Insider: Rams deserve kudos for coaching up weak O-line

Posted Oct. 14, 2012 @ 9:05 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity:

• “Do you think the Rams have 3-3 personnel with their offensive line? It is flat-out awful. Wayne Hunter is starting not at right tackle, but at LEFT tackle. How many teams would Barry Richardson, Quinn Ojinnaka and Harvey Dahl be starting for? They don’t have a single solid starter on their line, in my opinion. What Jeff Fisher is doing with that group — that’s what you call great coaching.”

• “There is a reason the Bears’ defense is as opportunistic as it is — when they snap the ball, count how many guys are looking at the ball. All 11 of them are keyed on it and ready to pounce. The linebackers are always zeroed in on it. They do a great job of pursuing. They don’t overcomplicate it.”

• “Looking at the Jets on Monday night against Houston — (offensive coordinator) Tony Sparano has to get those plays called earlier. Everyone wants to jump (Mark) Sanchez, but that all starts with the coordinator and the coaching. If you look at Houston, everything hits quickly. They are in and out of the huddle and the tempo was great. There’s a real urgency to the offense.”

• “What’s great about Minnesota — the players there have a lot of veterans on that team. They can go to the head coach when things are not going right and get things fixed. Jared Allen can ask why he is being dropped into the hook zone four times when Anthony Castonzo has not blocked him once cleanly all game. The great ones — they know personnel. They know how to play the game. The good coaches are looking for feedback and making changes.”

• “When I look at some of the struggles around the league, I have been surprised to see some of the coaches that did such a great job last year trying to reinvent the wheel. I guess that’s what happens when you have a full offseason. Between the referee disaster and the coaching I’m seeing this year, I think the National Football League has taken a big step backward in terms of the product being delivered on the field. I’ve seen better football coached at the Pop Warner level. … Who is calling plays in New Orleans for Drew Brees? What is Jason Garrett thinking with Tony Romo? I don’t understand what some of these coaches are thinking. There’s a lot of good coaching, but there is a lot of bad, too. … It blows me away how many teams I see in a two-deep against trips. That is Football 101. You have to check out of it.”

• “What I don’t understand — when a guy starts racking up sacks, why don’t more teams help out their lines with chip help? These four-sack games happen because of bad coaching. You can’t leave an average tackle on an island by himself. Send a back his way — there are not many tackles that can handle a DeMarcus Ware or Clay Matthews one-on-one.”  

• “Too many defenders are looking for the big hit. The art of tackling has become lost in college and the NFL. There are too many guys looking for the knockout shot and the highlight-reel hit and not enough that are playing good, solid, fundamental football. You don’t see the perfect form tackle showing up on ESPN. LaVar Arrington became the No. 2 pick in the draft on the play (when) he jumped over the pile against Illinois. He never made those plays consistently in college — but I digress.”

• “Mike Nolan was known for running the 3-4 defense in Baltimore and before he was in Baltimore, he ran the over/under 4-3. He didn’t have that stout nose or the personnel  to make it work in Atlanta so he switched to the wide “40” and lined (DEs Kroy) Biermann and (John) Abraham (and Ray Edwards) outside in a wide-seven (technique). If you look at their (defensive) tackles — (Jonathan) Babineaux, (Peria) Jerry and (Vance) Walker — none of them can play the nose. That is great coaching.”