Pointed observations on the Rams' hiring of Tim Walton as defensive coordinator:
• Tipsheet applauded Jeff Fisher’s pursuit of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. Rob is the anti-Spagnuolo, a swashbuckling coach who inspires emotional effort from his players. While his overall track record isn’t great, he has mostly worked for lesser bosses during his NFL career. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, for instance, is just the latest in a line of Jerry Jones sideline puppets. Jones decided Ryan would take the fall for the latest Dallas failure, so Garrett clipped him.
If Jones told Garrett he had to dress like Bullwinkle on the sidelines, the coach would likely play along. A job is a job.
• Alas, Ryan did not fit into the Fisher regime. He exited during his orientation period. Fisher finally replaced him with an up-and-coming coach, Lions defensive back coach Tim Walton. This should be an excellent fit, since Walton is the product of the Fisher Coaching Tree. In Motown, Walton worked for Jim Schwartz, Fisher’s former defensive coordinator in Tennessee. He worked with Fisher’s son Brandon, a Rams assistant coach who worked for the Lions in 2011.
• Fisher staged an honest search to replace Gregg Williams, the would-be defensive coordinator for 2012 who served his “Bountygate” suspension instead. Ryan was a high-profile choice. Dick Jauron or Mike Singletary would have been headline-grabbing selections, too. But Walton makes more sense for this team, especially since Fisher tried to hire him as an assistant defensive coordinator for his original staff.
• This is the Jeff Fisher Defense. This is his scheme. He does much of the game-planning and he is a strong game-day tactician. But he needs help with the play-calling and the fellow who filled that role last season, Blake Williams, fell out of sync with him. Now Williams is gone and Walton — a former college defensive coordinator at Memphis and Miami — will get a chance to develop a bigger coaching profile in St. Louis. (By the way, this is how the NFL should develop fresh coaching faces, offering opportunities to advance step by step.)
• Although the Lions stumbled to a 4-12 finish last season due to serious defensive woes, injuries played a big role in their demise. The Detroit Free-Press notes that 13 different defensive-back combinations started last season. Front-line Lions defensive backs Chris Houston, Jacob Lacey, Bill Bentley, Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey played just one game together.
• Walton arrives as the Rams football operation focuses on a glaring defensive need: Locating a quality coverage safety. The list of Americans capable of beating Craig Dahl on a post pattern is long, perhaps stretching into the millions. Walton’s reputation for coaching takeaway techniques will also make him a natural fit for Fisher, who loves nothing more than a timely interception or forced fumble.