Everyone BUT the Rams is acknowledging the hiring of Art Valero, even Valero himself. I suspect the reason why the Rams have yet to confirm Valero's new job is because they don't have that specific job identified yet. The soon to be newest Rams coach's job has yet to be determined.
This is interesting, nay, intriguing. I can't stop thinking about those sentences tucked here and there into reports over the last few weeks that the Rams may not be finished making changes on the coaching staff. Valero's experience in his last six years with Tampa Bay is pretty varied - two years as a TE coach, two years a the running backs coach, and two years as an assistant coach/running backs coach. He hasn't been an offensive line coach since his days at Louisville. He's obviously familiar with blocking, something the Rams running backs and tight ends, young guys like Klop in particular, have struggled with. He's also had a pretty good track record with the running backs in Tampa Bay, most notably this year when he made the unheralded Earnest Graham the centerpiece of the Bucs offense. Because of the synergy of Valero's work and his yet to be determined position with the Rams, I wonder if the Rams are carving out some hybrid coaching job for him. Given the context clues and Valero's experience, it's not a stretch. In fact, it might be a pretty good little tweak in the coaching staff.
The Rams and Linehan tried to interview Valero last season, but the Buccaneers refused the request because he was under contract.
Might it have something to do with the offensive coordinator opening? Could they be holding off on naming Valero's position while they wait to get their OC of choice and reshape the coaching staff from there? Anything's possible with this team. If they are really intent on getting an experienced guy like Cam Cameron, they'd better move fast. Cameron's been linked to several other teams' OC opening, with the most likely scenario having Cameron rejoin former boss Marty Schottenheimer if the later is hired in Baltimore.
Reports are still trickling out that the Rams have indeed hired Cam Cameron. This article, dated today, has the Chiefs missing out on Cameron and Martz, claiming that they "joined the Rams and 49ers, respectively." There's very little out there confirming Cameron HAS NOT been hired by the Rams though, including Cam himself. Is everyone just a little more tight-lipped about his hire? There could be a number of reasons why it's eerily silent on the Cameron news. Additional coaching changes and staff reorganization could easily be part of that.
The Rams will also pick second in the second round, which should give them a good shot at grabbing a player able to step right into the mix for 2008. Right now, the Rams are expected to grab an OT and a DE in those rounds. This mock draft at Walter Football has the Rams taking a LB in the second round, and not just any linebacker, Penn State's Dan Connor. Connor is considered by many to be one of the top linebackers in the draft, and his availability in round two, even at the second pick, is highly questionable. Peep this from Connor's profile at Football's Future, "He is the prototypical linebacker, and has everything you look for in a linebacker prospect." Depending on what the Rams do in free agency, drafting a LB like that would make it much easier to let free agent Brandon Chillar walk.
Of course, you could make the argument that letting Chillar walk would be mistake. He's only 25 years old and 2008 will be his fifth season in the league. If Haslett moves more and more to a 3-4 defense in 2008, letting him go would be easier. He's likely to get a starting job, and salary, with another team. I'm somewhat dubious that the Rams can replace him as easily as they think, at least not for less money than it would take to get him to stay. Of course, signing a DE on the free agent market opens up the possibility of drafting a top-flight LB to replace Chillar.
Did you know Brandon Chillar has his own web site?