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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Getting back on track

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Jan. 03 2008

    In Scott Linehan's three seasons as offensive coordinator in Minnesota, the
    Vikings finished second, first, and fourth in the NFL in total offense. In 2005
    in Miami, Linehan took a Dolphins offense that had ranked 29th the previous
    season and got them back to respectability at 14th in total offense.

    So one of the main reasons Linehan was hired in St. Louis was that team
    management felt he could maintain the standard of offensive excellence that had
    been in place since the Rams' 1999 Super Bowl championship season.

    Linehan did just that in 2006, with the Rams finishing in the NFL's top 10 in
    total offense, scoring offense, red zone offense and (fewest) turnovers.
    Quarterback Marc Bulger had a career year, ranking seventh in passer rating.
    Running back Steven Jackson also had a career year, leading the league in yards
    from scrimmage.

    But in 2007, the Rams finished 24th or lower in total offense, scoring offense,
    red zone offense and turnovers. Bulger, missing four games because of injuries,
    tumbled to 30th in passer rating. Jackson, who missed four full games and most
    of a fifth with injuries, saw his production almost cut in half — from 2,334
    yards from scrimmage in '06 to 1,273 in '07.

    "There's no way we can win games playing the way we have offensively — the way
    we did this season," Linehan said.

    So did Linehan suddenly get dumb in '07?

    Were the numbers posted by Bulger and Jackson in '06 simply flukes?

    Probably not, on all counts.

    There were a lot of factors involved in the Rams' offensive free-fall. But
    injuries or not, two things need to improve dramatically for the St. Louis
    offense to rebound in '08: quarterback play and offensive line play.

    Ideally, Linehan would like the Rams' offense to have Jackson as the
    centerpiece, with a rugged offensive line opening holes, and Bulger operating
    effectively as a passer off the play-action game. But it all begins with
    continuity and effectiveness by the offensive line.

    "If you can set up everything with the ability to be physical up front, run the
    football, and have a group there that can hold up for Marc — who is a classic
    pocket quarterback — then with the system we're running, he's going to really
    play much better," Linehan said.

    Bulger knows he must play much better in '08. He also knows he regressed in
    terms of some mechanics in '07.

    "You look at yourself first," Bulger said following the Rams' season-ending
    loss to Arizona. "I know some of my footwork habits, and getting rid of the
    ball early (took place) because I was just forced to do it this year."

    But as Bulger looks back over the '07 game film, he says, "I'm not going to sit
    there and beat myself up over trying to protect myself a little bit."

    In other words, Bulger refuses to beat himself up for trying to avoid getting
    beat up by opposing pass rushers.

    There's no doubt that better line play will lead to better quarterback play for
    the Rams next season.

    "If we can stay healthy, that'll help," Bulger said. "But you just watch teams
    that are still going to be playing next week, and the week after that."

    Most, if not all, have very good offensive lines.

    "That's what football is," Bulger said. "It's up front. In the trenches.
    Everyone knows it. It's no secret. So I think we'll probably make that a real
    point of emphasis next season, and hopefully, we can improve a little bit."

    But it's a two-way street. Bulger's passer rating of 70.3 was easily a career
    low. So was his completion percentage of 58.5. Even with the four missed games,
    his 15 interceptions marked the second-highest total of his career.

    "He's got to play better regardless of the line," Linehan said. "He can't have
    the kind of season he had this year — as we all can't."

    But Linehan does like the fact that Bulger realizes he needs to clean up some
    mechanical and technique issues.

    "That's a good start," Linehan said. "It's a very positive thing when a guy
    says he's got a lot of things to work at. Quarterbacks go through highs and
    lows during their careers. Even the guys that are Hall of Fame-type guys have
    had some down years."

    The Rams just don't want to make it a habit.

    RAM-BLINGS — Linehan said long snapper Chris Massey needs offseason surgery for
    a sports hernia.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Getting back on track

    WOW! Bulger just buried the trenches, more specifically the o-line. That group must be feeling good about their respective futures with the RAMS.

    Linehan said it.....Bulger needs to make plays despite the o-line.

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    Re: Getting back on track

    Ok...all year fans of Linehan have given him a pass due to the injuries on the O line. The press even has, now the QB comes out and says the O line has to protect him, which they do, and the coach throws him under the bus by saying he has to play better no matter what condition the O line is in? Really, then you as the HC better have them prepared a heck of a lot better than you did this year.

    This guy is a joke as a HC. He's proven he can be a great OC, but he stinks as a HC.

    Stinks.

  4. #4
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    Re: Getting back on track

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Really, then you as the HC better have them prepared a heck of a lot better than you did this year.
    I don't think you'll get any arguments from anyone Tx, including Linehan. He knows he has to do a better job in this and other areas.

  5. #5
    Tony Soprano's Avatar
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    Re: Getting back on track

    Many Coordinators fail as Head Coaches, more than succeed.

    In Minnesota, someone else was taking care of that O-line they had and someone else was making sure they kept the horses on that line. Linehan had nothing to do with stocking that line or getting them prepared to play.

    Did he not put sufficient emphasis on the line here because it wasn't any of his concern in Minnesota?

    We don't know, but it's easy to see how a coordinator then given responsibility for drafting and cutting personnel and looking beyond the playbook can fail miserably.

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    Re: Getting back on track

    Linehan is a joke. We all know that. He was good as a OC, but as HC...its terrible.

    The reason why Bulger has missed out is because our line just screwed up so many times, letting the defensive players in the opposition nail him.

    Trust me, me being from a city with weak sports teams, its really hard to concentrate on winning when your season record is so low in the slumps.

    I know next year, if our line stays healthy, we'll be a big hit. It wouldve been this year...however our line got hurt.

  7. #7
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    Re: Getting back on track

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Ok...all year fans of Linehan have given him a pass due to the injuries on the O line. The press even has, now the QB comes out and says the O line has to protect him, which they do, and the coach throws him under the bus by saying he has to play better no matter what condition the O line is in? Really, then you as the HC better have them prepared a heck of a lot better than you did this year.

    This guy is a joke as a HC. He's proven he can be a great OC, but he stinks as a HC.

    Stinks.
    Great post, Tx!

    It is an unbelieveable double-standard that Linesham is adopting.

  8. #8
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    Re: Getting back on track

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Ok...all year fans of Linehan have given him a pass due to the injuries on the O line. The press even has, now the QB comes out and says the O line has to protect him, which they do, and the coach throws him under the bus by saying he has to play better no matter what condition the O line is in?
    I don't think he was throwing Bulger under the bus, but simply saying that everyone needs to be playing better, including the quarterback. I thought that's what he meant in the last part of his quote, "He can't have the kind of season he had this year — as we all can't." If we're going to improve and be a playoff-caliber team next year, it's going to be because everyone plays better especially in the face of adversity (such as poor protection).
    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Two
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  9. #9
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    Re: Getting back on track

    when Linehan was the OC at Minnesota, wasnt Mike Tice, an OL guy at heart, the head coach?

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    Re: Getting back on track

    Linehan should be saying, I need to get better players on this O line. When someone goes down, we can't have a hugh drop off in talent, and I don't blame Marc for trying to protect himself, he took way to many hits!

    He will look like the Marc of old in 08, we will get better players in front of him, he is one of the best in the NFL. We have too protect him alot better.

    Not he needs to play better. I think Marc just rolled his eyes again.

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    Re: Getting back on track

    .
    Tice was very prominent with that team, suffice to say Linehan was concerning himself with drawing up plays and not much more.

    This is from an old article:

    ""I got a phone call out of the blue from Mike Tice," Linehan said.

    Linehan had met Tice previously, but really didn't know him. Tice, preparing for his second season as head coach at Minnesota, was looking for a college coordinator..."

    Tice was the HC every single year Linehan was there and Tice was very involved with the OL, as one would think.
    Last edited by Tony Soprano; -01-04-2008 at 12:21 PM.

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    Re: Getting back on track

    i understand what this article was trying to say, but one thing really stumps me.....


    Has the Linehan regime ever been ON TRACK? Don't you have to be on the track first, then fall off, to get back on?

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    Re: Getting back on track

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Linehan should be saying, I need to get better players on this O line. When someone goes down, we can't have a hugh drop off in talent, and I don't blame Marc for trying to protect himself, he took way to many hits!

    He will look like the Marc of old in 08, we will get better players in front of him, he is one of the best in the NFL. We have too protect him alot better.

    Not he needs to play better. I think Marc just rolled his eyes again.
    Disagree.

    He isn't one of the best in the NFL or even close to that. He's middle of the pack.

    He can be effective with near perfect protection but he lacks pocket awareness and arm strength and when he has to move at all he loses his accuracy and even more velocity on this throws.

    But yeah, when given perfect protection and he's feeling confident in his O-line and he doesn't have to move around at all or create anything, he can deliver accurate short to medium range throws all day.

    He is what he is. He needs to get better mechanically again because he got sloppy this year. He needs great protection. He needs a lot of help. He's not a top QB, just a capable one when everything is going his way.

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    Re: Getting back on track

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    i understand what this article was trying to say, but one thing really stumps me.....


    Has the Linehan regime ever been ON TRACK? Don't you have to be on the track first, then fall off, to get back on?
    Offensively yes. Defensively, probably not.

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