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Round Two: How Much Can New Owner Help Rams?

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  • Round Two: How Much Can New Owner Help Rams?

    02.12.2010 11:55 am
    How much can new owner help Rams?
    By Roger Hensley


    THE WATERCOOLER

    QUESTION: How much influence do you think an NFL owner has on how his team performs on the field?

    JIM THOMAS
    All the difference in the world. Whether it’s more of a hands-on owner, or someone who delegates, an owner sets the standard for an organization, establishes a level of accountability, and sets the bar on expectations. And of course, the owner also signs the checks, which can determine how aggressive or how passive a team is when it comes to talent acquisition.

    BRYAN BURWELL
    An intelligent owner with deep pockets or a dumb one with little cash can have an enormous impact on the success or failure of a team. Smart guys with money can provide the wherewithall to go after the best talent available.

    BILL COATS
    A lot. He hires the top front-office people and is heavily involved in hiring the head coach, plus he sets the budget for free agency, the draft, etc. Those are all entities that funnel into how a team performs on the field.

    JEFF GORDON
    The owner has an enormous impact. Even a hands-off owner makes the most important decision — hiring the person who oversees the daily operation of the franchise. It all flows down from there. Look at the Colts with Bill Polian. Jim Irsay is a fairly involved owner for that franchise, but his team president runs the program. Here in St. Louis, ownership has been directly involved in hiring and firing coaches, general managers and team presidents. All of that translates to success (or, in the Rams’ case, failure) on the field.

    KEVIN WHEELER (Host of “Sports Open Line” on KMOX)
    It depends on whether or not they know how to hire good people. The one constant with “loser” franchises like Oakland, Detroit and Cincinnati (with a few years as exceptions) has been a lack of leadership and solid decision making at the very top. The owner hires the President and GM so if he blows it with those two positions the on-field product will definitely suffer. If the owner is notoriously cheap and fails to offer adequate bonus money to free agents or adequate salaries to assistant coaches, the on-field product will most certainly suffer.

    Owners can be hands-on or hands-off and succeed either way so long as they show good judgment in hiring people in key positions, including the head coach, and so long as they adequately fund the team and allow the personnel guys to spend what is necessary to fill holes.

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Burwell: Rams' Top Need Is For Someone To Be In Charge
    by r8rh8rmike
    Burwell: Rams' top need is for someone to be in charge

    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    We are now down to the final week of this decidedly disappointing Rams season, which has only been notable for producing almost as many losses as offensive touchdowns. With results like this, you have to imagine that Rams owner Stan Kroenke must be up to something.

    A lot of us have been guessing that Kroenke's priority will be immediately deciding the fates of his general manager, Billy Devaney, and head coach, Steve Spagnuolo. But for the sake of this long-suffering franchise, let's hope Kroenke has his priorities in better order than that. Kroenke has more pressing business to attend to than merely deciding who should be his GM and coach. The most important thing he can do for the long-term good of this franchise is to solve the one institutional problem that has dragged this organization down for decades.

    He needs to hire someone to be in charge.

    Since the Rams arrived in St. Louis — through every coach who has been hired or fired, for every new general manager, vice president or other fancy title that some front office executive has held — the one glaring trouble with this organization is been figuring out where the buck stops.

    We never can figure out who's the ultimate authority figure at Rams Park.

    During the John Shaw years, you always got the sense that was done by some Machiavellian design. Whenever you asked someone who made a particularly controversial decision, the answer you heard most often was "wasn't me."

    I began to think that this guy, Wasn't Me, was the most powerful man in the organization. That intentional dysfunction created a lack of accountability that ultimately wrecked the franchise.

    With the new Rams regime, there's still no one in charge but it seems to be more of a design flaw than a well-orchestrated strategy. With Devaney and Spagnuolo, now at least there is a better sense of accountability because we know that Devaney's in charge of the draft and signing free agents and Spagnuolo is in charge of the on-field product.

    But based on the current organizational structure, they share the power — which means we still don't know where the buck stops. There is no one on the football side of the organizational structure who can veto either man. There's no one who can question Devaney's decisions on why he might pass on a particular player in the draft or waiver wire. But there is also no one to overrule Spagnuolo's decisions once the season starts (such as starting the season with only two quarterbacks on the roster or releasing a young and promising kid for an over-the-hill veteran).

    In football, there's an old saying that goes like this: When you have two starting QBs, it usually means you don't have one...
    -12-28-2011, 11:37 PM
  • eldfan
    Gorden: Rams change must come from top down
    by eldfan
    BY JEFF GORDON STLtoday.com |
    Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner became tired of losing. He grew weary of fan complaints. He was concerned about future business as his team piled dispiriting loss on top of dispiriting loss.

    So he hired Mike Holmgren to become his Czar of Football, evaluate the state of his franchise and make the necessary changes. While it’s too soon to grade Holmgren’s overhaul – the Browns are just 3-3 this season under first–year head coach Pat Shurmur – Lerner clearly had the right idea.

    Players are largely interchangeable. Coaching staffs remain fluid. Successful NFL teams have strong top-down direction.

    "What we have now is leadership and what leadership means in this particular case is that there is one guy who sits in (the front office) who is responsible for the Cleveland Browns," Lerner told The Associated Press last October, a year after hiring Holmgren. "What that means is . . . I am dealing with one person, and being able to deal with one person makes it that we can dig in completely and effectively, as compared to previous setups we had here."

    Rams owner Stan Kroenke should learn from Lerner and install strong football leadership atop the Rams franchise. He should hire a stronger overseer, somebody he can trust fully, somebody capable of bringing a commanding presence to Rams Park and the greater St. Louis community.

    Kroenke is a busy man. His business interests make him a world traveler. His sports empires extend from Denver to London. He must depend on strong managers to keep his various enterprises running at peak efficiency.

    The Rams are running at less than peak efficiency these days, as you might have noticed.

    They are 0-6 this season. Most of the losses have been ugly. Their next opponent, the Saints, just put 62 points on Indianapolis.

    Their next home game may feature thousands of visitors from New Orleans cheering on their team at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The Rams have regressed significantly from last season’s 7-9 finish, despite spending considerable money on free-agent reinforcements. Kroenke gave the green light for big summertime spending.

    And yet this team more resembles the awful 2009 squad, which finished 1-15 under Steve Spagnuolo during his first season as head coach. This feckless play, combined with a ticket price increase, is eroding an already damaged fan base.

    Barring a turnaround for the ages during their last 10 games, the Rams will force Kroenke to take action. The right call would be to select a football CEO with the vision to chart the future course and the wherewithal to see it through.

    Stan saw a lot during his days as a minority owner. Georgia Frontiere was a true eccentric, a woman with a big heart but intermittent focus. Former Rams president John Shaw was brilliant but odd, preferring...
    -10-24-2011, 03:33 PM
  • evil disco man
    Kroenke's goal for Rams is to see progress
    by evil disco man
    By Jim Thomas

    Missouri native Stan Kroenke was unanimously approved as principal owner of the Rams 2½ weeks ago by NFL owners in Atlanta. It will take another two to three weeks for all the paperwork to be complete and for the deal to close. But for all practical purposes, Kroenke will take in his first game as the team's controlling owner Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome when the Rams open the season against Arizona.

    The Post-Dispatch caught up with Kroenke on Friday evening. What follows are his thoughts on a variety of topics, including his vision for the franchise, what kind of owner he will be, John Shaw, the LA stadium committee, his approach to making changes and more. ...

    Q: This has been more than 15 years in the making; how does it feel to be the principal owner of the Rams?

    A: "Actually it's been more like 17, if you go back to when we tried to get the expansion team in St. Louis. And there are a lot of people who I worked with that helped make it happen, people who I got to know and enjoyed working with and considered friends. Tom Eagleton (the late U.S. senator), Mayor (Freeman) Bosley and Buzz Westfall (the late St. Louis County executive) and others. I think we have demonstrated that we can run successful organizations and build them. So this is very exciting. We're excited to be able to continue that process in St. Louis. You know, the Rams have a good tradition when you think about it, and we hope to continue it."

    Q: Now that the preseason is over, what are your impressions of the 2010 team?

    A: "We've got some good young players. Watching the game in New England, I was impressed with Sam Bradford. In that kind of setting, going up against Tom Brady and going against their starting defense, he showed a lot of poise. It's like what (Patriots owner) Robert Kraft told me after the game, 'Looks like you've got a good quarterback.' And I told him, 'You ought to know.' But we've got a good young linebacker in James Laurinaitis, and other good young players. So you hope to see progress."

    Q: How well do you know coach Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney, and as minority owner of the team until now, how much input did you have on team decisions?

    A: "Well, I was involved in the interview process with Steve — he's a good man. Billy I don't know as well. In the past as minority owner, you're involved in team decisions. But not to the extent that I will be now as principal owner. I guess that's all you can say about it."

    Q: Factoring in your hectic schedule, in general how much time will you spend with the team?

    A: "I enjoyed seeing the team in New England. I hope to attend as many games as I can. I've spent a lot of time in St. Louis over the years, and I don't think that will change now."

    Q: Fans hope you will become a savior of this franchise....
    -09-12-2010, 09:26 AM
  • eldfan
    Burwell: Firing the coach could be a mistake
    by eldfan
    Burwell: Firing the coach could be a mistake
    Firing the coach could be a mistake
    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist STLtoday.comWednesday, December 14, 2011 12:30 am


    On the same dark Monday when two NFL owners were busy firing their head coaches, Rams owner Stan Kroenke watched from a distance as his team put on a rather unsightly nationally televised show on "Monday Night Football." The populist sentiment in St. Louis seems to be building toward a dramatic action by Kroenke. The populist opinion is demanding that Kroenke impose a "ready, fire, aim" approach to solving whatever ails his failing football team.

    Just do something, anything, just as long as you do it in a hurry to soothe the angry Internet advocates who are screeching from behind anonymous avatars that they will stop buying their imaginary season tickets unless Kroenke responds immediately to their demands.

    But Kroenke has promised no such approach. He has promised a meticulous scrutiny of the situation, and with three weeks to go in this lost season, he seems to be holding firm to his promise. But I wonder what he gathered after absorbing this snoot full of mess from Monday night's 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

    I wonder what he and whatever football people he has employed within his circle of trust were able to cull from this latest disaster. It's important to understand that Kroenke has been in the NFL for a long time as a minority owner and knows a lot of smart football people. He has built relationships with owners and other football executives and no doubt is using those relationships now to help do a lot of evaluations of what is working and what is helping to create this disaster.

    And in the process of all this careful intelligence gathering, I am pretty confident that he has picked up on this bit of advice from more than a few NFL wise guys who might offer some hints about how he plans to move when this gawdawful season is done:

    The key to the long-term success of some potentially gifted first-time NFL head coaches is having the ability to survive their early mistakes.

    Whether it's mistakes with handling players, mistakes with handling personnel, mistakes with assembling a staff, mistakes with handling the media or public perceptions, some coaches are lucky enough to overcome their disasters or find someone willing to give them a second chance.

    It's possible that a coach can struggle mightily when faced with a bad situation, then turn into a great coach. I'm not ready to compare Steve Spagnuolo to New England living legend Bill Belichick, but it bears repeating that the best coach of this generation was regarded as a failure in his first head-coaching stint in Cleveland (36-44 record between 1991 and 1995).

    In Belichick's five seasons with the Browns, he went 6-10, 7-9, 7-9, 11-5...
    -12-14-2011, 09:31 PM
  • eldfan
    Kroenke's moves put Rams, fans in limbo
    by eldfan
    Kroenke's moves put Rams, fans in limbo

    Columnist By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    05/11/2010

    Now Rams fans know how Blues fans felt earlier this decade when Bill and Nancy Laurie pulled the chute on their NHL franchise.

    Not only did Blues fans endure the year-long shutout of the league -– the brainstorm of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, that sport’s hapless architect of doom -– but they saw their franchise wallow in ownership limbo when play resumed.

    Bill and Nancy Laurie put the team on the block and quit spending money on it. Since the team didn’t sell right away, the product suffered horribly.

    Rams fans are feeling that same pain. The NFL didn’t shut down for a year, but it might as well have as the Rams staggered to a 1-15 finish in 2009.

    And now this franchise, like the Blues before them, wallows in ownership limbo.

    Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez are trying to sell the franchise they inherited from their mother. That process is not going quickly or smoothly.

    With other NFL owners scratching their heads over Stan Kroenke’s ownership play, the fate of this franchise is up in the air. It’s hard to predict the outcome at this point, but this much is clear: Nothing is likely to happen any time soon.

    So Kevin Demoff, Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo must do the best they can under difficult circumstances. Wish them well, because their job won’t be easy.

    They must continue the ongoing team overhaul by mixing kids and castoffs with the survivors of the unfortunate Scott Linehan Regime. They are rebuilding with draft picks and with veterans other teams deemed expendable.

    (Yes, we’re talking about you, Bobby Carpenter. And you, Kevin Payne. And you, Fred Robbins.)

    Fans are exasperated at this scenario, but where do they direct their anger?

    Rosenbloom has tried to do right by St. Louis. He and his sister inherited a team they couldn’t afford to keep. They hired well-respect football people to run the show while they tried to attract an owner committed to St. Louis. In that regard, Shahid Khan seemed like a good choice.

    But you can’t begrudge Kroenke for stepping up to protect his interests. Remember how he helped St. Louis get the team in the first place. Remember the positive relationship he fostered with Georgia Frontiere and John Shaw back in the day, when the Rams became the Greatest Show on Turf.

    He had a hand in the team’s success. Unfortunately, as minority owner he wasn’t able to head off the chaos that ensued when Shaw allowed Jay Zygmunt to run amok and drive the football operation into the ground.

    Now Kroenke is trying to sustain the franchise’s value. He tried to strike a deal with Khan to protect his interests, but failed. Now he is trying to finesse his way around the...
    -05-11-2010, 12:20 PM
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