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St. Louis Rams have spots to fill on the field in addition to a head coach
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
While general manager Billy Devaney spearheads the search for a new Rams coach, he has dispatched scouts all over the country to watch college bowl games.
But as Rams scouts eyeball potential draft picks, they're not exactly sure what they're looking for.
"Our scouts are wondering right now — what schemes are we going to be playing?" Devaney said. "If there is a new coach and a whole new coaching staff, are we looking for Cover 2 corners? Big corners that can tackle, and not worrying about speed?" MORE RAMS
Or will the next coach, if it's not Jim Haslett, want to run a 3-4 defensive scheme full-time? That would necessitate bigger linebackers, more linebackers, and probably a true wide-body at nose tackle.
On offense, some coaches like big wide receivers. On the line, some prefer size and strength over quickness and movement.
Devaney has a good idea what Haslett wants to do personnel-wise and scheme-wise next season. They've talked about such things for weeks. But if the coaching search leads to someone besides Haslett?
"It does kind of paralyze you right now," Devaney said. "There's a lot of uncertainty on that end. It really does hurt you in a lot of ways."
And with a skimpy pro personnel department that Devaney plans to beef up once the dust settles on the coaching search, he said, "We've got guys doing double duties. We have some college scouts off the road that are in looking at unrestricted free agents right now. And they're good evaluators. It doesn't bother me at all. But it does put an extra load on everybody in the organization."
Obviously, Devaney has been taken away from the personnel evaluation process to a large degree while he looks for the next coach.
The fact that Haslett knows the roster inside and out might be viewed as an advantage for retaining him as coach. But Devaney pointed out that last year Atlanta went outside the organization for its coach (Mike Smith), as did Baltimore (John Harbaugh), and that didn't prevent both teams from making the playoffs this season.
In addition, the next coach — if it's someone other than Haslett — shouldn't be too far behind on preparation for the draft and free agency.
So far, the Rams have yet to begin truly narrowing their list of draft-eligible players. When all the scouts were at Rams Park a few weeks ago, the discussion was mainly about character and background issues. On-field performance and measurables weren't discussed.
"There's plenty of time for that," Devaney said. "We felt, let's just start going over the intangible stuff ... and what needs to be checked. If there's a physical problem. If it's a learning problem. Or it's a character problem."
Underclassmen are just now beginning to declare for the draft, so the Rams won't even know the entire draft pool until mid-January.
As for free agency, the work is under way but still in the preliminary stages.
"We have looked at the top three or four at every position that we're thinking about," Devaney said. "We need to get down to the middle tier." And then the bottom tier as well.
Devaney is confident that any short-term setbacks on personnel evaluation can be overcome quickly once the new coach is on board. Ideally, Devaney would like to have the coach named in time for the first big personnel evaluation event of the offseason — Senior Bowl week (the third week of January) in Mobile, Ala.
Devaney says he will have final say on whom the team drafts, obviously with strong input from the coach. But when it comes to deciding on the 53-man roster, Devaney will defer to the coach.
"It's our job to bring in players that the coaches want and like, and can help us," Devaney said. "If there's a disagreement, it's going to be (Devaney's) call to make. Once we get to training camp, then it kind of flips over. It's up to the coach. If they want to cut somebody, that's his call."
Devaney said he's old school in this area. Once players are signed to the team, whether it's via the draft or free agency, they need to know that they're answerable to only one person — the head coach.
"He holds their fate in his hands — not a general manager, or a personnel guy," Devaney said. "It's the head coach that kind of controls the future — who plays, who doesn't play."
Because Devaney will be working so closely with the coach on player personnel, it's important that they have a good working relationship.
"It's huge," Devaney said. "For better or worse, I hope I'm here for a long time. That's what I'm planning on. And it's crucial that there's a great relationship between the two. There's got to be trust between the two."
Obviously, Devaney already knows he can work well with Haslett. Among some of the Rams' other candidates, Devaney knows Baltimore assistant head coach-defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Miami assistant head coach-secondary coach Todd Bowles well.
-01-04-2009 #4Registered User
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Re: St. Louis Rams have spots to fill on the field in addition to a head coach
Why is BD waiting for a HC to be hired before beefing up the scouting dept? What does one have to do with the other? I'm sure the guy's busy but jeez...
Since I feel ,like most of us, our biggest weakness over the last million years has been talent evaluation & it's totally under his control who he interviews & hires and when to improve that- unlike the HC spot- why isn't this a priority? The fact that they can't narrow the search makes it even more important to cover all options,no?
Anyway, while I'm sure it's an advantage to have your braintrust/plan in a more advanced stage, all teams still have lots of unknowns about their roster for next year and the draft mix is very volatile and mysterious. Heck, several teams at the top of the draft for the first two rounds are missing HC or GM as well as us.
The mixed signals about Shaw's involvement, how much Chip wants to spend on a coach, and now this de-prioritizing of getting more football minds to bear on our biggest problem; unproductive players, is disconcerting.
Maybe I've been Ferter-ized but I'm feeling a little uneasy that the organization may be obsessing over the HC when it still hasn't clearly eliminated the systemic weaknesses that will plague whichever coach is chosen.
Last edited by Azul e Oro; -01-04-2009 at 02:59 AM.
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