Rams GM implementing his system ..
By Jim Thomas
As the Rams go through their first season under head coach Jeff Fisher, the new general manager, Les Snead, has one foot in the present and the other in the future.
For nearly three months, the Rams’ scouting department has been scouring the nation, evaluating college talent in preparation for the 2013 draft. And Snead himself gets into the act; he’s not one of those stay-at-home GMs.
“I definitely like to get out,” Snead said. “That’s what I did as director of player personnel (in Atlanta). I can’t get out as much but I design my schedule where usually when we play away, that’s been when I’ve said, I’m gonna work my way to the game.”
So he may visit one college campus on a Wednesday, another on a Thursday, and then catch a college game that Saturday somewhere in the vicinity of where the Rams are playing that Sunday.
The mere fact that Snead watches college games in person differentiates his scouting philosophy from that of predecessor Billy Devaney. Devaney didn’t think watching games in person was cost- or time-efficient, and felt for the most part that he and his scouts could get what they needed from watching film of those games.
But Snead thinks there are benefits to watching games in person. Sometimes you can pick up something from body language, or get a better idea of effort by being at the game. Snead feels it also gives you a better feel for particular game situations.
He used the example of a receiver who may catch six of eight balls thrown his way in a game — a good day’s work — but drops a ball in a crucial situation. The pressure and intensity of the moment may not always come through on game film.
“So you may go, let me research how this guy is in crunch time because you were at the game and you could just feel (the intensity of the moment),” Snead said.
Snead completed the revamping of the Rams’ scouting and personnel department in the spring by hiring Taylor Morton as college scouting director and Ran Carthon as director of pro scouting, and bringing in Rich Snead (no relation) as a senior player personnel analyst.
When he was hired in mid-February, Snead said there wasn’t enough time to install his system for scouting and player evaluation before the 2012 draft and free agency period. So decisions were made based on the Rams’ past methods of gathering information, writing reports and evaluating players.
Once the summer hit, Snead began implementing his system — with some tweaks. Just as coaches beg, borrow and steal from other teams’ playbooks, Snead incorporated aspects of the Rams’ system as well as some things from the way Tennessee operated its personnel department during the years Fisher was with the Titans.
“I always want to evolve,” Snead said. “The process of the way we collect data, use that data to analyze and evaluate _ that process is very similar to what we did in Atlanta.”
Snead is big on establishing a “not-to-do” list.
“What are some things that we shouldn’t do?” Snead said. “Not necessarily wasting time, but taking time and energy away from what we think are the most important things. So in the way we store data, we pruned some things and simplified. My goal is I want these guys to always be going to one more game, one more (college) practice, watching one more game film because to me that’s the heart and soul of evaluating.”
Just as offensive and defensive playbooks have terminology that changes from team to team, Snead had to establish the terminology he wanted used in St. Louis.
“Our grading scale, per se, that’s more where I blended,” he said. “Here’s our Atlanta-based foundation. A little bit from the Rams, a little bit from Tennessee. So when everybody’s in the room, they’ve got a good feel for it.”
There are a lot of terms and adjectives used in scouting to describe what a player is or isn’t. So in implementing his system during summer meetings, Snead tried to define as precisely as possible what everything means in an evaluation system that is number-based but also has some color coding.
“So that my ‘good’ is your ‘good,’ ” Snead said. “My ‘very good’ is your ‘very good.’ The big thing is you want consistency. So if you’re using a number (grade), everybody knows what ‘seven’ means. You can’t talk about play speed in that meeting room and just say a player has play speed. I want to know: Does he have seven play speed? Six play speed? Five?
“Any time we talk about a trait that we deem important to that player’s success in the NFL, we’re going to have to apply a grade to it.”
As a rule, Snead doesn’t have many “street” free agents in for workouts or tryouts during the season. For one, since all such visits must be reported to the league office, he doesn’t like to tip his hand on who the Rams may like. For another, he doesn’t think it’s very cost-efficient. For example, why bring in four wide receivers for tryouts in September when none may be available when you need one in November.
“I’m not saying that’s the right way,” Snead said.
But it’s his way. Incidentally, Snead’s way included getting married during the Rams’ bye weekend to Kara Henderson, formerly of the NFL Network. With much work still to be done with the Rams, that may fall into the category of being time-efficient.
“So as long as we’re in football we can always have a flex anniversary,” Snead joked. “We’re gonna flex it to the bye week.”
Re: Rams GM implementing his system ..
Kara Henderson is smart, accomplished, and seriously hot. Let's hope his personnel recruitment is as impressive as his personal recruitment.
I read, however, that she did work for The New England Sports Network at one time. Hmmmmmm a Patsy Trojan horse ? I mean, he is a little dorky & she's seriously attractive. And when did he find the time to pull this coup off, anyway ? Just sayin'.....Darth Hoodie is a devious bugger. We need a Gap watch on this,imo.