Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was about serious business when he approached the podium at a Tuesday press conference.
Phillips immediately addressed the problem with his defense like a secretary of state during a crisis. His no-nonsense approach was direct and to the point. With over 40 years of experience in the NFL, why not address the elephant in the room regarding his team's lack of run-defense?
The Rams allowed an unprecedented 229 yards of offense by the Washington Redskins on Sept. 17. Phillips is known for being a defensive guru -- especially with this Rams defense that was already assembled. There were no excuses by Phillips who assumed responsibility immediately.
"Well, it's all on coaching, number one," Phillips said. "If we didn’t play well, it's me."
With the mental errors that took place against Washington by the Rams, it is a case for concern. It could be that the Rams players are still getting accustomed to playing in a 3-4 defense versus a 4-3 defense. With Aaron Donald only playing a handful of snaps, the defensive rhythm was a bit off. With Robert Quinn converting to outside linebacker and Alec Olgetree converting to the new 3-4 defense as outside linebacker, this will take some time to adjust.
"The two inside guys have played linebacker, but they haven’t played a 3-4," Phillips said. "And even the safeties knowing where to fill in run defense, those kind of things. It just took some live-action time."
Washington exposed some flaws against the Rams front seven that the Colts weren't able to, due in large part to the Colts appearing aloof on offense. Washington was much stronger, focused, and their offensive line didn't budge as much as expected.
The Rams defense has some rhythm issues. However, each week Phillips is determined to get the errors corrected now, while it's still early in the season.
Moving forward, the Rams have a short week as they face the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night in Santa Clara. A high note for this powerful Rams defense is the 49ers haven't scored a touchdown in eight quarters, and are currently 0-2.
How confident is Phillips in Donald's ability to make a quick turnaround this week?
"He seemed to feel good. Like I said, he was in a lot better shape than – he was in football-type shape, which was good," Phillips explained. "That’s why we were able to play him. We wanted to go about 25-30 plays, but he was ready to go. I just think the feel for the game is important for him, too."