(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: While we have mainly been bringing all of our Rams followers team news through transcripts with Head Coach Sean McVay and several players, here is a great chance to learn first-hand what is happening with the team through the actions, decision-making, vision, and other player personnel perspectives of its outstanding and accomplished General Manager, Les Snead. His Press Conference was conducted through a Zoom Meeting this past week on August 30th.
As we’ve mentioned, when it comes to the value of reading what Coach McVay has to say in his transcripts, this is yet another great read that will give you an even greater perspective into learning more of Les Snead’s valued thoughts, opinions, techniques, and the “nuts and bolts” of managing a great NFL franchise such as the Rams.
Los Angeles Rams Transcripts – General Manager Les Snead – 8/30/23
[GENERAL MANAGER, LES SNEAD]
(On what has impressed him about QB Stetson Bennett since joining the team)…“Well, I think that you are always trying to predict whether the… I call it the superpowers, a skillset that he displayed in college. Does it translate to the NFL? So we did get to see some of the mobility, the ability to use that mobility within the pocket, move the chains, and he was a guy that was not necessarily, or I would say a little bit fearless sometimes in terms of trying to make a play. We did see some of that. Like a lot of rookie QBs, not there yet. The transition to the NFL can be humbling at times and he’s gone through that. Usually, if you can overcome those lessons, apply them, you have a good shot of evolving to whatever potential you might have.”
(On what gave him the confidence that Bennett can be the second-string quarterback)…“Probably a lot of the variables and that I just discussed and I think what’s probably different than preseason games versus our preseason practices, we’re very vanilla in the games, to a fault, and and it’s very intentional of how vanilla…What (HC) Sean (McVay) wants to put on tape in the preseason, because there has been evolutions in our offense that he doesn’t necessarily want to show. You see a lot more of that in our practices, a little bit more of that when we practice against teams. But point being is if we ever had to get to Stetson at that point in time, there would be a game plan that would be put together that I think our coaching staff would sit down and we’d probably reduce some things. It’d be a different package than what (QB) Matthew (Stafford) can take into the game and it’d be tailored a little more to what Stetson can do and less than what he can’t do. Like everything, you’d never really want to get to your backup quarterback, but that is definitely possible in the NFL. (The) vision is to not get there and we’re still guessing about Stetson a year from now.”
(On what made OL Kevin Dotson a trade target and his vision for him on the team initially)…“I think that it started with he’s been a starter in Pittsburgh. They drafted a good bit of OL. They signed some in, let’s call it unrestricted free agency so you did know that they had a surplus of OL who had played in NFL games and with the draftees coming in, they were a team that we targeted initially to monitor if we ever wanted to go in that direction. And then obviously you turn on the tape, you play the Pittsburgh (Steelers), they’re a fun team to watch. Their linemen play with an element of toughness, they like to run the ball, they like to go north and south. He’s a bigger player that helps in anchoring, especially in the pocket. So I think initially we got to get him up to speed. We’ve tried to trade for him most of the preseason. They wanted to hold onto him to make sure that they got through preseason healthy and didn’t necessarily need him and still have the surplus that we thought they might have. Right now, let’s get him up to speed and then from that point we’ll see where he fits in and what ends up being our best five along the way.”
(On his vision for OL Logan Bruss if he is able to make it back to the active roster)…“I know we hadn’t announced it yet, we’re still working through that. He did clear waivers. He does want to come back and be on practice squad with us. So obviously we didn’t think Logan was there yet. The goal is to still try to get him there. I think from the start with Logan, he came in playing right tackle from Wisconsin, we moved him to guard. He got introduced to the NFL trying to block (DT) Aaron Donald while trying to learn a new position. That probably set him back a little bit, then the ACL, then because of some injuries, we moved him back to right tackle. So there’s been a lot that’s occurred with Logan. Now, what I can say is there’s also been a lot that occurred with someone like (OL) Zach Thomas that we poached last year and he may have handled that situation better than Logan and is one of the reasons we kept him. But, (I) don’t want to give up on Logan yet, jacked that he wants to come back because that’s not easy. When we draft a player, release him, and probably release a player a little earlier than we would normally do, it’s a lot easier for him to say, ‘Maybe a new ecosystem, new environment’s better for me.’ He really liked what was going on here. (He) felt like this was the best place for him to have a shot of improving and getting to where he thinks he can be and where we think he can be.”
(On if he has noticed (QB) Matthew Stafford not being able to connect with teammates and how he manages building a team and building camaraderie and chemistry)…“First of all, I don’t think Matthew has a problem connecting with his teammates. And when you’re in a football building, especially when training camp starts, you go down to Irvine. The locker room is small and you’re squished in there and it’s a very intimate workplace. If you listen to hall of fame speeches, a lot of times the players will not necessarily mention missing games or things like that. They’ll say they miss the relationships that are built in those locker rooms and in and around the locker rooms, like even with equipment people. But every year is different. Each team is different. And even when there is continuity, there (are) probably different phases of life as an example… you draft a player and that player goes from someone who’s single to someone who’s married to someone who now has little kids and life just changes and different phases and who you hang out with and things like that within the locker room is probably different depending on where you’re at in that life. But at the end of the day, we definitely have some ways that we like to be intentional about engineering a cohesive collective because that chemistry is very important, especially in a 32-team league when it’s hard to out talent people, it’s hard to out healthy people, it’s hard to out scheme people. So all the variables, chemistry being one of them, is very important to try to give you that edge in that season.”
(On the team’s process for identifying offensive lineman and deciding who fits where)…“Yeah, really good question. To keep it simple, I think our formula, hey, can an offensive line(man) get in the way and stay the way. He’s got to somehow, within the scheme, know where he needs to go to stay in the way and can he get there before the defender can get there. And then can he keep the defender from going where the defender wants to go? Now within that, yeah, we’ve had some changes within the scheme and a little bit from our normal wide zone. So we’ve seen this year, we tilted a little bit bigger, wider, but that could also be for anchor. You have a pocket passer. It’s nice for a pocket passer to have a little more space right up the middle and then try to let those speed rushers kind of run around you and things like that. But you’re always trying to find quality linemen, tough to do because every team is trying to find those. And then, let’s think about it, it’s probably five starting offensive linemen. Probably that’s the most of any position. You could say maybe DBs have five when there’s a nickel, things like that. Very rarely is there five defensive lineman on the line of scrimmage. So it’s a position that’s hard to find and we’re always trying to figure out ways to identify good ones. Once we identify (them), develop them, and again, in (OL) (Kevin) Dotson’s case, it’s nice having someone with experience who has started. But hey, we’ll definitely go out and like last year, I think there was a lot of bad luck on that OL but it allowed us to go poach a (OL) Zach Thomas off of Chicago’s practice squad who they probably drafted in the sixth round and then we worked to develop him and he’s just not experienced yet in terms of playing in real games.”
(On if having premium draft picks change the scouting and development process)…“Going into the scouting part anytime you go a premium pick, when you go to make that pick, there’s probably a pod of players at a lot of different positions that I’ve always said is subjectively our best on the board. You always laugh when you say, ‘best available.’ That’s very subjective and when you go to Wikipedia and look at past drafts, it’s easy to see that it’s very subjective and it’s hard to predict. So I don’t think it’s necessarily a position, but I think we can definitely run enough analytics to know that okay, whatever success model you have, the earlier pick OL maybe the better chance of you having a successful model at some positions. It may be centers, different things like that. You can always find players all over the draft, but it’s definitely an element of a bell curve where the earlier you pick a player, the better chance of success you have depending on your success model. And OL is one of them.”
(On what lessons he takes away from cutting a highly-valued player like OL Logan Bruss one year after drafting him)…“Sometimes when you just take an individual case like that, there’s probably not enough because it’s basically a case of one. Most analytics will tell you that’s a tough place to…It’s better for us to learn lessons with a bigger set of data than one, but we will always try to go back and do a regression analysis from the time we scouted him to now and see what we didn’t do well organizationally and maybe what he didn’t do well and also there’s times there’s bad luck involved. Those luck events do play in. In his case (it) was probably the ACL in setting him back and not necessarily having the reps that some of the other players may have gotten in his draft class from last year, but we’ll try to do that. A lot of times it’s hard to learn in a one data set situation.”
(On his thoughts about Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick’s recent comment about the “buy now, pay later” philosophy and having sustained success)…“I didn’t see. I didn’t hear that, but obviously he’s got a lot of wisdom. I think there’s definitely some truth in what he’s saying in that we’re always going to try to sustain winning as as consistently as possible. But there’s going to probably be phases of your team where there’s going to be ebbs and flows through it. And yes, if you do some creative things like we did with the cap, there’s no secret at some point you have to, if you want to call it, pay that debt off. But there’s also ways to maneuver within the roster when you have younger players and things like that that you can still compete with some of that dead money. So there’s a lot of truth in the what he says, but I think a lot of teams have ebbs and flows. Some of the better ones, I think I always use the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ve been a quality consistent winner and some years, in terms of wins and losses, a little better than others, but even when they did dip closer to .500, things like that, they were able to get back on track pretty quickly.”
(On if he’ll still make moves to improve the roster)…“I think I can say realistically, yesterday’s waiver, there were a lot of names that hit the wire. It’s probably the one last time where there’s going to be that many names. Now a lot of those names will go to practice squads. So over the course of the next 17 weeks there’s probably a lot less opportunities to really improve your team unless (you do) something at the trade deadline. Or if it’s something that seems a little minor at the time, like a poach of a (OL) Zach Thomas last year, when does that come to fruition and help you and does it ever help you? So I think we’re getting to that stage in NFL calendar where we’re going to have a limited options on really improving the team unless there’s one or two players at the trade deadline. So, a lot of times what we like to do is kind of figure out where we’re at, who we are, and at that point, who we are is very important. That’ll be our model that we base any moves on and that’s where we’re at, but we got to get there first. We’re not there yet. We’re about to get real here in a week, I guess it’d be not this weekend, but the next.”
(On clarifying whether he’s not in the market for an experienced outside linebacker)…“I could simply say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll definitely take a really good, experienced outside linebacker,’ right? You’d probably always be in the market for that. Now their availability, I bet is a lot…our wishes for that is greater than their availability usually this time of year, but that’d be an interesting analytics study. If we take all the OLBs who are on the street today and then see how they do from this point forward. I think you get what I’m saying, but we would, again, always take an experienced outside linebacker who can affect the game, either on the line of scrimmage in the run game or the passer.”
(On how comfortable he is with the experience level at outside linebacker)…“We’re very comfortable with that. I mean, in (OLB) Michael’s (Hoecht) case, he might’ve even from an OLB standpoint, and like you said, making a move from inside DL to OLB might’ve led our outside line backers in sacks last year getting that opportunity. So I would say there is some evidence that Michael, even though he is not a household name, okay wait a minute, he has a chance to… he’s done some things. He’s put some things on tape, things you can measure that are objective and not just subjective, that he can be greater than maybe his reputation as a player to date. Same with the young players. Rookies have to come in. They probably have a better reputation at their university or college that they played at last year than they do in the NFL, but now it’s their time to show that their skillset can translate to our league, and it takes time. But that’s why we went out and drafted those players. We definitely liked what they brought to the table. They’re just less experienced than some.”