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    Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    Rams' GM discusses reasons for his optimism

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Sunday, August 1, 2010


    General manager Billy Devaney has seen the preseason prognostications and wisecracks. He knows what the record was in 2009. And '08. And '07. And like most Rams players, he wants to do something about it.

    "The only way I can say it is the players are (ticked) off still from last year," Devaney said. "You want to say forget last year, and last year's over. But let me tell you, this isn't any fun. I know it isn't any fun for our players or anybody in this building to hear all the time: worst team in the NFL, 1-15, lowly St. Louis Rams.

    "If that doesn't (tick) you off, or get you motivated in the offseason, then we have the wrong kind of guy. There's a lot of motivated people here to get this thing going and start winning football games."

    Other than the selection of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall draft pick, it was an offseason devoid of big-name acquisitions for St. Louis. Nonetheless, Devaney feels there is no comparison between the 2010 Rams and coach Steve Spagnuolo's inaugural Rams squad of 2009.

    "It thought we had a great offseason," Devaney said. "The intensity and the participation of the players in the offseason program was outstanding. Even though we were in shorts and T-shirts, you could just see in Year Two how much more comfortable our players were in the system.

    "We looked faster than you would expect. At this time last year, we were installing playbooks for the first time — the wheels were grinding. So the thing that jumped out in the spring — the whole tempo, everything, looked much faster and quicker."

    Whether this is truly the case, or simply misguided optimism, remains to be seen. But with Rams training camp now in full gear, we're about to find out.

    In a pre-camp interview with the Post-Dispatch, Devaney discussed the state of the roster, the impact of the pending franchise sale, and more:

    PD: How would you characterize the offseason in terms of personnel acquisitions?

    DEVANEY: "Knock on wood, I think it's going to turn out to be a pretty darn good draft. I know people say why didn't we jump out and sign a big marquee-type free agent? That was never part of the plan. I think the guys that we added are going to be 'fits' and the right fits here. And to be honest, just the way free agency worked this year — the available free agents — there weren't that many names out there to begin with."

    PD: Did the pending franchise sale lead to any financial constraints in going after players?

    DEVANEY: "None whatsoever. We were allowed to put our plan in place, and we weren't restricted at all. Not one bit. Not once did we go to ownership and say, 'hey, we'd really like to sign this guy' and were told that's not going to work."

    PD: Are there enough difference-makers, or playmakers, on the roster?

    DEVANEY: "Everybody wants more. You want to get as many difference-makers as you can. I think we've got a lot of guys here that can make plays. I really do. Specifically I know people are going to talk about the young wide receivers. I think most of those guys have shown they certainly have the ability to play in the NFL. They've shown flashes that the ability is there. They've got to be out there week-in, week-out, and do it on a consistent basis. ... And, it's one thing to look good in OTAs and everything. But they know as well as anybody, you've got to go out there and do it on Sunday."

    PD: What about the situation at running back? Do you have enough behind Steven Jackson?

    DEVANEY: "We'll see. We've got some candidates. We recognize we're very inexperienced behind Steven. Fortunately, we're not playing Arizona next week. There's a lot that can happen between now and that first weekend of the season.

    "But the guy we all have confidence in, too, and he showed flashes last season, is Chris Ogbonnaya. Especially on third down, if you're going to be in there on passing downs, you know they're throwing the kitchen sink at you; you better be able to hang in there and figure out which guy to block. Ogbonnaya is super smart. He's got really good hands and he's a hard runner."

    PD: On the other side of the ball, what's the outlook on the defensive line, where you have some new faces?

    DEVANEY: "I know the focus is on Bradford; Gilyard a little bit. But I'm really anxious to see these three young defensive ends — Hall Davis, Eugene Sims and George Selvie — which one emerges. It'd be great if all three jump out. It could help us in the pass rush.

    "At defensive tackle, we've got a good blend. We've got some experience. We've got some young guys. I think we've got great competition inside. Darell Scott, I think he's going to be a player."

    PD: What about the safety position, where you have four players with NFL starting experience?

    DEVANEY: "Getting O.J. (Atogwe) back was awesome for a lot of reasons. But you know what? Craig Dahl's a hell of a football player. We're going to have the best two guys out there as starters. James Butler absolutely can still play. And Kevin Payne, he'll show people. When you put pads on, that's when Kevin Payne will start showing up."

    PD: So after losing 42 of its past 48 games, has this team bottomed out?

    DEVANEY: "I felt that way last year. It's a climb back. I'm not kidding anybody. But I really felt we bottomed out way early last year by making those tough (personnel) decisions. We knew what was in store for us and it was going to be a tough road. But that's what I'm so encouraged about. We've hit bottom, we're well on our way to starting to come out of it."

    PD: You've stated on more than one occasion that you feel much better about the state of the roster as compared to a year or two ago. How so?

    DEVANEY: "The size, the athleticism. As much as anything, the type of player. The mentality. The winning attitude."

    PD: A year ago, you weeded out many veterans. This offseason, why did you add several free agents in their early 30s?

    DEVANEY: "We had gotten so young, which was fine. But if you could find a veteran kind of guy that's been to playoffs, been to Super Bowls, I think there's a real value to that. Now that being said, we just didn't bring in guys that can't play. Na'il Diggs can play. Hank Fraley can play. We're not just bringing these guys in to be cheerleaders. We absolutely believe in their ability to play football."

    PD: How have you seen Spagnuolo grow as a coach?

    DEVANEY: "I don't know, because I thought he was pretty darn good last year. I really did. It's like anything. Whether it's a player or a coach, when you come back in Year Two everything is — I don't want to say easier — but it's much more comfortable for you. You know the building. You certainly know your players. At this time last year, again, you hadn't been through battles with the players. And I'm not just talking about Steve, but the assistant coaches. You don't know what buttons to push. You don't know when to pull back on certain guys. You don't know their personality. I mean there's just a comfort level for the second year after you've gone through it, especially the year we went through. You find out a lot about people."


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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    PD: What about the situation at running back? Do you have enough behind Steven Jackson?

    DEVANEY: "We'll see. We've got some candidates. We recognize we're very inexperienced behind Steven. Fortunately, we're not playing Arizona next week. There's a lot that can happen between now and that first weekend of the season.
    Hopefully everyone will read this quote! Particularly those who have harshly criticized management for not rushing out and paying a fortune for a backup to Steven J. I seriously doubt we'll go into the regular season without adding a new face or two at rb. There is also the chance that Oggy will show why the Rams drafted him. The Broncos under Shanahan showed the rest of the league they could consistently find talent in the later rounds of the draft .. Why not us now that we have replaced bean counters with football guys ??

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    PD: Are there enough difference-makers, or playmakers, on the roster?

    DEVANEY: "Everybody wants more. You want to get as many difference-makers as you can. I think we've got a lot of guys here that can make plays. I really do. Specifically I know people are going to talk about the young wide receivers. I think most of those guys have shown they certainly have the ability to play in the NFL. They've shown flashes that the ability is there. They've got to be out there week-in, week-out, and do it on a consistent basis. ... And, it's one thing to look good in OTAs and everything. But they know as well as anybody, you've got to go out there and do it on Sunday."
    An impossible question to answer with so much youth and just as many unknowns. I like Devaney's optimism, but the truth is, we are a ways off from having enough difference makers or playmakers on the roster. I'm hopeful we'll benefit from a few guys surprising us and exceeding expectations. We're due for some breakout performances.

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    An impossible question to answer with so much youth and just as many unknowns. I like Devaney's optimism, but the truth is, we are a ways off from having enough difference makers or playmakers on the roster. I'm hopeful we'll benefit from a few guys surprising us and exceeding expectations. We're due for some breakout performances.
    Right now there is only one team that can honestly answer that question with a yes .. that would be the Saints ..

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Right now there is only one team that can honestly answer that question with a yes .. that would be the Saints ..
    Yep, "enough" is certainly a relative term.

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    At 1-15 SAFE TO Say Rams have bottomed out. Actions speak louder then words. Cannot wait to see how we look playing on the field.

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    "What about the situation at running back? Do you have enough behind Steven Jackson?

    DEVANEY: "We'll see. We've got some candidates. We recognize we're very inexperienced behind Steven. Fortunately, we're not playing Arizona next week. There's a lot that can happen between now and that first weekend of the season."



    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Hopefully everyone will read this quote! Particularly those who have harshly criticized management for not rushing out and paying a fortune for a backup to Steven J. I seriously doubt we'll go into the regular season without adding a new face or two at rb.


    Reading between the lines we'll see doesn’t sound like he has any confident in what’s behind Jackson. Seems to he saying of coarse we don’t I hope like heck someone surprise us.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    It's a solid article, Devaney makes some good points, and there are definitely reasons to be optimistic about the direction of this franchise.

    But let's be honest here - has there ever been an article titled, "NFL GM discusses reason for his pessimism?" Has anyone interviewed an NFL GM and he's said, "Well, I thought our offseason was mediocre and I'm not feeling good about what we did in the draft."

    Everyone is optimistic at this time of year. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm ready to see it translate into results on the field, myself.
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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    Everyone is optimistic at this time of year.
    Everyone; as in everyone in the know? Yes.

    Everyone; as in everyone here at the Clan? Umm, not so much.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Everyone; as in everyone in the know? Yes.
    That's the group I was referring to - NFL general managers.
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