Linebackers: Let's Get Aggressive
With Jim Haslett becoming the new Defensive Coordinator of the Rams, there's going to be a new approach. Haslett will be the leader of the entire defense with the linebacker position being his own personal pet peeve. Haslett began his coaching career in 1988 as the linebackers coach for the University of Buffalo. From 1988 to present he has been involved at one level or another with the linebackers of all the teams he's coached. Haslett is a very aggressive person/coach, very upbeat and has alot of passion for the game.
All sounds good, so lets take a look at the Unofficial Training Camp Depth Chart for the linebackers.
#50-WLB- Pisa Tinoisamoa- ( 6'-1"- 235 lbs )
#51-MLB- Will Witherspoon- ( 6'-1"- 234 lbs )
#54-SLB- Brandon Chillar- (6'-3"- 242 lbs )
#52-WLB- Dexter Coakley- ( 5'-10"- 230 lbs )
#55-MLB- Jamall Brooks- ( 6'-2"- 238 lbs )
#56-SLB- Raonell Smith- ( 6'-2"- 245 lbs )
#53-WLB- Mike Goolsby- ( 6'-3"- 244 lbs )
#57-WLB- Jon Alston- ( 6'-0"- 221 lbs )
#59-MLB- Tim McGarigle- ( 6'-0"- 238 lbs )
#58-SLB- Drew Wahlroos- ( 6'-3"- 240 lbs )
#50 Pisa Tinoisamoa
Runs hard with good change of direction skills, very emotional player who reacts quickly in run support and is relentless in pursuit. Was named Defensive Captain in 2004 and has led the Rams in tackles the last 2 seasons.
#51 Will Witherspoon
Has experience at all three linebacker positions. Has missed only one game in the three years he has been in the NFL. Led the Carolina Panthers in tackles last season. Witherspoon is very good at all aspects of the position. Including run support, pass coverage and pressuring the quarterback.
#54 Brandon Chillar
Very competitive with good blitz ability and play recognition. Also very aggressive and tough. Looks like Chillar is going to be the Rams starting Strong Side Linebacker to open the season.
#52 Dexter Coakley
Coakley has speed, agility, awareness and power along with a great intensity.
He has had 40 double figure tackle games in his 10 year career.
#55 Jamaal Brooks
Athletic linebacker that spent 2 seasons in NFL Europe ( 2001 & 2004 ). Has played in 16 career NFL games with 1 start for the Dallas Cowboys. His roll on the Cowboys was Special Teams.
#56 Raonall Smith
Athletic linebacker that will probably contribute to Special Teams. Durability is a big question, Smith has had several injuries during his 5 year NFL career. In the past has played well at the Weakside and Stongside linebacker positions.
#53 Mike Goolsby
A real gamer who brings intensity and competitiveness to the field. Good speed, works hard and has excellent instincts. Moves well laterally and has team leader qualities. Has dealt with some injuries and durability might be a concern. Struggles with dropping back into coverage. Goolsby is a classic blue-collar linebacker, should be a great back-up and Special Teams player at the very least.
#57 Jon Alston ( Rookie )
Combines speed, quickness and athleticissm along with great instincts. Very effective edge rusher and excelled on Special Teams coverage. Alston is a late bloomer that finished his college career with 164 tackles ( 94 solos ), 21 sacks and 29 1/2 stops for losses.
#59 Tim McGarigle ( Rookie )
A colorful character that is a relentless tackler. Prior to the 2005 season he was rated as one of the top three " BIGGEST HITTERS " in the Sporting News " Clutch Players " section. Street & Smith's magazine calls him the Big 10 Conference player with the best instincts. McGarigle played in 46 games at Northwestern, he played WLB and MLB during his tenure at NW. His banner season was his junior year when he led the Nation in solo tackles with 102.
McGarigle left behind him the NCAA Division 1A career record of 545 tackles
( 319 solos ).
#58 Drew Wahlroos
Competitive, aggressive player who adds quality depth to the linebacking position as well as a strong Special Teams player. The Rams moved Wahlroos to the active roster 11/16/04 from the practice squad.
Dexter Coakley is excited about the hiring of Jim Haslett, Coakley has been in the NFL for 10 years and welcomes the new approach and attitude. On Haslett, Coakley said, He's going to bring an attitude that I don't think we had last year. He's going to bring a toughness that I don't think we had last year. All those missed tackles we saw on the field last year won't be tolerated. The Defense will have guys swarming to the ball.
There have been changes to the Linebackers Depth Chart since the Colts game Thursday evening. Mike Goolsby has been dropped to 3rd String and his position has been changed from MLB to WLB. Tim McGarigle has also dropped to 3rd String. Jamaal Brooks has moved up to 2nd String and been moved from WLB to MLB. These changes are reflected on the depth chart at the beginning of this article.
Rumor has it that the Rams are going to keep 7 of the 10 linebackers on the Depth Chart going into the regular season. If this is in fact accurate which 7 are they going to keep ?
In my opinion the no brainers are TINOISAMOA, WITHERSPOON, CHILLAR.
BROOKS based on his play vs. the Colts and WAHLROOS because of his experience with the Rams. COAKLEY should be there also, however I question why he was on the field late in the game vs. the Colts ? Is he slipping or was Haslett trying to get him some game conditioning ? RAONALL SMITH was on the field with the Special Teams coverage units, we all know how that went and SMITH was ineffective. GOOLSBY and McGARIGLE didn' show me anything and my question concerning JON ALSTON is his size ( 6' - 221 lbs ) kind of small.
I realize there's only been 1 preseason game and there are alot of changes still to come. It should be very interesting to see how the Linebacker position plays out.
Re: Linebackers: Let's Get Aggressive
My feeling is the Rams HAVE to keep Dexter Coakley, because if something happens to the three starters he can step in where no one else on the roster is much more than a special teams player. I myself would start Coakley over Chillar but I will be content if they keep Dexter as the top reserve.