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  1. #1
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    Bernie on Linehan


    MINNEAPOLIS In evaluating Scott Linehan's first-year performance as the Rams' head coach, it really comes down to this simple question: Did he improve as the season went on, or did he get worse?

    Linehan got better. He's moving in the right direction.

    There were some bleak moments during the Rams' horrible 1-7 stretch, which ran from Oct. 11 through Dec. 15. At times Linehan looked like a dud, at least in my opinion. He was overmatched in a disturbing 15-0 loss at Carolina, and his weekly analyses of the Rams' showings were monotonous and repetitive. I wondered if there was more to this guy than the slow flow of vanilla that dripped from his personality.

    If there's anything I was slow to learn about Linehan, it's that style points aren't important. His internal steadiness is a virtue. Linehan's evenness, his reliable demeanor, was a plus in preventing this team from cracking in 2006.

    Skeptics are free to sneer because the Rams have beaten two losers, Oakland and Washington, over the past two weeks. And the Rams have defeated only one team (Denver) that currently has a winning record. So go ahead and ridicule the notion that Linehan has progressed as a coach. That's fine. Many Rams fans think their team is the only NFL squad that wins close games or beats losing teams. But rational minds wishing to gain perspective on Linehan's first-year trajectory should look at the late-season meltdowns among other NFC playoff contenders Carolina, Atlanta and the New York Giants, who rebounded Saturday and eliminated the Rams.

    "We've had a lot of injuries, and we've had to do a lot of juggling," Rams safety Corey Chavous said. "He's been able to keep the team together."

    Linehan has demonstrated an ability to calmly step back during stressful episodes, take in the big picture and do what's in the best interest of the team. He has been unusually thick-skinned for an NFL coach, never acknowledging, let alone counterattacking, after absorbing hits from media and fans. That's because Linehan's toughest critic is Linehan.

    The ideal example was Linehan's mature and unselfish response to the ugly 15-0 blanking at Carolina on Nov. 19 The Rams managed only 111 yards, as Linehan abandoned the running game and went into a passing-

    attack frenzy, even as he watched the offensive line fail to protect quarterback Marc Bulger.

    Linehan had a surprising reaction to the calamity in Carolina. He put his ego aside, fired himself as the offense's play-caller and empowered offensive coordinator Greg Olson to make the calls.

    "It showed tremendous awareness, especially for a young head coach," Rams president John Shaw said.

    In the five games since the change, the Rams have averaged 24.8 points and 401 yards per contest. And they've won their past two games and three of the past five, entering Sunday's game at Minnesota.

    "I basically had to relieve myself of my duties after we didn't get across the 50-yard line in that (Carolina) game," Linehan said. "That's what I did. I put more time into the overall plan. I've still spent all of my time in the offensive meeting room, though, but it's been good. I just think that's what you do; you become a head coach, I've been a coordinator. I've been a coordinator most of my life. It's time that I be a head coach."

    From a strategic standpoint, Linehan has maximized the talent of running back Steven Jackson, who leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Linehan's passing game has elevated Bulger to Pro Bowl status and put 1,000-yard seasons in the bank for receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Linehan and staff retooled the offensive line, which is younger and more rambunctious, despite losing Orlando Pace to injury. (But the sacks allowed total, 49, is too high.)

    The turnovers are down. The time of possession is up. The offense hasn't scored as much as anyone would like. But the Rams can hurt a defense by land, or by air, and don't blow themselves up as often as they used to. It has been a good transition year for this offense.

    I'm not saying Linehan is Vince Lombardi or Bill Walsh. He has some things to prove. His roster management has been odd; some rookies and young players should have been utilized sooner. Linehan must show that he's willing to set higher standards by seriously addressing the Rams' incompetence on special teams. I've already praised Linehan's stabilizing personality, but can he fire up players? The Rams have scored only 43 points in the first quarter.

    The Rams' defense is the preserve, and the primary responsibility, of coordinator Jim Haslett. But Linehan's influence over personnel decisions will be an important factor for a turnaround in 2007.

    "I'm pleased with the job Linehan has done," Shaw said. "And now, as an organization, we have to find better players on the defensive side of the ball."

    As a rookie HC, Linehan is a work in progress. But he definitely has made progress.

  2. #2
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Bernie on Linehan

    i think we should all wait about a week,think about the season, compare it to last season and keep in mind that linehan was a ROOKIE head coach and then give our opinion on him.


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