The St. Louis Rams are still looking for a defensive coordinator. Detroit Lions secondary coach Tim Walton became the fourth candidate interviewed for the job, according to Jim Thomas. He joins Dick Jauron and Mike Singletary as the third man currently in the mix to replace Gregg Williams for a job he never really had.
Unlike the other two candidates currently under consideration, Walton has never been a head coach or even a defensive coordinator in the NFL before. He joined the Lions in 2009, hired by Jim Schwartz when he took over the head coaching job there. Prior to that, he was the defensive coordinator at the University of Memphis, getting him some familiarity with the Tennessee Titans coaching staff then led by Jeff Fisher.
Fisher's son knows Walton as well, coming to the Rams last year after working with Walton as a defensive assistant in Detroit in 2011.
Detroit's defense was a mediocre unit, allowing an average of 23.2 points per game this season. The secondary ranked 19th in yards allowed, with an average of 223 per game, and its 26 passing touchdowns ranked 13th in the NFL. What is interesting about Detroit's defense is its third down work. Walton's job, in addition to secondary coach, was coordinating the team's third-down package, which allowed opponents to convert 36 percent of their opportunities. Only five teams had a better third-down conversion rate.
All of this stems from Rob Ryan rejecting the job at the last minute over supposed scheme concerns.
Working under Schwartz, Walton is obviously familiar with the 4-3 defensive system preferred by Fisher, Schwartz's former boss during their Tennessee days. Jauron also comes from a 4-3 background, while Singletary has taken a mixed approach during his NFL coaching days. The Vikings, Singletary's current team, use a 4-3, but the 49ers, which got infinitely better once it fired Singletary as head coach, used a 3-4.
As noted above, Walton lacks on experience versus the other candidates. That doesn't necessary mean a whole lot, considering he would have a coaching staff with lengthy resumes to work with in St. Louis. Considering the Rams went a full season without a coordinator at all in 2012, prior experience as a defensive coordinator might not be the most important part of a candidate's resume.