BillP: Hello Jim, I just read your Sunday article, and it mentions Devaney saying that it's his responsibility to make sure the coach gets the type of players he's looking for in the college draft. How is this concept different from the previous drafts where Martz and Linehan had strong input as well and they basically got who they wanted? What's different now as oppossed to what we were doing in previous years? Thanks and have a good week!
Jim Thomas: Sorry for the delay in getting started. There's a lot going on around here, as usual.
In the past, even pre-dating Martz, the Rams always seemed to defer to the head coach (over the personnel dept. head). Now it seems to be the other way around. Obviously, Devaney will work closely with the next head coach, but now it's Devaney who has the tiebreaker _ and not the head coach. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ed in Vancouver Canada: Re: Head Coach hire.

Once this Sunday's game between the Ravens & Titans is over, when should we expect to have a interview date set-up for interviewing Ryan & Schwartz???

And more importantly have you heard and rumours to whom they might bring in to be the OC & DC?
Jim Thomas: League rules are specific on this matter: If your team has a first-round bye (this year, it's the Giants, Steelers, Panthers, and Titans), coaches can be interviewed during the wild-card week, but all interviews have to be done by Sunday of wild-card weekend. So the Rams had all last week to interview Schwartz _ or any coaches from those four teams that had byes. They did not interview Schwartz. The thinking, as explained to me at Rams Park, was that Devaney already knew Schwartz pretty well from being part of the interview process last year in Atlanta. (Schwartz was interviewed by the Falcons.) So there was no need for a preliminary interview. Schwartz could be brought back for the finalist round of interviews. Now that the wild-card weekend has passed, the Rams can't interview Schwartz until after the Titans are eliminated from the playoffs.
As for Ryan, he and the Ravens were involved in wild-card weekend, obviously defeating the Dolphins. The rules for coaches who are involved in wild-card games is that they can be interviewed the following week if they win their wild-card games. So the Rams can interview Ryan anytime this week. The problem is that the Ravens have a short work week _ they are playing at Tennessee on Saturday _ and a source who's very close to Ryan has indicated that the doesn't want to do any interviews until after the Tennessee game. So the very earliest he could be interviewed by the Rams would be this coming Sunday.
Hope that makes sense.
I have no idea who Schwartz and Ryan would be thinking about as an OC or DC.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ed in Vancouver Canada: Jimmy as of today and what we have learned about Billy and his process w/ the HC search moving forward could you honestly say things are looking bright. It's early but I am drinkin' the Billy D kool-Aid are you?
It's reasuring that he was in on the Atl hiring of Smith and how we can land a good football guy w/ true leadership skills

It's Kool-Aid time folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim Thomas: I just think it's weird that we're nine days into the offseason and there has been only one known coach interview _ Winston Moss on Saturday. What are the Rams waiting for? Do they plan on hiring the coach in March? There has to be more going on, and that's one of the reasons I'm scrambling on and off the chat today _ trying to find out.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

donsods: Jim,
Lots of talka baout coaches, draft, & FA. The one issue out there that the fan base has been silent on is DT Claude Worten. Does he come back under any scenario? Did Haslett like him? Is he of any use? Not a a big NT--a big Ram need, but a physically talented lineman. I am curious.
Jim Thomas: Boy, there's one out of left field. To be honest, I haven't asked Haslett or Devaney about him. I'll try to do so at some point. But I seriously doubt if he's back. Remember, the Rams even filed a greivance to try to get some of his signing bonus money back.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

marvin slay: Mr. Thomas,

This is what i don't understand.
Why draft a middle round quarterback for Bulger to "bring up"?
In other words why would we draft a mediocre quarterback for the future of the rams.
It just doesn't make any sense to me.
The future is with the quarterback. Why don't we draft the best one with the best potential on our second pick. Thats likely the Rams future right there.

Its worth it even if it delays immeadiate Offensive and defensive needs in liew of a possible decade or more of potential excellent quarterbacking.

BTW it always seems their is some 370 lb OT hiding somewhere in the european football league or somewhere else that seems to be able in a few games do well in the NFL with some training.

Your Thoughts?
Marvin Slay
San Diego
Jim Thomas: Just because a quarterback is taken in the middle rounds doesn't mean he's mediocre. Tom Brady was a sixth-round draft pick.
Hey, a new coach could change the entire dynamic, but right now _ like it or not _ the Rams are going with Bulger as their starter in '09. They feel they have more pressing needs at the top of the draft than quarterback.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

James: Hi as a life time Rams fan I am more than a little conserned about the currend state of the franchise. I understand we need a OT and andre smith is a great choice. But the fans need something now or the rams could end up not going to the games. First you need to deal with Torry Holt and not put it off. He has done alot for our team and he deserves the respect of all rams fans and that of the front office. He does'nt deserve what happend with Bruce. We lose Holt too the following year will not help with the fan base. Unless you draft a Crabtree/Maclin type reciver. I was just wondering about your draft this year and where you stand about keeping and adding players in the off season to help turn around the rams for 09.

Thank You,
James
Jim Thomas: As I've mentioned previously, free agency could change the picture, but I still say the Rams take the best OT available at No. 2 overall.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

jon in kentucky: Will you please inform me when FA begins? Although everything depends on the coach, formations, and coordinators, and idea of who we may be targeting?
Jim Thomas: The free agency (and trading period) begins on Feb. 27. The problem with saying who the team is targeting is that many if not most of the top names will either be re-signed by their teams or franchised before we get to Feb. 27. Obviously, the Rams probably are taking at look at Carolina OT Jordan Gross and Minnesota C Matt Birk, among others.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

osully5040: Jim;

Can you give us, in a nutshell, Chip Rosenbloom's "Inheritance Tax" issue concerns. It sounds like the guy who wins $600 million in a lottery and has to pay $300 million to Uncle Sam. It doesn't seem like a bad problem to have. I'm not an accountant or financial advisor but I would have to think C.R. could make back up in future revenues generated by the Rams what ever he had to pay in taxes.

Thanks.

Tom O'Sullivan
Columbia, Mo
Jim Thomas: Good question. But under your scenario, Rosenbloom still has to pay the $300 million. Where does that money come from? Rosenbloom is a millionaire, not a billionaire. And just because he steps into a franchise that is worth $600 million (to use your figure) _ that doesn't mean he has $600 million in his hands.
And as I mentioned in my Rosenbloom article in last Saturday's P-D, the Rams are in the bottom 1/4 of the 32 NFL teams in terms of revenue. So it's not like he's making tons of money (by NFL standards) each year to pay off that $300 million.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

larry wilson: Jim

Interested in your opinion of Haslett's chances to land the Rams HC position, now that some of the other big name coordinators and ex-coaches from outside the organization are entering the equation?

Thanks
Jim Thomas: My last weekly rating had him at 35-65. I think I'll bump it up to 40-60 this week just because it isn't a stellar field of candidates (unless there's some Dick Vermeil-like surprise that we haven't heard about.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ctramsfan: Jim, have the Rams made any moves to attempt to re-sign Bartell, Atogwe, Craft, Goldberg, or Romberg?

Thanks for your time
Jim Thomas: Nothing that I'm aware of.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Franklin: Oh Jim,

Any thoughts on C.J. Ah-You's long-term outlook in the NFL? Did David Roach open any eyes late in the season? Any other practice squad members/alumni on the ascent in Billy D's eyes?

It's me,
Franklin!
Jim Thomas: Ah-You just completed his second season on the practice squad. He shows some occasional flash on the practice field, but isn't very big. He has just one more season of practice squad eligibility, so he's running out of time to make a move.
As for Roach, I do think the Rams like him, and he will have a chance to make the 53-man next August.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bryan: Do you know which HC candidate is at the top of the Rams list? Also is it true that if Haslett is picked that he will try to bring Mike Martz back? I sure hope not.
Jim Thomas: The Rams are still formulating their list. So it's too early to identify a frontrunner.
Haslett has thought about the possibility of seeing if Martz wants to come here. I'm not sure if team managment would be crazy about that idea.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mitch From San Diego: Hi Jim,

Thanks for the offseason chats. Please keep it up. The rest of the media ignores the Rams. My prediction as far as the great coaching search is that Jim Haslett will be retained. I'm fine with that. He would have been let go by now if managment were really considering going elsewhere. The "search committee" brought in by Mr. Devaney is to provide cover at the announcement. All these interviews are for information gathering as well as just plain window dressing.

There will be a new defensive coodinator, though. Bernie M. says Dom Capers and that makes plenty of sense based on his "Blitzburg" history he shares with Haslett. There could be a new offensive coordinator, too. Not sure about that one (I like Al Saunders) except bringing back Mad Mike would fill seats real fast just to see Haslett and Martz standing on the same sideline. There is precedent in fired head coaches returning in lesser roles with Gunther Cunningham and the Chiefs as well as Dave Campo and the Cowboys just to name two.

I also predict Al Roberts, the special teams coach, will be retained. These are easily the most consistently good special teams we've had in years. Haslett won't mess with that.

Of course, I could be completely wrong. You tell me.

Thanks, Mitch from SD
Jim Thomas: Sounds like you're a believer in conspiracy theories. I don't think there have been anything close to any guarantees made with Haslett. There will, in fact, be a new defensive coordinator if Haslett is retained, although Venturi will still be on the staff. And Capers indeed is a possibility. And although Capers is known as a 3-4 guy, he's capable of running a 4-3 as well.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Todd from Michigan: Hi Jim and thank you. Jim I was just wondering how come no Mariucci or Billick to interview for the Rams job?
Jim Thomas: Don't know what to tell you other than I have not heard their names come up at all.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

fcoprado: Jim, How are you?
A question on Leslie Frazier:He is a Tony Dungy disciple of the Tampa cover 2 defense.Right.If so, how will he fit(if hired) with what the Rams want to do on defense wanting to get bigger instead of those undersized speed cover 2 defenses he comes from?I'm just tired of the Rams defense being undersized, getting run over and playing Lovie's D even after 5 years he left.
Jim Thomas: Frazier runs an interesting hybrid. It's part "Tampa 2" and part Jim Johnson (Philadelphia) blitzing. So I don't think it means the Rams will stay small if Frazier comes here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tim: What kind of value can the Rams get for Holt? Could they mabye get 2nd or 3rd round?
Jim Thomas: I would think so. Maybe even a late first.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brianbase: Jim,

What are the chances of the Rams leaving St. Louis really? What has to be done to insure they stay? While they are bad right now, I would hate not to have profootball in our community.
Jim Thomas: Something has to be done with the stadium by the time we get close to 2015.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brian: Jim, first off, thanks as always for doing these chats. Two quick questions: Is Al Saunders as good as gone? Secondly, how long is Billy Devaney willing to wait on a coach that's in the playoffs, like Rex Ryan?
Jim Thomas: Honestly, I don't think it looks good for Saunders.
I think the Rams will have a tough time waiting on any coaches who win this coming weekend.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kerman Ram fan: Hi Jim, It's hard to ask questions about the team when you don't know who the next coach is going to be, but who ever take over is that coach going to have the money to go after player needed to help the team?. Also does that mean that that coach will be able to bring in is own coordinaters or will the committe look to hire for those positions as well?.
Jim Thomas: I believe the Rams will be in decent cap shape for next season.
Head coaches always get the right to hire their own staff.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Crazy_Legs: It’s common knowledge he was guaranteed a chance to become the HC if he turned the team around which by the way he didn’t. Otherwise do you think he would be on our list of Head Coaching candidates? And if he's such a great Head Coach why isn't any of the other NFL teams with vacancies pursuing him?
Jim Thomas: I assume you're talking about Haslett here. He's in a strange kind of limbo. If he's currently considered the head coach of the Rams, other teams wouldn't be allowed to talk to him. But I wonder if the Rams would make him available if other teams have inquired. It's an interesting question.
I do know this: there have been teams asking about him as a coordinator.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fearsome: Hi Jim -

Any whispers on who the Rams might like for OC and DC in 2009? Or is that completely contingent on who they choose for head coach?

Thanks as always for these chats
Jim Thomas: It's completely up to the head coach.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ramhntr: Jim-

I totally agree with Bryan's opinion about Jim Haslett and the possibility of him being named the HC for 09'. Can you help us understand just how much of a role he had in evaluating free agents and shaping the defensive picks during the last few drafts? I realize all the defensive schemes have his signature on them-but I get the feeling that Jay Z and Linehan may have been the main culprits in making poor personnel decisions. The addition of Devaney for the 08'-09' draft and FA decisions seemed to help considerably. With better decision makers-do you feel Haslett is the man to begin turning around this organization?
Jim Thomas: Some examples: Chavous was Linehan's guy. Haslett wanted to keep Chillar and Pickett. Haslett had no idea the Rams were even interested in Jon Alston until they drafted him. But Haslett was very much pro-Tye Hill. So the short answer would be: Haslett had some input but not as much as you might think.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dejan: HI Jim!

Do you have any information on who the Rams would like the most of candidates to have next year as HC, even they still didn't conduct all the interviews?
Do they plan to expand the candidate list right now?
Any chance for Tony Dungy or Eagles DC Jim Johnson to become HC in St Louis?

Thanks very much and greetings from Serbia!
Jim Thomas: Hello again, Dejan--Well, Dungy still has a job. And Johnson, at age 67, is happy where he's at in Philly. The Rams tried to get him interested 3 years ago in the job search that resulted in Linehan, but Johnson said no thanks.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tim: So is Incognito officially gone? I dont want to give up on him it just seems like with the right coach he can stop acting like and idio and relize his full potential.
Jim Thomas: He's scheduled for restricted free agency. All along, I thought the Rams at least would make a one-year tender offer. Now, I'm not so sure.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

s.esco@hotmail.com: Jim, I realize the new coach & Devaney will ultimately decide, but what do you think about the immediate futures of the following players, staying or going?:

Glover
Incognito
Wroten
D. Hall
F. Brown
Barron
Chavous
Holt

As awlways, thanks for your insight.
Jim Thomas: Glover--Probably retires.
Incognito--50-50
Wroten--Probably not
Hall--No
Brown--Only if Bartell gets away
Barron--50-50
Chavous--Probably not
Holt--40-60

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Joe Stafford: Jim, At the end of all this coaching search, do you believe that Billy Devaney will have the final say on who is head coach, or has John Shaw got an end run up his sleeve to pick the heac coach himself?
Jim Thomas: Great question. In the final analysis, I believe it's a two-person call at face value. Devaney makes a recommendation and Rosenbloom decides if he likes that recommendation. Now how much Shaw's opinion sways Rosenbloom (or even Devaney) one way or another, that's the question. A question I can't answer.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

West Coast Ram: Hello Jim,
With the expected turnover of the Ram's roster, do you think that they will focus on a head coach that can adapt their ideas to the aquired personnel or a coach that has a specific system and then try to find personnel that will fit the system?
Thanks for the time.
Jim Thomas: Pragmatically, I think they have to do a little of both.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Entreri10: Hi, Jim

Always a blast to read these chats. If you were the Rams Gm who would be your pick for HC to turn this team around? Thanks for your time.
-Dennis
Jim Thomas: I'm still in the fact-finding mold, so I'm currently withholding judgment.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ballhawk32: Jim:
Sproles from San Diego is a FA next year. What are your thoughts on signing him? We would have the big bruising back in Jackson, and then the small sppedy back in Sproles as a RB combo.
Thanks for your time.
Jim Thomas: I liked Sproles coming out. But a member of the front office at the time referred to him as a "midget" so the Rams had no interest.
He can be a dynamic player, there's no doubt, but I still think the Rams would like to have a bigger backup to Jackson.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

timmeno: How about this? Trade Pace for draft picks and termanate the contracts if green minnor draft hall glover johnson looker brown,and resign O.J Inacitigo Bartell Goldburg and then attack the Fa for DB/ROT/QB(backup)RB.
Miller Nyj Gamble Car Tescher GE Ot Barns Ot Car Boller QB Bal
Jim Thomas: Gamble already has re-signed with Carolina.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jim S.: So many have made note of Haz's defense during his time here, and there should be accountability. But do all those ready to crown Rex Ryan king think he would have fared better than Haz with the likes of our personnel over the last 3 years? Leonard Little hasnt been on the field healthy for the last 2 years, Ty Hill at corner, Corey Chavous, Jonathan Wade, Q Culberson, no true middle linbacker, Claude Wroten, Pisa cant stay on the field-on and on. Anyone can look good with the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs. Finally, with football people making the personnel decisions, maybe we can upgrade our roster, but dont think that Rex Ryan is automatically going to do much better than Haz did with our roster. I'm bothered with why he wasn't chosen over the likes of Mike Smith and John Harbaugh if he so good. I trust in Billy D's search and if RR is the man- good, just dont fall for the hype.
Jim Thomas: The question I always ask myself, is how many Rams defensive starters could start for the Ravens. (And I know it's a little bit of apples and oranges since we're talking 3-4 vs. a 4-3 scheme) The only possibility in my mind is Bartell.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jumbo J: Hello Jim,

As far as a new coach goes, what type of coach (players coach, disciplinarian, experienced, offensive, defensive, retread, etc...) do you feel the Rams will need to hire to get them back to repectability?

I have heard good things about Moss and Frazier. They are both defensive minded and have Dungy-like qualities. Don't know much about Bowles or Sherman. I don't want Fassel, and Ryan would've been hired in Baltimore if he was a worthy HC.

Out of those candidates which one do you feel is best suited to take over this team, and why?

I'm leaning toward Moss or Frazier. Maybe even Haslett?
Jim Thomas: I agree with Billy. They need a leader, first and foremost. A leader who will hire a good staff around him, and unify the team, the building (Rams Park), and eventually, the city's football fans. One interesting trend so far. Most of the identified candidates have defensive backgrounds.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

dick stephens: Hi Jim. With the coaching search in full swing I'd like to get your opinion. Do you think it is wise to consider hiring ex head coaches like Haslett or Fassel. I would think that giving solid up and coming coaches like Frazier or Ryan a chance would be the best bet. You don't find the next Shula or Jimmy Johnson by hiring retreads. What do you think?
Jim Thomas: Well, here's an interesting stat for you: Nine of the last 11 Super Bowls have been won by head coaches who either were fired or resigned (Vermeil's Philly burnout) from their first NFL head-coaching jobs.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ruben: Jim,
Thanks for taking my questions. Do you think Holt's offseason attitude and skipping OTA's carried over into the season, more than anyone would have believed? He is not a vocal leader, but a veteran that many looked up to. Do you believe they can keep Pace at a lower cost or will Pace not "play ball", after what was "done" to Bruce? If they don't keep Pace, it looks like only Bell would be left from the starters next year, as Barron, Incognito and Romberg/Lecky are being reported as replaceable. What is your opinion on Holt and the line?
Jim Thomas: Boy, unless I'm having a brain cramp, I don't think Holt missed the OTAs.
My sense is that the Rams would like to restructure both the Holt and Pace contracts to help clear up some cap room. (Of course, the next head coach if not Haslett, could have a totally different opinion.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

T-Man: Jim,

Come on....you're in the know....

Who will be the next coach of the Rams and why?

Also, I was soooooo impressed with Michael Oher watching him during his bowl game. Do you know what Ram scouts think of this beast?

Thanks....
Jim Thomas: I'm not that much in the know. I have no clue on the next head coach at this point.
Not sure what the Rams think about Oher at this point.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Armen Dacity: Bill Devaney has been quoted as saying that he wants to build up the scouting and player personnel side of the organization. How about bringing James Harris, who recently resigned as VP of Player Personnel in Jacksonville, back to the Rams? James helped build the Jaguar playoff teams, and previously had a hand in building a Super Bowl champ in Baltimore. What do you think?
Jim Thomas: If that's the case, Harris would have to take a lesser role here. Is Harris willing to do that? I'm not sure.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Memphis Ram: I've of the opinion that the Rams might have had the right guy as head coach in their hands when they hired Linehan. That guy is Ron Rivera. He was a finalist with the Rams and the Steelers that year. He's a former player who had had experience under Buddy Ryan & Eagles DC Jim Johnson just like Frazier and now has experience in both the 4-3 & 3-4 defense. The Chargers defense has all the sudden come back to life under his leadership. Any word on if the Rams plan to talk to him?? If Fassell can go through the interview process again, I hope that the Rams would take another look at Ron Rivera, too.
Jim Thomas: Boy, funny you should mention that. I was thinking similar thoughts watching the Chargers frustrate Peyton Manning and the Colts the other day. I have no idea if the Rams plan to talk to him. Rivera did release a statement the other day saying he's not talking to any teams until the Chargers are out of the playoffs.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Coaching Search: Jim --

Adam Schefter reported on NFL.com today that the Rams received permission to interview Raheem Morris from Tampa Bay. Have you heard anything about this? Are there any other candidates the Rams are expected to seek out other than those mentioned by you in previous stories? When do you expect the Rams to make a decision and who is your early frontrunner for the job??
Jim Thomas: As you know, Adam has been hit and miss on this stuff. He was wrong about the second interview for Winston Moss. But right about Jim Fassel. I was told Sunday night by a "league source" _ a very good "league source" _that Morris wasn't in the Rams' plans. So I'll check on this and have something on-line and in the paper as soon as I can get some confirmation. As I've mentioned on the radio with Bernie, I rarely like to speculate. I like to deal in facts as much as possible. And sometimes it takes a little while to separate fact from speculation.
There could very well be other names, but I think the Rams are running out of time to identify new candidates. By the start of next week, they've got to begin honing in on their finalists, because other teams with vacancies are going to start naming their new coaches.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ramway: Hello Jim,

Do you think that Devaney has something in mind as to what the team needs to be fixed and will this affect his choice for the next head coach.

Does this maybe give Haslett an edge over the other candidates or does it favor another candidate.

Thanks
Jim Thomas: Obviously, Devaney has a good idea about what needs to be done to fix this team. The only way it might help Haslett is if the other candidates don't have a very clearcut idea on how to fix the Rams.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

cjw852: Jim:

If the Rams stay at #2 in the draft is it a given they will select an OT? Any thoughts on a LB or Crabtree?
Jim Thomas: I still think OT makes the most sense. But I'm sure they will consider LBs and Crabtree as well. And if the Rams somehow land an OT in free agency (Jordan Gross?) that might make LB or WR even stronger possibilities.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Steve Roberts: Little off base but is Samir Suleiman still going to have a job within the Rams organization. It seemed Jay Zygmunt and John Shaw covered for him after the Martz quote and I'm wondering with those two out of the spotlight, will he continue to keep his job?

Any word on who will be managing the salary cap with Jay Zygmunt out of the equation.
Jim Thomas: Interesting question, and very pertinent, since someone should be speaking with Bartell and Atogwe agents as we speak. I believe Samir is still around, but don't know if he's currently working on contracts.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ramfandan: Hi Jim,
Read your piece that Devaney said Winston Moss interview was impressive. Also noted that no 2nd interview was planned and that Beathard (due to family issue) was not present for the Moss interview. Is it your sense that Moss is 'one and done' (despite the impressive comment) or that possibly Devaney is waiting til more are interviewed til he decides who will be brought back? What is your sense with Moss ?

Ramfandan
Jim Thomas: My sense is that Moss is not a leading candidate, and probably isn't ready.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

got2golfjk: When last the RAMS were looking for a new H/C, several names were bandied about , virtually all of whom were " defensive -oriented " coachs , (Ron Rivera , eg ) and nowhere did the name SCOTT LINEHAN appear on that short-list. Was anyone EVER able to find out what it was that so over-whelmed Mr. Shaw about Linehan , so much so that he had Linehan whisked to Sedona to meet Georgia ,in person , and what it was that he was purporting that he could do that so mesmerized the RAMS' hierarchy into hiring him ? Appeared that he was a MASTER-salesman .
Jim Thomas: I think the smaller the group, the more impressive Linehan becomes. In other words, he works better and more of his personality comes out in smaller groups. I know Linehan was very well organized. He was brought to Sedona to see Georgia as part of the final interview. Georgia wanted to meet with Rivera too, but for some reason _ which I'm not entirely sure of _ she met only with Linehan.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

diehard fan: Jim, can you tell us why the rookie wide receivers haven't seemed to improve on route running? I'm starting to wonder if it's learning, or coaching. We all heard Larry Fitzgerald say Warner taught him how to be a receiver.
Jim Thomas: I do think they improved, don't get me wrong on that, but it's a complex offense and there were still some breakdowns. Even Torry Holt, in year 10, misses a hot read every now and then.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

R.O.T: Hey JT,
Any chance the rams trade down in the first and possibly take the best defensive player available and pick up an OT in the top of the second and is Incognito done as a ram thanks JT.
Jim Thomas: All things are possible in early January.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

etp_stl: Mr. Thomas,

I'm quite interested in the way you feel the search is going.

1) Are you concerned that Rex Ryan is receiving too much praise for a defense that has been dominant through three different Defensive Coordinators? I have seen little difference in results there from Marvin Lewis to Mike Nolan to Rex Ryan.

2) Do you know why he was passed over by the Ravens and the Falcons last year for lesser known candidates?

3) How do you believe Devaney is going to evaluate a candidate's ability to manage the decisions on game day? This seems to be the biggest danger in hiring a coordinator to fit into the big head-set.

Thanks for any insight.
Jim Thomas: 1.) Don't get me wrong, I believe Ryan deserves consideration. But I think the points you raise are valid.
2.) Don't know. Good question. But keep in mind, too, that Tony Dungy was passed over many times before Tampa Bay took a chance on him in 1996.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CYCLONE RAM: Good Day Jim- I live in WI and went to several practices in Mequon- have the Rams decided where camp will be in 2009?
Jim Thomas: No they haven't. But if Haslett is retained, they will train in St. Louis at Rams Park.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Steve B.: Jim:
Thanks for these chats.
Last week you wrote an article stating that Ram scouts are at a disadvantage because of the coaching uncertainty, particularly that they don't know if the team will play a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense.
My own reading of the situation is that the Rams are in a bad position, personnel wise, to switch to a 3-4. Their LB's are too small, and even the D ends are problematic. Carriker might be able to slim down and switch to D end, but you probably need a whole new LB corps, excepting perhaps Spoon, who, if healthy, might play OLB in a 3-4. Chris Long has to go to LB, so does Little, if retained. Not to mention a nose tackle. You simply can't play a 3-4 without a big, slobbery guy clogging up the middle.
Given all those needs, how realistic is it to switch to full time 3-4, and do you think a 3-4 coach like Ryan be at a disadvatage in the selction process?
Jim Thomas: In the 3-4, the DEs actually are the size of Carriker. It's the OLBs, the rush ends, that have to be bigger (250 pounds) but still mobile. The question is can Little and Long adjust to being OLBs in a true 3-4. The Rams almost certainly would need a big wide-body as a run stuffer. And even if Long and Little could make the switch to OLB, they'd still need some help in the middle.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1978_rams_fan: Jim:

I keep hearing from many at the national media level that is a given that the Rams are definitely for sale and that it should occur at some point this year. In the past when teams are sold it typically "stays behind close doors" up until is almost a done deal. I read that one of the Vikings minority owners is trying to put a group and take a run at the Rams. Out in LA, Ed Roskie is also interested in getting a team. Can you share anything on these rumors or any other potential buyers? The national media sure thinks is going to happen.
Jim Thomas: To the best of my knowledge, nothing is imminent.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sam: Jim-
Thanks for taking questions every week. I was watching a little of the Fiesta Bowl last night, and I wondered if you had any thoughts on Colt McCoy. If he declares this year, it doesn't sound like he'll be a 1st rounder. It seems like he would fit in well in a rush-centered offense w/ Steven Jackson - play-action, scrambles, etc. Thanks for your input.
Jim Thomas: I've watched him play several times on TV, but haven't really watched him if you know what I mean. What do you think of his arm strength and accuracy. I loved his resiliency last night in the Fiesta Bowl.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

dfwramsfan: Hey Jim,

Do you have any feeling as to Devaney's preference on changing to a 3-4, how will this impact who the next coach will be?
Jim Thomas: Whether it's 3-4 or 4-3, Devaney will leave that up to the next head coach.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

reggiec: Sorry Jim, knew to this as I just signed up today but this was original question, again, Thanks.

Gut feeling if the Rams are willing to spend big bucks with the second overall pick on an offensive tackle when there seems to be several opinons on which OT is actually worthy of a second overall pick. I look around myself and there are certainly no Jake Long types this year.

Since we cannot afford a QB due to Bulgers contract, I feel this would be a great year to trade down to a team that doe need a QB. Thats of course if Bradford comes out. Thank You Jim for doing this.
Jim Thomas: Reggie--I think Oher and Smith (if he comes out) are rated very highly.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RealRamsFan: Hello Jimmy,
Got some tough questions for you. What are your opinions for the HC being interviewed. Who have I missed?

Haz - He was giving a bad rap in NO and here too. I say 2 year deal. He showed me enough with taking a bad team that couldn’t even compete to a team that won 2 and lost the last 4 out of 5 games by 4 pts.

Rex Ryan – He’s a great DC but is he a HC? He could be another Martz. This one could blow up in our face or could be the best move ever. Lovie Smith is a great DC but not so impressed with his HC skills. We need someone that can not only turn the team around but the organization too. I just don’t know if he’s the guy that can do it.

Brian Billick - I think he could be tough enough to get this team and organization turned around. If he has a good OC and DC I wouldn’t mind having him as a HC.

Fassel – Not tough enough to be HC of the rams. Players will lay down on him.

Leslie Frazier – I would put him in the same class as Ryan but would take Ryan over Frazier.

Winston Moss – Is he really getting a second interview?

Russ Grimm – Umm no to anyone from Ar team. Need I say any more.

Mike Munchak – who? OL coach.. come on! Might as well start looking at college coaches.
Jim Thomas: Just a couple comments. I'm told the Rams aren't interested in Billick. There are no plans for a second Moss interview.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Joe: It looks like Devaney is going after a Defensive coach. With a D coordinator like Ryan or Frazier (who was a secondary coach), or a secondary coach like Raheem Morris or Todd Bowels, do you think there would still be hope for Tye Hill?
Jim Thomas: During the season-ending evaluations by Rams coaches at the end of Hill's rookie year (2006), he was rated I believe the sixth-best player on the roster. You may scoff at that, but he did have a decent rookie year. So I think no matter who is coach, there is still hope for Hill. He's got to stay healthy and get his confidence back.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ActionJackson39: Jim,

I just heard Peter King from this past weekend and he REALLY didn't think the Rams would be able to attract a top-tier guy due to the ownership situation and Chip looking to sell the team this year.

Your thoughts?
Jim Thomas: I heard Peter recently on the radio as well. I correspond with Chip Rosenbloom on a fairly regular basis, and again, I'm not saying the team isn't for sale or won't be sold. But every indication I have is that nothing is imminent.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bobincorona: Jim,

You had reported that there was a restriction on what the Rams would want to pay for a head coach and then Chip came out and said there are no monetary limits in the search.

Did Chip change his mind and is now willing to pay whatever it takes or was his statement window dressing to pacify the fan base?

Personally when this dog and pony show is all over I still see Haslett being given the position with two high profile co-ordinators at his side with the reasoning that Haslett did a great job considering the situation.
Jim Thomas: I don't think Chip changed his mind. But I still think at the end of the day, the Rams are much more likely to be hiring a coach in the $2 million to $2.5 million range. Besides, almost all of the "high-priced" guys _ Cowher, Shanahan, Schottenheimer _ are out of the mix. None are looking to work in '09. So the point's kind of moot. Unless we're talking about _ on a slightly lower pay scale _ someone like Spagnuolo, Garrett, or even McDaniels.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Web: Thanks for taking our questions, Jim.

Do you think there's any way we could trade Bulger and Jackson? Just kidding.

How serious should we take these first-round coaching interviews (i.e. Moss, Frazier, Fassel). And, do you know what the problem was w/ Fassel the first time around (money, personality, interview, Zygunt/Shaw?).

Thanks
Jim Thomas: Hah-hah on Bulger and Jackson.
As for first-round interviews, one of them might just wow the Rams. Mike Tomlin wasn't at the top of Pittsburgh's list at first.
As for Fassel, my sense is he was more of an insurance policy (as a former head coach who had at least some degree of success) in case the less proven guys (finalists Linehan, Cam Cameron, and Ron Rivera) shot craps in their final interviews.
With that, I'll have to go. Talk to you all next week.