This week the Rams go up against the NFC’s second seeded New Orleans Saints. Last season the Saints set historical worsts in many defensive categories lead by former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo. This season has been a much different story however.
With the return of Sean Payton and the hiring of Rob Ryan the Saints have gone from the worst defense in NFL history in 2012 to the sixth best in total defense in 2013.
Last season Jerry Jones needed a scapegoat to take the blame for the reason the Cowboys once again missed the playoffs, therefore Jones fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and hired Monte Kiffin. The Cowboys have set record on defense this season, just not the good ones.
Rob Ryan was fine with it and said he would be out of a job for “like five minutes”. It was a little longer than five minutes, but he did find a job with the St. Louis Rams, and although no contract was in place, it was assumed St. Louis is where Ryan would start his next job.
Three days later, Ryan got let go, and ended up in New Orleans and the Rams went in a different direction and hired Detroit Lions secondary coach and third down specialist Tim Walton.
The reasons for Ryan’s “release” isn’t fully known, but it is assumed that it is because Ryan likes to run the 3-4 defensive scheme and the Rams don’t have the personnel to make the switch and Fisher was against it. Another reason and possibly the biggest reason could be that Ryan wouldn’t have been allowed to hire his own staff as the Rams already had positional staff in place.
Not allowing Ryan to hire his own staff may be something that the Rams are regretting. Since not having a full time defensive coordinator last season, the Rams have gone from the 14th ranked defense to 19th.
The ironic part is that with Tim Walton being a former secondary coach and third down specialist, The Rams are the 24th worst third down defense, and without Walton the Lions are the best. Last season the Lions had the 10th best defense when it came to third down whereas the Rams were ranked only three spots worse.
As far as the secondary goes, last season the Rams were ranked 15th against the pass compared to the Lions’ 14th. This season the Rams’ secondary is ranked 22nd and the Lions, without Walton, are ranked 25th. Now granted the Rams’ secondary has been banged up, and the Rams have ended up the bad side of penalties, but third down and the secondary are supposed to be Walton’s specialty.
Compare all this to Rob Ryan’s defense being one year removed from being the worst defense in league history is ranked third against the pass and is ranked 11th on third down. Last season the Saints were ranked 31st against the pass and 18th on third down.
Every year you like to see improvement on a team, but on the Rams defense, that certainly hasn’t happened on the Rams defense.
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Now the season is not over quite yet, and some of these stats could get better or worse, but three games won’t affect them too much. At times the Rams defense this season has played soft, and the play calling has not been great at times.
Many fans want Tim Walton’s head. I think the guy deservers one more season to get some pieces in place, but if this defense doesn’t show signs of improvement, there is no doubt Fisher should fire him.
At this point last season many thought this would be a top ten defense, but by the looks of it, being in the top ten may just have to wait another season. Who knows what would have happened if the Rams wouldn’t have let Rob Ryan walk.
Tags: St. Louis Rams