Just because a team doesn't make the playoffs, doesn't mean January's a slow month. By no means. Hell, it almost be easy if all a team had to do in January was play football. Yesterday continued what's been an eventful January for the Rams, a start indicative of what we're hoping is a busy offseason.
We discussed the death of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere last night. Now, her son Dale "Chip" Rosenbloom inherits ownership of the Rams. Whether or not he'll remain the Rams owner in the long term is open to considerable speculation. Bernie Miklasz at the PD said this in his online forum:
I can see them owning the team for the next 5-10 years.
There's speculation that minority owner Stan Kroenke (40% stake in the Rams) has interest in buying the majority ownership. As minority owner, he has first right of refusal if Rosenbloom does hang a for sale sign on the team. Kroenke owns the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. Becuase of the league's cross ownership rule, which prevents a team owner from owning a franchise of another major team sport in an NFL city other than the one that is home to the NFL team they own. Got that? Yeah, my legalese isn't the best on a Saturday morning. Here's the full run down from the Post Dispatch. Selling the Avalanche might be easier than the Nuggets. Hey, I wonder if he could bring the Nuggets to STL and give the city an NBA team?
Will the Rams remain in St. Louis weighs heavily on the minds of most fans (unless the 3-13 season made you completely indifferent). The Rams' lease on the Ed Jones Dome isn't up until 2015, so there's no need to worry too much about a move now. (Besides LA or Vegas, is there another major media market without a team?)
How well is the NFL run? Well, the Rams suffering through an abysmal period - the last winning season was 2003 - and the franchise is valued at nearly a billion dollars, $908 million to be exact.
As if all that weren't enough to wrap your head around, the Rams made some coaching changes yesterday too. They fired running backs coach Wanye Moses and secondary coach Willy Robinson.
I'm excited about Art Valero taking over as the Rams running backs coach. His track record in that position in Tampa Bay speaks for itself. Earnest Graham became a household name this season, 898 yards and 10 TDs on 222 carries. First round pick Cadillac Williams racked up 1100+ yards and 6 TDs on 290 carries in 14 games during his 2005 rookie season. Valero, however, could do nothing about Williams' being injury prone, but he did lend credibility to a theory that I'm starting to buy into, that running backs are essentially interchangeable parts in a good offensive system.
If the Rams are going to give Steven Jackson, who's in the last year of his contract, a hefty extension, a coach like Valero is likely to help Jackson develop into a truly elite back, a la a certain someone whose number was retired at the end of this season. Jackson has shown us he's among the league's elite already - putting up 1000+ yards behind an o-line as sturdy as wet toilet paper. However, he's yet to develop his all around game, with pass blocking being one of the most obvious areas for improvement.
Valero knows the blocking game pretty well, having been an o-line coach at the college level and a TE and RB coach in the NFL. Not only will that benefit Jackson, the Rams as a whole, who struggled with blocking assignments and ability last season (not just because of injuries on the line either), can make huge gains in their overall offensive approach by become better blockers (Klopfenstein should see some improvement in his game as well) and more fully integrating that into their offensive philosophy. Hence the decision to make Valero an assistant/associate coach, as was speculated here at TST. Linehan's certainly earned his fair share of criticism, but this is a potentially redeeming move.
Now, let's see what they do with the offensive coordinator.
The secondary didn't seem to be a problem to me, but the Rams have invested in some young talent back there with Atogwe and Tye Hill. Making sure those two develop into top defensive backs is essential, so I suspect that might have had something to do with Robinson's dismissal. Who they hire as a replacement should provide more insight into the decision. Robinson coached one year with Haslett in New Orleans, as the senior defensive assistant/secondary coach, before both came to the Rams in 2006. Linehan and Robinson both coached with Dennis Erickson. Robinson was the secondary coach in '94 at U Miami and went with Erickson to Seattle, and the two would coach together again at Oregon State and with San Francisco. Linehan played for Dennis Erickson at Idaho from 1982-86. Does that technically make him a Linehan crony?