10 Candidates Who Could Replace Gregg Williams as Rams Defensive Coordinator
After defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended for his role in "Bounty Gate," the St. Louis Rams were left in a position to scramble for a defensive coordinator. There was some thought that they would maybe hire someone outside of the organization, but that ultimately ended up being hearsay.
Instead, they decided to tackle the position by committee with current staff members. Chuck Cecil, Dave McGinnis and Mike Waufle had all coached under head coach Jeff Fisher before, so they were familiar with the system and goals he wanted to accomplish on the defensive side of the ball.
Moreover, Blake Williams, the son of Gregg Williams, was in a position to have input because of his extensive knowledge in regards to his father's defense.
It was also believed that he was the one making the calls on gameday. There's no telling if this was a weekly occurrence due to some of the unknowns, but according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he, at minimum, "suggested" which plays to call.
However, Coach Fisher had seen enough of Blake Williams by season's end. Despite being a master of Xs and Os, his people skills were downright awful.
Thomas also suggests that Gregg Williams will be without a job if and when he is reinstated, which leaves the Rams with a major coaching vacancy heading into the offseason.
Let's take a look at who could possibly fill the defensive coordinator void in St. Louis.
*Note: These 10 suggestions are in no particular order; they are simply 10 different options.
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Cecil currently serves as the defensive secondary coach for the Rams. All throughout his coaching career, he has served under Coach Fisher. Fisher gave him his first job in 2001 as a defensive assistant and was later promoted three different times.
From 2004-2006, he was the Tennessee Titans safeties and nickel backs coach. In 2007, he was elevated to defensive backs coach, and in 2009, he became the defensive coordinator until 2010. During his two-year stint as defensive coordinator, the Titans were cellar dwellers in team defense, but were well-respected against the run in 2009 and finished in the top half of the league in points allowed in 2010.
Not to mention Bud Adams isn't running the St. Louis Rams, which means the organization is more stable with general manager Les Snead and Coach Fisher calling the shots. Stan Kroenke is a behind the scenes-type of owner that leaves the football decisions to football men.
St. Louis' defensive talent grew immensely this year and will continue to grow with the right men in charge. Look for Cecil's name to continuously come up until it's time to name a defensive coordinator.
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One of the most surprising moves on "Black Monday" was the firing of Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Smith finished his nine-year run in Chicago with an 81-63 record with three playoff appearances. His lone Super Bowl appearance came in 2006 while going 13-3 in the regular season.
It's no secret that plenty of teams will be calling for his services as both a head coach and a defensive coordinator. If he doesn't manage to land a head coaching gig this season, it would be wise of him to return to the sidelines as a coordinator.
From a talent standpoint, there's no better choice than the Rams. St. Louis has the personnel to run his patented Tampa 2 style of defense. Smith was one of the original coaches that helped develop the Cover 2 defense under Tony Dungy in Tamp Bay.
Smith's first go around in St. Louis was successful, so why not make it two-for-two?
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McGinnis currently serves as the assistant head coach to Coach Fisher. The 2012 season marked the second time both men had worked together—the first time was back in 2004, when McGinnis was hired to coach the linebackers for the Titans.
He held that position until 2011 and subsequently left Tennessee when Fisher took over in St. Louis. McGinnis is the most tenured coach on the entire staff considering he has been coaching in the league since 1986.
Since '86, he has been a linebackers coach, a defensive coordinator, an assistant head coach and a head coach. So his expertise is invaluable, which is why he may be a great choice to be the defensive coordinator in 2013.
According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he had veto power over Blake Williams during the 2012 season.
As the defensive coordinator in Arizona from 1996-2000, his defenses finished in the top 10 every year. Ultimately, he was offered the head coaching job in Arizona after serving as the interim head coach halfway through the 2000 season.
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Another original decedent of the Tampa 2 is Monte Kiffin. Kiffin recently resigned as the defensive coordinator of the USC Trojans, where he had spent the last three seasons under his son, Lane Kiffin. Before his stop in Southern California, he spent one year at the University of Tennessee.
It has been four years since he has coached in the NFL, yet that shouldn't stop the Rams from pursuing the defensive genius. His Tampa 2 scheme failed in the collegiate ranks for one reason and one reason only. College players don't have enough collective speed to run the scheme correctly.
Even at age 72, Kiffin wants to get back in the NFL. He has 25 years of coaching experience in the NFL and has won one Super Bowl as a defensive coordinator. If St. Louis wants to run the Tampa 2 style of defense and can't manage to land Smith, he's the next best option.
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Admittedly, Clancy Pendergast wasn't a name that I had thought about because of his previous stops in the NFL. From 2004-2008, Pendergast was the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals and experienced tremendous success when the Cardinals made a trip to the Super Bowl in his final year.
Yet while in Arizona, his defenses always were built with a 3-4 alignment. Fisher is not known for running a 3-4 defense, so this would be a surprise hire in my eyes. But Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch mentions Pendergast as a potential replacement.
It was also noted in the article that he would coach the linebackers as well. Right now, he is the defensive coordinator for the California Golden Bears and hasn't coached in the NFL since 2009. His most recent position in the NFL was with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he served as the defensive coordinator and the defensive backs coach.
It's also worth noting that he was a linebackers coach once in 2003 with the Cleveland Browns.
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The third member of the Rams organization mentioned to fill the role of defensive coordinator would be current defensive line coach Mike Waufle. Waufle has never worked with Coach Fisher previously, but has 14 years of NFL coaching experience.
All 14 years as a coach have been spent on the defensive line. He hasn't ever been anything other than a positional coach in his career, and in the NFL, he has never coached anything but the defensive line. From 1998-2003, he worked for the Raiders, in 2004 he went to New York and stayed there until 2009 and in 2010, he went back to Oakland for a return stint until St. Louis came knocking in 2012.
It's hard to tell how much input Waufle had this year in terms of defensive calls, but one thing is for sure. His defensive line managed to pile up 43 sacks. Considering he has never been a defensive coordinator, why not make 2013 his year?
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Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Rod Marinelli would be another option for St. Louis if he gets the ax in Chicago. After Smith was fired as the head coach, it left the coaching staff in a bit of disarray because of the uncertainty surrounding the team moving forward.
General manager Phil Emery hasn't said if the Bears will retain some of the current coaching staff in 2013 or if they will all be out when they hire a new head coach. In the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the Windy City, but one thing is for sure, his success as a defensive coordinator speaks for itself.
He was the defensive line coach under Dungy while in Tampa and coached with the likes of Kiffin and Smith. Since taking over as the defensive coordinator for the Bears in 2010, they improved every year. 2012 was by far their best year, as they finished with the fifth-best defense in the league based on total yardage.
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Some of you may be wondering, Gene Chizik, really? Hear me out on this one, please.
While Chizik was at Central Florida as the secondaries coach, he would frequently visit the practice sessions of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When visiting the Bucs' facility, he would frantically study the Tampa 2 scheme that was put in place.
Chizik later installed a similar style of defense while he was with the Auburn Tigers as the defensive coordinator and secondaries coach. He later went on to install that same system when he came back to Auburn in 2009 as the Tigers head coach.
Despite getting canned in 2012, he had an impressive run, as he was 3-0 in bowl games and finished as SEC Coach of the Year in 2010. Chizik has never coached in the NFL before, so it would be a totally new journey for him, but based on his past success, he might just be able to make it work.
It's also worth noting that he may be a favorite to take over for the departed Kiffin at USC if he doesn't make the jump to the NFL.
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The Ted Roof defensive coordinator suggestion goes hand in hand with Chizik from Auburn. Roof served as the defensive coordinator under Chizik for three years while at Auburn. Not to mention he coached linebackers as well during that same time frame.
Since moving on from Auburn, Roof has found himself with one of the most sought after coaches in the NFL right now, Bill O'Brien. Under O'Brien, he has helped turn Penn State into a legitimate contender despite all the restrictions and sanctions that have come their way over the last year.
Roof would be a good fit to the Rams, as he would be able to fill the void of defense coordinator and linebackers coach. At Penn State, he runs both man and zone, which could be good for St. Louis, as it was a similar tactic to what it did this year under Blake Williams.
Roof is probably a long shot, but the connection and familiarity factors are there.
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Like Roof, Joe Barry may be somewhat of a long shot, yet he may be better suited for the position. Barry currently coaches linebackers for the San Diego Chargers, but like Marinelli, his job security is up in the air after Norv Turner was fired just three days ago.
Barry has ties to Dungy, Smith, Marinelli and Kiffin. He coached linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2001-2006. During that six-year span, the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002 and had success in 2005 when they were crowned division champs.
Barry is well-respected in league circles and has 11 years total coaching experience in the NFL. If St. Louis decided he wasn't experienced enough or it didn't want a first-time defensive coordinator, it could make him linebackers coach.
With little public insight into who St. Louis wants as potential replacements as its defensive coordinator, it will be intriguing to see who ends up getting the job when it is all said and done.