douglas in man to man against Beckham Jr. The Packers are in off-man, and Douglas shows good technique by staying patient as the receiver starts to close the distance. Notice how there are no wasted movements in Douglas’ footwork, especially at the top of the route. Douglas does a nice job using his right arm to help track the receiver. From there, it’s pure speed to stay attached to Beckham Jr.’s hip.

It’s 3rd and 3, and once again, Douglas is matched on Beckham Jr. The Rams are just looking to move the chains here, so they run Beckham Jr. on a short in-breaker. However, Douglas is reading this the whole way and shows good closing speed to force an incompletion with some help from the safety.

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the receiver. Cooper Kupp is one of the smartest and most technical route runners in the game, and he shows that on this hook route. At about the 40-yard line, look at how Kupp gets outside the numbers. It helps him get into Douglas’ blind spot so he can cut the route off and create a ton of separation. Douglas could have been in a better position if he had better outside leverage or given Kupp this much cushion, but speed limitations could have played a role here.

Playing corner requires a short memory and a veteran like Douglas knows that. The very next play after allowing the completion to Kupp, he makes a great tackle on a screen that could have gone for a sizable gain. One thing Douglas has proven to do well is tackle. He shows great elusiveness to duck under the blocker, who completely whiffs. This is an elite play a lot of corners can’t make.

Los Angeles had been running in-breaking routes against Douglas all game except this time, he makes them pay. Douglas shows great recognition on this route and does a great job getting downhill fast. His closing speed allows him to jump the pass and show off his ball skills with a nice interception. Then, it’s off to races as Douglas flashes his athleticism with a momentum-shifting 33-yard pick-six.

This is a play I really struggled with. On one hand, Douglas bites on the slant, but we also don’t know what the safety’s responsibilities are. It looks like the safety is playing a hook/curl shell, but he could have also been guilty of reacting to the pump fake when he should be helping over the top. Regardless, Douglas doesn’t have great speed, and once Beckham Jr. got on top of him, it was all over. Again, without knowing the coverage, it’s hard to know which guy gave up the touchdown, but this is still a good example of Douglas’ speed concerns.

The Rams go after Douglas with another dig. This time it’s Van Jefferson running it with 15 yards of depth. Douglas respect Jefferson’s speed with a comfy backpedal that doesn’t allow the receiver to eat up all of his cushion. When he sees Jefferson start to break, again Douglas is able to break on the ball to close the separation and defend the pass. You love to see the ball skills here by Douglas, who uses his length to disrupt the catch point.

Remember the Kupp route from earlier? This is the same route, but Douglas doing a much better job with his technique. The receiver isn’t able to attack his blind spot because Douglas is playing with more outside leverage. This way, he can watch the quarterback and keep the receiver in frame. It was yet another twitchy moment for Douglas as he stops on a dime and gets his hand in there to force an incompletion.

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