clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why the St. Louis Rams shouldn't fire GM Billy Devaney

The St. Louis Rams are a mess this season. They are easily the worst team, in the worst division, in the NFL. Whatever could go wrong with the Rams has gone wrong this season. Whether that's losing their best players to injury, coaching mistakes, or just bad play, Rams fans have seen all that and more this season.

Coming off a promising 7-9 season last year, what's happening in 2011 has everyone calling for the front office's collective heads. That's understandable; everyone has been questioning coach Steve Spagnuolo since last season.

What surprised me is when everyone started talking about firing Billy Devaney. I thought it would blow over after a while, but it's gotten worse with each passing week. Was he really worse than who has been in charge of acquiring talent in the past? I don't think so.

So following the jump, let's talk some Billy Devaney.

What Devaney was given when he became the Rams GM:

Billy Devaney was promoted to GM of the Rams following their 2008 season. He was originally hired in February 2008 to help the Rams draft players that season.

Most of the time when a GM inherits a team, there is a good chance that they have some good players or at least some good depth on the roster. Unfortunately, while the Rams did have a handful of solid players, a majority of the players were either old or didn't perform up to their contracts: See - Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael.

Nine of the players on the current St. Louis Rams roster have been here since Devaney was first hired. Believe me, he didn't cut those players because he wanted them to stay; he had to have something on which to build a team. Did anyone think that it would be easy or quick?

It's unfair to count the 2009 season. In 2009, it was more about breaking down the roster for Devaney and releasing players that struggled or under performed. (Go have a look at how many of the current 53-man roster were on the team in 2008)

The staff that Billy helped put together:

Billy's first hire as Rams GM was Steve Spagnuolo. Say what you want about Steve, but he and his defensive coordinator Ken Flajole have made the Rams average defenders look pretty good - but that's a story for another day. Pat Shurmur was also brought in, and did well enough to become a NFL head coach for the Browns two years later.

He also tried to solve the Rams injury problem by allowing Steve Spagnuolo to fire key members of the training staff as well as getting the team to stop changing the turf every season.

Devaney helped the Rams become more structured. He hired more scouts than the team had previously. He also hired Mike Williams as the vice president of player personnel, a position the Rams haven't had since the year 2000.

He hired Kevin Demoff to help with contracts and salary cap planning.

He hired a solid group of professionals who will help the Rams make it to the next level. This is the type of structure that the Rams needed and something they hadn't had in years.

The Draft

2011 - St. Louis Rams
1 14 Robert Quinn DE North Carolina
2 47 Lance Kendricks TE Wisconsin
3 78 Austin Pettis WR Boise State
4 112 Greg Salas IR WR Hawaii
5 158 Jermale Hines cut DB Ohio State
7 216 Mikail Baker cut DB Baylor
7 228 Jabara Williams cut LB Stephen F. Austin St.
7 229 Jonathan Nelson cut DB Oklahoma
2010 - St. Louis Rams
1 1 Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma
2 33 Rodger Saffold IR T Indiana
3 65 Jerome Murphy IR DB South Florida
4 99 Mardy Gilyard cut WR Cincinnati
5 132 Michael Hoomanawanui IR TE Illinois
5 149 Hall Davis cut DE Louisiana-Lafayette
6 170 Fendi Onobun cut TE Houston
6 189 Eugene Sims DE West Texas A&M
7 211 Marquis Johnson IR DB Alabama
7 226 George Selvie cut DE South Florida
7 254 Josh Hull LB Penn State
2009 - St. Louis Rams
1 2 Jason Smith T Baylor
2 35 James Laurinaitis LB Ohio State
3 66 Bradley Fletcher IR DB Iowa
4 103 Darell Scott DT Clemson
5 160 Brooks Foster cut WR North Carolina
6 196 Keith Null cut QB West Texas A&M
7 211 Chris Ogbonnaya cut RB Texas
2008 - St. Louis Rams
1 2 Chris Long DE Virginia
2 33 Donnie Avery cut WR Houston
3 65 John Greco cut T Toledo
4 101 Justin King CB Penn State
4 128 Keenan Burton cut WR Kentucky
5 157 Roy Schuening cut G Oregon State
7 228 Chris Chamberlain LB Tulsa
7 252 David Vobora cut LB Idaho

2011 - New England Patriots
1 17 Nate Solder T Colorado
2 33 Ras-I Dowling DB Virginia
2 56 Shane Vereen RB California
3 73 Stevan Ridley RB LSU
3 74 Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas
5 138 Marcus Cannon T Texas Christian
5 159 Lee Smith cut TE Marshall
6 194 Markell Carter cut? LB Central Arkansas
7 219 Malcolm Williams cut? DB Texas Christian
2010 - New England Patriots
1 27 Devin McCourty CB Rutgers
2 42 Rob Gronkowski TE Arizona
2 53 Jermaine Cunningham OLB Florida
2 62 Brandon Spikes ILB Florida
3 90 Taylor Price WR Ohio U.
4 113 Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
5 150 Zoltan Mesko P Michigan
6 205 Ted Larsen cut G North Carolina State
7 208 Thomas Welch cut OT Vanderbilt
7 247 Brandon Deaderick DE Alabama
7 248 Kade Weston cut DT Georgia
7 250 Zac Robinson cut QB Oklahoma State
2009 - New England Patriots
2 34 Pat Chung DB Oregon
2 40 Ron Brace DT Boston College
2 41 Darius Butler cut DB Connecticut
2 58 Sebastian Vollmer T Houston
3 83 Brandon Tate cut WR North Carolina
3 97 Tyrone McKenzie cut OLB South Florida
4 123 Rich Ohrnberger cut? G Penn State
5 170 George Bussey cut T Louisville
6 198 Jake Ingram cut C Hawaii
6 199 Stryker Sulak cut DE Missouri
6 207 Myron Pryor cut? DT Kentucky
7 232 Julian Edelman WR Kent State
7 234 Darryl Richard cut DT Georgia Tech
2008 - New England Patriots
1 10 Jerod Mayo ILB Tennessee
2 62 Terrence Wheatley cut CB Colorado
3 78 Shawn Crable cut OLB Michigan
3 94 Kevin O'Connell QB San Diego State
4 129 Jonathan Wilhite cut CB Auburn
5 153 Matt Slater WR UCLA
6 197 Bo Ruud cut LB Nebraska

2011 - Indianapolis Colts
1 22 Anthony Castonzo T Boston College
2 49 Ben Ijalana T Villanova
3 87 Drake Nevis DT LSU
4 119 Delone Carter RB Syracuse
6 188 Chris Rucker DB Michigan State
2010 - Indianapolis Colts
1 31 Jerry Hughes DE Texas Christian
2 63 Pat Angerer OLB Iowa
3 94 Kevin Thomas DB USC
4 129 Jacques McClendon cut G Tennessee
5 162 Brody Eldridge TE Oklahoma
7 238 Ricardo Mathews DE Cincinnati
7 240 Kavell Conner OLB Clemson
7 246 Ray Fisher cut? DB Indiana
2009 - Indianapolis Colts
1 27 Donald Brown RB Connecticut
2 56 Fili Moala DT USC
3 92 Jerraud Powers DB Auburn
4 127 Austin Collie WR Brigham Young
4 136 Terrance Taylor cut DT Michigan
6 201 Curtis Painter QB Purdue
7 222 Pat McAfee P West Virginia
7 236 Jaimie Thomas cut? G Maryland
2008 - Indianapolis Colts
2 59 Mike Pollak G Arizona State
3 93 Philip Wheeler OLB Georgia Tech
4 127 Jacob Tamme TE Kentucky
5 161 Marcus Howard cut DE Georgia
6 196 Tom Santi cut TE Virginia
6 201 Steve Justice cut C Wake Forest
6 202 Mike Hart cut RB Michigan
6 205 Pierre Garcon WR Mount Union
7 236 Jamey Richard cut C Buffalo

2011 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1 31 Cameron Heyward DE Ohio State
2 63 Marcus Gilbert T Florida
3 95 Curtis Brown DB Texas
4 128 Cortez Allen DB The Citadel
5 162 Chris Carter LB Fresno State
6 196 Keith Williams cut G Nebraska
7 232 Baron Batch cut RB Texas Tech
2010 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1 18 Maurkice Pouncey C Florida
2 52 Jason Worilds LB Virginia Tech
3 82 Emmanuel Sanders WR Southern Methodist
4 116 Thaddeus Gibson cut LB Ohio State
5 151 Chris Scott cut T Tennessee
5 164 Crezdon Butler cut DB Clemson
5 166 Stevenson Sylvester LB Utah
6 188 Jonathan Dwyer RB Georgia Tech
6 195 Antonio Brown WR Central Michigan
7 242 Doug Worthington cut DE Ohio State
2009 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1 32 Ziggy Hood DT Missouri
3 79 Kraig Urbik cut T Wisconsin
3 84 Mike Wallace WR Mississippi
3 96 Keenan Lewis DB Oregon State
5 168 Joe Burnett cut DB Central Florida
5 169 Frank Summers cut RB Nevada-Las Vegas
6 205 Ra'Shon Harris cut DT Oregon
7 226 A.Q. Shipley cut C Penn State
7 241 David Johnson TE Arkansas State
2008 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1 23 Rashard Mendenhall RB Illinois
2 53 Limas Sweed cut WR Texas
3 88 Bruce Davis cut LB UCLA
4 130 Tony Hills cut T Texas
5 156 Dennis Dixon QB Oregon
6 188 Mike Humpal cut OLB Iowa
6 194 Ryan Mundy FS West Virginia

2011 - Detroit Lions
1 13 Nick Fairley DT Auburn
2 44 Titus Young WR Boise State
2 57 Mikel Leshoure RB Illinois
5 157 Doug Hogue LB Syracuse
7 209 Johnny Culbreath T South Carolina State
2010 - Detroit Lions
1 2 Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska
1 30 Jahvid Best RB California
3 66 Amari Spievey SS Iowa
4 128 Jason Fox T Miami (Fla.)
7 213 Willie Young DE North Carolina State
7 255 Tim Toone cut WR Weber State
2009 - Detroit Lions
1 1 Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
1 20 Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State
2 33 Louis Delmas DB Western Michigan
3 76 DeAndre Levy LB Wisconsin
3 82 Derrick Williams cut WR Penn State
4 115 Sammie Lee Hill DT Stillman
6 192 Aaron Brown cut RB Texas Christian
7 228 Lydon Murtha cut T Nebraska
7 235 Zack Follett cut LB California
7 255 Dan Gronkowski cut TE Maryland
2008 - Detroit Lions
1 17 Gosder Cherilus T Boston College
2 45 Jordon Dizon cut OLB Colorado
3 64 Kevin Smith RB Central Florida
3 87 Andre Fluellen DT Florida State
3 92 Cliff Avril DE Purdue
5 136 Kenny Moore cut WR Wake Forest
5 146 Jerome Felton cut FB Furman
7 216 Landon Cohen cut DE Ohio U.
7 218 Caleb Campbell cut DB Army

What you should take from the draft tables:

These draft charts weren't made to talk about players who start, but to talk about the players who are still on their drafted team. As you can see it's hard to consistently hit on players drafted on the third day of the draft.

It's evident the Rams need to start drafting players who have a chance to provide depth, also letting some of the players develop for longer than a year would help too.

Also, it would be easy to say the Rams should have drafted one player over another, or that they had easy choices to make because they picked high in the draft the last few years. I disagree. How many players in 2009 could the Rams have picked over Jason Smith that are doing well in the league now? Consider too, that the Rams could have missed on James Laurinaitis and picked Ray Maualuga. How many of you wanted Aaron Curry? So while the Rams might miss on "Day Three" guys, they hit on some good players too. The role of the coaching staff is critical with the late-round players, and Spagnuolo has control over who stays on the roster.

Players brought in by Billy Devaney:

Let's not try and make it sound like the draft is the only place to improve a football team. The Rams have picked up a few solid players in free agency and trades that have multiple year contracts. He aquired Justin Bannan, Brandon Gibson, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Amendola, Harvey Dahl, Quintin Mikell, Mark Clayton, Jason Brown and brought back Ron Bartell.

These players aren't superstars, but if you remove 20/20 hindsight, anyone would have to say they are solid players. OK, Jason Brown was supposed to be a great center, but when all is said and done, taking on a player based on their past performance for another team is a gamble at best.. Some of Billy's moves have proven themselves, with Quintin Mikell filling the void left by O.J. Atogwe when he signed with the Redskins, and Harvey Dahl is a good guard. These players didn't come to the Rams cheap, so it shows that Devaney will overpay a little for players who hopefully can become good starters.

He also brought in Danario Alexander, Josh Gordy, Brit Miller and Darian Stewart. These four players could have a future with the team despite being undrafted.

Questions people ask regarding Billy:

Where are the playmakers?

The ugly truth is that the Rams haven't had a chance to get those players, for various reasons. Teams just don't give playmakers away. This isn't Madden, it's the NFL. Then there is the possibility that the St. Louis Rams aren't an attractive destination for free agents. The only hope the Rams really have is overpaying, or just signing mid-level talent.

That's not to say that Billy hasn't tried. Last season, the Rams tried to trade for Vincent Jackson, but it was said that the Chargers wanted a better offer than the Rams could muster.

The Rams needing to build a foundation without missing or overpaying for players is an unfair standard to hold over anyone.

Let's not act like the pickings weren't slim either. There were afew playmakers in the past 3 drafts, but how many of them are doing consistently well now? The Rams finally have a solid foundation on this team, so they can begin to take chances and get playmakers.

The 4 Pillars are a joke, what's the point of following them?

It's a reason why the Rams avoided players like Brandon Marshall and Desean Jackson. They may be great players, but they can also cause great headaches and help divide the locker room.

The Rams should be able to add a couple of players who don't follow all of the 4 pillars next season, but adding those in the past would have harmed a rebuilding team. Really though: What's so bad about wanting players who have faith, character, core values, and put the team first?

How come the Rams don't have a young back up running back?

Having Steven Jackson gave the Rams some flexibility, now that he may be entering his final season with the Rams, they have to find another running back as a backup or potential replacement.

Why do the Rams give up on their lower drafted players so quickly?

I wish I knew. Some of the players could have been good depth players down the line. Players like Jabara Williams, Georgie Selvie, and everyone's favorite quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, could have helped the Rams down the line. The players the Rams drafted, and then cut aren't lighting up the league, but if they are good enough for other teams rosters, they should be good enough for the Rams.

What has Billy done this season?

Well even though this season has went down hill, he gave the Rams what should have been solid players. Mike Sims-Walker, Ben Leber, Zac Diles, and others haven't panned out. Maybe if the Rams had a whole offseason the free agents would have had more time to get used to their new system and the team around them.

Billy also put together a solid draft. The players selected in the first 4 rounds should be Rams for a while, and they all have shown flashes of at least becoming solid players.

It should also be mentioned that when Josh McDaniel's became offensive coordinator, Billy drafted players that Josh wanted in his offense. He also ended up trading for Brandon Lloyd, who Josh most likely vouched for and I'm sure Sam Bradford isn't complaining about the aquisition.

He did all that, but the Rams have regressed this season:

Honestly, it's easy to say that the Rams regressed this year, but it's not like the Rams were a great team last season. They went 7-9 against a weaker schedule than the one they are playing this season. The Rams didn't have the talent to beat good teams last year, so it's not a huge surprise that they didn't do it this season.

With all that said, Devaney gave the team a good enough roster to compete, before they were hit with a lot of injuries. The Rams lost 10 corner backs and all three of their runningbacks have been injured. Their franchise QB missed a couple of games. The Rams lost two good slot wide receivers. Both of their young struggling offensive tackles are out for the season. You have to admit that's a lot to overcome, especially for a team lacking a lot of depth.

Evaluating Billy Devaney:

Honestly - you have to be fair about this situation. When Devaney became the GM, all he had was "a dollar and a dream." I didn't write this to say that he has been perfect. I'm sure there are a couple of players in free agency and the draft that he could have chosen.

My point is to say, that no matter who "coulda - shoulda" been the GM instead of Billy Devaney - it would be hard to say that they would have done much better. You don't have to agree that he's been a good GM, but he at least deserves one more season to finish what he and Steve Spagnuolo started. If he and the other staff members haven't improved the team next year over this disgraceful season, then call for his head.

So let's be frustrated as fans; we have every right to given the state of this team and they don't deserve sympathy. We also should remind ourselves that it's not easy to build a team up from nothing. Bringing back Devaney and his crew next season, might feel like getting your teeth pulled, but the end result could be better than a fat kid eating cake.