Rams GM surrounds himself with advisers

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney has the final say in the search for a new coach. Along the way, he has surrounded himself with big-name advisers to help him make the right choice for a franchise that's a sorry 5-27 the past two years.

Other members of Devaney's inner circle during the search are retired personnel whiz Bobby Beathard and Rams personnel director Lawrence McCutcheon, who'll sit in on initial interviews. Hall of Fame lineman Dan Dierdorf and former star running back Marshall Faulk will serve as advisers.

"I'm not someone that I hope it ever gets to that point where there's such an ego that I can do this thing on my own or I don't need any help," Devaney said Tuesday. "I don't mind reaching out to people that I trust."

John Shaw, who resigned as team president last week as part of the front office overhaul in which Devaney was made GM, will be involved with the final interviews, along with team owners Chip Rosenbloom, Lucia Rodriguez and Stan Kroenke. Shaw and Jay Zygmunt, the former president of football operations who also resigned, have been blamed for the franchise's decline in recent years.

"John wants to sit in on that and ask questions, and I'm sure he'll have an opinion," Devaney said. "And that's fine, I think that's good.

"They told me they'll have an opinion and they want a chance to meet these guys, but when it's over they'll let me make the decision."

The first candidate will be Winston Moss, the Packers assistant head coach and linebackers coach, due to be interviewed at the end of the week. Moss, 43, has been with Green Bay for three seasons.

Devaney said Jim Haslett, 2-10 after replacing Scott Linehan, will be among the finalists for the job.

Beathard was the Chargers GM when Devaney was San Diego's director of player personnel from 1990 to 2000. Devaney said he'd lean on McCutcheon and Beathard, who retired in 2000 after being part of four Super Bowl champions, for league contacts that will help with background checks and research.

"We'll be in this together, and I'll lean on both of those guys for a lot of help and a lot of information," Devaney said. "Bobby just said, 'Let me know, and I'll be available.' "

Faulk and Dierdorf fit into more informal roles, serving as sounding boards for Devaney's ideas. Before unveiling his plan for the search, Devaney said he spent half an hour on the phone with Faulk going over names, recommendations and other background material.

Devaney said he'd rely more on gut instinct than a cut-and-dried points system, which was used in the Atlanta Falcons' search that landed Mike Smith and led to their big turnaround this season. The Rams' search began a few weeks ago, a head start Devaney intends to have pay off with a new coach about the third week of January.

The Rams have missed the playoffs five straight years, but Devaney believes the head coaching job will be plenty attractive. Devaney said he'd control personnel and the draft, and the coach would control the roster.

"I don't think we have to sell it at all," he said. "I think people look at this really not as a place you come in and have to gut the whole thing, start from scratch."

Like Haslett, Moss is a former NFL linebacker. He also was an assistant under Haslett in 2000 with the Saints and in late October, he told Green Bay reporters he had a timeline and was "on track" to becoming a head coach. The additional responsibilities he had as assistant head coach under Mike McCarthy couldn't hurt.

"You always want to be stimulated," Moss said. "You always want to do more and grow. I think the thing I appreciate about Mike the most is that he's given me the opportunity to do just a little more each year."