One of the more surprising outcomes for the St. Louis Rams in Sunday's preseason stinker was the play of the defense, particularly the first team. Since March, expectations around that unit were sky high thanks to the mix of free agent additions and draft picks. That unit also lost something early in the spring, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams who was sent to live on Corsica for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
The defense kept things pretty simple on Sunday. Exotic blitz packages and crossed wire coverage schemes were nowhere to be found. Head coach Jeff Fisher explained the approach following the game:
"As I told the players, we just had a couple coverages, and a couple pressures, and a couple fronts (in the defensive game plan). We wanted to see 'em play."
What Fisher saw from the defense might best be described as a long list of things to work on in practice this week.
On the Colts' first play from scrimmage, the one that has since been used to canonize Andrew Luck, the defense misread the screen. All three linebackers were up-field on that play. James Laurinaitis overran it. When the Rams were in a basic cover-2 package it looked particularly rough, especially for the younger players ... which is understandable.
All through the spring and the opening days of training camp, reporters asked again and again about the coordinator by committee approach. Given the experience of Fisher and his staff, it was easy to accept their answer that they had it covered. Now, it's fair to ask that question again given the struggles from Sunday's game.
The Rams may very well be fine without a defensive coordinator. They should be. However, the onus is on them to prove it on Saturday against the Chiefs.