General manager of the New York Giants, Jerry Reese, has long subscribed to the idea that you can never have too many long,athletic pass rushers filling the front of your defense. In 2004, he found a kindred spirit in defensive line coach Mike Waufle. In the successful time that the two were together they amassed a fortune of young, fast, and tall defensive line talent. This concept was something that Waufle took with him when he left for Oakland in 2009. All of sudden, Oakland too had a surplus of tall athletic defensive linemen. Now, Mike Waufle has started all over again - this time in St. Louis.

It was obvious that Fisher brought Waufle in to improve the talent that already existed on the Rams defensive front, but he also knew that Waufle's style of building and running a defensive line would be imperative to repairing the Rams defense. So far, he has done a very good job. Fisher and Snead helped Waufle dig into his old bag of tricks by pursuing tall athletic talent for the defense in the form of Kendall Langford, Micheal Brockers, Jason Jones, Kellen Heard, Matt Conrath, and Mason Brodine. Ultimately, the Rams finished the season as one of the top pass rushing teams and a defense that was significantly improved up front from the year before. The strategy had worked again.

Why such an emphasis on tall, athletic lineman? Perhaps the answer seems self-explanatory. Why not, you may ask? Waufle and Fisher operated much of the season in a defensive front four that rotated most of the bookend depth players (Sims, Hayes) on the inside as well as the outside. Essentially in this defense, many of these 4-3 "ends" end up playing defensive tackle in the 4-3 alignment during passing downs. On these passing downs, the job of the tackle in a typical 4-3 is to shoot the gap (the space between offensive linemen). This is better suited for a quick athlete than a lumbering giant. However, a small athlete can become a liability if he is routed out of the play or taken advantage of on a draw. By having tall athletes with large frames, both of these liabilities can be minimized using leverage and technique. They can be taught to use their long arms to create separation from the guard and center allowing them to take up space, and yet still have space to make a play on the quarterback. That's why you see such an emphasis on tall athletic linemen in the Fisher/Waufle defense. As they always say in basketball, you can't teach height, and Waufle has a long history of taking raw natural size and ability, and coaching it to fit a specific role on his front.