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The Rams were on the NFL network's 32 in 32 last night. After watching this, I have nothing but hope for this season. I don't want to go out on a limb saying we will take the division, but with the shesquawks getting caught violating the CBA and losing two OTA's, the Cards not having the pieces in place, and the whiners being overconfident, we have a great chance of shocking the entire NFL this season. The way our players talk about Fisher and the confidence Fisher has in our guys is infectious.
Last night after I watched this, I watched the 2006 Rams/Broncos game (Rams won 18-10). We dont have anyone left but Jackson from that game, and he has gotten SO much better in the last 5 years.
Last edited by RamsFanSam; -06-06-2012 at 10:52 AM.
Re: Pumped up!
Astonishingly, (to me at the time) Silent Stan came through and landed the big Fish. In hindsight, it really wasn't so astonishing after all. But at the time I was thoroughly steeped in the culture of losing, and even hoping seemed extravagant.
Next came the draft, and once again I felt the same sinking feeling when the Jags traded up and took Blackmon. A few days after the draft, the "sinking feeling" faded and optimism began to take root. It began to sink in that we really had a head coach who had participated in quite a few drafts, one that had a chance to choose his GM. How rare is that? We had an owner who understood the wisdom of not meddling, instead giving Jeff the autonomy he needed to build a team according to the knowledge he's acquired over his many years as an NFL head coach.
Our draft is beginning to look better and better to me all the time. Sure, we haven't played a down yet, but the more I look at it, the better I like it. No Brian Leonards, no Trung candidates, etc. Sure we took a couple of guys with character concerns, but we didn't reach for them - we drafted them in rounds 2 & 3 respectively using two of the basket full of extra picks we'd acquired by trading down.
So .. I am pumped too! I am even daring to believe we could be truly competitive this year. If we can catch a bit of luck and stay healthy, who knows how good we may be? We just might be the team no one wants to play during the second half of the 2012 season ..
Re: Pumped up!
This off season has been great! From Kroenke taking charge to draft day and our war room!
It's hard to know the exact moment when Stan Kroenke began to envision how much different things would be once he took control of the St. Louis Rams.
17 months after he assumed official majority control of the Rams, Kroenke emphatically seized symbolic control of the helm with a rather powerful move. This was not a tweak, this was a seismic total renovation, firing both general manager Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo before immediately going about the significant task of reshaping the Rams into his own very specific image.
He is an ardent devotee of Bill Belichick and the way Darth Patriot has crafted New England into the NFL's signature championship organization. And if you want to know what the Kroenke Way is going to look like at Rams Park, you'd be wise to go read a wonderful book by former Boston Globe columnist Michael Holley called "War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team."
Kroenke referenced the book repeatedly.
"When you read the book, it describes a wonderful (business culture)," Kroenke said. "I felt very comfortable when I read the book when (Holley) talked about a guy like Belichick. He had a plan. (The Patriots) have a way of operating up there that wasn't dissimilar to the way we run the (Denver Nuggets). At the end of the day, everyone knew Belichick was kind of The Guy, but the owner still had his input."
What did Kroenke glean from studying Belichick and the Patriots?
First and foremost, someone must hold final authority and be the undisputed man everyone knows is in charge of things. In the new Rams Way, Kroenke promises there will be no gray areas, no uncertainties about accountability, no vagueness about who is setting the overall organizational tone or the philosophy of how everything will be done around here.
What does that mean? If you follow the Patriots' model, it means a lot more than the coach being the coach. If the head coach is a veteran with a proven track record — and Kroenke thinks he is the one most qualified to set the tone for how the organization will be run — he will be given that authority. But he won't be dominating the war room, pretending to be a personnel expert.
Insert Les Snead here
"When you look at that book," said Kroenke, "those guys all work so well together. That's what I'm into
Draft Day 2012
Fisher, flanked by chief operating officer Kevin Demoff to his left and rookie general manager Les Snead to his right while sitting at a table in the Rams' war room Thursday night, was riding an emotional roller coaster in his first draft with the franchise. Earlier, he'd hopefully embraced scenarios that would have allowed the team to select Alabama halfback Trent Richardson (a home run) or Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon (the next-best thing) with the sixth overall pick, only to lose out on both.
Fisher, Snead and Demoff had engineered a dramatic, on-the-clock trade with the Dallas Cowboys which landed the Rams a third pick in Friday's second round. Now, with the 14th pick that once belonged to the Cowboys, Fisher desperately wanted to draft the man he'd happily have selected eight picks earlier had there been no trade option: LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Only the Cardinals, the Rams' NFC West rivals, stood in St. Louis' way. Would Arizona take Brockers? Would another suitor swing a trade with the Cards to nab the interior lineman, as the Jacksonville Jaguars had in landing Blackmon with the fifth pick?
Snead, relentlessly working his mental Rolodex of NFL front-office contacts, was chatting up one team's GM on the land line in front of him while reading text messages on his mobile phone. Finally, with the clock ticking, Snead got the information he'd been seeking.
"They're going offense," Snead said of Arizona. "We're good."
Snead and Fisher bumped fists and exhaled in unison. Demoff, sipping from one of the three Diet Mountain Dew cans in his vicinity, let out a small grin.
Fisher stood up and turned to face three dozen people behind him, a collection of scouts, assistant coaches and other team employees. For a few seconds, the room was hushed.
"It's fourth-and-10," the coach finally said, "and we just got a first down, baby!"
The war room erupted. There were high-fives all around.
"Any questions, concerns about this pick?" Fisher asked.
A few people said, "No," while others shook their heads side-to-side.
"That was sweet," Fisher said. "Let's turn in the card."
More than two hours later, Fisher and Snead were still celebrating the outcome of their first draft together – and looking ahead excitedly to Friday night. With the Rams back on the clock as owners of the first pick of the second round, and owners of four of Friday's first 33 selections (33rd, 39th, 45th and 65th overall), the coach and GM believe they can come away with a slew of reinforcements for their talent-deficient roster – and, perhaps, deal down for additional picks from teams seeking to move up to the top of the second round.
Given that the Rams made the draft's biggest blockbuster deal more than a month ago, trading the No. 2 overall selection – which the Redskins used to select quarterback Robert Griffin III Thursday night – for Washington's first-round picks in 2012, '13 and '14 and its second-round selection this year, there might as well be an "Open For Business" sign outside the war room.
There's a detailed draft board that, near its upper portions, still has some enticing players available for Friday. Given that Fisher and Snead went into Thursday's first round high on the potential of numerous players they felt were likely to be available in the first half of the second round – and with clear needs at, among other positions, receiver, running back, linebacker and cornerback – picking up an additional second-round selection was a clear goal.
Yet the Rams would have been far less motivated to trade that sixth overall pick had Richardson or Blackmon been available. Despite the presence of three-time Pro Bowl halfback Steven Jackson on the roster, Fisher and Snead viewed Richardson as a potential star with rare talent and would have celebrated had he slipped to six.
At one point Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the draft began, Fisher emerged from his office at Rams Park thinking such a scenario might play out. Following the inevitable selections of Andrew Luck (Colts) and Griffin (Redskins), he believed after talking to various league sources that the Vikings would take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the third pick, and the Browns would follow by selecting Blackmon. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he felt, would trade out of the fifth pick for a team seeking USC tackle Matt Kalil, leaving Richardson for the Rams.
That blew up when it was reported the Browns had traded up to swap picks with the Vikings – with the intention of taking Richardson. Blackmon, one of numerous receivers for whom the Rams staged private workouts the previous weekend, was now the best hope at No. 6.
After Cleveland took Richardson off the board, the Vikings followed by selecting Kalil, and there were fist pumps in the war room. The Rams had no interest in Kalil and were now one pick away from landing Blackmon, who'd immediately have become the most potent weapon for third-year quarterback Sam Bradford.
The Bucs, Fisher and Snead believed, weren't likely to select Blackmon. When the Rams' IT director, Bill Consoli, announced that the Jags had traded up for the fifth pick (information that was revealed in the war room minutes before television viewers received the news, as Consoli was communicating with counterparts from the league's 31 other franchises), Fisher slammed his eyeglasses onto the table and uttered a one-syllable expletive.
It didn't take long before he rebounded emotionally, conferring with Snead and Demoff about the team's options.
That morning, the coach and general manager had pulled out game tapes on the three men they were considering selecting with the sixth pick if Richardson and Blackmon were off the board: Brockers, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Claiborne.
First, they'd made the philosophical decision to go with a defensive tackle over the draft's top-rated cornerback. Then, impressed by Brockers' power and relentlessness, they had reversed their earlier thought process and elevated him over Cox.
Now, they had a decision to make: Brockers, Fisher and Snead believed, might stay on the board for the next several picks, perhaps even longer. The decision was made to seek a trade, and the coach and GM each picked up the phone and tried to make it happen.
Seconds later, Demoff fielded a call from Cowboys general manager Stephen Jones, who wanted to trade up to draft Claiborne. "How are you, Stephen," Demoff said. "We're interested in doing something."
Demoff had laid the groundwork for such a discussion six hours earlier, dialing Jones and telling him, "If you want to trade up to 6, consider us. We'll be reasonable. We already got such a great deal from the Redskins [in the Griffin trade] that we won't try to screw you guys."
Now, with the Rams on the clock, Jones told Demoff he'd make the deal for Dallas' first- and second-round selections: 14th and 45th overall. The Rams' COO hung up and briefly discussed the trade with Fisher and Snead, reviewing a value chart assigning points to specific picks. Then he called Jones back and said, "Stephen, it's Kevin. Would you throw in your five? … Come on. … What will you throw in as a cherry on top?"
Um … nothing.
Demoff laughed. "Alright," he said, "we'll call you right back."
Demoff redialed Jones a minute later and told him he had a deal, making a joke about how, by trading away their second-rounder, the Cowboys were mitigating the pain of the $10 million salary-cap penalty imposed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Rams were halfway through their allotted 10 minutes and, after Demoff called in the trade to an NFL official in New York City, Fisher pumped both fists.
Before the trade was announced on ESPN or the NFL Network, Demoff had already fielded a congratulatory call from Eagles general manager Howie Roseman.
To make the deal a true success, Brockers had to stay on the board – and, thus, the sweating commenced. The Chiefs' selection of Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe (who the Rams had rated below Brockers and Cox) with the 11th pick didn't contribute to the stress, but when the Eagles selected Cox one pick later, the war room got very quiet.
Had Brockers come off the board next, the Rams would have tried to trade down further in the first round or, failing that, chosen between Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff or Stanford guard David DeCastro.
Instead, they got their man, setting off a celebration that intensified when defensive line coach Mike Waufle exultantly entered the room and gained energy after Fisher dialed up Brockers to give him the news, saying, "Michael, how's it going? Here we go. You ready to rock? Coach Waufle's jumping up and down right now …"
Mike Waufle, who spent the 2010 and '11 seasons as the Raiders' defensive line coach, had fought hard for Brockers, who he viewed as an interior pass rusher with skills similar to those of Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.
"He's a mean [expletive]," Waufle announced shortly after entering the war room, drawing laughs from everyone. "That's a good thing. That's a good thing!"
Waufle then spied the lone woman in the room, scouting assistant Debbie Pollom, and said, "Oh, hey Debbie. I'm sorry. I speak Italian."
Pollom laughed, and Waufle kept right on talking up his new tackle.
"We just got better," Waufle said. "And we just got a lot bigger. He's 21, and he looks 32. You think he's gonna be intimidated walking into the Edward Jones Dome, after playing at LSU? No chance.
"They say he's not much of a pass rusher, but we'll teach him to pass rush. Tommy Kelly wasn't either, at one time, and we taught him how to power rush. The last two years he's had more sacks [14 ½] than any defensive tackle in the league, and this kid will do the same. Tommy's tough, but this guy's nasty."
On the big-screen televisions behind Waufle, Brockers strode to the podium. When NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said to former ***** and Lions coach Steve Mariucci, "Mooch, he's not much of a pass rusher," Waufle sneered, "Yeah – we'll see."
After Fisher back-slapped Waufle, telling him, "Merry Christmas," the head coach headed downstairs to address the media gathered in the team's press room. Demoff, who'd consume five Diet Mountain Dews by round's end ["That's nothing," he said. "Last year I went through 36 over the three days … I'm getting better …"), reviewed the events of the past several hours and said, "Sometimes things just work out."
For Fisher, who spent 16 seasons with the Tennessee Titans' organization before sitting out the 2011 campaign, and Snead, the general manager he handpicked after an exhaustive search that ended shortly after Super Bowl XLVI in February, Thursday was a successful beginning to what they believe will be a fabulous partnership.
"That's a solid start," Snead told the coach as they shook hands following Brockers' selection, and the two men were still revved up and going strong long after midnight as they reviewed the various scenarios for what should be a highly eventful Friday.
As he prepared to leave the office to catch a few hours of sleep, Fisher sat back in his chair, sipped an ice water and told Demoff, "I don't know how these things went before I got here, but that was really good."
Demoff nodded. "Very calm," he said. "Very smooth. And very cool."
Fisher smiled. "Just the way we like it," he said. "And tomorrow's gonna be a whole lot of fun."
Day two of the War room:
ST. LOUIS – When the moment of truth arrived Friday night, and Jeff Fisher was about to make a draft pick he knew would be criticized by outsiders, the man in charge of the St. Louis Rams' war room stood up to do a little coaching.
Addressing the three-dozen or so executives, scouts, assistant coaches and other team officials – and team owner Stan Kroenke, the man who'd hired him to turn around his flailing franchise three months earlier – Fisher turned away from the team's massive draft board and spoke to the hushed masses.
OK, there's some controversy about this pick, as you know," the veteran head coach said shortly before officially submitting the Rams' second of three second-round picks in the 2012 NFL draft, the 39th overall selection. "He is very talented, and he can help us. So we're all on the same page, right?"
The answer was a resounding "Yes!"
Smitten with the obvious ability of former North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, a player still on the board because of well-documented character concerns, the people in the Rams' war room welcomed the move. The fact that Fisher, coming off a one-year hiatus after a 16-year stint as head coach of the Tennessee Titans' organization, exudes confidence and poise at every turn did a lot to put their minds at ease.
"This is part of the philosophy I've talked about – build, develop, coach," interjected Les Snead, Fisher's handpicked rookie general manager. "So everybody in this room who touches this player is going to be part of making him successful. He will be successful."
There were more cheers before Fisher added, with an air of finality, "He is a football player. And he is a Ram."
And with a hearty round of applause, a night that began with the surprising selection of off-the-radar former Appalachian State wideout Brian Quick got even more intriguing. By night's end the Rams, who'd already bolstered their roster Thursday night by taking former LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the 14th overall pick, had added a third second-rounder, elusive Cincinnati halfback Isaiah Pead, and picked up yet another talented small-school cornerback, Montana's Trumaine Johnson, with the second pick of the third round.
Having acquired a fifth-round selection by trading down with the Chicago Bears before choosing Pead with the 50th overall pick, the Rams will have a chance to make some more noise when the draft concludes Saturday. St. Louis is already on the clock with the first pick of the fourth round (96th overall) and has five selections remaining.
Whatever happens on the draft's final day, Fisher is already thrilled with what transpired in the first three rounds.
"We got some players," he said late Friday night as he stood outside his office at Rams Park. "You can't fill every hole, but you can go out and aggressively look for guys who can improve your team, and we did that every chance we could. Now it's up to us to coach 'em. That's the fun part."
Like most of their counterparts in other NFL organizations, Fisher and Snead had some concerns about Jenkins, who was arrested twice for marijuana possession before being kicked off the Florida football team, landing at North Alabama for the 2011 season. He has four children with three women, and weeks earlier Fisher had dispatched a team official to Jenkins' hometown of Pahokee, Fla., to conduct interviews and investigate his background.
Yet Fisher, Snead and their scouts considered Jenkins to be the most talented corner in the draft – even more skilled than LSU's Morris Claiborne, who the Cowboys selected after trading up for St. Louis' first-round pick.
Fisher and Snead didn't view drafting Jenkins as a realistic possibility to open the second round. By the end of Thursday night, they had already settled on Quick as the 33rd selection and started contemplating the possibility of taking Jenkins with the 39th or 45th pick.
Janoris Jenkins during the NFL draft. (Yahoo! Sports)Well after midnight, a plan was hatched: Fisher would call Jenkins' agent, Malik Shareef, on Friday and insist that he and the cornerback meet with a sports management and advisory firm with whom the coach is familiar. Fisher, mindful of potential financial complications that could arise due to Jenkins' paternity issues, would make it clear that if Jenkins weren't open to such a discussion, the team would not select him.
On Friday, after Shareef told Fisher that Jenkins was receptive, the Rams' interest intensified. Fearing that another team might view Jenkins as an early second-round steal, they abandoned the idea of getting him at 45 and targeted the 39th slot.
When Jenkins was still available, the Rams pounced. The hope was that one of two linebackers, Utah State's Bobby Wagner or Cal's Mychal Kendricks, would still be on the board when the Rams got back on the clock for the 45th selection.
As it turned out, both were – but Snead and Fisher, eager to gain an additional pick, gambled and traded down, sending the 45th pick to the Bears for the 50th selection and Chicago's fifth-rounder. That brought the Rams, who'd traded their fifth-rounder before last season's trading deadline to Denver for wideout Brandon Lloyd (who left via free agency to sign with the New England Patriots), back into that round.
There was mild disappointment when, with the 46th and 47th selections, the Eagles and Seahawks (who'd traded up with the Jets) took Kendricks and Wagner back-to-back. Fisher, Snead and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff then changed course and, three picks later, took Cincinnati's Pead, who'll step in as a change-of-pace alternative and third-down specialist charged with taking some of the pressure off of workhorse halfback Steven Jackson.
"We've been looking for this [type of] running back for, what, four years? Five years?" Demoff asked Friday night as he visited with a reporter in the vacant office reserved for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is serving an indefinite NFL suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal. "We needed to get Steven a backup. And this guy can take it and go. At some point you've gotta score touchdowns, right?"
Mindful that it's also helpful to prevent other teams from scoring, the Rams became enticed by the possibility of drafting another small-school cornerback, Montana's Johnson, with the 65th overall pick. Fisher, Snead and Demoff had explored the possibility of trading up (likely with the Houston Texans, who owned the 58th selection) to land a linebacker, Nebraska's Lavonte David, but decided to stay put. (The Tampa Bay Buccaneers instead traded for the pick and selected David.)
Johnson, at that point the highest-rated player on the team's board – Fisher and Snead were strongly considering taking him with the 39th pick if Jenkins had been plucked by another team – continued to fall, which quickened the pulse rates of defensive backs coach Chuck Cecil, assistant secondary coach Brandon Fisher (Jeff's eldest son) and scout Brian Heimerdinger (the son of Fisher's former offensive coordinator in Tennessee, Mike Heimerdinger, who died last October after a bout with cancer).
Brandon Fisher, a former Montana safety and outside linebacker, was especially excited, having been a college teammate of Johnson's. When it came time to make the second pick of the third round, Snead dialed Johnson's number and, after a brief introduction, handed the phone to the younger Fisher.
"Tell me something," Johnson said. "Tell me something!"
"You're a Ram, baby!" Fisher replied. "Come on out here – let's go! Tell your mom you're in good hands."
A few feet away, Jeff Fisher high-fived Cecil, exclaiming, "We'll cover their ass now!"
Suddenly, a position that was a glaring weakness for the 2-14 Rams in 2011 has become an area of strength, especially given last month's free-agent signing of cornerback Cortland Finnegan, a former Titans standout. The presence of Johnson and Jenkins could allow the team to deploy Finnegan in the slot in passing situations, where he is especially effective.
Brandon Fisher talks with Trumaine Johnson. Later, Brandon Fisher said of Johnson, "He's a charismatic kid who brings energy and confidence. He's gonna talk out there and challenge people, and he's gonna come in thinking he has some stuff to prove."
Johnson is considered raw, but that doesn't bother Snead or Demoff. To them, the presence of a veteran coach with Fisher, whose staff is filled with experienced and highly regarded assistants, affords the rebuilding franchise that luxury.
"I love the fact that we didn't have to take overachievers who are maybe maxed out on their talent," Demoff said later. "All of these guys can get a lot better, and we believe they will. Because of Jeff, you can take the clay and hope in two years they become what you think they can be. And that's why you go out and get this coaching staff, guys like [receivers coach] Ray Sherman, Chuck Cecil and the others – they'll get these guys going. That's one of the positives of bringing in a pro like Jeff."
Though Snead, 41, is a rookie general manager, he also believes in instilling an organizational mentality designed to reap rewards from high-risk players.
"You've got to be cutting edge in development," Snead said in a hallway outside the war room late Friday night, after concluding a long meeting with coaches and scouts assessing the options for Saturday's selections. "So often you get players and they piss you off; you see the warts and you want to kick 'em out. Nope – they're your kids. You raise your kids. That's what we'll do here.
"I want everybody who touches our kids, from the nutritionist to the equipment guys to the trainers, to develop them. I don't think you make it an option – the kids will succeed. And I'm young enough to make sure they will."
Shortly before midnight Friday, as he sat in his office looking back on an eventful second day of his first draft in St. Louis, Fisher looked forward to the task. Having endured the challenges posed by coaching another talented but trouble-prone cornerback, former Titans first-round pick Adam "Pacman" Jones, he believes he can help Jenkins avoid similar pitfalls.
"With Janoris, I don't see risk – but I see so much potential for reward," Fisher said, planting his feet on the desk. "He has a change to be a very productive player in this league. We can't change the past, but we can provide an opportunity for him to be successful in the future."
Sources CBS Sports, Yahoo sports and StLouis Today
I don't know if these players will work out, but at least we are trying to make something happen! We could have stayed at two and took Richardson. This new regime is working to get this done. As I write this, I think of my Kings and the regime made the trades to put a winner on the ice! They did not settle they went out and got the players!
Re: Pumped up!
I'm pumped too, more pumped than I've been for years in the off-season. As much as I don't like the Whiners, they went from 6-10 in 2010 to 13-3 the next year. We can be that next team to turn it around.
Re: Pumped up!
....and here all this time I thought they spent their war room time playing cribbage? Oh, that was Linehan and Spags crew!
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