According to Football Outsiders’ metrics, the St. Louis Rams ranked very well on pass defense in 2012, especially relative to their performance just one year previous. After ranking 21st in defense in 2011, the Rams ranked eight in weighted defense, eighth in pass defense and 10th in run defense. To pinpoint the performance of their cornerbacks, the Rams ranked sixth and ninth, respectively, against opposing no. 1 and 2 receivers. Much of their success on defense can be attributed to the addition of rookie Janoris Jenkins. However, a quick examination of his statistics indicates that he may regress marginally in 2013.
After having one interception and nine passes defensed in the first half of the season, Jenkins went on a wholly unsustainable pace in the second half. He defensed only five passes, but intercepted three — and returned all three for touchdowns. The 5-3 ratio of bat-downs to interceptions is nearly impossible, and the three defensive touchdowns likely skew the metrics strongly in their favor. When factoring in a normal interception rate and likely none or one touchdown, Jenkins’ and the Rams’ defensive metrics would drop down much closer to an expected league average.
Additionally, a breakdown of Jenkins’ divisional foes makes a repeat performance less likely. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have offensive styles that are likely to render Jenkins’ abilities nearly moot. Against the read-option offense, there is less of a reward for great hands and more of a reward for cerebral defense and scouting. Also, the Arizona Cardinals — a team against which Jenkins had two pick-6s in 2012 — improved their quarterback play dramatically with the addition of Carson Palmer. These changes and normal regression for the second-year Jenkins should show that his 2012 success was more fluke and less of a breakout.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.