Friday, March 2, 2012
Saints' bounty system and the Rams
By Mike Sando
St. Louis Rams fans can expect coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to field a defense with a nasty demeanor.
It's looking like a formal bounty system for opposing players might be out of the question.
The NFL appears ready to come down hard on Williams' former team, the New Orleans Saints, for rewarding hits that left opposing players with injuries. ESPN's Adam Schefter has the details, including a quote of interest for Arizona Cardinals fans.
"Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings," commissioner Roger Goodell said.
These allegations are not new, but the league says it has stronger evidence.
Warner appeared headed for retirement even before the Saints knocked him from their playoff game with a devastating blindside block while Warner was trying to make a tackle. That play wound up being the final one of his career.
The first chart, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, shows the Saints ranking third from 2009 to 2011 in penalties for unnecessary roughness, facemasking, roughing the passer, personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Titans were fourth. Williams, like Lions coach Jim Schwartz, spent much of his career under Fisher in Tennessee.
The chart below shows where Fisher's teams have ranked in various over-the-line penalties from 2001 until 2010, his final season with the Titans.
Goodell sounds determined to stamp out bounty systems and the overall culture of them. Concussions and other injuries with post-football implications are threatening the league. I suspect the Saints aren't the only team with bounty-type setups. I also think these revelations do not diminish what the Saints have accomplished on the field, primarily because the alleged transgressions took place during games, in plain view of officials.
The Saints have already been subject to penalties and fines for every hit they've ever made, legal or otherwise.
Can't wait to hear what Williams has to say.