Rams begin culture change to embrace their young roster

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Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) celebrate after scoring against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams have fully embraced their role as one of the youngest teams in the NFL.

Heading into 2015, the Rams are another year older, but still have one of the league’s youngest rosters in terms of age. After a seemingly impossible comeback against the Seattle Seahawks in overtime in a Week 1 victory, you have to stop and ask, how do they prepare their young roster to go out and complete what will go down as one of the biggest upsets of 2015? Easy, they hire a firm that specializes in just that, educating and leading millennials.

In a sport where the average rookie is lucky to have three years of college football experience under their belt, the league has become flooded with young, talented men. Every team then faces the same challenge. How do you motivate and teach these young players not only how to play the game, but also how to be men on and off the field. An undisclosed firm (for competitive secrecy) aims to do just that for the St. Louis Rams.

Kevin Clark, of the Wall Street Journal, recently wrote an article explaining the great lengths the Rams went through this offseason to make sure they could connect with their incoming rookies and young players. When the average age of your roster is 24.1 years-of-age, like it is in St. Louis, you need to think outside of the box to make an impact.

Its obvious today’s younger generations learn, digest information and prioritize different pieces of information when in a learning environment. Head coach Jeff Fisher noted those differences when he said

“Our players learn better with two phones, and music going and with an iPad on the side. That’s new”

General manager Les Snead also noted the unique situation the Rams found themselves in when he took over. He made the comparison of your everyday college graduate entering the job market for an entry-level position without much pressure or scrutiny, and his players now thrust firmly into the spotlight. It’s all part of the experience, but can lead to some roadblocks.

That’s where the outside consultants come in. It was up to this company that will remain nameless to change the culture of the Rams and get everyone on the same track when it came to teaching new/younger players the schemes and responsibilities. These brainiacs observed training camp and portions of the offseason to begin a grass roots movement within the organization that began with the coaching staff.

The staff, much older than the players, needed to be educated on how this new generation of players learns and recalls information and was a logical starting point. Snead said,

“The next frontier in football is understanding the mind and figuring out how you can test and teach.”

The firm also put the players through a gamete of standardized tests similar to the SAT. And these poor players thought they would never see anything like it again after high school. The tests would allow management to see how the players learned and gauged intangibles such as grit, determination, perseverance and mental toughness.

The results weren’t all that surprising. The attention span of a 20 something year old isn’t all that

Aug 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams tackle Rob Havenstein (79) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

long, but millennials seem to more savvy than ever before. It would appear their exposure to better technology earlier in their lives had a major impact on this area. They also need to know why they are being tasked with something, and their inhibitions when it comes to sharing just about everything.

This forced the coaching staff to change the way they do things. Asking “why” something was done a certain way had a profound effect on the way the staff evaluated how a play was executed and allowed players to better understand the concept. Rookie Rob Havenstein noted the benefit of breaking down each concept and taking more time to analyze things.

“If a coach asks you ‘what’s the call’ in a meeting, you have a second to think about it, then you answer. On the field, you have a snap and you make the call immediately or else you are just sitting there going uhhh.”

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