Scouting the Bears
7:27 PM CDT, September 21, 2012
The fallout from the NFL's "bounty" scandal is centered on the Saints with coach Sean Payton banned for the year, interim coach gone for six games and general manager Mickey Loomis out for eight weeks.
The Saints — one of the hot picks to contend in the NFC — are off to an 0-2 start and opinions already are circulating on the sideline leadership, or lack thereof.
But what about the Rams under Jeff Fisher? Why aren't they included in the discussion as one of the teams feeling the impact of the NFL's top offseason story?
Remember when Fisher hired old friend Gregg Williams to run the Rams' defense during the offseason? Well, the former Saints' coordinator was suspended too — indefinitely.
That's a loss for the Rams in my book.
Looking at the Rams' young and talented defensive unit, Williams would have been ideal from a scheme perspective. His defenses play with a pressure style, use multiple fronts and cause constant confusion at the line of scrimmage.
But after watching the "All-22" tape from the Rams' first two games of the season against the Lions and Redskins, the defense has a few of Williams' handprints on it.
The Rams have shown the "Ruby" package (three defensive lineman, two linebackers, six defensive backs) this season. That is one of the top personnel groupings in Williams' defenses on passing situations.
The Rams have been more coverage-based the last two weeks relying on Cover-2. That is, keep the play in front of you, squeeze the pocket and limit the amount of explosive gains down the field. That's understandable with matchups versus the Lions' all-world wide receiver Calvin Johnson and the Redskins' electric rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
In the past when Williams rolled his "Ruby" package out that equaled pressure — and lots of it — on the edge, up the middle, from the secondary. It was multiple. It was complex. It forced the offense to think and then it attacked.
Hey, if you had a uniform on, your job was to blitz.
The Rams still could play coverage this Sunday because defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn can get up the field and turn the corner. And if they get home going against Bears' tackles Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb, the Rams will have no problem aligning a deep half safety over the top of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
But after seeing the Bears abysmal offensive performance in the loss to the Packers, why wouldn't the Rams bring the heat at Soldier Field?
Get after quarterback Jay Cutler. Hit him. Then do it again. See if these replacement reps have the guts to throw a flag. Heck, if you have to take a penalty it will be worth it to remind Cutler that you are coming for him all afternoon.
There is no reason to let Webb and the Bears' protection schemes off the hook. Plus, the Rams can find out if Cutler will revert to his play in Lambeau Field where he wilted under pressure, forced the ball and made poor decisions.
The Rams' goal should be to expose the Bears' offense with complex blitz schemes.
I know this isn't Williams' defense and he won't be calling the plays this Sunday. But after watching the tape, the opportunities are there for the Rams to play an aggressive style using defensive fronts and packages that were Williams' calling card as a coach in the NFL.
Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. And until the Bears show they can handle it, keep it coming.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.
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