Inside Slant At first, it appeared Rams president John Shaw would be concentrating solely on coaches with a defensive background as he searched for a successor to Mike Martz.
That seemed to make sense, considering the problems the Rams experienced on defense the last two seasons. However, as Shaw sifted through the candidates, he felt it important not to overlook a qualified coach whose background was on offense.
In the big picture view, Shaw's shift was logical. There are often better coaches available that can become good defensive coordinators. However, finding an offensive coordinator seems more difficult, especially in the Rams' situation where the offense still has a strong foundation.
While three of the first four coaches interviews by Shaw and president of football operations Jay Zygmunt were defensive coaches - Mike Zimmer, Ron Rivera and Tim Lewis - also interviewed was Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. The Rams also had Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt on their radar. Fresno State head coach Pat Hill, expected to be interviewed, also has a background in offense.
Shaw and Zygmunt have a reported interest in fired Raiders coach Norv Turner as offensive coordinator and have apparently talked with the defensive candidates about him. Turner coached with the Rams from 1985-90.
They could also pursue Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, who was with the Rams from 2000-2002. Both Turner and Zampese have been schooled in the current offensive system that has been used by the Rams under Mike Martz.
As the interviews proceeded, Shaw did put to rest speculation that the Rams were talking to Tennessee about extricating Titans coach Jeff Fisher from the last two years on his contract.
"I don't know where this is coming from," Shaw said. "We have expressed no interest to Tennessee about interviewing him."
—The Rams organization suffered a blow Jan. 9 when broadcaster Jack Snow died from complications from a staph infection.
Snow played 11 seasons for the Rams as a wide receiver and moved to St. Louis to continue doing radio broadcasts of the games when the Rams came to the Midwest in 1995.
He still served a quasi-coach, attending practices and often offering pointers to the team's receivers.
Said wide receiver Isaac Bruce, "First of all, I'm glad to have known Jack for the 12 years that I have. I think Jack inspired me in many ways. When I passed his receiving record here, (former receivers) coach (Al) Saunders did a great thing as far as making up a ball for Mr. Snow, and getting it all painted up. We all signed it and gave it over to Jack. So I think that shows how big Jack is and was around this building and this organization.
"He will truly be missed. I'll miss seeing him in training camps, just around the building, running into him. He always was gracious and always supportive. He was always supportive of the Rams. He is definitely a fixture in the Rams organization forever. His picture is up everywhere around here. We're going to miss him."
On the legacy that Snow left, interim coach Joe Vitt said, "He has spent his entire life being a member of this organization. He spent his whole life being a member of the National Football League. I thought that he really felt that it was his responsibility to teach the young guys what their role is now in the National Football League, that they are now a role model for the youth. Now it's their turn. It's their turn to carry the torch. I think anybody that comes into the National Football League, it's up to us to teach our young players who paved the way for them, and Jack Snow was one of those guys."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We settled all our contract issues with Mike and wish him the best of luck in the future." - Rams president John Shaw on a settlement with former coach Mike Martz over the last year of his contract worth $3.25 million. The settlement is reported to about slightly more than half of what he was owed.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
COACHING CAROUSEL: The club is close to completing its first round of interviews, and it is unclear whether they will then proceed with second interviews or go to their next group of candidates.
Interviewed were Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and Dolphins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Scheduled for interviews were Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Fresno State coach Pat Hill.
Meanwhile, former head coach Mike Martz was to talk to the Saints Friday, while interim coach Joe Vitt has drawn interest from the Jets.
FREE AGENT UPDATE
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
—SS Adam Archuleta (regressed last two years because of back injury and concussions. There is a feeling Archuleta will move on)
—P Bryan Barker (gave the Rams solid punting after rookie Reggie Hodges failed. They should re-sign him)
—RB Aveion Cason (was active for just two games, but looked good in season finale against Dallas. Might be re-signed)
—CB Terry Fair (ended season on injured reserve with neck injury. He wants to keep playing, but it probably won't be in St. Louis)
—CB Corey Ivy (only lack of size keeps him from being an excellent player, but he is fundamentally sound and good on special teams. Should be re-signed)
—DE Tyoka Jackson (not a lot of years left, but he provides good veteran leadership)
—DT Damione Lewis (hasn't lived up to being the 12th overall pick in the draft, but he's still solid. Could be re-signed at a reasonable rate)
—QB Jamie Martin (much will depend on the new coach, but there aren't a lot of veteran backups better)
—LS Chris Massey (Rams should pay the going rate for top snappers; he hasn't a bad snap in three seasons)
—G Tom Nutten (will probably retire, for good this time)
—NT Ryan Pickett (will be expensive, but he does his job consistently. If Pickett leaves, somehow he'll have to be replaced)
—OL Rex Tucker (could be back for depth)
—TE Roland Williams (missed most of season with knee injury, and his return is unlikely)
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
—WR Kevin Curtis (a keeper that Rams must decide whether to place tender on him that would bring first-round pick as compensation).
—S Mike Furrey (became a play-maker after switch from wide receiver, but needs lots of work on tackling).
—DE Brandon Green (high-motor guy that is good for depth).
—CB DeJuan Groce (solid corner that doesn't offer a lot in run support).
—RB Arlen Harris (decent backup and tough player that warrants a look from new coach).
—CB Chris Johnson (very raw, but shows flashes of ability).
—WR Shaun McDonald (tough for his size, and should have continued role in passing offense).
FEELING A DRAFT: The Rams will pick 11th in the first round, and it's hard to imagine selecting anything but the best linebacker or defensive back available. Safety is a top priority, especially if Archuleta isn't re-signed.
MEDICAL WATCH: DE Leonard Little will have bone spurs removed from his ankle. ... DT Jimmy Kennedy is likely facing hernia surgery.