Harrison also points to offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who moves him around to different spots to try to avoid double coverage. "There are two ways to get the big play," Moore says. "You can throw it short and let a guy run or you can throw it deep. We've done both with Marvin."
The Return of Bud Carson
Rams Defense Shows Spunk
When the Rams hired him as a defensive consultant the day before their visit to Kansas City on Oct. 22, Bud Carson eschewed watching the game, choosing instead to break down film of the 49ers, St. Louis's next opponent. That was a wise move. Seeing his new charges surrender 54 points to the Chiefs would not have been healthy for a 69-year-old man two weeks removed from an angioplasty.
But judging by the Rams' 34-24 win over San Francisco, the hiring of Carson—the architect of Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" of the 1970s and St. Louis's defensive coordinator in 1997—might well prove to be coach Mike Martz's wisest move yet. Playing against the league's fourth-ranked offense, the Rams' defense turned in what was easily its most inspired effort of the year, particularly in the second half when, down 17-14, it held the Niners to 124 yards and six first downs. "It's a change in attitude, and Bud Carson was instrumental in that," said St. Louis defensive tackle D'Marco Farr. "In our defensive meetings, he told us right away, 'We're going to go after them.' He told us we were going to get back to being an attacking defense, and having fun. And we did have fun."
Martz called the win over San Francisco the Rams' best regular-season performance in the last two years, and while that may be an exaggeration, there was a hard kernel of truth to his statement. St. Louis won with backup quarterback Trent Green subbing for the injured Kurt Warner. More important, a defense that had stopped nobody in its first seven games suddenly came to life.
After the drubbing by Kansas City, the Rams ranked 28th in the league in defense, having given up an average of 365-3 yards per game. They had also surrendered 32.6 points a game and 6.7 yards per play, both league worsts. Martz was so fed up that he demoted two underachieving Pro Bowl players: end Kevin Carter, last season's NFL sack leader, and cornerback Todd Lyght. After a midweek tirade by Carter, the ever-blunt Carson backed Martz on the benchings, saying of Carter, "He's not the same player I remember."
Still uncertain is the fate of defensive coordinator Peter Giunta, who worked with Carson in Philadelphia during the early '90s and whose status, at least formally, has not changed. Carson has tried to dispel any controversy. "I'm new here," he said on Sunday. "I didn't have anything to do with it. Peter and those guys did a nice job."