James Laurinaitis Deals with the Uncertainty Surrounding His Defensive Coordinator

March 9, 2012 – 7:00 am by Chris Fedor

After yet another disappointing season where the Rams finished with the second worst record in the NFL, St. Louis decided it was time to make a number of changes this offseason. The Rams overhauled the brain trust and a new coaching staff was brought to St. Louis. One of the better moves that new head coach Jeff Fisher made was prying Gregg Williams away from New Orleans and putting him in charge of turning around a defense that finished 26th in the NFL a season ago. Unfortunately, Williams has run into some trouble this offseason with his role in New Orleans Saints Bounty Gate, and his future, not only in St. Louis, but in the NFL altogether, is cloudy. While the Rams are in the midst of a very important offseason to try to get back to their winning ways, the fate of the defense is in the hands of NBA Commissioner Roger Goodell.

James Laurinaitis joined ESPN 101 in St. Louis with Bernie Miklasz to talk about the uncertainty surrounding Gregg Williams, whether he has been able to chat with some of his new coaches this offseason, if he is going to keep a close eye on what happens this offseason with the Rams, and what he would think about Peyton Manning coming to the NFC West.

On the uncertainty surrounding Gregg Williams:

“I’m not really sure. I think a lot of people are kind of waiting like everybody else to see what the league office does. I know firsthand I try to not worry about things I can’t control and this is one of those things. Obviously a lot of these things were reported when he was in New Orleans, when he was in Washington, or whatever. I don’t even know the whole extent of it. Obviously it’s been in the news and you see it but until the league makes a ruling on it nobody really knows how to react or go forward. I know I’m still excited to work with him, I’m excited to learn his defense, and a lot of guys that I have talked to that have played under him have loved playing for him and said that he really makes you feel like a professional and takes players input in to what you do on defense so I’m excited for that experience. We’re just waiting for the league office to make a decision.”

How much interaction he has had Jeff Fisher now that he has taken over as head coach:

“I was able to stop up there and say hello when he was hired. Whenever the coaches are there we bump into them here and there and get to know them a little bit. I think we’re all kind of anxious for the starting day, which I think the earliest we can start is April 2nd and we’re kind of anxious for that because until you really start working with people and it sounds funny but until you get yelled at by the coach and share your side of the view that’s where relationships start building. At first everything is always peachy keen when you first have a new staff. Everyone is excited but those relationships are built through adverse times, OTA’s, through maybe a miscommunication on the field and then you’re challenged. From what I hear about Gregg Williams you’re going to be challenged a whole bunch. He likes to really challenge you in practice and put you in these situations in practice so that when you get to game day really it seems easy. I know that from Malcolm Jenkins, the safety in New Orleans. I was his best man in his wedding and just from talking to him, he said listen ‘he’s going to put you in adverse situations in practice and on game day he’s one of the coolest coaches, he’s collected, and he’s going to listen to what you guys have to say on the field.’ You’re excited to get after that and that where the bonding will begin.”

How much he will be paying attention to what the Rams do this offseason:

“I’m very interested. You’re always interested to see what new teammates you will have, you’re interested to see what direction the team is going to go, how aggressive are we going to be in free agency, how are we going to do in the draft, and I’m really kind of feeling what are we going to build around, what players are we going to have to go forward and try to win a championship here. Right now everybody is zero and zero. That’s just the facts. The only team right now that is happy is the Giants. I’m ready to work. Last year is behind us and there is a lot of optimism. My goal is I never want to be picking in the top ten again. Sick of losing. Three years out of Ohio State where I lost nine games I think in four years so I’m excited to move forward and I think with the guys we have here and the coaching it’s an exciting time. Normal offseason Bernie so you know I’m excited for that.”

What he thinks about Peyton Manning possibly joining the NFC West:

“I will tell you what a healthy Peyton Manning is a nightmare to play against. I was unfortunately a rookie trying to audible at the line of scrimmage with what he’s doing and what he’s a master at is you have no idea when he’s audibiling to a different play or when he is just bluffing you. He will let that play clock run down to one second before he snaps it three plays in a row and you think the next play he’s going to do the same thing so you go up there try to disguise and he snaps it with 24 seconds left on the play clock. He just messes with you the whole, entire game. He’s one of the most prepared and obviously one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I have a ton of respect for him but wouldn’t mind if we kept him out of the NFC West.”

Listen to James Laurinaitis on ESPN 101 in St. Louis here

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