If someone were to mention the cushion of death, one name would most likely come to mind of the common St. Louis Rams fan, Tim Walton. Two years ago the Rams hired Walton to be their defensive coordinator as Gregg Williams was still banned from the NFL.
Under Walton the Rams defense was inconsistent and never seemed to reach their full potential, potential that they reached this year. The Rams with Walton ranked 15th in yards allowed per game and 13th in points allowed. They also allowed a 68.1 percent completion rate, tied for worst in the league.
One could argue that the only reason the Rams hired Walton was because Jeff Fisher couldn’t get his guy in Gregg Williams and his former defensive coordinator in Tennessee, Jim Schwartz, was still the head coach in Detroit.
To make a long story short, the Rams took advice and rather than search extensively for a solid candidate, they settled for Walton and to say the least, the experiment failed.
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Unfortunately the Rams could be making the same mistake with Frank Cignetti. While Cignetti could go on to be a solid offensive coordinator, that isn’t remotely the point. The point is that with an offense that needs to take the next step, Fisher, yet again, seems to be settling for an answer and hoping for the best that it works out.
The system may be the Jeff Fisher system, but as proven with Tim Walton running the show on defense and Williams taking over this year, the coordinator does in fact matter.
It may look like the Rams tried to go in a different direction. They did after all contact Kyle Shanahan, Adam Gase, and Nathaniel Hackett, however, they only secured an interview with one of the three, and that guy ended up taking a position coach job with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The other two, Shanahan and Gase, moved on to take the same position with different teams with the Rams failing to bring in either for an interview. The legitimate effort to sign either candidate was questionable at best.
Fisher never dived into some of the more creative, prolific offenses in the college ranks, yet he is hiring someone who only has college coordinator experience. Cignetti has never had an offensive coordinator position in the NFL.
Did I forget to mention before becoming defensive coordinator for the Rams he only had coordinator experience at the college level and had only been a position coach in the NFL?
At the end of last season and after being signed by the Miami Dolphins, defensive back Cortland Finnegan said this about Walton, “From the game plan to technique to fundamentals, they weren’t in line with a defensive coordinator who knew what he was doing,” he continued. “He was a great defensive backs coach, but when you’re in over your head, it’s kind of tough.”
Im not at all saying that Cignetti will be a for sure failure. He does have prior experience as a position coach and has been with the Rams since 2012. However, once again Fisher goes with what’s familiar when maybe going after something different would have been better.
Like Walton, the Cignetti hire doesn’t have a lot of excitement to it. While it can’t get much worse than Brian Schottenheimer, the Rams offense is expected to take the next step. Much like the Rams defense was the year Walton took over.
Whether or not Cignetti is the guy that will be able to do that is still a big question.