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Rams offer new hope in new course
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Feb. 11 2008
In more ways than one, the Rams are in transition. The franchise changed hands
with the death of beloved owner Georgia Frontiere. Her son, Chip Rosenbloom, is
in control now, though it will take time for him to assume a more proactive
To their credit, the Rams aren't moping around, waiting for a dramatic
transformation to occur, until a new course is set by Rosenbloom. Instead, the
front office and coaching staff are making things happen.
"We just have to go," Rams general manager Jay Zygmunt said. "We're circling
the wagons. We don't get this time back. It's an important offseason. You just
The Rams are off to an encouraging start in their attempt to dig out from under
a disastrous 3-13 season.
— Head coach Scott Linehan has retooled his staff, bringing in several new
assistants, including highly regarded offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who
should reenergize the offense. Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Marc Bulger are
thrilled by the Saunders hire. And Linehan seems determined to become a better
— The organization made a wise (if obvious) decision to freeze season-ticket
prices for PSL owners.
— And in a surprise move, the Rams hired Billy Devaney as executive vice
president in charge of player personnel.
During the season, Rams President John Shaw expressed a desire to improve the
team's slumping performance in the draft, and in all personnel evaluations. But
much time had passed, and with Shaw consumed by matters pertaining to
Frontiere's declining health and subsequent ownership issues, I just presumed
another offseason would pass without major action.
And now Devaney is on the way, and this is a good move by the Rams. Devaney has
a strong background, has served multiple winning organizations and is respected
around the league.
Devaney was trained by Bobby Beathard, one of the top GMs in NFL history.
Beathard helped build the dynasties in Miami and Washington before heading to
San Diego to lead the Chargers to one appearance in the Super Bowl. Some awful
drafts in the late 1990s (Ryan Leaf!) caused Beathard's demise, but Devaney
wasn't to blame. He learned a lot — good and bad — from Beathard. Devaney was
considered more conservative than the freewheeling Beathard, who liked to trade
away No. 1 draft picks.
In his most recent job, as the assistant GM in Atlanta, Devaney got the credit
for making a complex trade that landed defensive end John Abraham, who had 10
sacks last season. The Falcons have hired a new GM, Tom Dimitroff, so Devaney
apparently decided it was time to move on. He jumped at the Rams opportunity.
OK, so how will Devaney fit here?
It depends on the organization's eventual restructuring. If Shaw becomes a
consultant, Zygmunt may have a broader role in the front office. In that case,
Zygmunt wouldn't be as heavily involved in the daily football operation. And
Devaney would presumably become the point man for football decisions.
Until all of that shakes out, the Rams will probably continue their committee
approach, but with a reduction in power among the coaches. Tony Softli, hired
in June 2006 to coordinate predraft scouting, will continue in that role, at
least through the 2008 draft.
Fans will be skeptical if Zygmunt has final say over personnel. But this isn't
about power, Zygmunt insists.
"We know we have to do a much better job," Zygmunt said. "That's the bottom
line. That's what this move is all about."
Zygmunt was battered by the 2007 experience. He hates losing. He wants to try
things a different way. He actively recruited Devaney. And I give J-Z points
for that. If this was about ego, Zygmunt wouldn't have hired Devaney.
"Billy is just another great resource for us," Zygmunt said. "With all of the
problems we've had, we're just trying to do everything better. He can help us.
The timing couldn't be better. We've got the (draft) scouting combine coming
up, and free agency. This is such a critical offseason for us."
They're a long way from where they need to be, but the Rams are making progress.
Re: Rams offer new hope in new course
and progress is all you can hope for correct? I love the way this offseason has started
Re: Rams offer new hope in new course
Sounds good, sounds good! :r
Hopefully next time Rams top brass members are introduced before a full house* they will be cheered instead of jeered.
*. - During Faulk's jersey retirement ceremony at the EJD
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