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Rams Players Eager for Gregg Williams Era

Posted Feb 18, 2014


 

Upon receiving the news of Gregg Williams’ hiring as the Rams’ new defensive coordinator, it would be fair to say Rams players gave an enthusiastic response.

Head Coach Jeff Fisher said the positive texts came in droves from players when the move was announced, a sentiment that was supported by Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis the day of Williams’ hiring.

Laurinaitis sought out teammate Jo-Lonn Dunbar, among others, to get a greater perspective on what playing under Williams would be like. Rave reviews were universal.

“Everybody I’ve talked to, from Jo-Lonn to one of my best friends in college, Malcolm Jenkins in New Orleans, have said that by far, he’s the most fun coach they’ve played for,” Laurinaitis said.

If Williams’ history of utilizing safeties and linebackers in an aggressive defensive scheme serves as any indication of what is to come, the hiring of the veteran coach could point to an enhanced role for at least a pair of second-year Rams.

Safety T.J. McDonald gained notoriety as a hard-hitting, aggressive defender in his college days at Southern California, a skill set that blends well with Williams’ penchant for involving the secondary in the pass rush. Second-year linebacker Alec Ogletree is one of the most athletic defenders on the Rams’ roster, and turned in a first-year campaign with a team rookie-record 155 tackles. Though he was rarely used in a pass-rushing capacity in his rookie season, with just 1.5 sacks, Ogletree could figure to see that number rise in 2014.

Even with a defensive scheme that did not contain many of the characteristics that are typical of Williams’ teams, the Rams possessed one of the league’s most effective defensive fronts against the pass, racking up 53 sacks, which ranked third-most in the NFL.

“We had a lot of success when we just rushed four last year,” Laurinaitis said. “I think we have the personnel and the talent, with a kid like Alec to rush off the edge, with a loose cannon like T.J., who can blitz well, we have personnel to do it.”

While not delving greatly into what the next year may hold, Williams alluded to the coming season perhaps taking on a differing look from the Rams’ 2013 version during his first meeting with St. Louis media after accepting his new job.

“When I came here the first time, I liked the nucleus that was here, (and) as I come back the second time, I like the nucleus even better,” Williams said.  “I’ve watched every single game and I’ve taken reports and listened to our reports, and those things are good to familiarize yourself with. But, as opposed to what other people do, you need to be good at what you do, and what we’re getting ready to go about doing.”

As evidenced glowing reviews from Laurinaitis and company, the Rams players are just as eager to get started with what they’re about to go about doing under Williams’ direction.

“From people that have played with him, it’s a buy-in program,” Laurinaitis said. “You’re going to see a team in training camp that is going to compete every day. Our goal will be to outwork the offense in every practice. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s going to be a good change for us.”

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