Will the Rams hire a defensive coordinator in 2013?

Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Long-time Jeff Fisher assistant Jim Washburn's ousting in Philadelphia on Monday reignited questions about what the Rams will do with a vacant defensive coordinator spot after the season ends.

The St. Louis Rams defense turned in a solid effort on Sunday, the kind of performance that propped up an offense still struggling to find the end zone regularly. It was the kind of showing more in line with what Jeff Fisher probably imagined when he and the brass at Rams Park decided to play the season without naming a defensive coordinator to replace exiled Gregg Williams. Nevertheless, one of the biggest questions of the offseason ahead will be whether or not the team decides to hire another coordinator for 2013.

One name to keep an eye on is Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn. On Monday morning, Washburn became the latest fall guy for Philadelphia's failings. The outspoken Washburn reportedly voiced some disagreement over the decision to dump Jason Babin, but the Eagles' troubles go far beyond that. At any rate, Washburn's unceremonious dismissal caught my attention because he held that same position for 12 years under Jeff Fisher in Tennessee.

Washburn has never been a defensive coordinator at the NFL level. He has a season in that role with the London Monarchs and some time as college coordinator. It's not always an easy jump from being a position coach to coordinator.

Hiring Washburn would necessitate other changes for the Rams. For one thing, it would put the status of current defensive line coach Mike Waufle in doubt. The Rams have no reason to move on from Waufle, unless he gets an offer somewhere else.

Washburn's "Wide 9" system drew some scorn in Philly over the last two years. It emphasizes the pass rush even at the expense of run defense. Of course, it also works better with capable linebackers and corners who can cover. The Eagles' problems go well beyond the defensive Xs and Os.

Nevertheless, it's just a development to monitor. Some team will snap up Washburn quickly, either as a line coach or a coordinator.

The other person to keep your eye on in the offseason is Gregg Williams. Sent to Corsica for some reflection, the league will review his case for reinstatement in February. That's after the window closes on most of the coaching hires, and there is no guarantee that the NFL will let him rejoin the league's coaching fraternity so easily.

Williams' potential reentry into the NFL may not sit well with players either. He returned to Washington on Thursday of last week to testify in the player appeals over the bounty suspensions. There are plenty of questions whether or not he could ever regain the trust of players.

Blake Williams is the titular head of the defense now, calling most of the plays under the watchful eye of Fisher and Dave McGinnis. The younger Williams is always a candidate to get a bump up the depth chart, though the Rams would probably be wise to see how the team's young group plays over the last month of the season.

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