New general manager Billy Devaney will interview Green Bay assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss sometime this week to lead off the parade.
Moss has never been a coordinator in college or the NFL, but that is of little importance to Devaney, who told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the next coach of the Rams, first and foremost, â€œneeds to be the leader in our building. He needs to change the atmosphere inside our building. This leader, whoever it is, has to reconnect with our fan base.â€
Thatâ€™s not saying that Winston Moss is the leading candidate for the spot vacated by the fired Scott Linehan, who gave way to interim coach Jim Haslett. But apparently Moss fits the criteria that Devaney has laid out.
Devaney will lean on an experienced group of football men as he canvasses the league for the right candidate. He said Tuesday that Bobby Beathard, a four-time Super Bowl-winning executive at Washington and his former boss at San Diego, will be a sounding board along with Rams director of player personnel Lawrence McCutcheon. In addition, former Big Red tackle and Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf and former league MVP Marshall Faulk will be asked for their input.
Having those people in his corner will give Devaney the best chance at trying to pinpoint the right man for the job, not to mention, discover any warts that might be hidden by prospective candidates. He might be anxious to get an outsiderâ€™s opinion of Jim Haslett, who will also get to interview for the job he kept â€œcoldâ€ for the final 12 weeks of the season. Haslett went 2-10 during his audition and lost his last 10.
The fact that Devaney highlighted leadership in his criteria means he is more interested in substance rather than style points or trying to lure the circuitâ€™s hottest coordinator.
Devaney was part of a coaching search last year when Atlanta was looking to replace Bobby Petrino. The Falcons interviewed the likes of Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan before settling on relative unknown Mike Smith, who was previously the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville. We know how that turned out â€” Smithâ€™s Falcons won the NFC South a year after the franchise sank to new depths during the Michael Vick saga.
Thatâ€™s proof that a struggling team doesnâ€™t need to throw big bucks at someone like Bill Cowher to have success. They donâ€™t have to have the hot name like Jason Garrett (last year), Steve Spagnuolo (last year and this year) or Josh McDaniels (see Spagnuolo).
Rex Ryan is an intriguing possibility. For the time being, heâ€™s off limits because the Ravens are preparing for this weekâ€™s AFC Wild Card playoff game at Miami. Once the Ravensâ€™ season is over, Ryan is worth taking another look at. Heâ€™s an excellent schemer who has been able to put pressure on offenses in 4-3 and 3-4 sets. Then again, he is able to deploy players such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs. What do those players have in common? They donâ€™t play for the Rams.
Is Ryan a â€œleaderâ€ who has the qualities that Devaney is looking for? Or is he the beneficiary of having premier talent at his disposal? If Devaney passes on Ryan again, we should know Devaneyâ€™s opinion. But picking his brain is worth the time and effort.
If I was pressed with compiling a list of candidates for the Rams, I would start with these two men:
Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz â€” Schwartz has been the Titansâ€™ defensive coordinator for eight seasons and is labeled as intense by some, a numbers freak by others. Bottom line, he has gotten great production out the Titans on defense the last two seasons.
Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier â€” Frazier knows a thing or two about defense, having played for the Chicago Bears when they won the Super Bowl following the 1985 season. He helped turn around Philadelphia as an assistant before moving on to Cincinnati and Indianapolis, places where his charges showed marked improvement. Heâ€™s in his second season in charge of the Vikingsâ€™ defense and is well-respected around the league.