At the beginning of safety Eric Weddle’s introductory press conference on Tuesday morning, general manager Les Snead told a story about the Rams’ newest safety and his new head coach.
As you likely recall, the Rams went to Baltimore for a couple days of practice before taking on the Ravens in the first game of the preseason at M&T Bank Stadium. And while the game was pretty forgettable, there was one player who apparently consistently came up in conversations that week between Snead and Sean McVay.
“I remember Sean coming back a lot and mentioning how challenging it was to go against Eric and the football acumen that he brought to the field and the coverages,” Snead said. “We talk about a lot of things after scrimmages, Eric’s name came up a lot.”
“You know, you can watch his tape and you can just see the visual communication, the mastery that he has, and the understanding of disguises, what he wants to get done. This is somebody that knows what’s going on for all 11 people,” McVay said Tuesday. “But then I think when you go practice against him, and you can stand where there’s a quarterback and you’re about five feet behind — you can hear as if you’re out on the field some of the intricacies of his communication, of the command that he has. And it gives you even that much greater appreciation.”
McVay’s praise if Weddle’s smarts is one thing — and it makes sense given that the safety is now entering his 13th season in the NFL. But Weddle’s ability to properly operate in coordinator Wade Phillips’ defensive system is another.
Fortunately for Weddle and L.A., the 34-year-old veteran is already plenty familiar with the Xs, Os, and terminology of Phillips’ scheme.
How’s that? Well, Phillips was the Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2004-2006, but took the Cowboys head coaching job in early 2007. Ted Cottrell came in to replace Phillips in San Diego as DC, but kept the same kind of defensive system as Weddle entered the league as a second-round pick that same year.
“The system is what I ran in San Diego for basically nine years,” Weddle said. “You change it a little bit as years go on, you add different concepts, you add different things. But the base of what we ran, is what Wade brought to them. So, that was definitely enticing of knowing the verbiage, knowing how they like to run different coverages, knowing that I played in it. So, that was obviously a check that the Rams brought to the table.”
Weddle added that even though he feels like he has the versatility to play in any system, he thinks his skillset is best utilized with a coordinator like Phillips — who will have him be more active than passive at the free safety spot.
“Not saying those things don’t work, I’m just saying for me personally I like to do more stuff,” Weddle said.
Based on what McVay observed in Baltimore back in August, that’s exactly why he’s the right fit for Los Angeles’ defensive backfield in 2019.