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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Exactly how important is Shaw's absentee vote of confidence?

    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/09/2007

    CINCINNATI — The most difficult part of the task of evaluating the Great Gridiron Disaster of 2007 is figuring out how to categorize this horrendous collapse Scott Linehan's Rams have endured.

    Is it all about the overwhelming rash of injuries, or is it something deeper and more disturbing than that? Has Linehan been an unfortunate victim of circumstances, or is he the Peter Principle poster boy, a decent enough offensive coordinator who is now swimming in waters way over his head as a NFL head coach?

    At least for the moment, John Shaw, the de facto owner of the Rams, believes it's the devastating body count, not a glaring coaching inefficiency that has turned what many expected to be a breakout year into this ugly 3-9 disaster. At least that's what he's saying now. "In all fairness, the head coach has had a tremendous amount of obstacles to overcome," Shaw told Post-Dispatch beat writer Jim Thomas. "And the team has competed throughout the year despite its record.…... It would be surprising if there was a change in our head-coaching position."

    There are two things that stand out from that proclamation by Shaw. First of all, did anyone honestly expect him to pull the plug on the man he helped handpick barely two years ago with four games remaining in the regular season? Shaw isn't the sort to blurt out emotional decisions off the cuff. It's not his managerial style to put his coach on the public hot seat. He's a behind-the-scenes operator who by nature is loyal to a fault. He tends to give his coaches too much time to pass or fail, and if he defrocks Linehan now, that means Shaw has to admit that he made a huge mistake hiring his man.
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    But here's the other thing, maybe the most important thing. How exactly does Shaw know whether the Rams players are competing hard for Linehan, or if they're competing hard in spite of him? How can he be certain that his coach is a victim of circumstance, not an overwhelmed strategist who rose to his level of incompetence?

    When you spend most of your time half a continent away in Los Angeles, is it possible for you to accurately evaluate something so important as that? How do you know what's going on inside your locker room and what your players are thinking if you haven't spent enough up-close-and-personal time with the players?

    Over the past few days, I did a rather informal locker room poll and very few players have even talked to Shaw since this season began its hellish freefall.

    I haven't been around the team that much either over the past month, so I wouldn't dare speculate whether or not they're playing hard for Linehan or in spite of him. But I don't own the team, and I don't have the ultimate authority to guide the direction of this franchise. But if I did, I know I'd be darn sure I knew what the emotional pulse of this team was before I went around publicly predicting the short-term or long-term future of the franchise.

    On Friday afternoon, veteran Pro Bowl receiver Torry Holt was holding court in the far corner of the locker room after practice when someone wondered if he'd ever experienced anything like this crazy season before. Holt smiled, raised his eyebrows a bit and said, "No, I haven't. These last three years have been very interesting. I've learned a lot about myself, my teammates and this organization."

    He did not go into great detail about what he learned, but it didn't take much to read between the lines. The post-Super Bowl hangover for this franchise has been a wicked one, full of soap opera madness, massive upheaval and never-ending bitter disappointments. That is the mood and mentality that permeates the Rams locker room now, and in fairness to Linehan, that's a residue that has been around here long before he arrived.

    But now that Linehan is here, Shaw better be darned certain that his coach is doing more to clean up that residue than contributing to the institutional stench and turmoil. Injuries certainly have wrecked this season. But at some point good coaches adapt and improvise. If all you're left with is duct tape, paper clips and a flashlight, discover your inner survivalist and build me a robot.

    Sunday here at Paul Brown Stadium, Linehan needs to look more like MacGyver, the ultimate problem solver. The Rams left starting quarterback and Pro Bowler Marc Bulger at home suffering from concussion symptoms, and his backup Gus Frerotte has a bum shoulder. That leaves Linehan with Brock Berlin, who hasn't taken even one snap in the NFL.

    This is just the latest one of those duct tape, paper clip and flashlight moments for Linehan, and I can't wait to see how he improvises this one. Will he coach smart or scared? Will he be inventive or timid?

    And Shaw ought to be paying close attention to all of this before he goes around issuing votes of confidence that mean next to nothing in the throes of a losing season.

    What matters most is what Shaw will say at the end of the season, and how quickly he'll say it.


  2. #2
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    Re: Exactly how important is Shaw's absentee vote of confidence?

    From trying to read between the lines on Holt's comment, it sounds to me like Martz was thrown under the bus by the organization.

  3. #3
    AtlantaRamFan's Avatar
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    Re: Exactly how important is Shaw's absentee vote of confidence?

    Is it just me or does the author of this article seem to A) Read into this just a little too much? and B) Enjoy reading between the lines more than reading the lines themselves?

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    Tony Soprano's Avatar
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    Re: Exactly how important is Shaw's absentee vote of confidence?

    .
    Martz was out with Medical problems in his last year and the Front office was trying to take him out during the Season and undercutting him.

    I really don't see where Linehan warrants any benefit of the doubt. I think some, like Shaw, don't have any problem with sacrificing a year and then 12 months from now, the same question will remain - do we keep Linehan? Frankly, some in the organization care a lot less than some of the Fans, IMO.

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