RamFanInCA: Hi Jim,
Can you describe the mood and activity of the P-D sports department after Schefter reported that Jason Garrett was on a plane to St. Louis? Did you guys have a fleeting thought that you were being used and/or duped at all? A lot of fans were losing their minds! Especially after reading your "1 and 1a" story.
Jim Thomas: Yeah, last Friday wasn't a good day. You work your sources, you trust your instincts, and then comes a major curveball. But as it turned out, our reporting held. I don't get too caught up in getting things "first" or keep score on such things. And in today's day of instant reporting, being "late" on a story could mean 10 minutes.
But I will say this: If nothing else, the job search showed that if you're a Rams fans, looking for Rams news, your best source remains the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Stltoday.com.
During the Rams' job search we were the first to report:
_ That Winston Moss was getting the first interview.
_ Who the five finalists were.
_ That Haslett was out of the running.
_ And that Spagnuolo was the next head coach.
There are always a lot of rumors floating around on a story like this, and a lot of Internet reporters don't have the standards of reporting that we do _ they throw a lot of (bleep) on the wall. So I was proud of our reporting.
iscian: In an earlier forum someone asked you the trade value of TORRY HOLT. You stated possibly a late number 1. You really think a team would give a first round pick for HOLT. I was thinking a third (if that) Most teams will probably wait to see if RAMS release HOLT (if Holt does not fit into their plans)
Jim Thomas: A late 1 would be the most optimistic assessment. I realize that a second or third is probably more realistic. But if you're a contending team, like say, a Tennessee, and you needed a proven WR to get you over the top immediately, why wouldn't send a late No. 1 to Stl for Torry?
gabriel: hows it going jim i just wanted to know if you have any idea how spags or Devaney feels about trading down? Also from what you know are the new offensive and defensive coordinators vocal guys you know hard nosed kick your butt if you dont give them all you got on the field type of guys
thx for your time man you do a good job
Jim Thomas: Don't know about Spags, but Devaney _ like most GMs, I would guess _ is always open to trading down. (Or up.) Obviously, it's got to be something that makes sense, and there's got to be someone there at No. 2 that other teams covet.
Not sure on the personalities of the new coordinators, although I here Flajole is on the fiery side.
Rams fan from New Orleans: Hey Jim,
I was wondering if Spagnuolo has hinted whether or not the Rams would be holding camp this summer in St Louis, or if theyd take it elsewhere like linehan did?
Jim Thomas: No hints yet.
Nicholas Lynch: Although it is early in their carriers, do you think new head coach Spagnuolo can get Carriker and Long to the All-Pro level or will they just become solid defensive players? They don't seem to have the explosion off the line as the NY Giants defensive line players.
Jim Thomas: Well, Justin Tuck sure developed in his two years with Spags. Although I don't know how much that's due to Spags or the d-line coach.
Do you ever take a day off?
Did Spags spend any time scouting players at the Senior Bowl practices? Seems like he made the trip just to interview coaches.
Jim Thomas: Me? I'll get about a week's down time after the Super Bowl. And I always take a late spring, early summer hiatus.
Spags did not even see the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. He was in his hotel room the whole time working on the staff. Devaney made it out to the practice field on Thursday morning. But the Rams scouts, plus McCutcheon and Tony Softli were at all the workouts, and interviewed loads of players in the evening. All the practices are on tape when Spags has time to play catch-up.
Joey Huntington: What do you think the chances are of the Rams drafting playmaker Michael Crabtree with the #2 overall?
Jim Thomas: I don't think that's out of the realm of possibility if the Rams come up with an OT in free agency.
FLRamFan: Hi Jim, I'm confused. First off, I read where Coach Spags said he wanted to develop a power running game to utilize Steven Jackson...makes sense. Then you wrote that because Pat Shurmur is the new OC, "Itís also clear that the West Coast offense probably is headed to St. Louis." What's up with that? The principal feature of the West Coast Offense focuses on throwing short passes in the early portion of the game. The goal being to advance the ball three to four yards at a time to make first downs slowly, and by doing so, exhaust the opposing teamís defense. Basically, the running game is not utilized until late in the game. I don't think they can do both.
Jim Thomas: Well, there are different strains of the West Coast. And you can still run the football and use a controlled passing game. But I do see where it might sound confusing. We'll have to see how this fleshes out in the coming weeks and months.
Tony: Please Jim, can we Rams fans get some sort of update on the upgrades to the Dome? We've all "heard" what is planned, but we want to "see" what is planned. Renderings, photos, sketches... SOMETHING! There must be someone in the Rams organization that knows what's going on. Releasing some updated information would only create more buzz!
Jim Thomas: Tony, You know I wrote about the changes a few weeks ago. (New scoreboard, etc.) But I don't think any sketches, drawings, etc. existed at that time because they bids were still out.
bfulton: Now that the Rams have hired another passing guru (former QB coach of pass happy Eagles), can a Martzian like me claim victory and we all forget about a run-heavy offense coming to the Rams?
Jim Thomas: I still get the impression these guys are going to try to pound the football, but we'll see.
mctyboy35: Last one Jim...
I know you've been covering the Senior Bowl. Keeping our priorities in mind. Which few players have been standing out to you personally? Which ones do you think fit the mold of a Spagnuolo led team?
Jim Thomas: You know I spent as much time tracking down coaching staff possibilities as watching practice. But a few observations: Cushing from USC may end up being a better all-around LB than Maualuga. Cushing moves very well and looks like he has some pass rush skills.
The quarterback class at the Senior Bowl wasn't very impressive. Widely varying views on Pat White. The Sam Houston St. guy (Bomar) has impressed some scouts. Overall, the entire skill position set isn't all that impressive at the Senior Bowl.
There seem to be a variety of centers, with pretty good size and pedigrees. Talked some with Alex Mack on Wednesday, the Cal center. He's an impressive guy. LB Clint Sintim (Virginia) and LB/DE Larry English (Northern Illinois) also flashed. Boston College's B.J. Raji is a beast.
jkgeorge: Hi Jim,
I am sure you have noticed all of the hype surrounding the hiring of Rex Ryan with the Jets. Poor Spagnoulo could'nt even get his whole news conference broadcast on NFL network, I hope this flying under the radar continues and everyone discounts our team and our coach as we move forward.
My question, has Spags contacted the team as a whole? Or has it been done individually? If not any idea when they will meet as a team for the first time under him.
Thanks for doing what you do....We fans appreciate you and your efforts.
Jim Thomas: There were a handful of players at the press conference. I don't think Spagnuolo has had time to contact any players as of yet. For example, as of about Tuesday of this week, Jackson had not heard from him.
J Smith: Hi Jim. I have a two parter this week -- both concern free agency.
1) What players to you think the Rams will target in free agency?
2) Any chance that Darren Sproles is one and would we have any kind of shot at getting him?
Jim Thomas: 1.) Remains to be seen, particularly with a new staff in place.
2.) Under the old regime (Haslett), I think they were hoping for a big back. Don't know on Spags.
I'm a long time reader, first time questioner (real word?).
Anyway my question is with our coordinators and head coach now in place, what are the options in free agency from their former teams that might be lured here to work with their old coaches? Also, will we be looking at running a west coast offense now?
Jim Thomas: I listed the NY Giants' free agents in an earlier post. Here are the Carolina free agents: (Again, this is an unofficial list and I may have missed one or two.)
DE Julius Peppers
DT Gary Gibson
DT Darwin Walker
OG Geoff Hangartner
Long Snapper Jason Kyle
OLB James Anderson
OLB Donte Curry
OLB Adam Seward
OT Jordan Gross
S Nate Salley
TE Jeff King
WR Mark Jones
Salley and King are restricted free agents; all the rest are unrestricted.
CALI Rams: Any word on whether or not Coach Ellard will remain with the offense?
Jim Thomas: Haven't spoken with Henry since Wednesday. He was scheduled to interview with the Jets on Thursday.
Ram-Man: Hey Jim,
Just a quick question. Any word on if Dana LeDuc got his walking papers? I was really hoping that Spags gets a quality S&C Coach. I am not saying that the previous injuries was entirely LeDuc's fault. But I am sure better conditioning would prevent some of them. Mike Woicik S&C Coach for the Patriots conducts a year-round conditioning program has proven to be a significant factor in the Patriot's success.
Jim Thomas: Nothing official, but I was told Dana was clearing out his desk Thursday and saying good bye to everyone.
hardnose37: Hey Jim, Buy or Sell?
1. trade Holt for whatever pick he would be worth in the draft.
2. take a tackle 1st round after trading down for an additional pick.
3. search under the carpet and find some extra change to sign a proven DE in free agancy
4. Hire Pacman for the pennies that he's worth. I think that he will be dominant in the NFC West.
5. Wide receiver 2nd round, linebackers in the 3rd and fourth rounds. (Are we ever going to get a fullback to block for Steven?)
6. Keep Barron and hopefully find a way to tap into his potential. I'm sure that he realizes that his stock has fallen dramatically in the NFL.
And last but not least 7.Bring our team into the next season HEALTHY! Do you have the phone number to contact the 'Football Gods'? Thanks for your time!
Jim Thomas: 1.) I'd keep Holt.
2.) Like the concept; just don't trade down too far; and there's got to be someone else at No. 2 that somebody wants to trade up for.
3.) I think there are greater needs elsewhere this offseason.
4.) No way, Jose.
5.) If you keep Holt, I'd go LB in the second round.
6.) At this point, I think Barron is what he is.
7.) The injury total was just about as bad this year as last, although we didn't write as much about it.
Sam: Friday! Well, I was going to ask about coordinators (on Tuesday), but obviously that's been resovled! So... any word from the new staff so far about draft day? Looking at the best OT available? Or something a little different? How about free agents? Thanks for your time!
Jim Thomas: Yeah, sorry I had to push this back to Friday because I was down at the Senior Bowl. And because of the setup down there _ two practices and lots of hotel lobby watching _ there really wasn't a good time to chat on Tuesday.
I really don't have any kind of feel yet from Spagnuolo about the draft or free agency. He's spending just about all of his waking hours putting together his staff.
GO OU Stanley Felingzerter: Hi Jim,
Bigger disappointment: Linehan era or Chase Daniel? What a dud he threw out at the east west game. I know some people thought he was a first day pick, but I think he may have just cemented himself in Mr. Vabora's shoes for next year. Thoughts on the future of Mr. Miz-who?
p.s. Was Maclin the only good player on that team? Every time I hear about a Missouri player in an all star game it usually gets a review like this:
William Moore/S/Missouri: Moore has been labeled as a run defending safety with poor coverage skills and did nothing to shake that reputation on Monday. He struggled moving laterally and at one point was left lying on the ground after attempting to cover a receiver from the North squad.
I'd call it embarassing, but being a Missouri alum has probably more than prepared them for this.
Jim Thomas: Daniel really has to show something at the Combine and at Mizzou's pro day. Lots of people still like Moore. I think, at worst, he's a second-round pick. And if he works out well at the combine his stock will start rising.
peter australia: Jim,
Do you see the rams chasing or drafting a true fullback. This would help steven jackson and in turn help the rams offence ?
also do you think Bulger is able to return his pro bowl standard or is he on the down slide?
Jim Thomas: They've got to get a true fullback. There are some good ones available in free agency, including Terrelle Smith, Leonard Weaver, Tony Richardson and Lorenzo Neal. (Although Neal could be near the end.)
I do think Bulger can return to his Pro Bowl standard, with better help around him, and some better decision-making.
steve arrington: Is it true that Garrett was the real first choice but was priced to high and that Shaw actually pulled the trigger on Spags...sounds like samo samo
Jim Thomas: Not true from what I was told.
dominic: Hey Jim:
1)I do not want Drew Bennett on our team,so if we cant cut him,why not a paycut? Hes not going to make 2 million a year on the open market after a paycut,agree?
2)If we can sign two name free agents,Id like linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety James Butler.Who would you like?
3)Any word on who will be the capologist and negotiator of contracts?
Jim Thomas: 1.) Bennett's contract situation may make him unlikely to be cut this year.
2.) If I could sign two free agents? I'd take Jordan Gross and Derrick Ward.
signed s. j.: Jim, Who was in charge of Steve Spags contract negotiation,and who will be in charge of the players(fa & dp's).We know Billy D made his recommandation for Spags,and the group agreed with the decision.During this week who said how much the new coaching staff makes.
Thanks for your time !!
Jim Thomas: John Shaw, I'm told, handled the Spagnuolo negotiations. As for players, at the moment, there is no one negotiating on upcoming free agents at the moment. For example, the agents for Atogwe and Bartell have heard from Billy Devaney that the Rams want to sign them, but that's it. I think as soon as the coaching staff gets hired, the next task will be deciding on who's going to sign players to contracts.
beast39: Hey Jim,
Since you are at the senior bowl, just wondering what you thought about Rey Maualuga. I know he is strong and a great tackler, but some people question if he can stay on the field for three downs and his pass coverage. With Spags on board, drafting a defensive player seems like a possibility know.
Jim Thomas: That's exactly the question with Maualuga _ can he play well enough in coverage to be an every down player? As good as Maualuga is as a run defender, you can't take a guy at No. 2 overall if he's not going to be on the field in passing situations. One scout told me that he thought Maualuga was a little heavy at the Senior Bowl, so his weight may be a concern for some.
vanvaley1: I want an "Apocalspe Now" defense. Is the new coach going to concentrate on fixing one side of the ball first and patching up an offensive line to try an establish a ground control game and fix the rest later or is he planning on trying to fix both sides of the ball at the same time?
Jim Thomas: Don't know. We'll find out.
John in San Antonio: Jim,
I would first like to thank you (and others) for keeping us abreast of the hiring of a new head coach. I am extremely pleased with the hire of Spaguolo. We actually have real football guys with ample experience leading the team. I am eagerly awaiting to hear who Spanuolo hires as his assistant coaches. It gives Rams' fans hope -- something in short supply the last few seasons. So, I am extremely optimistic that the process is headed in the right direction, and it may take a few years for the Rams to be a playoff team. But, I ask you this question: In addition to no head coaching experience, what are the weaknesses of hiring Spagnuolo? Thank you for taking my question.
John in San Antonio
Jim Thomas: Well, with any coordinator or assistant, you just don't know for sure until they take over as a head coach. Sometimes their personalties change? How do they deal with criticism, and the constant media scrutiny? How do they react under pressure at game time? And how do they lead men? Although the reviews are good on the Spagnuolo hire, there's a lot of unknowns that we'll only begin to know through time.
Tim: Do you think Spags will be able to lure Ward and Butler from New York? If were going to be a run based team Ward and Jackson are a pretty good Tandom in the backfield if you can get about 15-18 carries out of both of them in a game. And butler is a solid saftey to replace chavous.
Jim Thomas: But if you're Derrick Ward and you have a chance to go somewhere and be the man, you know, be a clear No. 1 feature back, why would you come to St. Louis where at best, you'd have to share time with Jackson? I do think Butler is an ascending player who you could team with Atogwe.
Tim: Round 1: Michael Crabtree
Round 2: Alex Mack
Round 3: Graham Harrell
Im all aboard the Crabtree bandwagon There isnt a Franchise LT in the Draft I think we should address OT in FA. Crabtree is a Franchise building block. The other 2 are great picks for a developing offense
Jim Thomas: I'm not sure at this point if there's a LT worth the No. 2 overall pick, but I think three LTs could go in the top 10. You've got to have the blockers.
Jumbo J: Jeff Gordon said we would focus on 2nd tier FA's. I believe all except for Peppers fits that description. Any chance we sign any of these guys as FA prospects?
Malcolm Floyd WR
Derrick Ward RB
James Butler SS
Dawan Landry SS
Channing Crowder ILB
Julius Peppers DE
Jim Thomas: I'd be all for Ward and Butler right now. I wouldn't call Ward a second-tier guy, either. Not the way he played this season. But with a new coach and a new staff, it's hard to project where they'll go in free agency.
DJB-LK: Hi! Just wondering if you know of any Giant's D that are free agent's? Enjoy your chat's. Thank's OZARK DON
Jim Thomas: Here's an unofficial list of NY Giants free agents. I may have missed one or two.
CB Kevin Dockery--RFA
--RFA is restricted free agent; UFA is unrestricted free agent.
smackuprams: chip and company did a good job on the hc...i like the pick....whats the chances chip decides,this is kinda fun,maybe i'll keep the team....just wondering.......go hard to the new rams team.....
Jim Thomas: I think that's a possibility, particularly if the team starts winning more games and Devaney does a good job as GM. There certainly is a family tug, dating back to his father Carroll, to have an NFL team. On the other hand, Chip's passion clearly is making movies.
Any word on Torry Holt's situation? Will he be back next year?
Also, any chance the Rams could get Madison Hedgecock back here in the near future, seeing as how Spags is the new coach and the rams need a fullback?
Jim Thomas: Nothing new on Holt.
Hedgecock is under contract, I believe, for three or four more years in New York, so I don't see him coming here. With that I've got to go. I'm sorry I didn't get to more questions today. There were a ton of them, too.
I will be back at the usual Tuesday time next week, 1 p.m.