St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fischer (left) and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, his right-hand man ... or left-hand in this photo.
Dave McGinnis is going to be a very, very busy man this year. The St. Louis Rams assistant head coach, and a long-time NFL veteran with head coaching experience on his resume, is the de facto defensive coordinator in the wake of Gregg Williams' indefinite suspension for killing heads. But that's not the only task on McGinnis' to-do list in 2012.
Fisher was asked about McGinnis' role during last week's mandatory minicamp.
"Dave's been participating in all three phases of the defense," Fisher said, but his right hand man's work went beyond the defense. "In addition, when he's had some free time, he's been bouncing over to the offense and overseeing special teams as well. He's been doing a great job."
As the PD noted this week, responsibility for calling the defensive plays is still to be sorted out, though Fisher and his staff downplayed that detail as an essential one. For now, McGinnis' role with the defense and the entire team is overseeing the installation of all systems, and that process is drew glowing remarks from the 27-year coaching veteran.
"These players, I can't give them enough credit for what they've done as far as picking up a new system, being able to implement that system mentally in a classroom, but more importantly on the field," McGinnis said. "Because again ... ultimately what it comes to is where we can win ballgames when the regular season starts. The initial process that starts is knowing what you're doing. If you don't know your stuff, you have a hard time doing it. These guys have really done a tremendous job doing that."
Because Williams floats throughout the team's various units, it has given him the chance to get up close and personal with a few of the team's budding young stars. He has been particularly impressed with James Laurinaitis, who he compared to another linebacker he once coached.
"He's perfect," McGinnis said of Laurinaitis. "The ultimate linebacker for this defense when it started evolving was Mike Singletary. I was with Mike Singletary for seven years. We could not have asked for a more perfect middle linebacker to install this system than James Laurinaitis. I remember watching him come out. I interviewed him at the Combine when he came out and I loved him then and I love him even more now because he's exactly what you need."
Robert Quinn drew his praise as well.
"My first impression is he's very talented," he said of the second-year defensive end. "That's a gifted, gifted player. I get to sit in all those rooms and watch the installation, watch the interaction between the coaches and the players and Robert Quinn has incrementally gotten better since we've gotten here. I think he's excited about it and that's extremely important because the players have to believe that what they're doing is going to help them get better."
Meeting to meeting, practice field to practice field, Dave McGinnis is going to be one of the most important and least visible men behind the scenes for the Rams this season.