By Jim Thomas

With his new head coach - Scott Linehan - in place, Rams team president John Shaw was asked to tie up some loose ends with Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas:

Q: If someone had mentioned the name "Scott Linehan" one year ago at this time, what would have come to mind?

A: "There was no doubt we knew Scott Linehan was a rising offensive coordinator. His contract was up in Minnesota, and he was offered (a job) by three or four teams. We knew they were competing for him. He had just come off three years at Minnesota where he had an impressive offensive record. So at that point, we knew this was a good coach. Did we know he would be our next head coach a year ago at this time? I wouldn't have anticipated that Mike Martz wouldn't be our coach."

Q: Are you concerned about Linehan's decision to handle the offensive play-calling with the Rams, like Martz did as head coach?

A: "We spent so much time on that subject matter. I guess Jay (Zygmunt) and I had a slightly different philosophy on this. I could point out a lot of successful coaches in the league that call plays on offense. (Shaw cited Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan and Andy Reid as examples.)

"There's a lot of them. And part of the expertise (Linehan) brings to the table is his ability to call the plays. I felt this way about Mike the last five or six years: Who better would you have call plays than Mike Martz? You know, you just hope that the coach can handle the game management decisions as he's involved in the offense. And that's always the big challenge."

Q: Does it surprise you that Martz has yet to land a head- coaching job?

A: "I am a little bit surprised. I'm actually saddened by it. He's a terrific offensive coach and had a terrific record here."

Q: What did you think of the job Joe Vitt did as interim head coach, and why wasn't he given consideration for the head-coaching job in St. Louis?

A: "I think under the circumstances that Joe did a really good job. There was just a lot of disruption here last year. I feel bad to some degree that we didn't interview Joe. But I felt that our interview would have been somewhat disingenuous. I don't think it's right to put a candidate through a process if you're not really intending on hiring him.

"My view, and I think it was supported by our ownership and obviously by Jay, is that we should get a fresh, new start. And that there was something positive about changing the culture here. That was probably one of our biggest goals."

Q: Now that you've got your head coach in place, what about the restructuring of the personnel department?

A: "I believe that between Scott and Jay, primarily, that we will systematically look at all phases of our personnel side. If it needs upgrading, I'm committed to upgrade it. We have already sought permission to speak to a pro personnel director from another club, which has been granted. I'd rather not publish his name. I would think within the next couple weeks, primarily Jay and Scott will do that interview. Our No. 1 priority right now is Scott's staffing, which is difficult, and then player evaluation and all of those type of things. So we will look at all of that. We will do it diligently. I just don't know the timetable."