In the offseason, teams are always trying to get better, whether it be with players or people in the front office, teams are striving to improve. According to Don Banks of SI.com, it looks like the Rams may already be ahead of the game with the hiring of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Banks ranked the NFL’s top ten non-player acquisitions of the 2014 offseason and ranked the hiring of Gregg Williams at number one. Banks had this to say about the Rams and Williams,
Obviously Williams nearly ruined his career and once-stellar reputation for coaching defense with that frequent-maimer rewards program (we’re not using the B word) he ran for his players in New Orleans from 2009-11. But after a year of penance out of the game and a strong season of career rehab work in Tennessee, where he assisted Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, Williams was a shrewd hire by Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, who clearly is under pressure to win more than seven games and get St. Louis over the hump next season, his third on the job.
In the heavyweight division known as the NFC West, where the defenses in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona aren’t messing around, last-place St. Louis has to make sure it can hold its own. The Rams have loads of talent in the defensive front seven, but everyone in the division does. All four teams in the NFC West finished in the top nine against the run, and top 13 in scoring defense. All but the Rams were in the top 14 in pass defense as well. Williams and his aggressive, edgy coaching mindset will be a nice fit with the physical style of play in the division, but he certainly knows where the line is drawn post-New Orleans. Some of Fisher’s best defenses in Tennessee were with Williams as his coordinator, and both men see the potential for a renewal of that success.
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At the beginning of the 2014 NFL season 15 teams will be going in with new coordinators and eight teams will have new head coaches. It is said that teams with stability are the teams that end up succeeding.
For the Rams they haven’t had much stability as of late, but are aiming to become it. Brian Schottenheimer, whether fans want him to or not, will be the team’s offensive coordinator for a third consecutive season.
On the defensive side of the ball however, is where the team has not been stable. In Fisher’s first year, Gregg Williams was supposed to come in and be the defensive coordinator, but was suspended indefinitely for his role in the bounty-gate allegations. The Rams went with a defensive coordinator by committee approach as there weren’t many options after the suspension.
Last season the Rams tried to get Rob Ryan, but after disagreements somewhere along the lines, Ryan left St. Louis with a Big Mac in hand and the Rams were left coordinator-less once again. The Rams did in fact hire somebody though, Detroit Lions secondary coach Tim Walton, who was recommended by Jim Schwartz, Fisher’s coordinator in Tennessee before he left.
Walton didn’t have a bad first season, but it wasn’t a great one. Walton played some coverage schemes that in certain moments were appalling. Fisher didn’t fire Walton right away and said that he didn’t foresee any changes.
Enter Gregg Williams. Had Williams not become available, Walton more than likely would have stayed with the Rams, but given the fact that Williams and Fisher go way back and won a Super Bowl together, the hire made perfect sense.
The Rams have a lot of talent of the defensive side of the ball with Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brokers, James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, and the list goes on. The Rams already have a good defense, now it’s time for Williams to do what he does, and take them to the next level.
Just about everywhere that Williams has been, he has taken a defense that was less than average and made them into a top five defense. In Tennessee, the Oilers were one of the league’s worst defenses before Williams arrived. In 1999 the Titans led the league in total defense and only gave up 191 points, the third fewest in the NFL since the league adopted the 16-game schedule in 1978.
In Washington, with Williams’ aggressive defensive scheme, the Redskins’ defense ranked third in the NFL in 2004. In 2008 with the Jaguars, the team as a whole didn’t have a very good season. Finally, in 2009 and 2010 with the Saints, Williams helped improve the Saints defense that helped carry them on to win the Super Bowl.
Even last year in Tennessee, Williams may not have been the coordinator, but you could see that he had some say in the much improved defense.
The Rams defense will play more aggressive, and Rams fans can say goodbye to 10 yard soft zone coverages.
The NFC West is built around playing good defense and on a consistent basis, if you fail to do that you fail to win the division, it’s that simple. With Williams in place the Rams full potential on defense will come out and the Rams will be right up there with the Seahawks and 49ers defensively, especially if they can add some more pieces in the draft and/or free agency.
Last season the Titans played the NFC West, and although they went 1-3 in the division, the only win coming against the Rams, the Titans were competitive in all of those games losing to the Seahawks 20-13 IN Seattle, lost 31-17 to the 49ers, beat the Rams 28-21, and the lost in overtime to the Cardinals 37-34.
The Super Bowl pairing of Fisher and Williams are back at it again, as some would say, “The boys are back in town”. The Rams are ready to make the leap, and with the hiring of Williams, it makes it all that more likely.