Tag:St. Louis Rams
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:07 pm
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Rams trip to London could violate St. Louis lease

Wembley StadiumBy Josh Katzowitz

Earlier this month, the NFL announced that the Rams would be headed to London to play one regular-season game per year from 2012-14. We can argue about whether it’s a good idea for the struggling franchise to make such a commitment (I say it’s a bad, bad idea), but that’s not what interests the city of St. Louis.

No, what the City of St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is concerned about is whether the games violate the Rams lease with the Edward Jones Dome. As in, the lease apparently states that all St. Louis home games must be played in the Dome. And since the next three London games will be considered Rams home games, that’s a bit of a problem.

For owner Stan Kroenke, who also owns the English Premiere League’s Arsenal soccer team, traveling to London every year with his Rams squad is probably a great move. But for the city that actually houses his NFL franchise, it’s less so.

As the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes, “A section of the Rams' lease at the Dome calls for the team ‘to play all its home NFL Games (other than pre-season NFL Games) at the Facilities.’ The Rams can disregard this rule if the Dome is not in useable condition or if the lease is terminated, according to that section of the lease.”

Edward Jones Dome (Getty)There’s little doubt that the trip would be a financial gain for the Rams. Wembley Stadium seats about 14,000 more than the Edward Jones Dome, and considering St. Louis will face the Patriots, UK interest in the game should be high next year. Also, the NFL guarantees the home team a ticket revenue that’s equal to a regular home-game sellout plus the trip expenses.

But still, this calls back to the question on whether the Rams are being fair with their fan base by leaving for London for three consecutive seasons.

While the city agrees with Kroenke that the selection of the franchise by the NFL for the international game is an honor, it also emailed  a statement to the paper that read, “Our lease with the Rams requires that the Rams play all their home games in the Edward Jones Dome. We immediately brought this to the Rams' attention and are awaiting their reply."

Said Jeff Rainford, the chief of staff to St. Louis mayor Francis Slay: “I think it's obvious that the Rams expect the CVC to adhere to the terms of the lease. And I think it's reasonable for CVC to expect the Rams adhere to the lease."

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 7:09 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 7:11 pm
 

Report: Rams also interviewed Greg Schiano

By Josh Katzowitz

Apparently, the Buccaneers weren’t the only team interested in hiring former Rutgers and current Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano.

Bucs hire Schiano

According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, the Rams recently spent a day in New Jersey interviewing Schiano and there was a “very good chance” St. Louis would have hired him if Jeff Fisher had turned down the team’s offer.

In fact, Schiano was interested enough in the job to call Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to discuss Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

While the Buccaneers hiring of Schiano has been panned for the most part (or, at the very least, I haven’t seen the transaction praised very much, if at all), Tampa Bay apparently wasn’t alone in thinking that Schiano would make a legitimate NFL head coach.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 12:56 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 1:37 pm
 

Report: Schottenheimer hired as Rams OC

Schottenheimer

By Josh Katzowitz

As we wrote a few days ago, the Rams had made an offer to Brian Schottenheimer to be their offensive coordinator under new coach Jeff Fisher, and today, Schottenheimer reportedly accepted the job, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Latest coaching news, rumors
It’s a fresh start for Schottenheimer, who parted ways with the Jets following an acrimonious season in charge of New York’s offense, and he gets to work with Fisher, who is building quite an assistant staff along with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Schottenheimer had interviewed for the University of Alabama offensive coordinator gig but didn’t get it. He also had been connected as a candidate for the Falcons coordinator position, but that job went to Dirk Koetter.

As Will Brinson wrote earlier this week, “But it's unlikely that Rams fans will be too thrilled: the Jets never finished better than 17th in passing offense and only once finished in the top 10 in total offense for a season under Schottenheimer.”

Of course, Schottenheimer had to try to tutor Mark Sanchez in New York, and questions are still out on whether Sanchez can be a legitimate starting quarterback in this league. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will be a big-step up in talent for Schottenheimer. Plus, he’s got Steven Jackson as running back, and if St. Louis can find some receivers, the Rams offense could be a talented one.

Much of it, though, will depend on what Schottenheimer can accomplish now that he has the job.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:53 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 10:30 pm
 

Is playing in London really worth it?

Wembley Stadium

By Josh Katzowitz

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is excited about his team committing to play a regular-season game in London for the next three years. As he should be, considering he’s also the owner of the English Premier League’s Arsenal soccer team and because he and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell want to continue expanding the league brand into Europe.

While some St. Louis fans, already worried that the Rams could be the team to relocate back to Los Angeles in the near future, probably wonder if this news will pave the way for the organization eventually to leave the city, there has to be another concern for the franchise. Basically, how will the long trip across the Atlantic Ocean affect the team for the rest of that season?

In 2010, I talked to then-49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes for a Five Questions (or more)* interview, and he recalled how long it took for his teammates to recover from the long jaunt.

“We got there Monday morning, and we didn’t recover until that Thursday,” Spikes said. “That’s when everybody’s bodies were back on schedule. I can’t even imagine doing what Denver wanted to do and expect them to feel well-rested and alert. I know for us, even on Wednesday, I still couldn’t go to sleep on time."

*As a casual aside, to let you know how quickly fortunes are made and lost in the NFL, this conversation occurred 14 months ago, and I talked with Spikes about whether Troy Smith was the quarterback of the future in San Francisco. Not Alex Smith. Troy Smith.

[RELATED: Take our Facebook poll: Do you want your favorite NFL team playing in London?]

It’s a change for coaches and players obsessed with a normal weekly routine, and you have to wonder if it’s a disruption that makes the rest of the season a difficult task. In other words, does the trip to London help the NFL’s brand but ultimately harm that team for the rest of the year?

Let’s take a look.

Here are the results of the trip to England from 2007-11.

2007 – Giants 13, Dolphins 10

2008 – Saints 37, Chargers 32

2009 – Patriots 35, Buccaneers 7

2010 – 49ers 24, Broncos 16

2011 – Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

Here’s how those teams finished the regular season:

2007 – Giants 4-4**, Dolphins 1-7***

2008 – Saints 4-4, Chargers 5-3

2009 – Patriots 5-4, Buccaneers 3-6

2010 – 49ers 4-4, Broncos 2-6

2011 – Bears 4-5, Buccaneers 0-9

And here is the cumulative record from those teams after participating in the London trip: 32-52

**Of course, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year, beating the 18-0 Patriots in the process.

***To be fair, the Dolphins didn’t win any games before the London trip.

Three of those squads (the 2007 Giants, 2008 Chargers and the 2009 Patriots) made the playoffs. Sure, you could make the case that most of those squads were fairly mediocre in those particular seasons, but the fact that only one two out of 10 emerged out of the trip with a winning record (and barely, at that) is a sign that perhaps Kroenke shouldn’t be too excited about making the trip the next three seasons.

Because so far, we’ve seen that the trip just isn’t worth it for a team’s long-term results.

UPDATE (3:00 p.m. ET): One of our readers brings up a good question: what was the teams' cumulative record before the London trip. It was 22-30 for a winning percentage of 42.3. The winning percentage for post-London teams is 38.1.

So, not a huge disparity, but I maintain the answer to the original question is the same. Is traveling to London a good idea for your team? No. Does it harm your team in the long-run? For the majority of teams, yes.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 8:40 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 1:23 pm
 

Rams to face Patriots in London in '12

Wembley StadiumBy Josh Katzowitz

With Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owning the English Premier Leagues’ Arsenal soccer team, a date in London to play the NFL’s annual international game certainly makes sense. And St. Louis players had better get used to it, because not only will they face the Patriots in 2012, but the Rams also have signed up to play in London in 2013 and 2014.

That’s the word from the team, which also reports that next year’s game will occur Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local time).

The Rams will be the home team in 2012, meaning they’ll lose a game at the Edward Jones Dome.

“This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world,” Kroenke said in a statement. “We are excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally. This is a great platform to showcase the city of St. Louis to London and the UK.
 
“We’ve seen first-hand the increased popularity of the NFL not only in London but throughout Europe. To play a role in that growth over the next three years will be incredible and is a testament to the many good things happening not only in the NFL but also in the St. Louis Rams organization.”

[RELATED: Is playing in London a good idea for a team intent on winning the second half of the season?]

As the St. Louis Post Dispatch points out, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in October that he wanted to see a few teams becoming regulars in London (the Buccaneers, for example, have been twice already, and next year will mark New England's second trip across the Atlantic) so they could begin to build a following in Europe.

That would be “very powerful and lead us to what we ultimately would like to do -- have a franchise here in London,” Goodell said.

The NFL is contracted to play at least one regular-season contest in London through 2016.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 11:36 am
 

Report: Colts called Jeff Fisher about interest

Fisher's only shot in a Colts jersey. (The Tennessean)
By Will Brinson

On Tuesday, the Colts decided to (finally) fire Jim Caldwell as the team's head coach. It was a smart decision by Jim Irsay and new GM Ryan Grigson, but the delay in removing Caldwell form his post was a bit odd.

Although the news, as reported by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that the Colts called Jeff Fisher and inquired about his availability before Caldwell was fired and before Fisher took the Rams job makes the timing a bit more interesting.

(The Colts also reportedly interviewed Steve Spagnuolo for the position of defensive coordinator on Monday night, before firing Caldwell.)

However, Fisher was "not interested" and turned down the Colts.

This is fascinating because, as we mentioned on the podcast yesterday, it seemed like Fisher could've landed Andrew Luck (or Peyton Manning?) if he'd waited a few days, returned to the weakened AFC South and been handed the keys to a franchise in full rebuild mode.


Perhaps it was too much rebuilding, though, and that could tell us all we need to know about the future of Manning with the Colts: Fisher has to believe he can win now (to a degree) with the Rams.

If he hits a home run with the No. 2 pick, coaches up the defense and gets an offensive coordinator who can bring the best out of Sam Bradford, he probably can.

In Indy, things might not be quite so simple. There's more work to be done and Grigson was already in place, meaning Fisher would have to work with his vision as well.

It's also entirely possible the Colts called, found out he was getting $35 million over five years and considered just hanging up the phone.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 11:49 am
Edited on: January 17, 2012 1:02 pm
 

Report: Fisher to sign 5-year, $35M deal with STL

Fisher reportedly will make $7 million a year in St. Louis. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Rams will officially introduce Jeff Fisher as their new head coach in a 2 p.m. ET Tuesday press conference. After days of vacillating between the Miami and St. Louis jobs, Fisher settled on the Rams last Friday.

And now, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jim Thomas, he's going to be well compensated, too.

"Before taking the podium for the first time at Rams Park, Fisher will sign a five-year contract believed to pay him around $7 million annually, easily making him the highest-paid coach in franchise history."

Thomas notes that it wasn't the $35 million over the life of the deal that enticed Fisher to take over a 2-14 team. It was his desire to have have the resources available to "put together a strong coaching staff, be active in free agency and have a strong personnel department."

Fisher's title isn't expected to include "vice president" -- just "head coach" -- which is probably for the best. Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan are recent examples of coaches who struggled to also make personnel decisions. One decision Fisher will have to make: naming an offensive coordinator.

Reports earlier this week had former Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer as the front-runner, but ESPN's Chris Mortensen tweeted Tuesday that recently fired Raiders head coach Hue Jackson would also be interviewed for the job.

One thing that is for certain: Gregg Williams, Fisher's defensive coordinator in Tennessee, will be joining him in St. Louis.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 5:25 pm
 

Report: Mike Martz retires from coaching

Cutler reportedly didn't want Martz back in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Mike Martz, the architect of the Greatest Show on Turf with the Rams in the early 2000s, has retired, NFL Network Jason La Canfora reported Monday. Martz served as Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator when St. Louis won the Super Bowl in 2000, was elevated to head coach from 2000-2005, and spent five of the next six seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Lions (2006-07), 49ers (2008) and Bears (2010-11).

Martz's two-year stint in Chicago was a bumpy one; his offensive philosophy wasn't always shared by franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. And head coach Lovie Smith, who Martz had hired as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2001, was often viewed as Martz's enabler. Smith regularly rebuffed questions about Martz's future.

In late December, with the Bears' playoffs hopes dashed, Smith was asked if Martz, whose contract expires at the end of the 2011 season, would be back in 2012.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded at the time. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Six days later -- and a day after Smith was noncommittal on Martz's future -- Martz resigned for "philosophical differences." And today he retired from coaching.

The Bears promoted Mike Tice into Martz's old job. Tice had previously served as Chicago's offensive line coach and was the Vikings head coach from 2001-2005. Tice isn't considered the offensive mastermind that Martz was but might be by design. His biggest task should be to a) keep Cutler from taking hits and b) get Matt Forte the ball. You don't have to be a genius to know that. In fact, it probably helps if you aren't.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com