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Rams GM Les Snead senses 'authentic chemistry' with Sean McVay.

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  • Rams GM Les Snead senses 'authentic chemistry' with Sean McVay.

    Alden Gonzalez

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The conversations began at the facility and would trickle into the parking lot while the sun was setting, and sometimes not even that was enough. Sean McVay, the Los Angeles Rams' 31-year-old rookie head coach, was staying at a nearby Four Seasons at the time. Les Snead, the 46-year-old general manager beginning his sixth season with the organization, followed him there on several nights, his wife and his children residing 45 miles south in Manhattan Beach, California.

    A couple of times a week for more than three months, from the middle of January until the end of April, McVay and Snead picked a restaurant inside the sprawling hotel, sat down, ordered wine and continued to talk -- about football, about their personalities, about life. It often got late enough that Snead found it sensible to book a room, so that he would be closer to work when the alarm clock went off in a few hours. He did it often.

    "My family would probably say too much," Snead said, a wry smile coming over him on a recent afternoon.

    Those nights, McVay says now, "meant a lot."

    Coach Sean McVay (left) and GM Les Snead have put in a lot of time and conversation to get the Rams headed in the right direction. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports
    "You can see, since the day that I got here, that he’s been very intentional about making sure that we have a good relationship and we have open lines of communication," McVay said of Snead. "That makes you feel good. I think it’s a two-way street, and I think it’s really important for me to do a good job of extending myself to him. That’s why we’ve been able to have a good start to this, hopefully for a long time to come."

    McVay was hired as the Rams' head coach -- and thus the youngest head coach in modern NFL history -- on Jan. 12. Snead refers to the time that followed as the purest form of relationship-building, when one can start with the basics, before the distractions and the obstacles get in the way. It was during this stage that Snead found himself in a unique position, with the opportunity to connect with a young incoming head coach who was all alone in a new city. It was also his way of starting over.

    "You’re not going to get those moments back," Snead said. "That’s a special thing. And me being the elder statesman, I was very aware of that."

    Snead doesn't speak ill about his relationship with former head coach Jeff Fisher, who was fired last December, 13 games into his fifth season with the Rams. Snead and Fisher came in at the same time (though not necessarily together) and signed two-year extensions almost concurrently (though Fisher once famously claimed he was "unaware" Snead received one). Their relationship was never really painted as anything more than cordial. Towards the end, even that was up for debate.

    But Snead will tell you he "gained a lot of wisdom from going through the trials and tribulations, successes and failures" with Fisher, who's 13 years his elder. "That partnership made me better today."

    "There’s no negatives in terms of that relationship," Snead said of his time with Fisher. "This one is just different."

    It needs to be. Snead's job security seemed tenuous until McVay was hired. Leading up to that, COO Kevin Demoff talked openly about how every Rams employee was under review. That included Snead, who signed an extension through 2018 that, as Fisher's situation demonstrated, didn't mean a whole lot. The Rams have since brought in an entirely new coaching staff -- save for three holdovers -- and also let go of a handful of scouts. They have in many ways rebranded themselves, because 10 consecutive losing seasons will make one do that.

    For Snead to stay, Jared Goff probably needs to pay off and Snead's relationship with McVay definitely needs to work.

    The latter, at least, is off to a good start. Some of those around Snead and McVay have even referred to their dynamic as a budding "bromance," which Snead tends to scoff at.

    "I’m not a millennial, so I would need to see the definition," he said. "I would need to see the official definition from Urban Dictionary."

    Snead prefers the term "authentic chemistry."

    "Some people have chemistry, some don’t," he went on. "I don’t necessarily know why that is, but I think my theory in this case is that at the end of the day, all we really want to do is do our jobs to make the Rams the best football team possible. It’s about as sincere as that. There’s really nothing else that matters to us."

    Snead was in the room when the Rams were interviewing head coaching candidates, even while speculation continued about his own return. He saw it as a "rare opportunity" and a "unique responsibility" and never wanted to approach the task out of self-preservation. His singular thought back then, Snead said, was, "We have to get this position right, because it’s as critical a move as we’ll make. The bar shouldn’t be, 'Are we going to get along or not?' That’s a given, because you’re going to work together."

    Snead and McVay have since gone about building their rapport, within and beyond football. Snead has turned McVay on to sparkling water and has playfully suggested that while McVay is a faster sprinter, Snead can beat him in an endurance competition. But now he's hedging.

    "I'm not so sure anymore," Snead said, "because he’s so competitive."

    In those late-night chats at the Four Seasons, Snead saw McVay as someone who has been ahead of the curve in every stage of his life but has "no ego at all." In Snead, McVay saw "a passionate guy about football" who is also committed to his family, which he found relatable. But it's early. The season hasn't begun, the hardships haven't presented themselves, and a relationship isn't tested until the struggle hits.

    Snead acknowledges that it's crucial for his relationship with McVay to work, but not for the reasons others might think.

    "It needs to work for the Rams," he said. "It’s not about me. The relationship needs to work for the Los Angeles Rams. Take me out of this. I’m a part of this. But if you do this job, and you do anything for selfish reasons, it’s not going to work out."

  • #2
    I still like Snead and glad, he and McVay are getting on so well! I really do expect this to be a good working relationship as the start has been so good in approaching the molding a coaching staff and remolding the team! I have loved their moves both in adding players and subtracting them. Both sides of that coin are equally important, to the out look of the team and its skill level. I hope they last here in LA a long long time together if it keeps on like this!


    • #3
      Snead is saying the right things, but at the end of the day it's about winning. On the heels of five consecutive losing seasons under his watch, he's been given a 6th season- an almost-unheard of act- in the name of maintaining some continuity within the organization after the firing of Jeff Fisher. There now has to be an immediate return in the form of major improvement from Goff and productivity from this year's draft picks. And we also must see marked upgrades at both the receiver and offensive line positions.

      Snead also finds himself in the position of having his kite strings tied to a 31 year old first-time head coach. And while McVay will initially be given great leeway to right the ship, Snead will justifiably be given much less if the Rams falter this season in multiple key spots. At this point as a fan, I am totally devoid of sympathy or patience for any player, coach or team official who can't get it done. Enough is enough; I demand a winner!


      • #4
        Yeah, wonderful, I'm touched. Its great that you and Sean get along.

        Now get the Aaron Donald contract extension done and give Trumaine Johnson a deal too, so he's not getting the highest salary of any CB in the league. You were thankfully able to unload Greg Robinson creating some cap space so get those 2 things done. You owe it to us after giving Tavon Austin too much money.

        Go Rams!


        Related Topics


        • MauiRam
          Les Snead knows his role as general manager, & the NFL draft will help define it
          by MauiRam
          By Gary Klein

          The gleaming white, high-tech stationary bike sits just to the right of the desk in Les Snead’s office, across the room from a wall-mounted television monitor and next to a large whiteboard.

          With an iPad perched atop the bike’s black handlebars, and a water bottle nestled just below it, the Rams general manager can multitask while spinning.

          He says he watches video of the team and of draft prospects. He catches up on email. Sometimes, the exercise just clears his mind.

          “When you’re on it, your mind gets away,” he says, nodding toward the Schwinn. “That’s where some of your big-picture thoughts come into play.”

          Since the end of the Rams’ 4-12 season — which continued a 13-year playoff drought — Snead has been preparing for next week’s draft.

          This will be his sixth with the Rams, the first with new Coach Sean McVay and the first without former coach Jeff Fisher.

          Snead, like Fisher, received a two-year contract extension before last season. And he survived the aftermath of Fisher’s December firing.

          So a strong draft performance would seemingly protect his status.

          But when asked whether he feels pressure or thinks his job is on the line with this draft, he says he simply plays a role in a collective effort.

          “In our business, [pressure] implies there’s some sort of distress level,” he says, adding, “There’s no distress.

          “This is a ‘we’ thing. This isn’t singles tennis. … There’s an urgent determination and drive to get this thing to where we all want it to be, and the draft is a key component.”

          In the weeks leading up to last year’s draft, Snead made a blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans that enabled the Rams to move from No. 15 to No. 1 and select former California quarterback Jared Goff.

          This year’s draft apparently won’t be a referendum on Snead.

          “The most important thing for the organization in this draft is that Les and Sean have a vision of what they want to achieve together and how to go execute it,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ executive vice-president of football operations, says. “I don’t think any draft or free-agency period is ever make or break. You have to look at a body of work in totality.”

          Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and running back Todd Gurley, first-round picks in 2014 and 2015, respectively, were the NFL rookies of the year.

          Defensive tackle Michael Brockers, receiver Tavon Austin and linebacker Alec Ogletree are other first-round picks in the last five years that remain starters.

          But there also have been high-profile picks that did not work out.

          Penalty-prone offensive lineman Greg Robinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, twice was benched last season and is being moved from left to right tackle.

          “The organization drafted rookies of the year in back-to-back years, so...
          -04-22-2017, 07:27 PM
        • Nick
          Spotlight on Rams GM Les Snead ahead of NFL draft
          by Nick
          Spotlight on Rams GM Les Snead ahead of NFL draft
          By Rich Hammond, [email protected], @Rich_Hammond on Twitter
          POSTED: 04/24/17, 3:53 PM PDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO 0 COMMENTS

          Certainly it’s not a scenario Les Snead wanted to find himself in, but it’s tough to imagine how the aftermath of a miserable 2016 season could have worked out better for him.

          The Rams, last December, fired Coach Jeff Fisher but chose to bring back Snead for a sixth season. It was a bold move, given that the Rams haven’t sniffed the playoffs since Snead’s hiring in 2012.

          Snead didn’t just keep his job. By all accounts, he boosted his profile. Depending on who is asked, Snead and Fisher either had equal say on personnel matters, or Fisher had the final say. Now, after the Rams’ hiring of Sean McVay, the youngest coach in NFL history, Snead gets a more prominent seat at the table.

          Both men still report to Kevin Demoff, the Executive Vice President of Football Operations. But as the Rams prepare for this week’s draft, it’s difficult to imagine that they would lean on McVay, 31, rather than Snead, who has been evaluating NFL players since McVay was a teenager.

          To his credit, Snead has remained quiet about the last few seasons, even last year, when Fisher publicly took a couple thinly veiled shots at him over Rams personnel decisions. It was Fisher who told a reporter in 2012 that he took the Rams’ job — before Snead’s hiring — because it included final say in personnel.

          Never mind all that now. Snead remains — he quietly received a contract extension at the start of last season — and now it’s his time to shine. Or not.

          Snead faces some huge decisions in the coming weeks and months, beyond the eight picks the Rams hold in this week’s draft.

          The Rams must decide what to do with top cornerback Trumaine Johnson: sign him to a hefty extension, trade him or let him play out the final year of his contract. They must make progress on an extension with star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who otherwise will become a free agent after the 2018 season. They must, in general, make good roster decisions in an attempt to improve after last year’s 4-12 debacle.

          Can Snead pull it off, and rehabilitate his image, as well as that of the Rams?

          Set aside Fisher’s culpability, because Snead deserves at least some blame for the past five seasons. Yes, the Rams have acquired some quality players through the draft — including Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Alec Ogletree and Jared Goff — but they’ve also displayed a startling inability to draft and develop receivers and offensive linemen, or sign them as productive free agents.

          Snead’s drafts have included a tendency to be fairly strong in the first couple rounds, but rarely have the Rams found a mid- to late-round hidden gem.

          Their track record in free agency also has been spotty. Last year, for...
          -04-25-2017, 04:42 PM
        • Nick
          Whicker: Rams GM Les Snead has no fear of great heights
          by Nick
          Whicker: Rams GM Les Snead has no fear of great heights
          By MARK WHICKER | [email protected] | Daily News
          PUBLISHED: June 16, 2018 at 9:12 am | UPDATED: June 16, 2018 at 9:12 am

          THOUSAND OAKS — Late in the fall of 1996, Les Snead started wondering where the ripcord was.

          He was in the personnel department of the Jacksonville Jaguars, doing whatever nobody else wanted to do, and the Jaguars were 3-6. He had come from Auburn. He could have stayed there as a graduate assistant and hopped on the coaching track.

          He thought about med school. “I would have had to check a lot of boxes,” he said the other day, lounging at his desk in the Rams’ headquarters at Cal Lutheran. “But it was an option.”

          Football is freefall. The doors close behind you.

          You can’t go play in Europe, or coach there. There is one pro league. Becoming one of 32 general managers often requires riding the coattails of somebody who’s already won.

          “There were days when I started looking up law schools,” he said. “I thought about Pepperdine law school. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll sit there and study looking down at the ocean.’ That looked pretty good.”

          Then the parachute opened. Jacksonville won six of seven. In its second year of existence, it won a playoff game at Denver.

          Snead stayed, gained more responsibility. He joined the staff in Atlanta, where the GM was Thomas Dimitroff, who brought the subtleties of winning from New England.

          In 2012, the St. Louis Rams gave Snead the GM job, handed him the keys to the drafting, the releasing, the hiring and the firing.

          The Rams had already hired coach Jeff Fisher. Their club was a group of bass guitars in search of a lead singer. As recently as 2016, people wondered if Snead could hang on.

          Today, there is no NFL team with more premium players than the Rams.

          Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald were the Offensive Players of the Year. Sean McVay, 30 at the time, copped Coach of the Year in his first season.

          Going into 2018, Snead brought in cornerbacks Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Sam Shields, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and receiver Brandin Cooks.

          No one has to encourage Snead to jump.

          “The NFL is like a 32-man cage match in the WWF,” he said. “Only one team climbs out of the cage. You need a semblance of aggressiveness. We’re going to attack and take advantage where we can.”

          Snead picks up a coin on his desk, courtesy of his wife.

          It reads, “You Could Leave This Life Any Day.”

          There are people in the federal witness protection program who are more forthcoming than the typical NFL general manager. The Rams also function in secrecy, but Snead is personally engaging and circumspect.

          As much as he glows about drafting Donald with the 13th pick in 2014 when some thought Donald was...
          -06-16-2018, 02:41 PM
        • Nick
          Snead, McVay Pleased with Three Quality Players on Day 2
          by Nick
          Snead, McVay Pleased with Three Quality Players on Day 2
          Posted 7 hours ago
          Myles Simmons
          Rams Insider

          Though they came into Day 2 with two picks, the Rams ended the evening with three players after a key trade.

          Los Angeles selected tight end Gerald Everett in the second round, followed by wide receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson in the third.

          “These are guys that Les and his staff had really targeted for a long time,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said, referring to general manager Les Snead. “We know we got better with three spots.”

          In order to do that, the Rams traded their No. 37 and No. 149 picks for the Bills’ No. 44 and No. 91 selections. With a pick early in the second round, Snead said he had an idea the phone might start buzzing with teams trying to move up.

          “I think if we go back a couple drafts ago … I do remember we had an early pick in the second round, we were going to draft some OL — we had done Gurley — and there were a lot of OL on the board, and it was just hard to pick, who do we want? And at that moment, there were a lot of teams — the phone just started buzzing,” Snead said.

          “So I think I remember writing a note down then — you know what, if you ever have an early second-round pick, it’s a good spot to be in,” Snead continued. “Usually, there’s a lot of teams that want to move up.”

          It worked out well for the Rams in this case, with the club picking up a selection in the third round while still selecting Everett — a player Snead called one of McVay’s favorites in the entire draft.

          “Gerald was one of those guys that was, let’s call it Scenario A, Scenario 1,” Snead said. “You always prepare trying to figure out where you can get players in the draft, but that’s the guesstimate at times and you can lose him. But we thought that if we did move back, get an extra third-round selection, we could also still get Gerald.”

          Everett began his college career at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but transferred to the University of South Alabama once UAB’s football program was shut down. In two years at South Alabama, Everett caught 90 passes for 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns.

          “I think I bring the complete package of a tight end,” Everett told reporters on Friday. “Definitely a vertical threat first, but also being a willing blocker in the run game — just being able to create that mismatch at any point of time in the game.”

          The tight end likely projects more as a receiver early on in his career, particularly as he’ll have to adjust from being a part of a spread offense in college. But McVay seemed excited at the prospect of using Everett, Tyler Higbee, and Temarrick Hemingway all on the field at once.

          “Being able to add a player like Gerald Everett, I think those three complement each other very well,” McVay said. “When you can do...
          -04-29-2017, 06:37 AM
        • MauiRam
          Rams GM implementing his system ..
          by MauiRam
          By Jim Thomas

          As the Rams go through their first season under head coach Jeff Fisher, the new general manager, Les Snead, has one foot in the present and the other in the future.

          For nearly three months, the Rams’ scouting department has been scouring the nation, evaluating college talent in preparation for the 2013 draft. And Snead himself gets into the act; he’s not one of those stay-at-home GMs.

          “I definitely like to get out,” Snead said. “That’s what I did as director of player personnel (in Atlanta). I can’t get out as much but I design my schedule where usually when we play away, that’s been when I’ve said, I’m gonna work my way to the game.”

          So he may visit one college campus on a Wednesday, another on a Thursday, and then catch a college game that Saturday somewhere in the vicinity of where the Rams are playing that Sunday.

          The mere fact that Snead watches college games in person differentiates his scouting philosophy from that of predecessor Billy Devaney. Devaney didn’t think watching games in person was cost- or time-efficient, and felt for the most part that he and his scouts could get what they needed from watching film of those games.

          But Snead thinks there are benefits to watching games in person. Sometimes you can pick up something from body language, or get a better idea of effort by being at the game. Snead feels it also gives you a better feel for particular game situations.

          He used the example of a receiver who may catch six of eight balls thrown his way in a game — a good day’s work — but drops a ball in a crucial situation. The pressure and intensity of the moment may not always come through on game film.

          “So you may go, let me research how this guy is in crunch time because you were at the game and you could just feel (the intensity of the moment),” Snead said.

          Snead completed the revamping of the Rams’ scouting and personnel department in the spring by hiring Taylor Morton as college scouting director and Ran Carthon as director of pro scouting, and bringing in Rich Snead (no relation) as a senior player personnel analyst.

          When he was hired in mid-February, Snead said there wasn’t enough time to install his system for scouting and player evaluation before the 2012 draft and free agency period. So decisions were made based on the Rams’ past methods of gathering information, writing reports and evaluating players.

          Once the summer hit, Snead began implementing his system — with some tweaks. Just as coaches beg, borrow and steal from other teams’ playbooks, Snead incorporated aspects of the Rams’ system as well as some things from the way Tennessee operated its personnel department during the years Fisher was with the Titans.

          “I always want to evolve,” Snead said. “The process of the way we collect data, use that data to analyze and evaluate _ that...
          -11-05-2012, 12:04 AM