Good fortune, good play define 4-1 Rams
Compiled By Jeff Gordon
Are the 4-1 Rams lucky or good?
Both, according to Rams coach Scott Linehan. He had a positive assessment of his team’s 23-20 victory at Green Bay.
“Both teams played very hard,” Linehan said. “We’re certainly very fortunate to come out on the better end of it. But I thought our players played with great effort and played all the way to the end. I felt fortunate and good about going on the road and winning in a tough place like Lambeau Field.”
That trend has prevailed most of the season.
“We’re very happy with the fact we’ve been resilient through the tough games and we know we caught some breaks along the way, but we feel we took advantage of a lot of self-belief and effort and things like that. I’m very proud of how hard our players are playing and how positive they’ve stayed.”
Here was Linehan’s take on several issues:
On his injured defensive backs: “Travis Fisher has a strained groin. It seems like he came out OK. We’re going to do a MRI on it. It’s actually the other groin than the one that was bothering him. It’s optimistic that it’s going to be OK. Fakhir Brown has an ankle sprain. He wasn’t able to go. It should be day to day this week. It’s not a high ankle sprain, so the likelihood of it being something that lingers on much longer is pretty low, I think. Ron Bartell had some cramping. It seemed like that’s all it really was. But we’ll evaluate him as well.”
On rookie cornerback Tye Hill being down after getting beat on deep passes: “I think that is a great trait a competitor has, it means a lot to them if they feel they didn’t play well enough. In his words, he said he let his teammates down. But I think that is a great trait to have to a point. Then I think you’ve got to have a short memory to play. It’s like quarterback or a starting pitcher. You make a mistake . . . you’ve got to get over it. I would rather have that, a guy that it absolutely crushes him when he gets beat, then have any kind of indifference in any way. He’ll learn and he’ll learn not to carry that over so much.”
On using more receiving targets in this game, especially Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald: “They had some changes in their secondary. We certainly felt that our third and fourth receivers had some favorable match-ups and we utilized it some. It was effective for the most part for us, especially for getting Kevin and Shaun involved. That was definitely part of the plan.
“Also, we felt it would give us a potential advantage in the running game if we spread them out and they gave us favorable looks to run. Which was somewhat effective in this game, too.”
On the Packers’ ability to keep Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce in check: “They did a good job making sure those guys had two guys covering them most of the game. We moved Torry into the slot a number of times and weren’t able to execute the plays that were called for him. They were willing to give the favorable match-ups to some other guys.
“They played a basic, sound plan. They didn’t come after us much. We’ve seen three or four games where teams blitzed us quite a bit. In this game, we saw very little. That is usually pretty sound as far being able to double (cover) receivers.”
On whether he would use Stephen Davis over Steven Jackson in the red zone: “I have confidence in Steven Jackson to do it. I told Steven that, too. He wants certainly to be the complete player. He’s working very hard to get there. He is playing very, very well for us. We just have to work hard at getting better when we get down there, to seal the deal and get the ball in. It’s a team evaluation, not just him on the goal line.
“Stephen Davis is certainly a guy who can do it as well. It’s still pretty early. He missed the entire training camp. He is still working his way into the lineup as well. We’ll utilize both in that situation for different reasons as the year goes on.”
On the naked bootleg red-zone run by Marc Bulger that went nowhere: “That’s one of those plays where you call it and tell him to keep it. It’s going to look great if they all bite it. And if it doesn’t (work), it’s going to look like kind of a botched play. It was a gamble. I don’t know how many more of those you’ll see.
“The whole idea is, you see it on tape, you see some of the situations come up where they disregard the quarterback on a lot of those plays. It was a gamble, a gamble that we certainly didn’t get.”
On Bulger’s interception-free streak: “There is certainly some luck involved, but it’s like I tell the players, we create our own luck much of the time. I don’t think he’s just gotten lucky every time he’s thrown the ball. He’s making real good decisions with the ball. He admittedly would say he’s been fortunate a couple of times. A lot of it is he’s a darn smart quarterback and doesn’t give the defense too many opportunities.”
On stressing the elimination of turnovers: “I’ve heard the term ‘conservative’ or whatever. I don’t think that is our approach at all. I think we have the ability to be as aggressive as anyone. But I think the formula for success in this league is playing as mistake-free as you can – but still have the ability to put the points needed. Yeah, we’d like to score more touchdowns, but we’re not coming away with non-scores in the red zone. That’s important. Every point counts.
“We’ve had a number of big plays. We’re not a lousy team offensively by any means. We’re moving the ball. As we keep going with this, I think it’s important we see the payoff from that philosophy. We do have the ability to have our cake and eat it too, so to speak.”
On the status of fullback Paul Smith: “The specialists are still looking at things with his injury. I’m not really sure what that means. We’ll have an update on him . . . by Wednesday. The optimistic of him being able to be (back in) three weeks is still kind of up in the air. It’s a tricky deal there with that eye.”