This offseason has brought to light a bit of a perception problem with the St. Louis Rams organization. Given the draft decisions that the club has made under the new regime with head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead in charge, the question of just how far they are willing to push the envelope seems like a valid one. COO Kevin Demoff doesn’t exactly agree with that assessment.
Demoff told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“We’re not an organization of renegades. We’re not seeking to take players with issues. I think the perception is we’ll take anybody, no questions asked. That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
It might be difficult to prove that the Rams actually seek out players with off the field issues, but the fact that they don’t seem to hesitate when it comes to adding such characters is a bit concerning. Half of the team’s 2012 NFL Draft class has already had some sort of off-field problems which is an alarmingly high number in the matter of 12 short months.
Those issues could just be the tip of the iceberg, however, as the Rams again rolled the dice in the 2013 NFL Draft with a known risk in linebacker Alec Ogletree. Tavon Austin has no record of causing any trouble, but the concerns are valid with his comments earlier in the offseason about half of his hometown reaching out to him for money already.
This may be a small price to pay for an organization starved for success. Coach Fisher commented on the idea of the Rams taking an inordinate amount of gambles over the past two offseasons as he said:
“You can’t win without talent. You just can’t. Second, you have to then go in and find out if there are character concerns. You have to identify players, examine then and then make your decision. There were a lot of players we took off the board. There’s a balance.”
While it’s difficult to disagree with anything that Fisher says, there is a fine line that he and the Rams organization are walking right now. His coaching style has always been one that pushes the limits and sometimes goes over those thresholds as evidenced by past problems with players such as Cortland Finnegan who followed him to St. Louis from the Tennessee Titans. Although the experiment never got off of the ground, the Rams even claimed trouble receiver Titus Young off of waivers earlier this offseason.
Sometimes the difference between being in control and careening out of it is indistinguishable in the everyday matters that face an organization. The Rams need to be careful that they don’t push the envelope so hard that it tears in two, leaving them with a real mess on their hands as a result.