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    0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Looking ahead to second half as a clean slate
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat

    ST. LOUIS --
    At the midpoint of the 2007 season, it's not surprising that St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan would rather look ahead to the next eight games than dwell on the previous eight.

    Linehan views the second half of the season as a clean slate for his winless squad, which had a bye this weekend.

    "That has to be our message," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "There's really no other way to be. We can't live in the past. It certainly would feel much better if we were sitting here with a record opposite of the one we have, but we arrived here. How we got here is not anywhere near as significant as what we do in the second half. We have to look at it as an eight-game season and do our best to win them all. "

    The Rams are 0-8, and along with the Miami Dolphins, who own the same dubious record, are trying to avoid becoming the first NFL team to go 0-16 record since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

    Halfway into the season, the Rams already are relegated to a spoiler's role, and Linehan finds himself on the hot seat.

    Linehan has tried to stay positive amid the turmoil. He said he understands why he is criticized.

    "I think you understand it's part of the business," Linehan said. "I understand it, I really do, and I don't take any offense to it. It's motivation for me because I want to turn this thing around. This season has gotten away from us."

    Linehan has had little contact with disgruntled fans. He seldom ventures out in public.

    "I haven't been out much, but that's not unusual for this time of year for me anyway," Linehan said." I'm not much of a shopper or got out type of person. My wife and my kids do that. I have a path to and from work, and that is about it. I do get out maybe on a Friday night and watch my sons practice. This weekend they are both playing in playoff games in their little league, so I will get out and be able to take those games in. I have missed basically all of their games this year. They play on Sunday."

    Asked if he wears a disguise to watch his sons play, Linehan said, "No, no. This is a great city. People are supportive, you would be surprised. Lot of supportive comments from people, that's why it's such a great town."

    Whether Linehan gets a third year as coach, like Dick Vermeil did after the Rams' 4-12 campaign in 1998, or he's fired after two season, like Rich Brooks after a 6-10 campaign in 1996, probably will be decided by how the Rams play in the second half of the season.

    Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said he doesn't see the team quitting on Linehan.

    "I won't allow it to happen, Isaac (Bruce) won't allow it to happen, Torry (Holt) won't allow it to happen," Bulger said. "I don't think that will be an issue. We have faith in him. He's working as hard as he can. We're not making plays for him. We're just not playing good right now. I don't think it's a lack of effort. It's just bad football."

    Anemic numbers

    The Rams' numbers have declined in almost every statistical category through the first eight games this season compared to the first game last season.

    The most striking dropoff has occurred with takeway-giveaway ratio.

    The Rams were plus-7 (16 takeaways and nine giveaways) at the midway point last season. They're an NFL-worst minus-13 (11 takeaways and 24 giveaways) this season.

    The Rams are tied with the Chicago Bears for the most interceptions in the NFL with 16. They had only one interception through eight games last season.

    The Rams' offense, despite the additions of free agents Randy McMichael and Drew Bennett, is averaging a league-low 12.4 points per game.

    The Rams' problems have escalated in the second half of games as they've been outscored 131-36 over the final two quarters.

    "Putting points on the board has to happen in both halves," Linehan said. "I think the second thing is we have to become a lot better team in the second half. That has not been something we've done well at all. I think second halves have been our downfall."

    Rampant injuries

    Many of the offense's problems can be blamed on injuries, especially along the offensive line.

    The Rams have had six offensive linemen -- four starters and two key backups -- miss significant time due injuries.

    Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace, left guard Mark Setterstrom and backup guard-tackle Adam Goldberg are on injured reserve, and right guard Richie Incognito could be headed there.

    "We have to be close to some sort of record," Rams center-guard Andy McCollum said. "You can ask (former offensive line coach Jim) Hanifan. He's been around like 200 years, and he's never seen this many injuries, especially among one group."

    The Rams have been forced to use six different combinations on the offensive line in eight games.

    "To minimize the loss of those guys ... it's ridiculous really," Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "The continuity of those five guys working together has not been there. There is always communication that goes up front with those five guys. It would be nice to get five guys practicing together during the week and then playing together."

    Poor protection

    The Rams have allowed 24 sacks this season, and Olson said pass protection is a major focus heading into the second half of the season.

    "We have to protect our passer better, particularly on third down," Olson said. "It's not just the offensive line. The running backs have to protect better and the tight ends have to protect better. We have to be better on the timing of our routes so Marc is able to get the ball out of his hand. We just have to get better at the protection part of the game."

    The Rams open the second half of the season with road games against New Orleans and San Francisco.

    While competitive at home, the Rams have been outscored 114-22 in their four road games.

    "Well, we haven't been as competitive on the road," Linehan said. "That's a good point. The best way to turn this thing around is to play our most complete game on the road."


  2. #2
    moloch41's Avatar
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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    "Well, we haven't been as competitive on the road," Linehan said. "That's a good point. The best way to turn this thing around is to play our most complete game on the road."
    And you would do what to make that happen, Scotty???


    I love his generic answers.:x

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said he doesn't see the team quitting on Linehan.

    "I won't allow it to happen, Isaac (Bruce) won't allow it to happen, Torry (Holt) won't allow it to happen," Bulger said. "I don't think that will be an issue. We have faith in him. He's working as hard as he can. We're not making plays for him. We're just not playing good right now. I don't think it's a lack of effort. It's just bad football."
    This is a curious statement cosidering the "fact" that Linehan has lost his team.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    This is a curious statement cosidering the "fact" that Linehan has lost his team.

    I dunno- I think it's just lip service because he's been getting bashed by the media for not being a good leader. It really seems like he's just trying to say the right things until Linehan is fired at the end of the season. I don't think the Bulger/Linehan relationship has been good since last year when Bulger called out those players and Linehan not only didn't back him up- but questioned his judgement pubically.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    I dunno- I think it's just lip service because he's been getting bashed by the media for not being a good leader. It really seems like he's just trying to say the right things until Linehan is fired at the end of the season. I don't think the Bulger/Linehan relationship has been good since last year when Bulger called out those players and Linehan not only didn't back him up- but questioned his judgement pubically.
    "I think" being the operative words. You're entitled to your opinion, but I'll take Bulger at his word as a stand up, no nonsense guy who's going to tell it like he sees it.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    "I think" being the operative words. You're entitled to your opinion, but I'll take Bulger at his word as a stand up, no nonsense guy who's going to tell it like he sees it.

    Well, I think saying the right things for now when he's reasonably sure or at least hoping there will be a regime change at the end of the season makes him a standup guy. He could bash Linehan for his bad calls/horrible challenges/ generic game plans, but I don't think that's the kind of guy Bulger is. The way he rolled his eyes at Linehan on the sidelines during that Seattle game kind of reeks of a situation where maybe there's not the greatest respect going on between the two.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    Well, I think saying the right things for now when he's reasonably sure or at least hoping there will be a regime change at the end of the season makes him a standup guy. He could bash Linehan for his bad calls/horrible challenges/ generic game plans, but I don't think that's the kind of guy Bulger is. The way he rolled his eyes at Linehan on the sidelines during that Seattle game kind of reeks of a situation where maybe there's not the greatest respect going on between the two.
    I would think he'd just say little or nothing, or be purposely vague if he was really not in Linehan's corner, but he made a definitive, qualitative statement of support. I could be wrong here, but I'll still take Bulger at his word and leave my or any other opinion out of it.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Well, certainly no one except Bulger and maybe his close confidents know what's going on in his head, but just from what I've seen of their interactions on the sidelines- it doesn't look like that's the case. And if I'm right, I give Bulger credit for being a stand up guy- ripping Linehan or giving "no comments" to the media really wouldn't help anything at this point except to divide the team.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Bulger
    We have faith in him. He's working as hard as he can. We're not making plays for him.
    This is what Bulger said, it's definitive and it's what I'll go by, although I can understand Linehan haters not wanting to believe it as it flies in the face of a major argument for his ouster.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    This is what Bulger said, it's definitive and it's what I'll go by, although I can understand Linehan haters not wanting to believe it as it flies in the face of a major argument for his ouster.

    Well, that's certainly not my only reason for disliking Linehan and I think there are definately players on this team who have given up on him. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    Well, certainly no one except Bulger and maybe his close confidents know what's going on in his head, but just from what I've seen of their interactions on the sidelines- it doesn't look like that's the case. And if I'm right, I give Bulger credit for being a stand up guy- ripping Linehan or giving "no comments" to the media really wouldn't help anything at this point except to divide the team.
    A "stand-up guy" wouldn't roll his eyes when the coach is telling him on the sidelines what he should already know. "Throw the ball away Marc if the throw isn't there and don't take a sack on the opponents 4-yard line". I wouldn't expect that kind of response from a guy that is supposedly concerned about having guys not quit on the HC. What did other players think when they saw that? That was every bit as bad as ripping the HC, IMHO. A real immature act, if you ask me, and not something one wants to see from the team "leader".
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    A "stand-up guy" wouldn't roll his eyes when the coach is telling him on the sidelines what he should already know. "Throw the ball away Marc if the throw isn't there and don't take a sack on the opponents 4-yard line". I wouldn't expect that kind of response from a guy that is supposedly concerned about having guys not quit on the HC. What did other players think when they saw that? That was every bit as bad as ripping the HC, IMHO. A real immature act, if you ask me, and not something one wants to see from the team "leader".

    Well, that's why I said his interactions on the sideline with Linehan certainly don't mesh with what he's saying in that article, but I definately think he could make the situation a whole lot worse by ripping him through the media and I don't see how that would help anything. Now, this is just my theory here and I'm not basing it on any facts, but I think he's been given assurances by the FO that Linehan will be gone by the end of the year and he needs to just play nice until that happens.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    A "stand-up guy" wouldn't roll his eyes when the coach is telling him on the sidelines what he should already know. "Throw the ball away Marc if the throw isn't there and don't take a sack on the opponents 4-yard line". I wouldn't expect that kind of response from a guy that is supposedly concerned about having guys not quit on the HC. What did other players think when they saw that? That was every bit as bad as ripping the HC, IMHO. A real immature act, if you ask me, and not something one wants to see from the team "leader".
    I don't think the eye roll was a good thing at all, but it could very well have been a "heat of the moment" reaction to pent up frustration at the way things were going. The guy is only human and it sounds to me like he's put it behind him. He's doing and saying the right things now.

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    Now, this is just my theory here and I'm not basing it on any facts, but I think he's been given assurances by the FO that Linehan will be gone by the end of the year and he needs to just play nice until that happens.
    This is quite an assuption. His statement goes way beyond just playing nice IMO.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    This is quite an assuption. His statement goes way beyond just playing nice IMO.
    Well, like I said, it's just my theory, but I believe their might be some validity to it. The eye roll wasn't the only sign that something was wrong- you can just read his body language during games to see that and I think this kind of behavior is not characteristic of Bulger, so there really must be something not quite right going on. If the Rams continue to lose and finish with 2 or 3 wins, Linehan is definately gone, but if they go on a mini winning streak and end up with 6-7 wins, I still think Linehan will be gone and that will sort of back up my hypothesis. And let us not forget Steven Jackson's reaction to Linehan at the end of the ***** game.
    Last edited by moloch41; -11-05-2007 at 09:17 PM.

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    Re: 0-16? Linehan, Rams' veterans don't think so

    It's interesting that people are willing to use Bulgers comments last year where he called out team-mates in public as raw evidence of 'leadership', and yet when he makes a statement in support of Linehan, they see the need to deep read into what he's saying to support their own hypothesis that he's just paying lip service.

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