Jim Thomas Live

DQRAM: Hi Jim, Thanks for the update on the dome plans. Are they doing anything with the sound system? It is really bad. Do they have any plans to show the PSL holders what the upgrades will look like before the ticket renewals come due? I am surprised they haven't got bids back when they have known about this for 2 years. It goes without saying the team needs to be better, but the dome upgrades can't hurt. Thanks, Joel
Jim Thomas: I agree with you that the sound system is bad, at least it sounds bad at press box levels. To my knowledge there are no plans to upgrade the sound system this time around. As for letting PSL holders see what the upgrades look like, I don't know. I'll try to check on that
Norm: Hi Jim,

Great news to hear Billy Devaney...a true football person...will now be the GM and will be in total charge of acquiring all players and recommending the head coach to Chip. I can see why Chip is retaining John Shaw for league matters and sitting in on league meetings but if like Chip says, JS will no longer be involved in football operations, why will he be sitting in on the interviews for the head coach? The selection should be BD's and JS should not have anything to do with the hiring. It should be the decision of Chip and BD alone.

Thanks
Jim Thomas: Excellent point. If John Shaw is not going to be involved in "football" matters, why is he participating in the final interviews? I don't get it.
lawdog: Now that this, the most miserable exhibition I have ever seen put on by a professional football team and actually called a "season" this side of Detroit os over, it's obvious we need a new coach. If Vermeil is too old or uninterested, maybe we should check out that young fella who coaches USC's Trojans. By the time we clean house we will have a very young team. A top college coach who's considered a player's coach might be just the ticket. Pete Carroll didn't do well last time he coached in the NFL--but that was centuries ago. Besides, he probably knows half the players in the NFL personally since they used to play for the Trojans. ;-)

As I see it, we'll need at least 3 great drafts where we pick no lower than #3, along with some savvy FA signings to rebuild this toilet material known as the Rams back into respectability. This doesn't count the one we've already had last year. I rank our positions of need in the following order:


1.Offense Left Tackle
2.Middle Linebacker
3.safety capable of playing strong safety and still cover.
4.Defensive End
5.Defensive Tackle
6.Wide Receiver
7.Quarterback
8.Cornerback
9.center
10.right offensive tackle
12.Blocking Back

3 top picks on the first day of three consecutive drafts can bring us 9 of thoe players. The other 3 will have to be quality FAs. The other holes we have on the offensive line can probably be plugged by mid round picks or mid value FAs.
Jim Thomas: Pete Carroll is king of southern California. Why would he want to leave that for an NFL job with the Rams?
Paulpadilla28: Hi Jim, is thier a way the rams could trade steven jackson for multible first round picks? say get a crabtree with our pick, smith, and a middle linebacker,all in first round.
thanks.
Jim Thomas: No.
dominic zappia: Hey Jim:
Hope you had an awesome holiday,but its time to talk draft...yes! Since the Rams have secured the 2nd pick in the draft,I say trade it! Their will be teams willing to trade up,just like they tried last year.My opinion,Chris Long was no difference maker and we could of had 2 players instead of just him.This draft is deep intackles and we can get one later in the 1st round.After sundays game,its obvious we need players,especially on defence.Our linebackers are horrible and we need a bigger line,both sides.Your thoughts?
Happy New Year!
Jim Thomas: I think Devaney is always willing to listen to trade offers, and there's no doubt the Rams could use more picks. If the Rams truly are targeting an offensive tackle, I don't think they'd want to move down too far.
Gary: Hi Jim,

Now that the season is over, when can they start interviewing process. If Spagnuolo is on the list, can they interview since they probably have a bye this week? As for Jim Schwartz and Rex Ryan, what do you feel is the strength and weakness of both of them. Do you feel Devaney has a preference of one or the other? If the Rams had to pick between the two, I like other Rams fans would like Ryan over Schwartz.
Jim Thomas: As I reported today, Spagnuolo is not on the Rams' list. He's out of their price range.
I really don't know enough about Schwartz and Ryan at this point to compare strengths and weaknesses. I think there's a chance both could be finalists.
Philly Rams Fan: Jim,
I don't know too much about Billy Devany. Can you tell me why we should have confidence that he'll be able to turn things around? Does he have that good a track record that we should be confident in him? Also, do you think anyone else will be bought in (high profile) to help him?
Jim Thomas: Devaney announced today that Bobby Beathard and Lawrence McCutcheon will join him on a committee to conduct the preliminary interviews. Also, Marshall Faulk and Dan Dierdorf will be advisors (they will not participate in interviews.)
This is the first time Devaney has truly headed a personnel department, so it's not like he's made many major decisions on his own. He did help engineer the three-way trade that brought John Abraham to Atlanta. He was also in San Diego, working for Bobby Beathard, when the Chargers drafted Ryan Leaf No. 2 overall. But he has been in the game for a while, is organized, is a hard worker, and seems to have good football instincts.
rams2050: Hi, Jim!

First of all, I'm in favor of Coach Haslett being retained. Whether you like him or not everyone has to admit that the team that we saw the past several games is much improved over the team that played the last several games of 2007 for Loser-han.

Haslett, I've heard, had little say in which defensive players he was given so those who point at his do-nothing defense are finding fault with circumstances much of which were not of his choosing.

Haslett was saddled with Linehan's ex-coaches and coordinators -- few of whom, I'd guess, would have been Haslett's number one choices had the job been his from the get-go.

Haslett has many of the team's top-tier players (or those who should have been top tier) out on injured reserve. Who knows what a healthy Randy McMichael, for instance, might have done to infuse life into the team during the final minutes of the fourth quarter? What about a non-ailing Leonard Little? Or a Drew Bennett who could actually catch a pass without falling injured to the turf?

Haslett came in, mid-stream, and tried to breathe some life into a faltering team, a beaten down team that had no faith in itself. Front office woes had every team member wondering what would happen next. A culture of fear and uncertainty was pervasive, but Haslett did his level best to dispel that culture and get his players mentally ready to play the game on Sunday. For that I admire him, despite the losing record which, in reality, still has to be judged a Linehan failure. (They are his guys and his coaches, after all).

Now, after all my long-winded rambling, I'd also like to point out that something drastically has changed in the front office, albeit Haslett or Devaney, when it comes to the assessment of raw talent. I'm not only talking draft here, I'm talking about the diamond-in-the-rough raw talent that the Rams have been plucking off the street and off of other teams' practice squads. I can't understand why all these so-called 'fans' who are so quick to give Haslett the boot are unable to discern that we have some real 'keepers' in the mix now, guys who get the job done or who have shown that they are coachable to the extreme and will be able at some point soon to get the job done. I include in this list:

Jason Craft
Ken Darby
Daniel Fells
Gary Stills
Larry Grant (yes, one boo-boo yesterday but 5 or 6 special teams tackles afterwards)
Maybe one other whose name is eluding me right now.

Someone has an eye for raw talent. Someone is coaching these guys up because some of them have been very good indeed. Or perhaps they just look very good compared with the rest of the team.

Be that as it may, who is finding these raw gems? Is it Devaney? Haslett? Or a combination of the two?

And if Haslett is dumped, what's to say we (the Rams) won't have to re-invent the wheel all over again? In other words, who's to say Ryan isn't the second coming of Loser-han? Can we really afford another 3 year experiment with an unproven coach who will be coming in to St. Louis blind?

Has knows these guys. He knows what's needed to field a winner. I think it's important to look at the fact that 57 of 61 team members signed a petition to retain his services despite knowing that of that 57 a good number would be axed by Has, regardless of his personal feelings for them as men or as friends.

Has had a bad owner in New Orleans. He dealt with Katrina. After all of that adversity I feel confident that he can get the job done here.

I guess my sole question is who is finding these great practice squad and street pickups?

Thanks, Jim, for all you do for us fans online.
Jim Thomas: I think the credit on finding the Darby, Fells, Grant, etc., goes to Devaney and his scouting staff.
As for Craft, he's a guy that Haslett had pushed for since near the end of training camp.
Dejan: Hi Jim!
Hello from Serbia!

Any idea on who are Rams HC candidates? Does OC McDaniels from Patriots have any chance, are Rams interested in him? He studied from the best, was for a long time in a good system!
How about JOn Gruden, JIm Johnson, Mike Shanahan?
Rams fans from Serbia really like rams blue and gold uniform and we really like gold pants from Super Bowl with Patriots?
Jim Thomas: Dejan, As I reported today, McDaniels already is out of the Rams' price range.
Gruden and Shanahan have jobs; Johnson has been out of the game a while. I don't think he's getting back into coaching.
New owner Chip Rosenbloom does not like the current gold pants; that's why you saw them only once this year.
BillP: Hello Jim, if Haslett does stay and bring his own Offensive Coordinator. Any idea what kind of offense does he rely on? Any idea what the Saints use to run under him? Even though I'm not a big Bulger fan, I do think Marc might have more success in a West Coast type of offense with more 2 back sets. I appreciate your input. Thanks and Have a Happy New Year!
Jim Thomas: Haslett wants to feature a power running game (with Steven Jackson) behind a big-powerful offensive line, mixing in the play-action pass.
Darren: Couple of questions.
#1 Do you know if Devaney is on board with training camp being held in Wisconsin? How much input did her have in that decision?
#2 Is there any evidence suggesting how Devaney would run this draft? Does he like to make trades, etc?
#3 Has the role of Tony Softli changed any or do you expect it will change this offseason?

One last question, if Haslett gets fired don't you think he'd be a perfect fit for the Bills?
Jim Thomas: 1.) I believe the decision to hold camp in Wisconsin was Linehan all the way. I don't know how Devaney feels about camp; usually such decisions are left up to the head coach. Haslett is on record saying he would train in St. Louis.
2.) Well, Devaney basically ran last year's draft. With his new title of general manager, I think he'll have more say over the draft than Softli or even Armey ever had in the past. As to whether or not Devaney likes to make trades, that's hard to say. He's never really been in that type of position before, even last year in St. Louis. As I mentioned earlier, he did make that three-way trade for John Abraham while with the Falcons. And of course, his background is with Bobby Beathard, who had a penchant for trading out of the first round.
3.) I think Softli is back in good graces at Rams Park, after getting on the wrong side of Jay Zygmunt in the past. I think Devaney values Softli's work on the draft.
--Yes, but that's assuming the bills have an opening.
MStern2009: Hi Jim, longtime Rams fan [back to the Roman Gabriel days] here in Sacramento. Here is my gameplan to bring the Rams back to respectability: Use the first round pick to take the best offensive tackle available. Get rid of Glover, Chavous, Klopfestein and Barron. Switch to a 3-4 defense and use your cap money to find the best run-stuffing nose tackle out there [they should have taken Kris Jenkins when he was offered to them years ago]. Switch Long to a rushing linebacker spot, with Hawaii50 or Witherspoon as the bookend. Switch Carriker to defensive end. Trade Torry Holt for the best draft choice you can get, probably a 3 or 4. Use that pick to draft a project quarterback for the future. Use your remaining draft picks to take the best athletes available, and your remaining free agent money to plug the holes that you cannot fill in the draft, most notably at fullback, inside linebackers, and defensive backs. What do you think?
Jim Thomas: Actually, you've got it in reverse. There's two months of free agency before the draft. So free agency affects what you do in the draft, not vice versa. Many of your ideas have merit, but if there's a new head coach, who knows?
ellsworth11: Besides Chip Rosenbloom, isn't there another son named Steve? I thought he was involved with the team at some point years ago. What's he up to these days? Is he still involved in football?
Jim Thomas: Yes, but he hasn't been involved since the early days of Georgia's owning the team in L.A. And I think he was Carroll Rosenbloom's son through a previous marriage.
West Coast Ram: Hello Jim,
At his size, speed and age is there any realistic way that Pisa Tinoisamoa could be converted to strong safety?
A request more than a question, in looking at other starting QBs around the league could you rate Bulger's ball fake skills (play action pass, draw, etc.).
Thanks for a great year of coverage.
Jim Thomas: I think the only hesitation on Pisa at SS is how well he could handle the additional coverage responsibilities at that position.
As for Bulger's ball-fake skills, while conceding that it's not something I have studied, I'd say middle of the pack.
Ruben: Jim, now that the football season over, I hope you will continue to inform us with these chats throughout the best part of the Rams season, the off-season. Seems like there have been more "victory's" in the off-season, then real victory's the last few years. Do you think the Rams will act quickly enough to coach in the Senior Bowl? I know the ownership is in limbo until there is a sale, but do you think that they will go after a top notch free agent, Haynesworth, or keep total salaries down, until sold?
Jim Thomas: I don't think the staff will be in place by the Senior Bowl.
The Rams traditionally have spent to the cap in St. Louis. I don't see that changing. Whether that means they will go after a mega-bucks free agent, I'm not sure.
West Coast Ram: Jim,
One more question before the chats end, do you think that Pete Carroll will return to the NFL?
Jim Thomas: Why would he? He's got a pretty good gig in Trojan-land.
butsir@columbus.rr.com: Good afternoon, Jim.
I watched the Cleveland BRowns'tv show last night on FoxSportsOhio and the two guys who cover the team both think that Derek Anderson will not be back.
Is Anderson a reasonable Plan B for QB in 2009, given all of the Rams' other needs?
Thanks, Jim.

don in columbus
Jim Thomas: With all of the other needs, I don't see it happening. But again, a new head coach could change that dynamic.
Encino: (a) What's your evaluation of Long's performance, considering he was a first rounder; and (b) Another first rounder, Carriker, had a mediocre season but the excuse was he played injured. Is this a legitimate excuse, and do you think he will emerge next season as a player who was worth the first round pick?
Jim Thomas: Long's play leveled off over the second half of the season. At midseason, I would've said he was playing better than expected. Over the long haul, you need more than four sacks out of a No. 2 overall pick.
I do think injuries playing a major role in Carriker's lack of progess. Even before the ankle and second shoulder injury, he began the season coming off major shoulder surgery _ a shoulder that was only about 85 percent healthy. I think we'll get a truer read of Carriker next season.
L&L: Jim,
Are we going to get interviews set up with Spagnuolo or Schwartz this week?
Thanks,
Luke
Jim Thomas: I'm still checking on Schwartz. As I reported in today's paper, Spangnulo is out of the picture.
ctramsfan: Jim, here is my offseason plan for the Rams:

1. Sign Heath Evans to be the lead blocker for Jackson.
2. Sign Matt Birk to man the center of the line.
3. Sign Luke McCown to back-up Bulger.
4. Sign Dominic Rhodes to back-up Jackson.
5. Sign Andre Goodman to help the corner position.
6. Sign Marvel Smith to add depth to the tackle position.
7. Sign Terrell Suggs to bolster the pass rush.
8. Re-sign Bartell, Atogwe, Craft, Darby, Fells, Goldberg, Romberg, Stills, Grant.
9. Address offensive tackle, defensive tackle, safety, wide receiver, quarterback, middle linebacker, ( take in second or third round and move Witherspoon to the outside) positions in the draft.
10. Either retain Haslett or bring in Rex Ryan/Jim Schwartz

Your thoughts?
Jim Thomas: Sounds like a pretty good plan. But that's going to take a fair amount of money. And how many of those free agents will still be available once we get to free agency?
ctramsfan: Jim, do you think the Rams will re-sign Bartell, Atogwe, and Craft? Also do you think they will re-sign Darby, Fells, Stills, Grant, Romberg, and Goldberg? Also who do you think will be cut among the key players, (Barron, Bennett, Little, Pace, Holt, Chavous T. Green, etc.) and who will be retained?

Thanks for your time
Jim Thomas: There's a chance Bartell and Atogwe may follow Haslett if he's not retained by the Rams. But before all is said and done, Atogwe may be franchised by St. Louis.
I think the Rams would like to re-sign Craft. Darby, Fells, and Grant already are under contract for 2009. Among the others, I think the Rams want Goldberg back for sure. I think Little and Bennett are back for sure in that group. Not sure about the others. Again, this could all change with a new head coach.
L&L: Jim,
Do you think we'll have any interest in Mangini?
Thanks,
Luke
Jim Thomas: Don't know. He did have two winning seasons in three years with the Jets.
ctramsfan: Jim, what areas do you think the Rams will address in free agency? Also, have you heard of any specific players that the Rams might have interest in?

Thanks for your time
Jim Thomas: Way early on this front. The Rams have really done work only on what they call the "A" guys _ or top tier free agents. They've yet to do comprehensive research on the "B" or "C" list guys. And trouble is, most of the "A" list guys get re-signed or are franchised before the start of free agency. You can be sure if OT Jordan Gross (Carolina) or C Matt Birk (Minnesota) reach the open market the Rams will be interested.
CaliforniaRamFan: Jim:

Timeline for a new coach in place? A name that we haven't heard much is Jim Fassell. He has a proven track record (took Giants to the Super Bowl), would garner support from players because of his ability to hold players accountable and has many NFL contacts that could enable him to put together a great staff. Is he getting any consideration?
Jim Thomas: I can't see Fassel happening. He was considered by the Rams last time, and wasn't even a finalist. He's been out of the game for a while now. I haven't heard his name come up. And actually one of the criticisms of him in New York was that he was too easy on the players, which is why the Giants went with more of a disciplinarian in Coughlin.
Alex Barron: Should I pack my bags and get ready to play elsewhere or do you think I'll finally get a shot to play my natural position at LT?
Jim Thomas: Alex, I think they're looking at replacing you. And did you forget, you started 15 games at left tackle in 2007 when Pace was injured.
stlouieram41: Why do I keep hearing certain coaches are "out of the rams price range" Last time I checked, there is no salary cap on head coaches, and if management wants to win fans back, should'nt they pay up and show the fans they are serious about turning things around.
Jim Thomas: Let me just say this: My source on McDaniels and Spagnuolo being out of the Rams' price range was impeccable. Obviously, Chip and Lucia are well off by most standards, but they're not rolling in dough by NFL owners standards. Salary for coaches does not come out of the salary cap; it comes out of their pockets. All those empty seats at the Edward Jones Dome translates into less money in their pockets.
Jim S.: JT-Thanks for these chats. They sure have made this season a bit more easy to take. My question concerns Chris Long vs Glen Dorsey. Do you have any insight into how Dorsey's season went? Haslett wanted GD. Would the Rams have been better going that direction, (using a little hindsight)? I ask this realizing that neither is a finished product yet, but did we make the right choice? Also, who in the FO made the final decision to take CL over GD? Again, thanks for the chats...Jim
Jim Thomas: Dorsey didn't exactly light it up in KC from what I'm told. So I really think it's too early to tell.
ramtim: Jim

In the 2009 draft,do you feel if their is any possibility of the Rams being able to put together a package deal/trade using their pick and Bulger trade to be able to draft a Quarterback if their is one that fits what the Rams are looking for and the best O-lineman available.
Jim Thomas: BULGER WILL NOT BE TRADED.
Faris: Who would you say is front runner for the head coaching job. I really want Spagnola. We need energy and a yeller on the sideline for a change! Also, I like Haslett, but he should not be our head coach. The Rams desperately need change, and we need a coach that sees things differently. What are the odds on Haslett, Spagnola, Rex Ryan, Cowher, Schottenheimer, and Schwartz. Any others? Thanks.
Jim Thomas: Forget about Spagnuolo and Cowher. The others are possibilities.
gmavris: Rick Venturi is a former head coach at Northwestern University and longtime NFL assistant known for his defense. As head coach of Northwestern, his career record was 1-31-1, as he coached the early segment of Northwestern's Division I record 34-game losing streak. Venturi has served as defensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, and currently serves in the position with the St. Louis Rams. With both the Colts and Saints, Venturi has also served as an interim head coach - in 1991 with the Colts and 1996 with the Saints. As a head coach, his career record stands at 2-17.

So as a "leader", Mr. Venturi is 3-48-1 as the head guy and is part of the division 1 losing streak record. Yet he is Haslett's right hand man. You hear the saying, "surround yourself with the best people", Haslett has done literally the opposite. Any chance that if Haslett is actually brought back and I cancel my PSL's, that Rick "the biggest loser statistically as a head coach outside the washington generals" venturi is brought back?
Jim Thomas: If Haslett comes back, I believe the plan is to have Venturi as either an assistant head coach, or the linebackers coach, or both. But he will not be the defensive coordinator.
Robert Salamon: Jim: In a couple of your stories you say that some coaching prospects are out of the Ram's "PRICE RANGE", why is this, they have made a fortune off St. Louis and the fans we have given them everything and really except for a three year stretch they have given us nothing. I will have nothing to do with the Rams organization anymore, no more PSL's, tickets, nada as long as John Shaw has anything other than consult on the tax issue with the estate, this man knows nothing about St. Louis, the fans, what the real contempt we have with him. Chip should sell this team because all we have is the main decision makers still in LA and not here where somebody needs to be part of this community. I would rather have a Jerry Jones own our football team, be on the field every game and be in the Coaches and Players briefs that to have what the Ram's have. To bad alot of people in the community feel the same, WHAT DO YOU REALLY THINK? SINCE THIS IS LA OWNERSHIP LETS TELL IT LIKE IT IS IN LA!!!!!!
Jim Thomas: I believe the Rams want to spend about $2 million to $2.5 million a year on a head coach. Chip and Lucia aren't swimming in money. The Rams are in the lower third of the league in terms of being a profitable franchise. A very good source _ outside the building _ told me that Spagnuolo and McDaniels would cost way more than the Rams are looking to pay.
Petey123: Jim, why have the coaching candidates fly to LA instead of St. Louis for the interviews? Just another reason fans might think a move to LA is possible. Also, Shaw will sit in on the final interviews, great. With the Rams, it seems the more things change the more they stay the same.
Jim Thomas: Hard to argue with your points.
den-the-coach: Jim,

Thanks for the forum and I am a bit concerned reading the article that put high profile assistants Steve Spagnuolo and Josh McDaniels out of the Rams price range. The Rams spend millions on someone like Drew Bennett, but they do not have the revenue to hire a quality Head Football Coach? I might be able to swollow the inability to go after the likes of Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer, but the Rams cannot even interview assistants that have never been Head Coaches before? Simply Amazing!
Jim Thomas: Sorry to disappoint you. It is what it is. Spagnuolo is already making $2 million a year as a defensive coordinator for the Giants.
Vote no on Haslett: I can't recall the last time I missed a Rams game. But if Haslett is hired as the coach I can tell you that I will miss many if not all. I base my intended actions on his track record with the Rams. As a leader it is his job to get the most out of the players and to hold them accountable when he doesn't. These are the two big areas that he has failed in over the last 3 years. How many of the same mistakes can the defense make?

The players like him but don't play for him. Give me a coach who will get the most out of his group of players. Haslett isn't that type of coach. Or he hasn't shown that to me and the rest of the fans.

If he is chosen then I will stop watching and buying. A difficult promise but one I intend to keep.
Jim Thomas: Obviously it's your prerogative to attend games or not attend games. Or to like Haslett or not like Haslett.
But how can you insinuate that the effort was not there from the players? Only three of the 12 teams that Haslett faced as head coach had losing records.
Over the last third of the season, the Rams lost by four to Miami, by three to Seattle, by one point to San Francisco, by four points to Atlanta. They had late fourth quarter leads against Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta. So criticize him for blowing leads late. Criticize him for the poor run defense. But this team played their rear ends off down the stretch. I think anyone watching the team closely over the last month or so would've noticed that.
Goomo: Jim, thanks for your time. Please tell me why the rams are not considering Scott Pioli? Is there any worry that maybe Billy Devaney is not the man for the job? Second question, can you explain the economics as to why the rams can not pony up for the high price candidates? Many of us fans do not understand how you can't spend a little extra on the coaching staff/front office and have a bigger ROI. Thanks again.
Jim Thomas: If the Rams hired Scott Pioli, then what exactly would Devaney do? Sharpen pencils?
Brock Landers: Jim: Assuming Haslett is a legitimate candidate for this job, how much emphasis will Devaney put into the following:
*Haslett's knowledge of the personnel
*Haslett's staff choices, especially OC and DC
*Haslett's "plan" to fix this mess

What are the major criteria for other candidates, in order of priority? Things like leadership, experience at NFL, staff make up, etc.

Thank you.

BL
Jim Thomas: Brock I think all of those areas will be points of emphasis with Devaney when he talks to Haslett.
As Devaney has outlined it: He's looking for leadership, NFL experience (but not necessarily head-coaching experience), ability to be a voice for the organization _ both via the media and in the community.
Steve B.: Jim:
Do you have a sense of whether the Rams will even consider Haslett as the next coach? No mention of him being interviewed that I can find.
If there is a new coach, could that lessen the chances of our two secondary guys, Atogwe and Bartell, re-signing?
I'd hate to think of the shape of the Rams' secondary if both those guys leave. Still, it's a tough sell when the team loses ten in a row under an interim coach, no matter how well-liked the by the players.
Jim Thomas: Devaney said at his media briefing today that Haslett will be a finalist, so he won't be involved in the preliminary readings.
As I mentioned before, there's a chance that Bartell and Atogwe may want to follow Haslett (although Atogwe is likely to be franchised.)
Gabriel 2 Snow: When Devaney was involved in a coaching search in SD, who was hired? Please don't say Norv Turner.
Jim Thomas: Deaveny was long gone by the time Turner was hired. During his tenure in San Diego, the Chargers hired Bobby Ross, Kevin Gilbride, and Mike Riley.
Gabriel 2 Snow: Devaney wasn't part of the group of geniuses that fired a 14-2 head coach in Shottenheimer was he? If he was, how much of that decision sticks to him?
Jim Thomas: Devaney left the Chargers following the 2000 season _ two years before Schottenheimer was even hired there.
Jeremy (Denver): Jim,
Will you please keep these chats going in the offseason on a weekly basis? With so much going on this offseason, we fans are going to be hungry for information!
Jim Thomas: We will try to keep these chats going for much of the offseason.
midnighter67: I guess it's pointless to guess on personnel moves until the new coaching staff is in place but don't you think Darby has earned some serious consideration as a keeper? He seems to be a much better runner and blocker than Pittman or Leonard plus Leonard has been hurt a lot the last two years. I really like the way he runs and he should be at least the number three tailback.
Jim Thomas: Darby is under contract for 2009. So regardless of who's coach I would think he'd at least be invited to camp. I think the current coaching staff would really like Darby as the No. 3 man in the backfield next year behind Jackson and the No. 2 to be named later. Darby's a tough runner, a good pass catcher, and a good blocker.
Joe Stafford: Jim, any chance of Haslett returning and bringing in Mike Martz and Dom Capers as coordinators, or is this just some bogus rumor?
Jim Thomas: Martz just got dismissed in San Francisco today. And no, I don't think these are rumors. The key is, would the Rams _ with Shaw still on the scene as an "advisor" _ hire Martz back?
Joe Stafford: Jim, what's likely going to happen with Torry Holt? He started playing better at seasons end, will he deside to stay, or is he on his way out as well.
Jim Thomas: I don't know if it was a case of Holt playing better or a case of the team deciding to throw to him more often. For the longest time, the Rams seemed like they were almost force-feeding the ball to Avery. Holt is not happy here. But he's still under contract here. I think it will take some talking with him, but I'm not even sure that the current staff wants him back.
ramrage: Hello Jim,

Al Saunders has seemed too quiet in all these discussions of coaching change. Is he out? I always thought he was an offensive genius, and thought it was a bummer that he lost his tight end this season, had a spotty offensive line, a gimpy Jackson, a Holt that hit his stride late in the season, and a couple of rookie wideouts who made some rookie mistakes. I won't mention Drew Bennett--I think his loss was a net gain. Do you think Al Saunders has a future, or would a new head coach mean a new Offensive Coordinator as well?
Jim Thomas: New head coaches almost always bring in their own coordinators.
Joe Stafford: Jim, Does Billy Devaney have any real power, ie total say in picking a coach or players, or does John Shaw still have final say? Shaw is fine for the league meetings and such, but a football man needs to be in charge of the football stuff.
Jim Thomas: We're about to find out.
ramfan76: Hey Jim thanks for your time. Hope you had a Merry X-mas and 2009 leads to better things for the Rams. Just a follow up from a question someone posted on the 16th re: Jacob Bell. What's the story on him, I didn't see any article following the question you "deferred". I really thought he would help take some pressure off of Big-O, but he hasn't been anywhere close to his advertisement. Here's the post:

ap4041: I'm sorry if this has been discussed to death, but what are the rams saying about Jacob Bell's apparent shrinking? Does Bell talk at all about why he isn't NEARLY as big as he was last year?
thanks
Jim Thomas: Sorry, but I'm going to have to keep you in suspense on this one for a few more days. I plan to have a story on this in the next few days.
Thanks!
Jim Thomas: We published a story on Jacob Bell about 10 days ago. Here it is:


Jacob Bell insists he’s not the incredible shrinking guard. Over the last month or so of this season, there has been much scuttlebut about Bell’s weight being down into the low 280s.

Since his listed playing weight coming into the NFL was 305 pounds, that would be an alarming weight loss of more than 20 pounds. Bell attempted to set the record straight in an interview earlier in the week.

“I came into the league at 305, but that was five years ago,” he said. “I had ACL (knee) surgery that offseason. I lost a bunch of weight; I never put it back on. I kind of liked the way I felt a little bit lighter, and I played well at that weight.”

Since his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans in 2004, Bell said he has played at 290 pounds throughout his career. So when he dipped down in the 280s, that represented a weight loss of only five pounds or so _ not 20-something pounds.

So he hasn’t lost a ton of weight.

“Not at all,” Bell said. “I’m usually dominating, no matter how big I am.”

He was joking when he said. Actually, Bell hasn’t been dominating as a Ram, although he has played better lately. Slowed by hamstring and foot injuries earlier in the season, Bell hasn’t looked like a $36 million man much of the season. That’s the total contract value of the six-year free-agent deal he signed with St. Louis last March 4.

Bell is the first to admit that big expectations come with big bucks in the NFL.

“Somebody like me, they expect a lot out of me,” he said. “There’s no room for error.
And when you’re losing, the spotlight’s that much bigger on every one of us. Because you’re losing for a reason. You’re not losing because of the coaches; you’re losing because the players aren’t getting the job done.”

The transition from Titan to Ram was tough on Bell at the start of the season.

“First game of the year, I thought I came out pretty decent _ there were a few things I could’ve gotten better at,” Bell said. “But then I had the stupid (hamstring) injury.”

That sidelined him for two games. Bell returned against Buffalo in Game 4 and played well, but then suffered a foot injury in Game 5 at Washing, which was Jim Haslett’s Rams head-coaching debut.

“I played all the way up to the (first) San Francisco game with pretty much a bum leg,” Bell said. “I was hobbling around. I was out there but I wasn’t playing my best football. . . .You want to be healthy. You want to be able to play the way you know you can play.”

Haslett agreed with the notion that Bell has play has improved down the stretch.

“He’s been playing with power,” Haslett said. “He’s added a couple pounds again. I think he’s played really well the last three or four weeks.”

Bell was the team’s highest-graded offensive lineman in the Seattle game. But even if tales of Bell’s weight loss are the stuff of urban legend, there’s no doubt that the Rams want him heavier in 2009.

“I would like to have him a little bit bigger,” Haslett said. “I know at one time, he said he was 300-something. I’d like to get him back up there if we could. I’d like to have a little bit bigger line. But he’s a good athlete. He has a good feel for the game. Good pass protector. We’d just like to have a little more, you know, lead behind him.”

Now, there’s another reason for Bell to bulk up because the Rams are thinking of trying him at right tackle next season. This may seem like a real-life exercise in fantasy football but it’s not as far-fetched as one might think.

Bell played a lot of tackle in college at Miami of Ohio, and started a few games at right tackle during his first two seasons with Tennessee.

“The original plan for me was to play left tackle there (at Tennessee),” Bell said.

But an injury to Titans left guard Zach Piller forced Bell into duty there as a rookie, and that’s eventually where he settled in. The Rams have talked to Bell about playing right tackle, and he has no problem with the potential switch.

“I’ve had some experience there,” Bell said. “I would like it. I think it’d be a challenge. . . .It would be something where I may want to bump my weight up _ maybe 10, 15 pounds, which is something I can do easily.”
larry wilson: Jim

I've been reading the various material about Haslett and the search for a new coach. Its disturbing to me that John Shaw is still in a position to influence this upcoming coaching decision, and that (from what Bernie says) all the interviews beyond the first one with potential candidates are in LA, not in StL. I know Shaw is supposedly Chip R's "senior" adviser, but it still smacks of the same old, same old in regards to Rams' decision-making. Will Billy D. have the final say in the head coaching appointment or John Shaw? What's your take on this - should fans be concerned?
Jim Thomas: Devaney told us today that he will have final say. We'll see in about 2-3 weeks.
I Needahammer: It is refreshing to read in your paper today that the 2 most talented coaches available "are out of the Rams price range". We fans have so much to look forward too. Chip should just let it be known that he will be hiring the coach that is willing to take the least amount of $ and the shortest term contract. I'm sure that Shaw will also agree with this idea.

Why doesn't your paper write some real articles on how the team is being held hostage while Chip trys to sell the team for top $? It seems that most of the articles are what I call suck-up. Just how much does Chip need to make on the sale? I've heard 800-900 mill... Come on, that's not going to happen. For that kind of $, the new owner will want to move the team into a real stadium. Don't the writters at the P D feel some sort of responsibility to the people of the STL?

Why not write some articles that will hold Chip's feet to the fire? Our ownership is to blame for this mess. Let's stop with the suck-up. The new coaching staff, if there is a "new" one, will not be hired with the sole interest of making Our Team a winner, and that is a SERIOUS PROBLEM.
Jim Thomas: If I was sucking up to Chip, why then would I write that Spagnuolo and McDaniels are out of the team's price range and get you all riled up?
Haden2Bulger: Jim,

The Martz vs. Zygmut problems were always hi-lited. Can you recall if Chip also had the same communication issues or dislike?

Second, what are your comments on Cowher coming to the Rams. Do we have a boat-load of money stashed somewhere for him?

With so many coaching jobs now open, some with teams that are closer to turning their ships around (like the NY Jets) Doesn't it seem less and less likely we'll have a quality canidate(s)?

Thanks! Rams Fan in El Segundo
Jim Thomas: If the Rams can't afford Spagnuolo and McDaniels, they certainly can't afford Cowher.
martin: To me, it makes sense to draft Sam Bradford (if available) and have him sit a year behind Bulger. He's a special talent. I've read the Rams have too much money tied up in the position, is that possible?! What realistic expectations should fans have about drafting a quarterback? Thanks.
Jim Thomas: I doubt that they use their first-round pick on a QB, but I think they'll draft a QB somewhere.
Freddie: I would like to know if Haslett stays will he start Bulger in 09
Jim Thomas: Yes.
Thomas: Just to make sure, Trent Green will be cut, right? What's the cap hit and who else do you think will and when will people start getting cut? This week, next month, March? Lemme know. Thanks.
Jim Thomas: I'm not sure if Green will be cut. I know he wants to keep playing.
Tim: Do you expect the Rams to go after a FA Wide reciever?
Jim Thomas: I think they do so only if Holt's gone.
Rollie Fingers: Jim,
I know we need offensive line help but from my vantage point our linebackers are poor. I give WW a pass for playing out of position but we need to upgrade the MLB and OLB opposite Will. Do you see this being addressed?
Jim Thomas: Yes, the Rams plan on addressing their linebacker situation. I don't know about taking a middle linebacker at No. 2 overall, though.
tbux: Jim- I have been very vocal on the Rams boards about wanting Rex Ryan the most for HC and Maualuga for our top pick (hopefully trading down a bit to get it) because I feel we truly need an identity- especially on defense and I think this combo does just that- what are your thoughts on this idea?
Jim Thomas: Nothing against Ryan. I hear some good things about him. But let's play devil's advocate. Have you ever wondered why Baltimore hired Harbaugh instead of him to replace Brian Billick?
And is Ryan simply a product of good talent? Two past defensive coordinators who had great success with the Ravens' defense went on to become NFL head coaches. Their names are Mike Nolan and Marvin Lewis.
Josh: Jim,

Plain and simple, if not given the interim job would anyone and I mean anyone given a serious head coach consideration to a guy whose defense never ranked above 28th in the league? Absolutely not. If Devaney is serious about not maintaining the status quo, I don't see how he can justify retaining Haslett.
Jim Thomas: Green Bay hired Mike McCarthy right after the ***** finished 32nd in the league in total offense with McCarthy as their offensive coordinator. With McCarthy as head coach, the Packers went 13-3 in 2007.
Josh: I'm guessing this question will be asked 20 times before I ask it, but do you think the Andre Smith suspension will have any effect on the Rams possibilities of drafting him? He seems like a good kid who just made a mistake and I've heard nothing but good things about him, but that doesn't mean NFL circles will see it the same way.
Jim Thomas: It certainly makes you wonder about Smith's judgment and his decision-making abilities.
David: I see Brian Burwell thinks St. Louis Rams should retain Haslett as head coach. Is he serious? Does anyone think Haslett would make the kinds of personnel changes needed to turn this thing around? Miami changed approximately 30 players on the roster from 2007-2008 to make the kind of dramatic reversal they made and we need. Does anyone think that Haslett is ready to clean house and flush out all the half hearted, un-motivated, un-disciplined, self centered goof balls that signed a petition to keep him as head coach? That is called a love fest not an NFL football team? Do you really think we are being hood winked again and after this formality of interviewing a minority coaching candidate is over the Rams can hire Haslett???? You are close to the people involved whats the real scoop?
Jim Thomas: Why don't you think Haslett would make personnel changes?
slotalk: IF hASLETT STAYS DO YO THINK HE KEEP THE SAME COORDINATRS? i AM REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE DEFENSIVE.
Jim Thomas: I think Haslett changes offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coach.
beast39: Hey Jim,
I heard Gordo say a couple of times that Issac Bruce could come back next season to finish out his career in ST. Louis. Is his contract up in San Fran, and could you see this being a possibility? I would love to see this happen, Bruce is still really good as he showed this season. Plus he could help the "Teen Squad" imrove.
Jim Thomas: Bruce is still under contract in San Francisco through 2009. Who knows how Martz's dismissal affects Bruce's future there.
Mike P.: Hey Jim,

1.--How do the Rams know that Spagnuolo is out of their price range when they haven't even talked to him?
2.--Do you think that someone in the Rams front office is advising Jim Hazlett on what to say and do so they can retain him and sell it to the fans?
Jim Thomas: 1.) How do you know the Rams haven't talked to someone close to Spagnuolo?
2.) No.
CILSTLfan: You mentioned Bobby Beathard as a committe member on the coach search preliminary interviews..Is he not working for anyone now? Is he a possibility to work with Devaney in a position with the Rams? Thanks ..
Jim Thomas: Beathard is retired. Don't know if anything more will come of this other than Beathard helping out on the job search. But obviously, Beathard and Devaney have a long relationship.
Time to go. See you next week.