Since you haven't been reminded of this fact in at least a couple hour, Jeff Fisher remains undecided about whether or not to take a head coaching job with the St. Louis Rams or the Miami Dolphins. Many seem to think that Fisher ends up in St. Louis, and the Dolphins have already started turning over rocks for Plan B. It begs the question as to what the Rams have in mind for a backup plan should Fisher opt for sunny Florida. They may have already found their second option in Ray Horton.
Late last week, the Rams interviewed Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. That move put them in compliance with the league's Rooney Rule, that stipulates teams must interview at least one minority candidate for their head coaching vacancies and other senior level positions.
According to DeMarco Farr of 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis, the Rams' brass came away very impressed with Horton. Farr even seemed to think that if Fisher leaves them standing at the alter, they would instantly hire Horton.
The team has yet to conduct any further head coach interviews, which is pretty telling.
Horton runs a hybrid defense, featuring players mostly from a 3-4 scheme. It's not a straight line conversion for the Rams, but Wade Phillips' deft transition of the Houston Texans defense shows that it can be done. Again, it's not an easy, direct comparison.
Robert Quinn could make the transition to a rushing linebacker in a 3-4. Chris Long might have to settle in as a five technique. Some have criticized Long's run defense, but he's been asked to focus on getting to the quarterback as the Rams leaned on the pass rush to mask other team deficiencies. Justin Bannan has played in a 3-4 before, and could be the other five technique. Nose would be a problem, but Fred Robbins would be the first to get a shot there.
Linebacker might be a bigger issue. James Laurinaitis would still be elite on the inside in either system. Without an upgrade to the other linebacker positions, the same problems that have plagued the Rams in the recent past would still be there with a switch.
RELATED: Josh, aka buckeyefan55, took a longer look at the Rams switching to a 3-4 when Rob Ryan's name was being batted around as a coaching candidate.
But, like Doug Farrar pointed out, Horton uses a hybird system similar to Dick LeBeau, who was Horton's boss in Pittsburgh before taking the Cardinals' DC job. In that case, the transition might look a little different, more adaptable to the pieces the Rams have rather than a dogmatic conversion forcing square pegs into round holes.
Regardless of the nuts and bolts of the 3-4 defense, the idea of Horton coaching the Rams is an interesting one. The only red flag I'd have with it is that Horton lacks experience running an entire team. A more experienced GM, less power for the head coach and a clear lines of demarcation in the power structure would help, but is that enough? We may find out soon.