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Thread: Art Valero ..

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    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Art Valero ..

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    For almost all of his football life, the thing Art Valero knew best was the offensive line.

    Valero played offensive line growing up and eventually played there at Boise State, where he was part of a Division I-AA NCAA championship team.

    When he entered the coaching profession, Valero wanted to apply everything he knew from his playing days and impart that knowledge on offensive linemen at every stop.

    For the next 22 years, Valero pursued that dream, coaching the offensive line (along with some other duties) at Louisville, Utah State, Idaho, Boise State, New Mexico, Long Beach State and Iowa State.

    And yet, for reasons beyond his control, when he finally got the call to the big stage from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, he was asked to coach the tight ends. He did that for two years before moving to running backs in 2004 through 2007.

    When Valero came to St. Louis before last season, he came as running backs coach and assistant head coach.

    “I played it in college,” Valero said. “I coached it my entire college coaching career. I came into the league with the promise I would coach the O line in Tampa and it never panned out. My base has been with the offensive line and the other positions were ones I learned on the run but they were great because they broadened my experience working with skill guys. I still consider myself and always did consider myself an offensive line coach.”

    For the first time in the NFL, Valero doesn’t have to consider himself an offensive line coach anymore: he is one.

    Valero came to the Rams before last season as a running backs coach under former head coach Scott Linehan. Linehan had brought Valero in as a running backs coach and assistant head coach.

    After spending the season tutoring the likes of Steven Jackson, Kenneth Darby and Antonio Pittman, Valero found himself in the same spot as the rest of the coaching staff after Linehan was let go four games into the season.

    Like the rest of the staff, Valero was in limbo and found himself at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. waiting and wondering if he had a place on new coach Steve Spagnuolo’s staff.

    Spagnuolo spent that whole week doing interviews and asked Valero to be patient with him as Spagnuolo wanted to put an offensive coordinator in place first.
    “Emotionally you have to put yourself in neutral because having only been here a year you really haven’t attached yourself to the players that much though you had emotionally because of the season we went through,” Valero said. “And at that time, we didn’t know if we were coming or going. The hardest part emotionally is now if you leave your family has only been here for a year and now they have to pack up and move again. To try to keep their emotions in check was probably a little more difficult than my own.”

    Spagnuolo asked Valero to meet with him upon arrival back in St. Louis so Valero waited for his opportunity. Valero spoke with Spagnuolo and waited for a chance to get acquainted with new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

    After those meetings, Valero had scheduled to go to Tampa for the Super Bowl and some relaxation. He headed to Florida uncertain of his future but was set to get a chance to go to Detroit where Jim Schwartz was the new head coach and Linehan the new offensive coordinator.

    Suddenly, Valero got a call from Spagnuolo offering him the assistant offensive line position.

    “Steve called and said this is what we’ve got for you, we’d love to have you on board,” Valero said. “It gives me a chance to get back to coaching O line; it gives me a chance to not have to move my family again and to come in on something new and exciting so the transition was smooth.”

    In addition to those obvious pluses for Valero, there was a lot to gain for the Rams from keeping Valero on board, especially in his new capacity.

    The Rams also retained Steve Loney as the primary offensive line coach and he and Valero had already established a good working relationship and were already on the same page.

    In addition, Valero had worked closely with Loney and the offensive line as running backs coach on game planning the running game portion of the offense last season so Valero is able to bring perspective from both positions to his new spot on the staff.

    As a player, Valero described himself as “short, fat and dumpy” but he never missed an opportunity to work on technique and fundamentals. That’s an area he says he will continue to emphasize with the Rams offensive line.

    “The philosophy is real simple, play the best five, be fundamentally and technically sound and play as physical a style of football as your scheme allows you to do,” Valero said. “Within the scheme, within what the coordinator’s ideas are, I think we have the capability of putting together those types of guys.”

    With only about six months of NFL offensive line coaching experience under his belt, Valero has taken quickly to his new position and loves every chance he gets to spend time with the offensive linemen, a group he says is like its own fraternity in some way.

    “Just being in that room, one thing people don’t understand is that an offensive lineman’s dream is to go through life anonymous,” Valero said. “Anonymity is where they want to live. They are good natured, fun loving; they have their own code they live by. Having grown up in that, it’s nice to be back to that because in a lot of ways it allows you the ability to be yourself. I always kid everybody all the time about becoming a running backs coach because from a football standpoint it wasn’t that hard, it was fitting in with those leather pants on the road that will make it tough. I’m a jeans-wearing guy. It’s just who I am and something I always wanted to do. When I got into coaching a long time ago, my single goal in football was to be the best O line coach in the NFL. It’s taken me a while just to become an assistant but I can still get there.

    “This is something I could do forever because it beats working. Being around young guys all the time, I feel like a young 51.”


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    mikhal5569's Avatar
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    Re: Art Valero ..

    I like what I have been reading so far, with the small bits here and other bits about players there, it finally seems were going to have something we haven't had in a long time a truly happy coaching staff and a happy team, when combined equals chemistry. Which in turn should lead towards more competitive play and more wins.

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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: Art Valero ..

    I'm really excited about the direction our OL is heading. I thought Loney did a pretty decent job last year overall, and I noticed at the end of the year the OL playing with some conviction.
    And now by adding Valero the Rams will have another set of eyes and ears to help hone these linemen into a cohesive unit. I was also impressed by his commitment to technique and fundamentals. This is an area that a team with a poor line, like the Rams, needs much work on.

    WHAT SAY YE?

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    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Art Valero ..

    After what we've been through collectively the last few years, many of us are a bit gun shy when it comes to unfettered optimism regarding the current state of our team.. Having said that, our new leadership seems to understand the concept of round pegs not fitting into square holes ala Linny and Martz (Sorry Tex). Retaining Valero and allowing him to coach the position where his heart has always been is yet another example of the no nonsense - common sense approach our new FO and coaching staff appear to prefer .. It won't be long (camp starts at the end of July?) before realistic evaluations of our players and team as a whole begin filtering in. Our first preseasoh game should be an indicator. Will our O and D lines get pushed around early and often, or will we finally start shoving other teams around? More than any other aspect of the game, this is what I'll be watching for come preseason and beyond ...

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