When I wrote the post reviewing the season last week, I left out the secondary and the coaches. This was intentional. One because as ramsrock said it was basically a "novel". And two because this was our biggest problem of the season. So I knew it would be a lot of info and that post was already long enough.
The Rams secondary never stood a chance. It was literally screwed and skewed from the beginning. The very second Tim Walton was hired we were doomed. Walton spent the previous three seasons in Detroit as the Lions secondary coach. And for three seasons the Lions had the worst secondary. Now I know people say he "never had the talent he has now". Well that may be true, but the same was said for Brian Schottenheimer and my response was the same for him as it is for Walton; That does not mean that he is going to suddenly start calling good plays because the talent level rose.
You look at our offensive line coach. He makes patchwork lines look like season long starters. Taking rejects and busts and making them starter caliber while setting them up for bigger paydays than they thought they would get when they were either cut loose by another team or never drafted to begin with.
Tim Walton does not have this ability. He does not know how to coach NFL level defensive backs to the point that they are taking advantage of every bit of potential that they have. Now lets remember, he was not our first choice neither. And now we are getting to the root of the problem. And it is things like this that really annoy me with Jeff Fisher. You can have success with a patchwork offensive line so as long as the coach can "coach" them up to be solid. But you cannot have success with a patchwork coaching staff.
Walton was a rushed hire when Rob Ryan decided this was not the fit that he wanted. It was more of a knee jerk reaction than a plan B. Because remember he was hired late into the hiring season because we had already inked Ryan. So by this time plan B, C, and D were more than likely long gone. I would have much rather Fisher do what he did before and go with the committee approach. Because the majority of our staff has more than enough of what it takes to be a defensive coordinator.
So yeah, the DBs were screwed form the beginning. But they were also skewed. Skewed on the stat sheet that is. Everyone says that Janoris Jenkins regressed so much this year. Not entirely true. He was rarely put in position to succeed. Now when I say stats I don't mean interceptions. I mean the QBs success rate verses them, the one that matters.
As a whole the defense allowed 67.4% completion on the season. The highest in the league. Opposing QBs had a rating of 95.2, highest ever allowed by a Rams defense.
The final three games of the season was statistically the secondaries best on the year. But the games before that Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Cortland Finnegan and Brandon McGee gave up a 67.4 completion percentage, 1,497 yards and 8.7 ypa. They also allowed 12 TDs and only had four interceptions. The passer rating against the Rams' corners was 108.1.
Oh it gets worse! The safety play was horrid. The worst of the bunch? TJ McDonald. Now this does not anger me, I expected as much when he was drafted saying he is not good in coverage or tackling (also lead ALL DBs in missed tackles). To me he is simply a hard hitter. I compared him to Donovin Darius at the time. A player that played for 10 years and even creeped into a pro bowl. But was always only an enforcer. Rodney McLeod, T.J. McDonald, Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano were targeted 51 times and gave up 41 completions weeks 1-14. Thats good for a 70.6% completion rate. They allowed 10.6 yards per passing attempt and got burned for a passer rating of 102.5. McDonald allowed QBs to complete 12 of 15 passes against him with two touchdowns.
I know it seems like I just bashed TJ singling hm out but I assure you I was not. I was making a point about coaching. Our worst pass defender is being coached by a coach that can't seem to figure out how to call a defense that stops or at least slows the pass. Basically Walton is stunting his growth. Thats what I am getting at.
The final three games of the sseason the pass defense greatly increased. Judging by the numbers alone you can't tell its the same defense. But here is the real doozy. One can question if the pass defense truly got better or not, or if Robert Quinn and the rest of the pass rush helped them out. To close out the season Robert Quinn had his best games of the year against the Saints and the Bucs. And Seattle only threw the ball 23 times. The pass rush stopped Mike Glennon from even attempting 9 of his passes. 7 sacks and 2 pressures (forcing him to run) only allowed him to throw 26 attempts. While a plethora of those throws were dump offs due to the immense pressure he was under all afternoon. In the final 3 games the secondary was never really tested.
The secondary was skewed from the beginning whether it was a positive -the final three games- or negative. The biggest negative was that horrible soft coverage zone that was played far to often.
I cant look at this secondary and say they completely failed because they were put in a terrible position by coaching. Our coordinators look like the two most over matched the league has to offer. Neither calls very good plays all that often. Its because the team is so talented that they have their jobs still. Not because of awesome jobs done on the job.
Think about our offensive line, or the patriots, or Andy Reid, or here's one; Marc Trestman. Can't deny the impact Trestman had on the unbelievable improvement with the passing game regardless of who was under center.
A lot is made of the growth of the players, but here's a little food for thought for you; is the growth of the coaches just as important if not more?