Jim Haslett, who was the team's interim coach for 12 games and compiled a 2-10 record, won't have to participate in the first round of interviews and will be a finalist. In addition, because Devaney sat in on interviews last year during the Falcons' search for a coach, if he wants Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan or Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to be in the mix, they will also advance to the finalist stage without a first interview.

Asked what it would take for Haslett to convince him he deserves to be the head coach, Devaney said it will boil down to the changes he wants to make. Said Devaney, "It can't be window dressing. It has to be radical in every phase. It can't be status quo. With Jim, I'll want to know, 'What exactly do you have in mind to change things and make a true difference as Rams coach?'"

One of the first people Devaney and Co. will interview is Packers assistant head coach and linebackers coach Winston Moss. It shows Devaney won't necessarily look at candidates that have been successful coordinators but rather have what it takes to lead a team.

"The guy's got to be a leader," Devaney emphasized. "Obviously for our team and for our locker room. But also in this building and in our city. He needs to be a leader of the whole organization. There's been some bad football played around here the past few years. We need to sell ourselves. I know winning cures all, and that's the main focus of what we're trying to do here, is win games. But in the process, we need to convince people we're serious about this. And that we are going in a new direction, and we've charted a different course.

"I think the last thing we need is to bring somebody in who says, 'To heck with that, I'm not worried about what the fans think. That's not my problem.' Well, you know, it is. I'm a firm believer we're in this together. We're all in it. The whole building's in it together. The head coach is in it. Our fans are part of it. We need to have a coach that's willing to get that message out."

NOTES, QUOTES

—Jim Haslett had a lengthy answer when he was asked if he had any regrets accepting the interim position when Scott Linehan was fired after four games.

Said Haslett, "I thought about that last night and I really don't because I love coaching and I like being around the players. If I could do it again, I wish I could say I understand our offense a little bit more, where I could say let's do this, do that, do this, this is what I want. Or, if I could understand the special teams a little more, which was easier for us, because we actually improved in that area. The defense was no problem. In a perfect situation, you would like to say I have an offseason with somebody that I can say, 'Hey, let's do this, let's run flanker drive, let's run this, let's do this,' but I couldn't do that.

"Do I have regrets? No, I really don't, because I really like coaching and I enjoyed coaching these guys. For the most part, on this team, there's no, I don't want to say bad guys or however you want to phrase it. The guys work hard, they like football. They did want to win. Obviously, we were short in a lot of areas, but they put everything out there, that they could, to win. They laid it on the line. From that standpoint, I can't ask any more from a (player) than what they are.

"Are we good enough? No, we're not good enough. It's evident. We're not good enough and I told them the same thing. There will be changes made, one way or another, to get the football team better, but the effort and the concentration and the classroom work and the practices were outstanding. If you could have much better players and do that same thing, you're going to be a better football team.

"To answer your question, no. If you go back over my seven years doing this as a head coach, and someone said this the other day, I have two bad losing seasons and both of them were really out of my control, this season and the year we got displaced in the (hurricane) Katrina season. Other than that, I'll let my first five years stand for themselves. I thought, taking over a team that was much worse than this, winning a bunch of games. But if you're going to judge (me) off the two seasons, then people, if they're blind by those two seasons, then they are. There's nothing I can do about that. Hopefully, there's people in the league and in this organization who will look beyond that and look at the good stuff. In 2000, I was Coach of the Year. We won 11 games in New Orleans. I'm a better coach now than I was then. I know a lot more about the game and game-day management and how to handle players and all of those situations. I'm much better now than I was then. Back then, something would set me off, I'd lose my mind, but now, I can deal with it the way I have to deal with it."

—Haslett said he felt "humbled" by the petition the team signed, showing their support for the job he did as head coach.

Asked about hearing about the petition, he said, "First, I didn't know if it was true. I heard about it. Actually, I heard about it when I was getting on the bus to the game, so I asked a couple of guys and they said that's true. I didn't get all of the (details), I didn't think that was my place. It makes you feel good as a coach that at least they feel that way about you and they want you back. It makes you feel good about your work. Obviously, the wins and losses, it didn't equate to that, but at least you know the way they feel.

"Someone else said that to me, if you're a 'player's coach,' or the players are voting for you, they could have a chance to walk on you and walk all over you. That's bullcrap, because that will never happen. I think they know that. Actually, when I took over, we conditioned and we did a lot of different things that we didn't do in the past. If they didn't feel like you were a pretty good football coach, I'm sure they wouldn't have done that. At least I feel humbled by it."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not an itch but it's a natural progression. We've talked before about how my ultimate goal is to end up being a head coach, so whether that process is through a defensive coordinator position or whether that is going from a titled assistant coach to a head coach, to me I see it as a natural progression. ... If that opportunity was to present itself, I feel comfortable in accepting that challenge, and I would be thoroughly excited about being able to lead some men." — Packers assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss, who will be interviewed for the Rams' job, on his desire to be a head coach.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Rams signed four players to their 2009 roster that were on the practice squad as the season ended. Signed were receivers Joel Filani, Travis Brown and Nate Jones, along with nose tackle Willie Williams.

COACHING CAROUSEL: General manager Billy Devaney has started his search for a head coach and hopes to have a coach hired and a staff in place by the time the Senior Bowl is played on Jan. 24.

FREE AGENT UPDATE: Among the 15 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, the most important are cornerback Ron Bartell and free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Guard Richie Incognito and defensive end Victor Adeyanju are restricted free agents, but whether Incognito is back could depend on who is hired as head coach.

FEELING A DRAFT: For the second straight year, the Rams will select with the second pick in the draft. It appears at this early stage that a tackle such as Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith, or even linebacker Aaron Curry could be potential selections.

TEAM NEEDS

Tackle: With Orlando Pace another year older and Alex Barron entering the final year of his contract, tackle will be a top priority for the Rams. Had Jake Long not gone to Miami with the first choice last April, he likely would have been the Rams' choice.

Middle linebacker: Will Witherspoon would be better utilized on the outside, so someone to man the middle is needed.

Running back: It's not a huge need with Steven Jackson the starter, but having someone to better fill the bill to share the load would make any absences more able to be overcome.