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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    February 12, 2008

    Dennis Dillon

    You can't accuse the Rams of standing still and watching the world go by. Since their appalling 3-13 season ended, they have made major changes to their infrastructure.

    Scott Linehan, who spent a few weeks reflecting on his second season as head coach, realized he needed help in some areas and dismissed six of his 19 assistants. Most of the firings were offensive assistants, and replacing young coordinator Greg Olson with Al Saunders, a 25-year coaching veteran, was the biggest change.

    Art Valero is the new running backs coach. Steve Loney was brought in to coach the offensive line. Ron Milus was promoted to secondary coach from assistant secondary coach, and Terry Shea is expected to be named the new quarterbacks coach.

    The organization also strengthened its front office -- an area it has needed to address for a long time -- by hiring Billy Devaney as executive vice president of player personnel. Devaney, like Saunders, has a quarter century of NFL experience, having worked in Washington, San Diego and, most recently, Atlanta, where he was assistant general manager. He will run all aspects of the team's personnel department.

    All this brings back memories of what happened after the 1998 season. Coach Dick Vermeil, coming off a 4-12 record in his second season as coach, was "persuaded" by management to make several changes.

    Those changes helped bring about one of the NFL's biggest turnarounds. The Rams went 13-3 in 1999 and beat Tennessee in Super Bowl 34.

    Sorry, Rams fans. If you think history is about to repeat itself, you're in for a big disappointment. The Rams should be better in 2008 -- they might even go 8-8 -- but it's highly unlikely they will make the playoffs.

    There is a talent disparity between the Rams of the late '90s and the current incarnation. In '99, the Rams drafted wide receiver Torry Holt, traded for running back Marshall Faulk and replaced injured quarterback Trent Green with Kurt Warner, whose improbable performance earned him league MVP honors.

    Holt now is 31 and has a bad knee. Faulk is retired, and Warner has been gone since 2003. Wide receiver Isaac Bruce, defensive end Leonard Little and offensive tackle Orlando Pace -- three other premier players from a Rams team that went 37-11 and made two Super Bowls between 1999 and 2001 -- are aging or injury-plagued.

    The worst news: It looks like few players are ready to step up and become the team's new stars. That's a consequence of bad personnel decisions. Not only have the Rams drafted poorly this decade, but they also can't seem make good free-agent signings.

    Exhibit A: Look at the first three rounds of the 2006 draft. In Round 1, the Rams selected 5-10 cornerback Tye Hill when they could have taken 6-2 Antonio Cromartie. Hill is an undersized defender in a division full of big wide receivers, and he missed half the 2007 season with injuries. Cromartie made the Pro Bowl for San Diego and has superstar potential.

    The Rams took tight end Joe Klopfenstein in the second round that year. He hasn't shown much ability as a receiver or a blocker, and he caught only two passes in '07. St. Louis took three players in the third round: defensive tackle Claude Wroten, linebacker Jon Alston and tight end Dominque Byrd. Wroten looks like a bust, Alston was released early in the '07 season, and Byrd has made less news on the field than off -- he has had at least two incidents involving police.

    Other Rams picks who have failed recently include defensive end Anthony Hargrove (third round, 2004); defensive tackles Jimmy Kennedy (first, 2003) and Damione Lewis (first, 2001); linebacker Robert Thomas (first, 2002), safety Adam Archuleta (first, 2001); running back Trung Canidate (first, 2000) �

    Well, you get the picture. And the jury is still out on offensive tackle Alex Barron (first, 2005), cornerback Ronald Bartell (second, 2005) and guard Richie Incognito (third, 2005).

    Meanwhile, other players who could have made big contributions for the Rams have been allowed to leave. Kevin Curtis (third, 2003), the team's No. 3 wide receiver behind Bruce and Holt during his four seasons in St. Louis, went to Philadelphia as a free agent after the 2006 season and caught 77 passes for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns last season. Fullback Madison Hedgecock (seventh, 2005), who was released last September, wound up as a starter for the Super Bowl champion Giants.

    Here's perhaps the most damning evidence of the Rams' poor drafts: In this decade, St. Louis' only drafted player to make the Pro Bowl has been running back Steven Jackson.

    Retooling the coaching staff and front office was necessary, but Al Saunders and Billy Devaney won't be wearing helmets and shoulder pads on Sunday afternoons. The players ultimately will make the difference for the Rams. And while the cupboard may not be bare, it needs considerable restocking.

    Unfortunately for St. Louis, that's going to require time -- and better choices.


  2. #2
    BM_Face's Avatar
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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Nice rant on how poor the Rams are at drafting great players, not the best rant ever on the subject, but nice. He says we have made some good hires (FO and coaching), but does not elaborate about how our new talent (Devany) will impact our draft status. His 8-8 prediction matches mine so far though.

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Exhibit A: Look at the first three rounds of the 2006 draft. In Round 1, the Rams selected 5-10 cornerback Tye Hill when they could have taken 6-2 Antonio Cromartie. Hill is an undersized defender in a division full of big wide receivers, and he missed half the 2007 season with injuries. Cromartie made the Pro Bowl for San Diego and has superstar potential.

    The Rams took tight end Joe Klopfenstein in the second round that year. He hasn't shown much ability as a receiver or a blocker, and he caught only two passes in '07. St. Louis took three players in the third round: defensive tackle Claude Wroten, linebacker Jon Alston and tight end Dominque Byrd. Wroten looks like a bust, Alston was released early in the '07 season, and Byrd has made less news on the field than off -- he has had at least two incidents involving police.
    Pretty much sums up the major obstacle we have facing 2008. I think we could have Lombardi, Knoll, Shula, and Landry on our coaching staff and 8-8 would be the best we could hope for.

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    8-8? No way....A healthy RAMS team will go 9-7 at the worst.:r

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Other Rams picks who have failed recently include defensive end Anthony Hargrove (third round, 2004); defensive tackles Jimmy Kennedy (first, 2003) and Damione Lewis (first, 2001); linebacker Robert Thomas (first, 2002), safety Adam Archuleta (first, 2001); running back Trung Canidate (first, 2000)
    See, people were giving me a hard time about ranking Archuleta so low on my 15 Worst Rams of the Last Decade, but even this article lists him as a failure. They might as well list every defensive player drafted under lovie smith's guidance. The only one who is still around is Pisa and he's been hurt most of the last two seasons.

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Looking at next year opponents and a health Ramís team I see us at worst going 9-7. I honestly see us going 11-5 or 10-6.

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    Talking Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    I've been saying this for the last 5 years, poor drafting. And lets not
    forget 2 round leonard, to small for a full back and to slow for HB.
    We should have drafted on need and not want, and we needed O line
    in the 2...

  8. #8
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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    If the o-line stays healthy, I can see this team easily pushing the 10 win mark.

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    8-8? No way....A healthy RAMS team will go 9-7 at the worst.:r
    That's not much better than 9-7. Some of the users on this boar expect easily a 10-6 or more record. I think 9-7 would be the record at best. It's kind of hard to bounce back from a horrible season with aging players.

    However, I'm not saying that we WILL have another 8-8 or below season. We could possibly be the best in the NFC. we just wont find out until preseason at earliest.

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by BEER View Post
    And lets not forget 2 round leonard, to small for a full back and to slow for HB.
    We should have drafted on need and not want, and we needed O line
    in the 2...
    Sad, but true. Mr. Leonard is a bust considering WHERE in the draft he was taken ( 52nd pick overall ). Prediction: At some point in time just prior to the last year of his contract, he will be traded away ( ala Jimmy Kennedy) for some lower round pick; and that will end his Rams career.

    WHAT SAY YE?

  11. #11
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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Pretty much sums up the major obstacle we have facing 2008. I think we could have Lombardi, Knoll, Shula, and Landry on our coaching staff and 8-8 would be the best we could hope for.
    If that's the case, then why all the opposition to my support of bringing Linehan back for one more year? Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.

  12. #12
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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    This article, although it wanders over well-trodden ground, does bring home the sheer waste of time our drafts have been. I don't much lose sleep over the players we've let go so much as I believe that any improvement in performance would be largely down to a change of environment in any case. A change is as good as a rest, and a players performance is heavily influenced by his supporting cast. No guarantee Curtis or Hedgecock would have been superlative performers for us.

    That said,Fletcher was a heinous error, as was Fred Miller.

    This is where the future of the franchise is decided, and its how well you do here that gets you into the post-season. Failure of some posters to value player personnel as much as they do coach-bashing is surprising, as is the insistence that we're still well-stocked with pro-bowl calibre players that are somehow being misused.

    This off-season should be the start of the long-haul back to respectability.

    And yes, I'd go along with 8-8/9-7 being as much as we could hope for.

  13. #13
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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post

    February 12, 2008

    Dennis Dillon

    Exhibit A: Look at the first three rounds of the 2006 draft. In Round 1, the Rams selected 5-10 cornerback Tye Hill when they could have taken 6-2 Antonio Cromartie. Hill is an undersized defender in a division full of big wide receivers, and he missed half the 2007 season with injuries. Cromartie made the Pro Bowl for San Diego and has superstar potential.
    That's way to simplistic. It was unlucky that Hill got injured. It's too early to really know what we really have with Hill. It also doesn't help Hill or anyone in the secondary that we have ZERO pass rush. Cromartie benefited from a great Chargers pass rush, stick him in our secondary and he wouldn't look half as good.
    BRUUUUUUUUCE


  14. #14
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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce View Post
    That's way to simplistic. It was unlucky that Hill got injured. It's too early to really know what we really have with Hill. It also doesn't help Hill or anyone in the secondary that we have ZERO pass rush. Cromartie benefited from a great Chargers pass rush, stick him in our secondary and he wouldn't look half as good.
    That's exactly right. Give me a defensive front with Shaun Phillips, Luis Castillo, Jamaal Williams and Shawn Merriman, and I'll show you a pro bowl corner bennefiting from the system.

    What this goes to show, though, is the way that succcessful teams build through the draft. Look at the four I mentioned. Three were drafted by the chargers, all within the last 3-4 years, and all three have developed into superstars. It kind of goes to show that an ability to scout and draft players who will work with the schemes you've put together will take you a long way in this league. It's something that we haven't been able to do of late. We've hit on Jackson, and the jury is still out on Hill and Carriker, who both look very good. But dating back to 2001, we've drafted one starter still on this team (being Tinoisamoa) and one (Ryan Pickett) who should never have left, and is continuing to play well in Green Bay.

    Other than that, we've done squat in the draft, and that's why to me, it's no surprise that we're a 3-13 team.

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    Re: For Rams, turnaround will require better personnel decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    8-8? No way....A healthy RAMS team will go 9-7 at the worst.:r
    I know it's good to be optimistic and everything but after the season we have just encountered I for one am refusing to make predictions at this stage of the year about a team who thru various reasons so badly under-performed last year..

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