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    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    Bob writes a nice article...any discussion?


    Zygmunt Tells Fans: "Your PPD Is In The Mail"
    by BobCarl
    Staff Writer


    A Pro Personnel Department is very important to the smooth functioning of any NFL franchise. The Rams have been operating without a Pro Personnel Department for several years and it is obvious that this is hurting the team. The Pro Personnel Department works as sort of a Central Intelligence Agency for free agents. Nearly half of all NFL teams players are acquired through free agency, and tabs need to be kept on every possible acquisition. This office also provides important data on the players of the teams opponents so that the coaches and players can be better prepared for their upcoming games. A Pro Personnel Department also evaluates their own players on a regular basis; it provides a checks-and-balances system so as to not become biased towards your own players.

    Most NFL teams have a seperate staff to handle college scouting.

    A typical Pro Personnel Department for an NFL team is responsible for keeping tabs on all pro leagues: Canada, Europe, Arena football, as well as all NFL teams and anyone not on a team that has the ability to play. A dysfunctional front office, lacking such a department, will not be able to find good value free agents, instead they will overpay for washed up players and foolishly let some of their best players move on to other teams. There are two ways to get information about potential free agents without a Pro Personnel Department, and both have huge flaws:



    • Rely upon a 3rd party agency. An outside scouting agency can be helpful, (one of the best is Pro Scouts Inc, run by Mike Giddings), but this leaves the team without any control or supervision of the scouts. The scouting reports are going to be impersonal and won’t be able to take into specific considerations of the team's need. Quite often the information is outdated before it is passed on to the teams.

    • Let the agents for the prospective players make their sales pitches and sell the team on who they have available. Maybe this is a penny pincher’s way of working smart, letting the player agents come to them. But they are out to sell their clients, they will show the good stats, they will provide the film clips that highlight the player’s positives; a team can’t expect an agent to be honest about the weaknesses in their client’s game.



    Case in point...

    The Rams went into the 2004 season needing a backup quarterback. What do the Rams do? They blindly offered a contract to Chris Chandler. If the Rams had a Pro Personnel Department then they would have already had a huge file on Chandler, but it appears that nobody in the Rams front office had followed any of the teams that Chandler played for before being available in 2004.

    Son_Dee, a member of RRF who also follows the Atlanta Falcons, and had observed Chandler as a quarterback of the Falcons for many years, explains:

    Quote:
    I think Martz got too excited about Chandler's arm. On the surface, Chris was the type of QB Martz covets. Chandler is accurate and throws a good deep ball.

    Problem is, if Martz (or a PPD) had dug deeper, they would have found that Chandler cannot play under pressure. Chandler is great when given time in the pocket, but just the slightest amount of pressure and Chanlder cracks. Also, Chandler isn't really good at making quick reads. He lacked the intelligence that is required to run the Martz offense. The Dan Reeves offense that Chandler ran was pretty much as basic as it gets.

    Plus, Chandler was at his best when he had a workhouse running back getting the ball the majority of the time. Oh, and Chandler didn't have a quick release. I could go on and on. In short, Martz seemed too in love with Chandler's "measureables" (for lack of a better word) and didn't look deep enough into what else Chandler was outside of his arm.

    I can't remember the exact things I said about Chris the day we signed him, as I was in a furious rage and disappointed. But, as you can see, I still feel the same way.


    Does anyone remember what happened when Chandler made his first start as a Ram in 2004? He started for the injured Bulger against Carolina. Chandler threw an embarrassing SIX interceptions in the Rams loss. Son_Dee was right; the Rams should have never signed him in the first place.

    It is understandable why Martz was interested in acquiring Chandler, but if he had a Pro Personnel Department to provide him with the information that Son_Dee saw, perhaps Martz would have chosen a different quarterback.

    Over the past couple of years, we have seen Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher leave the Rams for greener pastures. We also saw London Fletcher and Dre Bly move on. Losing these defensive players really hurt the Rams. With a Pro Personnel Department, the Rams could have had a more realistic perspective on how valuable these players were. A small amount of creative cap management, and offers to those players closer to their real market value, and perhaps we could have kept them.

    On offense, we saw the exit of several important contributors, Ernie Conwell, Rickey Proehl, James Hodgins, and Az Hakim. Of course we couldn’t possibly expect to keep all of them, but if we had a PPD, the decision makers in the Rams office may have gotten a better perspective as to how valuable they really are and perhaps we could have kept some of them around.

    Talent Evaluation

    It could be argued that the Rams have their fair share of top 10 positional players in the league. We have Bulger, Bruce, Faulk, Holt, Pace, and Little, they all have at one time been a top-ten player at their respective position. So it could be argued that the Rams aren’t doing so shabby in stocking the team with talented players. But how easy is it to pick out the best of the best? It is very easy, a grade school kid knows who the best players in the NFL are. The draft and the salary cap situation cause these top 10 players to be evenly distributed to every team in the NFL. So the Rams basically have the great players by default. It is being supplied with the other 45 or so players that makes the Pro Player Department so important.

    We have lost players like Grant Wistrom and London Fletcher to free agency, but whom have we gained?

    It appears that the Rams team is slowly being siphoned off, and not being restocked with quality players, as a result of operating in this dysfunctional manner of having no PPD.

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Lets take a look at how the Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Personnel Department functions.

    Charles Bailey is the Director of Pro Personnel. There are three pro scouts working under Bailey. One scout (Assistant PPD Louis Clark) is assigned eleven teams to follow and the other two scouts are assigned ten teams each.

    During training camp

    The three pro scouts are responsible to provide daily grading of each Jaguar player in camp, as well as keeping tabs on the rosters of the other NFL teams they have been assigned to follow. Roster size is 80 therefore multiplying this by 32 teams means there are 2560 players total that they track.

    During the season

    Sunday: Clark, the Assistant PPD, works one week ahead of the Jaguars in attending the game of the Jaguars’ next opponent, writing a report on each player, and paying special attention to things that can’t be found on tapes (sideline behavior, where the coordinators are stationed, who sends in the plays, who talks to the quarterback, crowd noise, injuries, etc}.

    The other pro scouts are on the road looking mostly at 2nd day draft picks of other teams and other players that are in danger of being cut.

    Monday: The pro scouts have watch the game tapes of the Jaguars and provide grading reports on every player on the team.

    Tuesday: Street free agents are brought in for workouts and thoroughly evaluated by the scouts.

    Wednesday through Friday: the scouts review the previous weeks game tapes on the teams they are assigned to follow.

    The six college scouts assist the Pro Personnel department, as each of these scouts are assigned three NFL games each week for purposes of grading prospective unrestricted free agents.

    Immediately following the season:

    The Pro Personnel department, along with the coaches, begin lengthy discussions about their scouting reports on the unrestricted free agents. Every UFA is discussed; they rank these players from best to worse by each position.

    ***

    The season for free agency is scheduled to begin on March 3rd. The Jaguars will be ready.

    How about the Rams? Will they overpay for a has-been player? Will they lose key contributors from last season? Can fans be optimistic on great free agent pickups from a team that has had no PPD for a long time?

    Talent Evaluators

    A good argument can be made in favor of Mike Martz in how he was able to evaluate quarterbacks, but what about Jay Zygmunt's ability to evaluate talent? How much time does he spend watching film, how many years did he work as a scout/and talent evaluator? Since he seems to have final say on many personnel matters where does he get his information to make these decisions?

    Lets look at a couple of great talent evaluators.

    Don Klosterman

    Don Klosterman was the Rams GM and Vice President from 1972 until 1980. As a former quarterback, he had a great eye for this position. He was hired by Sid Gillman in the 60’s to evaluate football talent. He came to the Los Angeles from Washington when the teams swapped owners. This guy had balls. Mike Martz was not the first person in the Rams organization to bench a MVP Quarterback in the following season.

    During the 1973 and 1974 seasons Klosterman made some amazing trades.

    He traded Roman Gabriel to Philadelphia for Harold Jackson and 2 1st round draft picks. And then he traded two players, defensive end Coy Bacon and running back Bob Thomas to San Diego, for the under-rated John Hadl. Hadl became the MVP of that season by leading the Rams to a 12-2 season. In 1974, Hadl started the season slow and was benched. Klosterman managed to talk the Green Bay Packers Head Coach Dan Devine into giving the Rams a total of 5 draft picks for Hadl ( (2) 1st round picks, (2) 2nd round picks, and (1) 3rd round pick ).

    Out of those 3 deals, Klosterman gave up a total of 3 players from the 1972 team: Gabriel, Bacon and Thomas, and before the start of the 1975 season he got Harold Jackson, (4) 1st round draft picks, (2) 2nd round draft picks and (1) 3rd round draft pick.

    Is there any wonder how the Rams won every division title from 1973 through 1979?

    Ron Wolf

    Ron Wolf started in 1963 as a talent scout with the Oakland Raiders. Even though Al Davis took all of the credit, Ron Wolf is the brain behind the player acquisitions that led to the Raiders winning 3 Super bowls in a 7-year span.

    In 1991 Wolf became general manager of the Green Bay Packers and was able to rebuild the team into a powerhouse. Before Wolf came on board, the Packers had only managed two playoff appearances in the last 20 years. But within a short time of Wolf’s arrival, the Packers saw six straight playoff appearances, two consecutive trips to the Super Bowl and one Super Bowl title. It wasn’t obtaining Favre that won it for the Packers; Wolf also was responsible for acquiring players like Keith Jackson, Robert Brooks, Dorsey Levens, and Mark Chmura.

    Ron Wolf has always had an eye for quarterbacks. In 1992, he engineered a trade with Atlanta that brought Brett Farve to the Packers, he is the guy that talked Al Davis into drafting Kenny Stabler, and he was the guy that extended Kurt Warner an invitation to the Packers training camp. These three all won MVP’s and each won a Super Bowl. Wolf also was responsible for drafting well-known quarterbacks such as Ty Detmer [ninth round, 1992], Mark Brunell [fifth round, 1993], Matt Hasselbeck [sixth round, 1998], and Aaron Brooks [fourth round, 1999].

    Here's a great article about him and it includes some interesting war-room information during his last draft. One Last Time On The Clock

    Here is a link to an article about another well-known talent evaluator: Bill Walsh

    Giddings Scouting Service:

    Pro Scout Inc. is an independent scouting service founded by Mike Giddings in 1977. They analyze players every year. Sports Illustrated reported that 11 NFL teams used his service in 2004. Mike Giddings was an NFL coach and worked as a pro scout for an NFL team before starting his own service. Not much is made public about his evaluations, methods, staffing, etc, but here are two links that show interesting insight as to how Mike Giddings evaluates players:
    November 2005 observations about Eli Manning
    Giddings rates players of the 90’s

    How do the Rams evaluate talent?

    From a Jim Thomas article in the January 6th issue of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, regarding the Pro Player Director and other front office decisions:

    Quote:

    "We have tenured executives on our staff," Shaw said. "Between Jay (Zygmunt) and myself...I think that will be addressed," Shaw said. "That wasn't really so much an issue until this past year, and I'm not really sure what happened this past year where all of a sudden we didn't really have a pro personnel department. It wasn't an issue for the years before this past year."

    In 2000, Mike Ackerley had the title of director of pro scouting with the Rams. But he joined the Tennessee Titans the following season. The Rams have not had anyone with that title, or a similar title, since Ackerley left.

    Jack Faulkner has the title of pro personnel administrator, but he is semi-retired and living in Los Angeles, although he still breaks down film for the team.


    On February 9th of this year Bernie M talked about his interview with Jay Zygmunt:

    Quote:

    Jay said they are still pursuing the restructuring of personnel dept ... wouldn't say who they are interviewing, but said it's something they are working on...for now coaches are studying tapes, trying to grade Rams players, then will study potential FAs....


    Finally, many people here at www.RealRamsFans.com have recently questioned Zygmunt’s sincerity and ability to make personnel decisions. This thread, for example, was very insightful:
    Zygmunt’s involvement in Personnel decisions

    Thanks to everyone that helped me with this article.

    I recently asked the help of several RRF members to help me grasp the Pro Personnel Director issue, and here are some excerpts of the great responses I got:

    Ramsnation_SD wrote:
    Quote:
    I have no idea what Linehan and Shaw are doing with regards to this position. I would assume that Shaw is doing NOTHING about it.


    CumberlandRam wrote:
    Quote:
    It would seem that this individual should be in charge of scouting and would need to have some talented scouts who know what they're doing. From what I've gathered, we've used a type of "think pool" organization for the last few years, which was not part of the Ram organization. It would seem that they're loyalties were questionable since they farmed themselves out to other NFL teams.


    PaRamFan48 wrote:
    Quote:
    In lieu of such candidate being available they could get an assistant under one of the better Pro Personnel Directors.


    Canuckramsfan wrote:
    Quote:
    I would point back to Don Klosterman as the prototype of what is needed. Klosterman not only had a great eye for rookies, but he was a helluva trader.

    Here's an example of an "unnecessary personnel longshot" the Rams were forced to make because we had no PPD to find us a serviceable FS. First Hawthorne is brought in from GB via the "Old Boys Network" (Schottsy) and after he tubes.........Vitt, with no other options, promotes a retread STer wideout :shock: to our STARTING FS!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT FURREY MOVE DEFINITELY BURNED OUR ARSES IN 2005.............AND HEY, I LIKE FURREY.......I THINK HE'S GUTSY........BUT HE IS NOT AN NFL STARTING FS!!!!!!!!!


    PARAM50 wrote:
    Quote:
    In my 40+ years of watching the NFL game a lot has changed and the management of these teams must change with it. Free agency changes the focus on the evaluation process of the available talent and good organizations must do their homework in many different areas. I feel that this requires a staff that would work year round scouring the football world for the next available prospect. This will require monitoring all the NFL teams, College prospects, ALF, CFL and inactive veterans.


    Pinko wrote:
    Quote:
    Now I'm not saying the Rams need to adopt the head coach "total control" model like the Pats have now (which I'll call "HCTC"). Both the HCTC model and the Separate HC/GM model (see, Eagles) have been successful. Point is you need one guy who both evaluates and makes the final decisions with respect to player personnel. If the guy coaches the team at the same time, fine, but he doesn't need to.


    Final Rant

    I believe that the Rams will eventually join the 21st Century and set up a Pro Personnel Department, but even when that day arrives, I suspect it will take a few years before the benefits start to show on the field.

    The Pro Personnel Director position is sort of the "sommelier" of the organization. He knows how to evaluate talent, can quickly recognize flaws of players, has lots of experience doing this, and spends countless hours doing his homework on possible acquisitions. This guy will know how to fit the right player into mix of available personnel.

    Other team executives will also have an eye for talent, but that talent has to be put in front of their eyes, and because of their other responsibilities those team executives couldn't possibly have time to keep up on all the available players.

    Evaluating talent is an ability that isn't acquired overnight, and neither does it come naturally as if it is an inherited trait of an executive in a high position. No, it's a skill that takes years to develop, and it requires constant homework, thousands of hours watching film and countless out-of-town trips to do the scouting with one's own eyes.

    It doesn't really matter to me who makes the final decisions. Jay Zygmunt is a very intelligent guy and if he has quality information in front of him, then he will make solid decisions. But at the bottom line, it's a mistake to think that a team can be successful without a Pro Personnel Department.


  2. #2
    BobCarl's Avatar
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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    Thanks for posting my "report".

    The PPD issue has been eating at me for a while, so I had an itch to find out more about it this topic.

    I hope my fellow Rams enthusiasts found this information interesting.

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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    Quote Originally Posted by BobCarl
    I hope my fellow Rams enthusiasts found this information interesting.
    I know I sure did. Very intriguing to say the least, and made a lot of sense on several levels. I hope this need is fulfilled as quickly as possible.
    [SIGPIC]http://www.stickershoppe.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/MLRPANCmini.jpg[/SIGPIC]This is for Randy! GO BRM!

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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    Really nice peace "RW" We really do need someone like Klosterman I remember him well he got some heat in the beginning on some of those trades but it proved out he was right on the mark... Wish we could find someone semi close to his ability... We have gone down hill for some time be hide the ego of others in the front office

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    rampete is offline Registered User
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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    one can deduce why shaw and zygmunt were reluctant to put a PPD in place...it would mean less control of and input into "their" team...

  6. #6
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    The Rams have been interviewing for this position, so I'm not sure what the fuss is about. If the Rams hire someone tomorrow, does that moot this whole issue?

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    BobCarl's Avatar
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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    The Rams have been interviewing for this position, so I'm not sure what the fuss is about. If the Rams hire someone tomorrow, does that moot this whole issue?


    Hiring someone tomorrow will certainly be a step in the right direction.

    A lot of damage has been done that can't be taken back. So even if someone is hired tomorrow, having no PPD is a major mistake that shouldn't be repeated.

    It shouldn't have taken the Collins and the Hawthorn on the field debacles for the Rams talent evaluators to realize that those players don't belong in a Rams uniform.

    As listed in the article, the Rams have lost a lot of very good players to free agency, this bleeding has got to stop.

    Between making bad free agent pickups and loosing many of our good players, I'd say the sooner this is made a "moot" issue, the better.

  8. #8
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    What does the lack of a Director of Pro Personnel have to do with losing free agents. That is more the result of the Rams recent success and the realities of the salary cap.

    Every team has hits and misses. Nonetheless, fans always seem to think their team is the only one that has drafted "busts" or signed FAs who didn't pan out.

    If you think one Front Office hiring is going to change that, you're kidding yourself.

  9. #9
    BobCarl's Avatar
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    Re: Fellow fan believes we have some real problems

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    What does the lack of a Director of Pro Personnel have to do with losing free agents?
    Great questions. Positive rep points to you.

    A team can lose free agents because they don't place high enough value upon them, and therefore are not willing to pay just a few extra dollars necessary to retain them. (a coupla specfic examples are mentioned in the article) and thus without a professional and full time talent evaluator on staff then players will not be valued properly.

    Every team has hits and misses. Nonetheless, fans always seem to think their team is the only one that has drafted "busts" or signed FAs who didn't pan out.
    I agree that every team will have busts. But the Ron Wolf example in the article demonstrates how successful he was with two different teams and how both of those teams struggled when he was not with them. His expertise in evaluating talent worked miracles.


    If you think one Front Office hiring is going to change that, you're kidding yourself.
    No where in the article did I suggest that. I don't think "one" hiring will have immediate results. I think it takes a team of scouts and talent evaluators to be effective. The Jacksonville Jaguar's model, as outlined in the article impressed me. But even this, I don't think would give the Rams overnight success.

    Nevertheless I am real excited about having Hazlett as part of the Rams staff, hopefully his experience in evaluating defensive talent will have a positive impact on the team.

    I also don't think that the Rams are a lost cause, a few outstanding additions to the Rams defense and I think the Rams will be back in the playoffs, but as a Ram fan, I'm sort of greedy, I hope to see the Rams in the playoffs also in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and beyond.

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