By Jeff Gordon
Monday, February 11, 2008
Tacleberry: Will Billy Devaney continue the Rams tradition of excellence, bringing in as many Falcons/former Falcons as possible?
So next year our team will have a lot of ex-Falcons/Dolphins/Saints/Vikings. How many chmapionships have these teams won combined in the last 10 years?
Jeff Gordon: Devaney also has been with the Chargers -- and you would love to have some of those guys.
Tacleberry: Now that Linehan has seemingly cleared his head of the two-year version of Sinatra's "My Way" and has begun to embrace the notion that he needs established coaching help, what is his next move with the players?
Also, as we approach free agency, what potential pifalls does Linehan need to avoid in terms of getting effective players?
Jeff Gordon: He just needs to let Saunders and Haslett take charge of those units and make the needed changes. And he must let Devaney take charge of free agency to make sure the Rams at least add some quality depth. Again, there won't be as many impact FAs this year, due to the cap increase, and contenders will first shot at those guys.
Greg: Gordo: With the hiring of Bill Deveany what do you see as potential changes in philosphy towards free agent signings (i.e. will the Rams be more inclined to go after a Faneca type offensive lineman)?
Jeff Gordon: Devaney today stressed that teams build in the draft. In a given year, no more than one or two starters should come from free agency. Could they shoot for a high-level FA? Sure, but the Rams also expect most of the big names to either re-sign with their teams or get franchise tags. The salary cap jump will diminish this year's free agent pool.
matt"mvp"stroehmer: yo jeff, thanks for answering q's.
i know you receive a lot of these questions but, with the Rams most likely taking the D-man Long in the draft, what realistic Free Agents do you see us not only going after but actually signing?
thanks, matt "MVP" stroehmer.
Jeff Gordon: The message from Devaney and Linehan today was to not get excited about free agency. The rising salary cap will allow most teams to keep most of their top players. At best, Devaney said team can add a starter or two in a normal year. And this may be a poor year for free agency, as it was with baseball. A lot of would-be free agents may yet be signed or stuck with the transition tag.
Tim: Will lenord ever play any full back again or is he pretty muck set as a backup RB? I think he would be a perfect fit for the Rams at Full back.
Jeff Gordon: He'll do both, although the team ought to add a pure lead blocker for power gun situations. It'll be interesting to see what Saunders does with Leonard's versatility.
Tim: What do you think the Rams will do at center for next year? I heard Wiegamann is a free agent but isnt he like 34?
Jeff Gordon: I suppose Fry gets another look, but the team would have to weigh Romberg against the available free agents. With the salary cap soaring, there were be fewer good offensive linemen available than during earlier seasons.
Andy from Saint Louis: Dear Jeff,
I have been hearing rumors that Chad Johnson wants out of Cincinati do you think the rams are going to go after him I mean they could trade a third or fourth round pick and drew bennet for him?
Jeff Gordon: In their dreams they make that deal. Saunders does want an explosive WR for his mix, but I don't see Cincinnati trading 85 -- unless he goes completely nuts.
Charles Westermayer: Why wouldn't the Rams bring in a guy like Joe Gibbs to run the football department like the Dolphins did with Parcells?
Jeff Gordon: Would Chip Rosenbloom someday go for new, strong leadership? Perhaps. But for now, Shaw slides into an advisory role, Zygmunt has command of the daily franchise operation and Devaney brings much-needed personnel expertise. He and Al Saunders help upgrade the lagging football operation.
Mike Zamniak: Are the Rams looking for a NEW Strength & Conditioning Coach? I understand that they're interviewing for a NEW assisstant.
I feel this area is extremely important, if you take into consideration the amount of injuries they had last season.
Jeff Gordon: A new strength and conditioning coach couldn't prevent other teams from diving into the sides of legs and so forth. There really wasn't a pattern to the Rams injuries. Can't really blame the playing surface or the staff for that.
Cincy Ram: Hey Gordo,I have two questions for you. I know what the Rams do in free agency will have alot to do with the draft,so do you think re-building the offensive line with a quality free agent Guard,Tackle,Center,and speed receiver could make the offence elite again?Other than cutting LB Pisa T.because I think he is injury prone and overrated, do you think it's time to start drafting quality replacements for DT Glover,DE Little,and a big hard hitting safety and OLB?
Jeff Gordon: They need to upgrade those positions, plus OT, C, and their depth at QB, G, CB . . . well, pretty much everywhere.
Hen: Hi Jeff,
I'm wondering how much say will Devaney have over the actual draft picks and free agent signings. Is his hiring an end to the head coaches final decision on personnel? When it really comes down to it who has the final say? Zygmunt? Losehan? Devaney can be the best talent evaluator ever but if he doesn't have the final say then his impact is not as great as reported. See Softli. I was excited about his hire but....
Jeff Gordon: Everybody agreed today that the draft picks will be a result of consensus. Devaney will have a bigger say in free agency than this draft, since he is still getting caught up on the college players. But overall, consider his hiring as a strengthening of the footbal decision-making at Rams Park. Devaney will have a strong voice.
Thanks again for the voice. Have a couple of concerns. First of all why the delay in getting to Jackson's extension? The Rams certainly wouldn't consider a draft day trade with McFadden being the first pick would they?
And what are the chance of the Rams actually digging in the pockets and going after Faneca? You would think with Faneca and Pace along with a healthy O-Line we would suddenly become a scary offense once again.
Jeff Gordon: If Faneca hits the free-agent marketplace, he could set a new record for guards. Roethlisberger has asked the Steelers to keep him, but there is some history between Faneca and the franchise now.
On Monday, Linehan said the club expects Incognito and Setterstrom to be recover fully for next season. If that's the case, why would the team spend record money to for another guard? They could move one of those guys to safety, but it seems more likely the Rams would invest in another need position.
Despite all the front office and coaching changes so far the Rams still have Zygmunt and Shaw and very unfortunately Linehan. Any word on the power structure? Did (as anticipated) Zygmunt come out of this with even more power? Until this fan knows that the "power" is given to those they have recently hired (Saunders & Devaney) I doubt my apathy will be reversed.
Jeff Gordon: Jay has more overall power with Shaw moving out of the picture. But the football side is much stronger with Devaney and Saunders helping Linehan address two of his shortcomings.
Brian from Vegas: Gordo,
I think much of the Rams strategy of who they take with the 2nd pick in the draft depends on their assessment of Clifton Ryan. If Ryan and Carriker are "players", then the need for a DT is not great and the obvious pick is a DE or OT. But if Ryan is just a part time player, then passing on Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis could be a big mistake. Do you know if the Rams consider Ryan a full time, high caliber NFL player, or is he just a late round pick that can contribute? I did not hear or see much from him the last 1/3 of the season.
Jeff Gordon: They love Ryan as a true run-stopping nose tackle. Since Carriker can play three spots, I wouldn't rule out a getting a DT first -- it seems more prudent to take a DE, if at all possible.
Jeremy (Denver): Gordo,
Rams question...regarding Devaney's hire, I understand the "decisions will be made by the group" thing...but does Devaney have final say over all personnel decisions, or does the final say still sit with Linehan?
Jeff Gordon: The coach always has the final say because he can always refuse to play somebody the personnel guy gets. Joe Gibbs did this to Bobby Beathard all the time when Devaney was there. Having said that, Linehan will rely on Devaney's expertise on NFL veterans. In time, I see the new guy controlling the draft as well -- since he has strong field experience there. He intends to scout college games this coming season.
Jeremy (Denver): Another question...has Haslett decided if he is running a 3-4 or 4-3 defense yet? This will be important for how the Rams approach off-season acquisitions!
Jeff Gordon: How much 3-4 the team will play is still in discussion. Some of that may depend on what becomes available in the draft and free agency. It's a two-way street there.
Do you Devaney is the answer to the Ram's draft problems? Seems like there is not enough time before the draft to effectively evaluate colloege talent for the later rounds.
Jeff Gordon: I didn't mind the '07 Rams draft, since Carriker was as good as advertised, Ryan was a happy surprise, Leonard did his job and Stanley showed well l
What's the real story with Tony Softli? The press has indicated that the Rams seemingly going to ax him after the draft (I know this is not certain). Hasn't he only presided over the 2007 draft which actually may be the best draft in recent Ram's draft history? He also did a very good job in Carolina as I understand it. Bernie M is saying the Rams are making the right moves but I don't see this as a positive. So what gives?
Jeff Gordon: Let's see how he works within the new structure. Perhaps there will still be something for him here. Devaney addresses the pro personnel side, too, which was his forte in Atlanta. I would assume Softli can still make his case to stay as the college guru. But there was a sense that more leadership was needed in this realm of the football operation, too.
Steve: i have to be honest...super bowl 42 healed some wounds remaining from super bowl 36, gordo. the rams played at foxborough in '01. was that game played before the patriots began spying? some of this is sour grapes, some of it is looking for an explanation of how we lost that game, and some of it is looking for an explanation of the rams' demise since that game. what are your feelings regarding appropriate 'punishment' for the pats if this all turns out to be true?
Jeff Gordon: A draft pick would nice, but I'm not holding my breath. As for the Super Bowl 36 incident, the Rams lost that game because Mike Martz failed to make earlier adjustments. Also, Ricky Proehl fumbled away points as the Rams we taking control of the game. Spygate is just an excuse. If the other side is sitting on your plays for whatever reason, change them.
Matt: Hey Jeff. Thanks for taking our questions today. Good to hear your input.
Concerning the Rams. Don't you think that it would be better to have a new owner come in and make changes? One that would make a clean sweep for the better. The front office seems to be dysfunctional, with so many "General Managers". Now we hire a guy to "run the draft", when we already have a "VP" filling that role, AND we're only 2 months away from the Draft taking place!
I would prefer a clean sweep, and start from scratch, rather then watch a high potent offense play well below their abilities for another year. If we are in a rebuilding year, then maybe we should rebuild from every aspect.
I personally would rather watch something new, then to sit through another year like last year. There seems to be a lack of respect and discipline in the organization, from top to bottom.
Jeff Gordon: Chip Rosenbloom IS the new owner and he is overseeing some change. The start-over you speak of likely wouldn't happen unless he told the team.
Don: Gordo--Do you think that the hiring of Billy Devaney was a good move? Does it signal a change in how things will be done, or will he be marginalized like Softi?
Jeff Gordon: He didn't come here to get marginalized. He came here to run a football operation. He doesn't appear to be an egomaniac, so he can do this with a spirit of cooperation.
steven: Who should the Rams aggressively pursue during free agency?
Al Saunders is a big fan of fast WR who can streach the field. Just look at the guys he had in Washington with Brandon Lloyd and Santana Moss. Both lines need some help or at least be able to stay healthy. Having Orlando Pace and Leonard Little out all sure season doesn't help anything.
Who do You think the Rams will take a look at?
Jeff Gordon: They DO want an impact receiver, one with speed. That could come in the second round or in free agency.
Steve A: It seems like the Rams picked a rough year to wind up with the 2nd overall pick. Chris Long is an interesting possibility, but he could be off the board. Every candidate for the spot has areas of concern or doesn't appear to be a great fit.
With the risk in paying all that guaranteed money, what are the chances the Rams trade out of the spot to some safer contracts and additional talent (even if it means not getting the full "point" pick value in return.) Some team has to have a little bit of interest in Dorsey, McFadden or one of the Longs right?
Jeff Gordon: Devaney said the Rams will decide what is the "dropoff pick" in this first round. And don't expect them to move lower than that. This draft could go a lot of ways for this team, but DE seems like the ideal route.
Dan in Dodge City, KS: Gordo, anything new on the Patsies and Belicheat and the taping of the Rams walk through before Super Bowl XXXVI? Will Goodell man-up and suspend this clown?
Jeff Gordon: Expect a wrist slap, at most.
Gabriel to Snow: I saw Marshall interview Holt in Hawaii a couple days ago & it left me concerned. I am heartened by the additions of Saunders & Devaney, but Holt gave me the impression that there is little respect for Linehan. I hope Scott is smart enough to revisit the issues that still concern our veterans in a way that will clear the air early in camp. I do believe they will give Scott support if he evolves as a leader, but that's a big if. How concerned are you Gordo?
On Devaney, I am aware of some of his past decisions & am cautiously optimistic. However, I don't recall any trades he worked. Do you know of any representative examples? And do you think his addition makes us more or less likely to trade out of the second slot?
Jeff Gordon: You don't build with trades. And the rare big deal (like the Faulk maneuver) often happens at the team president level. It's all drafting, with a mix of free agency.
As for Linehan, the Saunders addition fixing much of this. Al can win back the players.
Louis: Gordo, why does it seem that most St. Louis columnists are a little paranoid that the Rams organazation might move back to Southern Cal?
Even one of your earlier columns on how SoCal fans were a little off when it came to Georgia seemed a bit desperate.
Ram fans in SoCal didn't show up to the final games because upper management wasn't doing much with the team in upgrading and don't forget, they would not pay the greatest running back in history the money he deserved therefore had to trade him (for awful picks!)
We STILL support the team out here but the facts about Georgia (no disrespect) remain and had you witnessed it yourself ('88-'94), you would really know how frustating it is to see her say things about it being the "right" move. Carrol Rosenbloom would NEVER have done what she did.
Jeff Gordon: LA will get a team sooner or later. And Chip Rosenbloom is a LA guy. And the Rams stadium will be outdated sooner than later. If the Raiders can go back and forth, then so can the Rams.
Tacleberry: Is there any chance that the Rams look to make a free agency/draft aquisition for a "true" inside linebacker and move Witherspoon outside permanently?
Jeff Gordon: Haslett likes him inside, but if the right guy came available -- or if the team went to a 3-4 - his role could change.
Mike: It's great to see the Rams make some positive moves recently with the hiring of Saunders and Devaney. In the case of Devaney, did Shaw make this happen or did someone else (Zygmunt, Kroenke, Rosenbloom) make the call? If it wasn't Shaw, is it safe to say this organization is quickly moving in the direction of a significant power shift?
Jeff Gordon: Linehan admitted he needed help in this area and Shaw (and/or Zygmunt) agreed that it was a good idea. A good sign all the around that guys are willing to address shortcomings.
Ruben: Gordo, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. For this team to be a success in 2008, which free agents must the Rams target & sign? Do you think they will get any of your choices? Any word on the Bruce/Little situation? Are they both willing to restructure?
Jeff Gordon: Let's see the free-agent list first. It may not be as long as you think. Little's situation is interesting, because his contract is a big number. I look for Bruce and the Rams to work things out, now that Saunders is here.
George Hoffman: Gordo,
Normally I ask questions about the Cards but I think most of those have been answered about 80 times. So lets talk Rams. I have had a hard time falling in love with any team over the last couple of years. I think Fantasy Football has jaded me. I have thought about just sticking with the Rams or Chiefs as they are the hometown clubs but KC bothers me with Herm running a very boring show up their and STL just can't seem to get things going either. I guess my question to you is should I have reason to fall back in love with these teams or should I just start all over and pick some other team to spend my Sunday's with.
Your the best.
Jeff Gordon: The Rams will be better, although it's tough to say how much. Can't speak to the Chiefs scenario.
guy: Hi Jeff,
Just when we were hoping for less politics and more direction, the rams front office muddy the water again.
Softli appears to have done a good job with last seasons draft and will walk into another job. The back biting started 2 weeks into his job in STL and he is now a dead man walking.
Devaney may well be a good hire, but still doesn't get to have final say! Who does?
Just when there should be no where left to turn for the biggest problem - JZ - He hires another stooge
What is your opinion?
Jeff Gordon: Devaney isn't a stooge. He'll have plenty of clout. As for Softli, I assume he still has time to dazzle the new football czar. He would have to take a step back to stay here, but he didn't do much with the pro personnel anyway.
MFooks from J.C: What is the infatuation with Linehan? He came from a bad team and brought over his failure of players, so why do the Rams hold on to him?
Jeff Gordon: The new owner will determine the course of the franchise. And the new owner will have a year to size up the coach.
The Rams are doing things in the off season that should really make football fans smile around St.Louis. Primarily the hiring of Saunders as Offensive Coordinator. Yes this will revitalize the Rams dramatically. Perhaps put a little fear back in the NFC West. Give dedicated players like Sir Ike, Big Game Holt, Captain Bulger & the freight train known as Steven Jackson a reason to smile real big. Let's get an O-Line in there to give a guy like Bulger time to do what he does and keep our very tired defense off the field. We have some pieces to fill and I believe we are doing a fine job thus far.
You know, I wrote sometime ago about the comparisons between Coach Vermeil's record and Coach Linehan's in a three year span and was lambasted for it. I know Coach Vermeil is in a different league so to speak as far as coaching resumes go but I believe in giving a person a real chance to run a team. A coach has to have a chance to do what they do and fans gotta realize there will be some seasons where things don't go right. But the Coach is doing a fine job bending and stretching to achieve. The question is; what about that draft.
I believe DE is a must fill but a better depth at O-Line and some late pick receivers would do this team good. What do you think? And hey, I don't hold it against you guys for invoking the Vermeil/Linehan coaching record to this point-just realize who said it first.....LOL.
Jeff Gordon: Linehan is making adjustments, as Dick did. Good for him. But can he lead? He still has that to prove.
Rambo: Hi Jeff thanks for answering questions.
1. will the rams honor georgia frontiere with jersey patches or something else when the season begins again?
2. will the rams ever have a mascot like the other teams in the area?
3. do you think the blues can make the playoffs or will it be another year?
Jeff Gordon: The Blues are toast now.
The Rams had a mascot, the Ramster. What became of him? Who knows.
I don't know what the plans are to honor Georgia.
Saunders seems to favor the Martz offensive system, which tend to leave the QB unprotected, after the beating Bulger took last year, do you think his head will be in it? Will he have the confidence?
Jeff Gordon: Al knows he has to protect Marc -- because Marc was suffering from battered quarterback syndrome by the end of the year. If that doesn't get fixed, this team goes nowhere.
Jeff\San Jose: Jeff, you've mentioned this earlier- Why does the NFL "hate the Rams?"
I've heard Shaw is well-respected around the league for his business acumen. This seems contradictory.
Jeff Gordon: Goodell didn't want St. Louis to get a NFL team. The league begged Jacksonville to get back into the expansion race so St. Louis could get stiffed.
The NFL has done the franchise no favors since.
Sean: What do you think of adding Floyd Womack for guard, move Incognito to center and bring in Jordan Gross to play Right Tackle? Let Barron learn to play Left Tackle behind Pace to develop. If we can't get Gross get Max Starks to back up both tackle spots. Then we can concentrate on DE and WR in the draft.
1. DE/DT C. Long/V. Gohlston/G. Dorsey/S. Ellis
2. WR D. Avery/L. Hawkins
3. QB J. Johnson
4. FB O. Schmit
Jeff Gordon: I hate Richie at center. If he can't be aggressive, he can't play well. I can't see the team investing something in a tackle -- but unless Pace is suspect for next year, I can't see spending huge dollars on this.
That's it for today! Thanks!