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  1. #1
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    Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Next moves will be key for franchise

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    [More columns]By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/29/2008

    High above the playing field where Scott Linehan's immediate professional future was being decided early Sunday evening, the hors d'oeuvres and finger foods went untouched. The gravity of the moment meant that there were a lot of anxiety-filled stomachs, tense faces and unpleasant decisions being made.

    Or so we thought.

    Forty-five minutes after the sting of yet another bad loss this one a 31-14 collapse to the visiting Buffalo Bills a meeting of the Rams' executive hierarchy dispersed. As the team's owners and top front-office brass slowly departed that fifth-floor luxury suite inside the Edward Jones Dome shortly before 7 p.m., the wheels were already in motion to end the troubled 2-year run of Linehan as the Rams' 22nd head coach.

    But with the Rams, nothing is ever easy or obvious. With the Rams, there is always the potential for some Machiavellian twist, some Alice in Wonderland turn. With the Rams, there is always the potential for some sort of mind-numbing, goofy, hallucinogenic trip into another wildly dysfunctional time and dimension more bizarre than the one we just encountered.

    So for some reason known only to the mighty conflicted minds inside the ownership's close-knit circle of influence, several hours later as they continued to deliberate in a swanky hotel suite, no one apparently could make the move.

    At the clock kept drawing closer to midnight, the Linehan error mmm, era was still in place.

    Maybe we'll wake up this morning and we'll find out that a news conference has been called. But I'm nervous. There's no telling what's behind the looking glass in this Rams wonderland. Today, there should be a room full of minicams, motor drives, microphones and curious inquisitors jammed inside the same Rams Park auditorium where Linehan accepted the job 32 months ago, waiting to hear the announcement that he has been released.

    But you never know.

    No one asked me, but maybe I can help them with their troubled minds. You want to know what to do next?

    Step No. 1: FIRE LINEHAN NOW Linehan is probably gone and if he is, the hard part begins. Fixing the mess that has taken more than a decade to create should begin with one quick move and a few prudent ones. MORE BURWELL
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    Step No. 2: THE INTERIM COACH It makes no sense to go outside the organization to look for an interim, because only a fool would step into this job without knowing the true lay of the land. So all those calls for Dick Vermeil, Bill Cowher, Jim Fassell or Marty Schottenheimer are borderline insane. First off, they don't know the current personnel. Secondly, other than Vermeil, why would Cowher, Fassell or Schottenheimer or any other top-shelf outside guy take this mess on an interim basis with no guarantees for next season, and no clue who he will be working for next season?

    Yes, folks, Jay Zygmunt will be relieved of his general manager duties, just not right now. But that's OK, I can wait. But without knowing who Zygmunt's successor will be, and for that matter who will be the team president, too (John Shaw will probably retire at season's end), no outsider need apply for interim duty.

    That's why Linehan's replacement has to come from within, and that's why defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is the only logical choice. And before you all start groaning, hear me out. This is why Haslett makes the most sense:

    First and foremost, the players will respond to him. I took a rather unscientific poll of many of the players in that locker room about Linehan's departure and Haslett's potential promotion and got nothing but positive responses. Haslett's a hard-nosed, high-energy guy (that's a nice way of saying he'll get in your face all day 'til Sunday).

    Secondly, he has a track record as a relief specialist. In his first year as a head coach in 2000, he turned around the New Orleans Saints from a 3-13 record in 1999 to a 10-6 record and the NFC West title. He's a former NFL coach of the year. And even though he was fired after six years in New Orleans with an overall losing record (45-51), by all accounts his finest coaching hour might have been his last year there when the Saints finished 3-13 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    Haslett held that team together under impossible circumstances when the team was relocated to San Antonio, where the Saints played, lived and practiced in awful conditions. After the game on Sunday, he left the locker room without talking to any reporters, but according to multiple sources, he had already been informed that owner Chip Rosenbloom favors him for the promotion.

    Step No. 3: HIRE THE RIGHT MAN AT THE TOP In the grand scale of things, Linehan's ouster and Haslett's imminent promotion are preliminary stuff to the far more impactful moves that are already quietly in the works for this fractured organization. Zygmunt will be accorded a dignified retirement at season's end, a reward for 27 years as a faithful, though far too ineffective, soldier. Shaw could also go quietly into the sunset at year's end.

    But there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered.

    Two unknown candidates have already been interviewed as possible replacements for Zygmunt, according to several team sources. I don't know who they are, but two of the first people I would talk to are Ron Wolf, and maybe the most intriguing name of all, Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf.

    The most important thing this organization needs now is the face of the franchise. They need a forceful football man put in charge of the entire operation, someone with authority and autonomy to do what needs to be done to fix this mess of a franchise. The next team president has to be a football man who is not going to be an absentee boss.

    One of his Dierdorf's sayings about football tells you what sort of boss he would be:

    "If you don't win, people should lose their jobs."


  2. #2
    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    What in the world would be the difference between hiring deirdorf (who i respect a lot) and the original hiring of matt millen? The answer is NONE.

    We need a PROVEN executive with actual work experience in this field. The fact that the guy was a hall of fame player and has been around the game forever does not qualify him as an nfl executive to rebuild this team.

    Would i welcome a Faulk or Deirdorf having a role as part of a team rebuilding the rams? Absolutely. But NOT to run the entire operation. Does Deirdorf have any experience managing people, contract negotiations etc? Sure he can hire people to do it, but a guy like a Ron wolf make a lot more sense to me. A proven coach such as a schottenheimer is needed as well. Ownership better be prepared to open the bank vault to protect its investment because these type of guys will want a ton of money, especially given what a mess the situation is at this time.

    My choice? Jimmy Johnson. Turn the entire football operation over to him and we will be a winner within three years.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblin` Ram View Post
    This is why Haslett makes the most sense:

    First and foremost, the players will respond to him.
    Yeah, the defense, who is dead last in the league in almost every statistical category and has a 3 yr history of second half collapses, doesn't respond to him- but the whole team will. This guy is an idiot.

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    Truth's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    What in the world would be the difference between hiring deirdorf (who i respect a lot) and the original hiring of matt millen? The answer is NONE.
    That is exactly what I was thinking when I read Deirdorf's name.

    The real question is, which top tier guy (Pres, GM, or Coach) is going to want a job with a team that's for sale? That is, unless the new owner is part of the selection process.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Two unknown candidates have already been interviewed as possible replacements for Zygmunt, according to several team sources.
    Folks, this is the single most important thing the Rams do over the next year. Not the next Head Coach. Not the starting QB. Not the #1 draft pick. Not the captain of the cheerleading squad.

    But the top football guy. Call him whatever you want.....GM, President, VP for football operations, Grand Poo-Bah of on the field stuff.....whatever! But the guy in charge of everything Rams football is where the buck stops.

    Get this call right, and the rest of the dominoes fall in place.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    I actually like Dierdorf's name being thrown in... as a President, not necessarily as a GM. As President he'd be a football guy who would then know the proper people who could build the team, and he could hire marketing and finance and all those people to run the business side of things.

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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    My choice? Jimmy Johnson. Turn the entire football operation over to him and we will be a winner within three years.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    I would be all for this except I don't see Jimmy leaving his cushy TV job.

    The Rams would need to break the bank for him or any other high profile guy and I don't see the Rams doing that unfortunately.
    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    The backhanded compliments about Austin Davis are amusing.

  8. #8
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    I agree with the posts that are against Dierdorf. He has no experience in running a football organization and the only reason he's in the conversation is that he played his football in St. Louis. BIG DEAL!

    As many have already said we need a smart football person to run this show and as HUBison said, it's the most important hiring we make over the next year. Ron Wolf would be a sound choice. Of course that would eliminate many HC candidates like Marty Schottenheimer or Bill Cowher as they are probably looking for more FO control than Wolf would allow them to have. If we hire Wolf then you will likely see a young HC like Lane Kiffen (likely to be fired in Oakland), who would not be a bad choice as I see it. Whomever it is we need a President to lead the FO with a good sense of talent evaluation and contract structuring and a HC who will make sure our players are prepared (game plan and motivated emotionally)and physically conditioned. Our conditioning seems to be awfull that's why we have so many injuries and 4th Qtr. collapses.

    The future looks a whole lot brighter as of this morning than 24 hours ago!

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Folks, this is the single most important thing the Rams do over the next year. Not the next Head Coach. Not the starting QB. Not the #1 draft pick. Not the captain of the cheerleading squad.

    But the top football guy. Call him whatever you want.....GM, President, VP for football operations, Grand Poo-Bah of on the field stuff.....whatever! But the guy in charge of everything Rams football is where the buck stops.

    Get this call right, and the rest of the dominoes fall in place.
    Very true Hub. Anything that happens this year will almost be a non-sequiter to next season. I will be deeply disappointed if there is not a total change beginning at the top and trickling down to the very spots on the roster.

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    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    I wonder how the big bison developed his talent for cutting through the crap and getting to the nuts of the issue almost every time.

    I dont care what it costs, if ownership wants to maximize its investment, it needs to pay top dollar for the best football guy that they can get and to me that means TRACK RECORD. Someone who has done it before (ie built a winner) NOT someone who seems to have the capabilities to do it (ie a dierdorf type). You cant just "hire people to run the business side of things." Thats not the way businesses are run. There is no evidence that Dierdorf has any experience as a CEO of any type of business, let alone a billion dollar business like the Rams.

    The biggest concern i have is whether ownership will spend the money or try to do this on the cheap. If we try to do it on the cheap, we will be in purgatory until the team is sold.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  11. #11
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    I wonder how the big bison developed his talent for cutting through the crap and getting to the nuts of the issue almost every time.

    I dont care what it costs, if ownership wants to maximize its investment, it needs to pay top dollar for the best football guy that they can get and to me that means TRACK RECORD. Someone who has done it before (ie built a winner) NOT someone who seems to have the capabilities to do it (ie a dierdorf type). You cant just "hire people to run the business side of things." Thats not the way businesses are run. There is no evidence that Dierdorf has any experience as a CEO of any type of business, let alone a billion dollar business like the Rams.

    The biggest concern i have is whether ownership will spend the money or try to do this on the cheap. If we try to do it on the cheap, we will be in purgatory until the team is sold.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    Amen!! That is the strategy this organization must adopt. If they don't all the talk of this morning is a waste. The big unknown at this point is Chip Rosenbloom's plan of selling the team. Getting a big name franchise savior here will be tough unless he knows the job will be safe for awhile.

    Go Rams!

  12. #12
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    What in the world would be the difference between hiring deirdorf (who i respect a lot) and the original hiring of matt millen? The answer is NONE.

    We need a PROVEN executive with actual work experience in this field. The fact that the guy was a hall of fame player and has been around the game forever does not qualify him as an nfl executive to rebuild this team.

    Would i welcome a Faulk or Deirdorf having a role as part of a team rebuilding the rams? Absolutely. But NOT to run the entire operation. Does Deirdorf have any experience managing people, contract negotiations etc? Sure he can hire people to do it, but a guy like a Ron wolf make a lot more sense to me. A proven coach such as a schottenheimer is needed as well. Ownership better be prepared to open the bank vault to protect its investment because these type of guys will want a ton of money, especially given what a mess the situation is at this time.

    My choice? Jimmy Johnson. Turn the entire football operation over to him and we will be a winner within three years.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    GC, that would be an awesome choice,but I am not so sure he would do it,BUT for the right price who knows,it's got to be worth at least a phone call.

  13. #13
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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    Jimmy Johnson may like the idea..a chance to take on Jerry Jones once again but without J.J being able to fire him for it...bring Marshall in to be groomed as his heir apparent with a view for him to take over in the next 4-6 years.

    i hope whoever takes over would keep Bill Devaney onboard because i believe in that guys eye for talent.

    the only thing id have against Ron Wolf is the fact he`s 69 already.. his record speaks for itself,but would he have the energy left in him for the mammoth task ahead?...
    Last edited by Ramblin` Ram; -09-29-2008 at 05:37 PM. Reason: spelling error

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    Re: Burwell`s latest Post dispatch ..

    How about Ron Jeremy as GM or President of Football Operations? If the man has shown us anything by being a porn legend- it's that he's capable of achieving anything...

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