Meet Tim Walton: The Latest St. Louis Rams Defensive Coordinator Interviewee
Ever since Blake Williams and Gregg Williams were relieved of their duties in St. Louis, the Rams have been looking to fill their vacant defensive coordinator position. Former Dallas Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan was the first candidate they gave a long, hard look at.
Yet after much deliberation, both sides felt the fit was a bit odd and Ryan moved on to become the new defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. Which makes more sense considering the Saints are making a switch to the 3-4 defense this season.
After moving on from the 25-year coaching assistant, St. Louis set its eyes on a pair of former head coaches. The first interview was with Dick Jauron and the second was Mike Singletary. Jauron was most recently with the Cleveland Browns as their defensive coordinator and Singletary currently coaches linebackers for the Minnesota Vikings.
While examining Jauron's past stops and performances as a coordinator, I seemingly felt like he would be the best fit based on history and past success in a 4-3 defense. However, no contract offer was ever put on the table publicly, so we will have to wait in see if he is still in play or if the Rams have moved on.
Singletary, on the other hand, is somewhat of a left-field move given he has never been a coordinator before and was the head coach of a team that ran a 3-4 defense. The connection between him and Jeff Fisher runs deep as they played together as members of the Chicago Bears in the mid-'80s.
Yet a playing connection from 27 years ago wouldn't justify the move and Fisher knows that. The interest in Singletary may have been genuine, or it simply could have been a kind gesture from one friend to another.
Regardless, no offer has been officially made in that case either and St. Louis has moved on to its next interviewee, Tim Walton. Right now Walton serves as the secondary coach in Detroit for one of Fisher's former employees, Jim Schwartz.
According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, Schwartz possibly recommended him to Fisher as an up-and-coming coordinator:
Logically, Detroit's Tim Walton would likely be interviewing for the Rams DC spot on the recommendation of ex-Fisher ass't Jim Schwartz.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 11, 2013
Even though Walton has never called defensive plays in the NFL, that doesn't mean he wouldn't excel at it. He carries 14 years of collegiate coaching experience and four years of professional coaching experience.
His biography on the Lions' website refers to the fact he previously coached 13 players who went on to play in the NFL. Five of the 13 players were first-round picks and four were second-round picks. Some of the more notable names are Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, LaRon Landry, Devin Hester and Corey Webster.
His lone defensive coordinator position came when he worked for the University of Memphis in 2008. Not exactly a powerhouse, but his coaching style and smarts had to have been enough to attract him to Schwartz in Detroit.
Amongst league circles his name is more well-known than in the eyes of fans and media members alike. Yet there is one media member who thinks he would do a competent job for the Rams. Omar Kelly is an NFL beat writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and tweeted this out when he saw Walton was interviewing for the job:
RT @jthom1: Rams are interviewing Detroit assistant Tim Walton for their defensive coordinator position» good man, good coach.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) February 11, 2013
Potentially this move could put Walton on the map as a defensive coordinator because of St. Louis' player strengths on defense. The only thing that has to be put into question is the Lions' secondary and their coverage numbers from the last four years.
Since Schwartz took over in the Motor City, he has fielded some highly underachieving units. Based on Pro Football Focus' grading system, they have accumulated negative coverage grades in three of Schwartz's four years.
The only year the secondary finished with a positive grade was in 2011. That also marked the year where they finished with the 11th-best defense against the pass. Not bad considering they allowed 17 plays of 40 yards or more and 35 touchdowns.
One has to like the improved play, yet one has to wonder about the inconsistencies from year to year. Was it a coaching issue from his standpoint, or was it a talent deficiency? My opinion would be the latter as the Lions secondary was obviously less talented than other units in the NFL.
If Walton is indeed deemed the guy by the Rams, it will be interesting to see how aggressive he is up front with strong talent on the back end.
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