Quick, what was the worst unit on the Rams last year? It's debatable, but the offensive line had its struggles. So which coaches have been retained by new head coach Steve Spagnuolo? That's right, the offensive line coaches.
Steve Loney, hired in 2008, will get his second shot and Art Valero, also hired in 2008, will move over from running backs coach to an o-line assistant. Many of the problems on the o-line were personnel related, as in the players the Rams employed at various spots just weren't good enough. However, under Loney, Orlando Pace had something of a revival. It's impossible to think that the 33-year-old OT would have played like he did in his prime, but he was far and away the Rams best lineman. Nick Leckey and Brett Romberg were overmatched at C, especially Leckey, but Loney was able to get both guys to play above their level - yeah, it could have been worse. Incognito blocked fine, but his real problems required intervention from the head coach, not the assistant, and he finally got that by being benched...in the last game of the season. There's also rookie G John Greco, who got the start in the last game (one where Steven Jackson topped 100 yards) and played in 9 others. Greco could be a starter this season, and Loney gets some credit for his impact as a rookie.
Now think about the running game and the decision to keep Valero and Loney. Despite missing 4 games and playing at full speed in just 11 of 12, Steven Jackson topped 1,000 yards, and in the last five games of the season Jackson had 91 yards or better on the ground in all but one - a laugher against the Cardinals. You'll also recall that the Rams, despite losing, played close in each of those games, except against the Cardinals. Jackson also led the league averaging 118.4 yards from scrimmage per game. Considering all of that information together, the decision to retain Loney and Valero holds water after all. If they upgrade the personnel in the right places, they'll be successful.
One more coaching move to comment on, the hiring of Tom McMahon as the special teams coach. He was an assistant ST coach for the Falcons last year. The Falcons ST had a DVOA of 3.3%, which was the 7th best in the league. The Rams also had a much improved ST last season, thanks to key players like Donnie Jones and Gary Stills.
More draft talk coming later.