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Film Breakdown: What Weddle brings to the Rams at safety

Before the free agency period even officially started, the Rams signed safety Eric Weddle to a two-year deal after Baltimore cut the veteran in early March.

In his introductory press conference, Weddle talked about being a good scheme fit under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips because he's familiar with the system — having played in a variation of it during his many years with the Chargers.

Weddle just turned 34 in January, but has still shown plenty of ability to play at a high level. Using NFL GamePass, here are a few examples from the 2018 season in this film breakdown.

When you think about a free safety, the first thing you probably think about is his coverage ability. That's where we'll start with Weddle, who broke up a key deep pass to Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones in Week 13 of the 2018 season.

It's 1st-and-10 from the Falcons' 25 in the first quarter, with the Ravens up 7-3 (they'd end up winning 26-16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium). Baltimore showed a two-deep safety look pre-snap, with Weddle toward the bottom of the screen.


At the snap, Weddle drops back to his half of the field, with the safety opposite him — Chuck Clark — also dropping back, indicating the Ravens were playing Cover 2.


The Ravens are able to jam Jones a bit at the line of scrimmage, but he gets a decent release and begins running down the field on a deep route.

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The throw from quarterback Matt Ryan probably ends up being a little underthrown. But because Weddle stays over the top of Jones throughout the course of the play, he's able to track the ball well and break it up before Jones can make a catch.


Weddle's responsibilities weren't limited to deep pass coverage, however. In this play from the fourth quarter of Baltimore's matchup with Kansas City in Week 14, Weddle shifts across the formation from the defense's right to left, and essentially becomes an unplanned-for defender near the line of scrimmage.


The guard and tackle block down, but don't get to Weddle on the second level. The safety is then able to shoot the gap to bring down running back Damien Williams for a one-yard loss.


Finally, Weddle has recorded at least a half sack in 10 of his 12 professional seasons. Last year, that came against quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Browns.

On this 3rd-and-8 play, Weddle initially lines up about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, but then rushes down to blitz before the snap gets off.


While Weddle doesn't get the snap timing exactly right, he is able to keep his momentum going forward into the backfield. He also takes an outside path to the QB, in some ways getting out of sight of the Browns' offensive line. This is also good scheme, because the Ravens have three defenders in one spot — in some ways reflecting a kind of bunch formation like you might see from an offense.


With the way the offensive linemen release up front, it looks like the Browns were trying to set up a running back screen to the left side. But defender Anthony Levine (No. 41) jams that up by taking on both the left tackle and running back at the point of attack.

Weddle bursts through open lane to put a clean hit on Mayfield for the sack.


These are the kinds of elements Weddle brings to a defense. And pairing Weddle's vast experience and knowledge with Phillips' creativity and ability to put players in the best position to make plays, Weddle should be able to flourish in the Rams' scheme in 2019.

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