It was clear in remarks made at his Tuesday afternoon introductory press conference that Les Snead was ready to take to the considerable task facing him as the St. Louis Rams new general manager. Every word emanating from Snead's square jaw revealed a man more comfortable with the hands-on business of personnel evaluation than discussing ephemeral scenarios. Snead's comments revealed that the new GM already has at least a slight head start on the job ahead of him.
"I think we have a quarterback here," Snead said. "I think we have some young players here, and I think we have some very good picks in this draft to get this team better as well as free agency. That was the opportunity I wanted to take and I'm glad to be here."
Whether Snead has logged much screen time watching the roster he inherited or not, it is quite clear what Fisher and Demoff sold him on in taking the GM job.
The presence of Sam Bradford played a big part in luring Fisher. The head coach acknowledged some essential steps for helping the 2010 first-overall pick fulfill his potential, but it is clear that the new cabal at Rams Park envisions a fairly quick reversal of fortunes for this team, starting with its quarterback.
Unlike Fisher and his offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Snead was less specific articulating the details about the things needed to build around Bradford. The coaches emphasized pass protection, the running game and the need for a position coach to work directly with the quarterback. Snead instead emphasized his multifaceted experience in bringing in the talent to turn visions into reality.
Making deals for draft picks, signing free agents, swapping for a super star and turning over rocks like the UFL to find the right players, Snead has been a part of it all.
"I think you get your pillars of your team through the draft," Snead said. "I will say this though, there's a lot of methods to get players in this league. If you looked at our organization in Atlanta, we traded for a Hall of Fame tight end and it worked out well for us. We took a player off of one of your rivals' practice squads who ended up being a starting guard for us and now he's a starting guard for this organization. Our starting kicker's from the UFL, so I think it's up to us to really take advantage of all avenues."
Snead's Falcons drafted their central pillar in 2008, taking Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan with the third pick in the draft that year. More than simply drafting a quarterback, Snead and the Atlanta front office, led by GM Thomas Dimitroff, made the personnel moves that help set up the team and their young quarterback for success. That experience speaks directly to the task at hand in St. Louis.
"Let's take Michael Turner," Snead explained when asked about his best player acquisition. "When we signed that player, we knew that we were going to hopefully get Matt Ryan as a franchise quarterback. We also knew that our defense was weak and we didn't have a lot of talented players there, and we only had so many things we could do. So we took the running back that fit a scheme of Mike Mularkey, who wanted a big running back, for a couple reasons: Help Matt out, let him run the ball, play-action pass and try to make our quarterback successful earlier, and No. 2 is keep our defense off the field because they were a weak link."
The path for getting the Rams' young quarterback on the path to success is very similar to the one the Falcons used for Ryan.
Like many of the coaching hires Fisher has made, Snead has experience as a turnaround specialist. The coaches will be expected to mold the young core of the roster into a winner, and Snead will be tasked with finding the players needed in that effort.
With his formal introduction out of the way, Snead and Fisher can roll up their sleeves and get to work reshaping a new in desperate need of a turnaround.