--Assessing the NFC West-
We assessed it before I started last year, and we were very, very impressed with it. Three physical teams. As you recall, Arizona was 4-0 or 5-0 when we played 'em (JT note: they were 4-0). So I have a great deal of respect for the talent level, for the coaching and those teams being very competitive.
--On Rams' success vs. SF-
You know we made some plays in both the overtime games. Both teams had opportunities, mind you, they missed a field goal in each one of those in overtime. But we stayed in 'em and guys played hard. We've got a long ways to go, but to answer your question very impress with the division.
--Personality of division w/mobile QBs Kapernick and Wilson-
We studied it during the year. We don't have a lot of time. We played as best we could considering the amount of time we had and the ability level at the position. That's going to be an ongoing process for us. Obviously we feel like we sense for what we need to do and the type of players that need to be on the field when you've got that type of talent at the quarterback position.
--On Gregg Williams-
You know, I made that decision well before the season ended, that we wanted to go a different direction. It probably wouldn't have been as easy had we not had the assistants that I had on the staff. I'm talking about Dave McGinnis and Chuck Cecil and then Coach (Mike) Waufle. You've got guys that have coordinated. I'm very fortunate to get Frank Bush now. He's also coordinated. So we just felt like we wanted this to be the Ram defense, so we're moving in a little different direction from what Gregg's philosophies are.
--Talked with Williams since reinstated-
I have not spoken with him since being reinstated. I'm happy that it worked out the way it did. I think Gregg can help the Titans and help Coach (Mike) Munchak, and of course Jerry Gray. The other side of that is that they can help him to re-establish himself back in the league.
--How do you see Gregg and Jerry Gray working together-
They've worked together in the past and there were no issues. Some years have gone by, but when they were on our staff, we didn't have any issues.
--On Tim Walton hired as new d-coordinator-
I'm real excited about Tim as is the staff. Again, we've got a number of former coordinators on the staff. It's the Ram defense. Tim fits in really well with that. He has a very, very good understanding of the passing game and pass coverages. Tim has been in college (as a coach and coordinator) and been successful there. He's defended options and he's defended wishbones. At the end of the day, the patience in the process paid off for us.
--Is this team one good offseason away from being a bona fide playoff contender-
If you're talking about acquiring players, it's really year to year. I'm probably equally excited about the offseason at the facility _ the offseason program. The fact that both sides of the ball are staying in the same system. We're gonna improve our young players. So I'd like to think by the end of the offseason that we're a better team than we were when we finished (2012).
--4 games a year vs. Kaepnerick and Wilson-
It's very challenging and they're very talented. They're also really good players around the quarterbacks. Both teams in addition had outstanding running backs, which makes that concept much more difficult to defend because traditionally on defense you haven't accounted for the quarterback (as a runner). You have to make adjustments. . . .So we're going to be doing that along with everybody else. Because we can't predict that there's not going to be another team or two that's gonna come in and do that type of stuff. We've got our baby there in the West, and now those guys in the (NFC) East have their challenge with the high-tempo offense that they're gonna see out of Philadelphia.
--Will NFL coaches be visiting with college coaches in offseason to help figure out how to defense this pistol/read option stuff-
A lot of people are gonna go there. But I think everybody that thinks, 'Well, let's go talk to Coach Ault.' (JT NOTE: Kaepernick's former college coach at Nevada). You know, he's the one that started this stuff. You think he's gonna help us defend his former player? Good luck to those guys.
--On Titus Young's quick stay with Rams-
Our approach regarding Titus was we had two options: One was to let him clear waivers. And then be one of those teams to try to get him in here and try to sit down and talk to him. Or actually submit a claim, and we were awarded (him). So we got to spend time with him. This to me was just a long, extensive interview and at the end of the day we felt like we were better off without Titus.
--Rob Ryan backing out of d-coordinator job-was it simply a case of running a 3-4 front (Ryan's strength) vs. a 4-3 (which Rams run)-
Yeah, it was that. There were some other things involved. Again, things have worked out really well for Coach Ryan and for the Rams because we've got our guy, and he's gone on and he's more comfortable in the odd-front defense.
--Are you comfortable with taking a guard or right tackle in first round-
Yeah, I'd draft just about any position in the first round except maybe a kicker or a punter. We don't need those.
--Fisher didn't draft an o-lineman in first round during all his time as Oilers/Titans head coach-
But we felt like we got first-round value out of some players we drafted there, specifically the two tackles. The tackles played very well for us down there.
--On development of young players-
Coaches will stand up and tell you that players make the biggest improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. They're no longer rookies. They understand what they have to go through. They're gonna come in the offseason program. And they're gonna improve. If we're doing our job _ we identify strengths and weaknesses in not only the younger players but all of our players _ and you have to address those things during the offseason. That process is well underway. As frustrated as we are that we can't really put our hands on 'em (until start of Rams offseason program April 15), we're gonna take advantage of the time that we have starting in April to work with the young guys.
--Expectations for Bradford with same coordinator, same offense for first time in NFL career-
Well, I think you'll see more production out of him week to week. Probably a little bit more consistency out of him, not that he was inconsistent. But when you stay in the same system over time, you feel much more comfortable. One can only imagine what it's been like for him for the last few years going through three different offensive philosophies and systems.
--On William Hayes's success as a pass-rusher in 2012-
Will works real hard. We have an outstanding defensive line coach in Mike Waufle. And Will got real close with the other three ends, with Eugene and Robert _ and very close with Chris _ and just loved playing. Will wasn't a 60-play-a-game guy, but when he was on the field he was productive. He ended up the season with 6½ sacks (JT NOTE: actually it was 7 sacks) and a lot of tackles for loss.
--So you want to bring back Hayes, who's unrestricted-
That's correct. Yes. We have a great deal of interest in bringing him back. As he does have interest in remaining with us.
--Plans on backup QB-
Well, we've got Austin Davis. I was really happy with his progress. Still there's a possibility that we would bring Kellen (Clemens) back. Kellen's an outstanding locker room guy and very competitive. And if that were the case we'd probably flip things to where Austin would be (No.) 2, Kellen would be 3. We got a chance to see Austin in the preseason, and he's got some ability.
--With the possibility that Steven Jackson and Amendola could end up elsewhere-will that effect how you approach the RB and WR position in the offseason-
Well, I think we have for where that goes before we have to make any decisions (on free agency and draft). Now, you talk about free agency, we have a good feel for what we can do. What we're planning on doing as far as UFA's. But there's always a possibility that that doesn't happen. We've said all along, we'd like to have both of 'em back. They're key members of our team. But if that doesn't happen, you have to address it and fill those voids.
Because of the nature of the college game now, the physical characteristics of the linebackers that are coming out is not necessarily what we need. You've got to develop. They're smaller. You see safeties now playing (linebacker) because of the speed and the multiplicity of the game. So when you talk about addressing the need at the linebacker position, there's typically not a lot of depth from year to year.
--OG Rokevious Watkins update coming off ankle and weight issues-
We encouraged him to take some time off. He did. He came back. His rehab's just about complete. His weight is significantly down and he made a commitment to a program early in the offseason to get himself in a position where he can really compete. So I'm pleased with his progress thus far.