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Thread: Bernie on Williams

  1. #1
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    Bernie on Williams

    Bernie Miklasz bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com


    So why did head coach Jeff Fisher bring back Gregg Williams to run the Rams' defense? Now that we've gotten past the weirdness of it all, let's look at it from a pure football standpoint.

    The first easy and obvious answer: Williams should make the Rams' defense better. Fisher wouldn't have made the move, otherwise.


    The second answer, which we covered on the day Williams was rehired: they are football brothers. They share the same philosophy of defense. Fisher trusts Williams, and Williams knows what Fisher wants. It's a comfortable fit — providing that Fisher and Williams have truly worked out their personal differences.


    The more specific football reason, at least from what I am thinking: Fisher wants more pressure on the quarterback. And he almost certainly wants more creativity in blitz packages.


    If we really want to narrow it down... if Fisher sees it the way I think he does, the Rams need to bring more heat on third down.


    I'm going to offer some numbers that illustrate what we're talking about here. I know the numbers bore some folks, but I prefer dishing out fact-based analysis points rather than assume things that may or may not be untrue.

    (My emphasis)


    In 2012, Fisher's first season as Rams' boss, his defense blitzed on 71 third-down passing attempts. The game-day calls were made by Blake Williams, Gregg's son, who served as de facto defensive coordinator during Gregg's NFL suspension. Blake — disliked by fellow coaches — was fired after the season.


    Last season Fisher brought in Tim Walton as DC. This was a move up for Walton, who had been working as a position coach in Detroit. (Defensive backs.) For whatever reason — inexperience, passivity, etc. — the Rams were more conservative in attacking. They blitzed on only 46 third-down passing plays, and not very effectively at that.


    In 2013, opposing quarterbacks completed 29 of 46 against the Rams' third-down blitzes for 478 yards, five touchdowns and a passer rating of 125.1.


    In 2012, with young Williams dialing up the heat, quarterbacks completed less than 50 percent of their third-down throws when blitzed and had a passer rating of 85.5.


    Perhaps Walton blitzed less because the Rams were getting good results from a four-man pass rush led by the berserk Robert Quinn. There may be some truth to that; despite fewer blitzes the Rams finished with 53 sacks, one more than in 2012. But I don't think that explains everything. The Rams defense fell off in its third-down performance in 2013, compared to 2012. (The third-down passer rating against them in 2012 was 88; last year that jumped to 101.)


    So what does this have to do with Williams' reentry?


    Until the Bountygate scandal, Gregg Williams built his name and reputation on being among the finest and most innovative blitz designers in the NFL. He's had strong success as a third-down obstructionist.


    Perfect? Hardly. Not counting his time as head coach in Buffalo or his 2013 job as a consultant in Tennessee, Williams has logged 12 seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator. He's had a few leaky defenses along the way. And a couple of terrible defenses. But all in all, this has been one of the most respected DC's out there.


    And the Williams' speciality is third down.


    Namely, third-down blitzes.


    During Super Bowl Week, I put an hour or so aside to do some research with help from the data at STATS LLC. I wanted to see Williams' third-down blitzing record during his 12 years as a coordinator.


    In his final two seasons (1999 and 2000) as the DC for Fisher at Tennessee, Williams' unit ranked fifth and 14th, respectively, in the league for most third-down blitzes. But that doesn't tell the entire story; in those two seasons combined the Titans had 49 sacks on third-down blitzes, with nine interceptions. His 2000 defense belted quarterbacks to a 61.7 passer rating when the Titans blitzed on third down.


    Williams was Washington's DC from 2004 through 2007. The corresponding league rankings for most third-down blitz attempts: first, fifth, eighth, and 12th. In 2004 and 2005 combined, the Redskins had 48 sacks on third-down blitzes. They had another double-digit total (13) in 2007. They also intercepted 25 passes when blitzing on third down over the four seasons. And the passer rating against the Redskins on third-down blitzes was under 77 in three of the four seasons.


    Williams ran Jacksonville's defense in 2008. The Jags ranked 19th in the amount of third-down dogs, but got 12 sacks and five interceptions from them.


    In New Orleans from 2009 through 2011, Williams' dialed up the third-down blitzes even more. The Saints blitzed on third down more frequently than any team in 2009 and 2011 and were fourth in 2010. Over the three seasons the third-down blitzes helped rack up 63 sacks and 25 interceptions.


    The 2009 Saints won the Super Bowl, and this was Williams' masterpiece. When his defense blitzed on third down they messed up the quarterbacks for 18 sacks, 15 interceptions and a passer rating of 60.3.

    Obviously, Jeff Fisher wants more disruption and damage from his defense in defending the passing game.
    Last season the Rams blitzed — all downs — only 143 times, the 10th-lowest number in the NFL.

    Now contrast that to what we saw from Williams and New Orleans over those three seasons: an average of 285 blitzes per year.

    Imagine the pressure that the Rams can apply now that Williams is back to draw up all of those mad blitzes.

    Not only will offensive lines have to handle Robert Quinn, Chris Long, and William Hayes — but the blockers will be under additional duress in dealing with all of the crazy stuff that Williams brings at them.

    What if the Rams draft defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and put him in the mix? What could Williams do with four fresh defensive ends that can get after quarterbacks?
    Williams' fondness for blitzing also could mean more pass-rush sorties for second-year outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, or could heighten the Rams' interest in drafting UCLA outside 'backer Anthony Barr. Last season Barr had 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and 20 tackles for losses — though some scouts believe he's a better fit for a 3-4 defense. (The Rams run a 4-3.)

    But the fast (4.6 speed) and furious Barr can definitely bring the pressure from the outside. And it boggles the mind to think of a Rams defense that can attack the flanks with Quinn, Long, Ogletree and Barr. And all of that perimeter speed would work well in defending mobile quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick (*****) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks.)


    Thanks for reading …

    — Bernie
    Last edited by VegasRam; -02-07-2014 at 05:11 PM.
    live4ramin likes this.

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    We all know Gregg Williams loves to blitz. I'm all for 3rd down blitzes, but blitzing too much overall puts a lot of pressure on the secondary (our weakness) and that's been his defenses' downfall over the years.

    The point is made that we were 23rd in total blitzes last year, yet we still finished 3rd in sacks. Do we really need to blitz more? I hope Williams can tone down his style a bit.

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    Quote Originally Posted by evil disco man View Post
    We all know Gregg Williams loves to blitz. I'm all for 3rd down blitzes, but blitzing too much overall puts a lot of pressure on the secondary (our weakness) and that's been his defenses' downfall over the years.

    The point is made that we were 23rd in total blitzes last year, yet we still finished 3rd in sacks. Do we really need to blitz more? I hope Williams can tone down his style a bit.
    I think he saying we need to blitzes more on 3rd downs. Not just blitz more to get more sacks.

    In New Orleans from 2009 through 2011, Williams' dialed up the third-down blitzes even more. The Saints blitzed on third down more frequently than any team in 2009 and 2011 and were fourth in 2010. Over the three seasons the third-down blitzes helped rack up 63 sacks and 25 interceptions.
    We where just to soft last year on third down.

    In 2013, opposing quarterbacks completed 29 of 46 against the Rams' third-down blitzes for 478 yards, five touchdowns and a passer rating of 125.1.
    I hope we see more INTs from QBs throwing earlier then they want.

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    I am all for an aggressive defense, not sure why people wouldn't want that. Sure you might give up a few big plays, but you will also cause some big plays, turnovers as well. It drove me insane this past season it would be 3rd and 4, and our db's are playing 15 yards off their man..they run a 5 yrd route, first down..are you kidding! we are built for aggressive d too, young energetic guys..

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    Quote Originally Posted by kman View Post
    I am all for an aggressive defense, not sure why people wouldn't want that. Sure you might give up a few big plays, but you will also cause some big plays, turnovers as well. It drove me insane this past season it would be 3rd and 4, and our db's are playing 15 yards off their man..they run a 5 yrd route, first down..are you kidding! we are built for aggressive d too, young energetic guys..
    Exactly, pressure from blitzing creates confusion and turnovers

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    63 sacks on THIRD DOWN ALONE in three seasons is pretty amazing

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    Quote Originally Posted by citr92 View Post
    63 sacks on THIRD DOWN ALONE in three seasons is pretty amazing
    Just imagine how many more sacks he'll get when Russ Wilson throws some "intentional groundings" as he always seems to do when pressured

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinnie25 View Post
    Just imagine how many more sacks he'll get when Russ Wilson throws some "intentional groundings" as he always seems to do when pressured
    *faint*......

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    That article was the equivalent of doing surgery with a chainsaw and a pair of barbecue tongs.

    To quote Steve Martin, "when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea: have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!"

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    Re: Bernie on Williams

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    That article was the equivalent of doing surgery with a chainsaw and a pair of barbecue tongs.

    To quote Steve Martin, "when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea: have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!"

    Loved that movie, AV. It was a classic!! (Planes, Trains, & Automobiles)

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