Head Coach Scott Linehan

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

(Opening statement)

“We came out, like we said after the game, really healthy, especially the last two games; which, if there’s a positive about going into this offseason, not getting in and all that was the disappointing part, but we came out really healthy. Don’t have a lot of issues as far as our teams health concerns that you’ll have to address. I think a number of things we have are guys that have to get things cleaned up. I know Alex Barron has cartilage in his knee that will probably be looked at. Torry (Holt) has the same kind of thing. Dexter Coakley’s getting a small plate taken out of his ankle this afternoon. Paul Smith’s getting evaluated on that neck that he had. Those are the kinds of things that are going to be addressed and attended to here right away. I think the important thing is that we’re able to address these things now so it’s not a lengthy offseason thing that keeps them out of the offseason program, things like that.”

(On his thoughts on his first season as head coach)

“One time around the track. Learned a lot. Got a lot more to learn, but I think progress has been made, and we’re making the adjustments necessary to get to the next step; which we weren’t able to get to, but we made a concerted effort to get there. I think it makes it easy to set our goals for next season, and we can make the same amount of improvement that we made in one year from this season to the next, and it gives us a legitimate chance to achieve the goals we actually set for ourselves last year.”

(On the low point of the season being the Carolina game)

“I did joke about it, but it really wasn’t very funny. It was a low point. I make reference to this a lot. My wife asked me the same thing. She mentioned it was the two Seattle games for her, but I told her it was Carolina for me just because I felt like we were stumbling, and we didn’t really look like we had the direction we had going into that game. I thought we competed very hard all year long, but I felt in one game, in my opinion, and I know there was a little stretch there where we were down a little bit, but that was the game where I didn’t feel like we showed the competitive spirit necessary to win football games in the NFL. We had to make some major adjustments. It always starts with the head coach, and then I think the other coaches and players need to do the same thing. Hopefully we were able to overcome a time like that, and really move on and learn from it.”

(On the high point of the season)

“I think the last game. The way we finished. We started off high with a 4-1 record, but we easily could have lost a game or two there. We had some breaks to be honest with you. We played our best football at the end. I don’t think we played our best football at the beginning. We certainly didn’t in the middle. I felt we played our best football, as a football team, at the end of the year; which, unfortunately, we’re too little too late. There’s a lot of momentum we can use from playing that way going into the offseason and going into next year. You never want to end the season by not qualifying for the tournament, but we put ourselves in position to at least be talking about it at the end of the year, and we’ve learned from that if we get it done when we need to get it done next year, we won’t be having to worry about other people getting us in—we can do it ourselves.”

(On the momentum carrying into the next season)

“I’m a big believer in momentum. You’ve got to use it when you can get it. I think we can use the things that we learned from and that we made the adjustments necessary to get ourselves back in position to be competitive or at least have a chance to get in the playoffs, we can use those lessons and some of the adjustments that we made for the future. I’ve always said you can’t replace experience. You can’t go bottle it up. You can’t go get it. You can’t buy it. You’ve got to go out and get it done. We’ve had some positive and negative experiences, but I think we’ve learned from all of them. I think it’s something that we can certainly, momentum-wise, use for the next season.”

(On how long it takes to find out what you have personnel-wise)

“It takes a while. I think, certainly, it’s tougher, especially with your young players, because there’s a certain amount of unknown as to what they’re able to handle from the get go. Some of you have to just basically take that leap of faith that you’ve got a young player with talent, you’ve got to put him out there to gain the experience we were just talking about. It takes a while. It takes a while to have the confidence in making the move or the switch. You’ve got to go through the routine of…someone’s getting replaced if you’re putting a young player in too. That’s not necessarily pleasant. That’s part of the job that’s tough, but also the important part of the job that I have—making those personnel moves. Hopefully the ones you make are going to benefit your team; not necessarily just for that particular game, or that part of the season, but for your future. It takes a while. We’re still finding things out about players, but at least now I think we have a pretty good idea of the core players we have, and the young players we brought in, what they’re going to be able to do for us next year. We know a lot more about this football team now than we certainly did when we took over as a staff, as a new team, last year less than a year ago, that’s for sure.”

(On the difficulty of handing over play-calling duties)

“I think more was made out of that. I think it was difficult at the time just because it’s a pretty humbling experience to go through that. But I also believed it was the right thing to do. The overall plan at some point was that that was going to happen anyways, regardless of the Carolina game or anything else. Maybe going into this year, maybe two thirds into the season, maybe the last game of the year. We didn’t really know. I think you’ve just got to be prepared to make the adjustments that you need to make to improve. That was a no-brainer for me. It was one of the things that I feel the most gratification for, that Greg (Olson) was able to make that move. It wasn’t easy. He’s basically inheriting a system that, certainly, he is learning from myself. We have similar backgrounds, but still, it was new. He was coming from a different system. He handled it great and did a great job, and I think the staff and the players embraced it. It’s what you do. Like I said, I’ve been an offensive coordinator for most of my coaching career. It’s like I told you, it was time that I become a head coach, and I’ve learned to delegate those things, and I’ve learned that that’s a key that really good coaches that I’ve been around and learned from, that they trust the coaches that they’ve hired and are coaching for them.”

(On some of the things he was able to do after handing over play-calling duties)

“I think the biggest thing was just be more intent on what the mood or the overall chemistry of the football team was the thing for me. I think I could spend a lot more time talking individually with players about where they saw our football team, where they thought we needed to go, how I saw where they were as players and where I felt they needed to go. Not just necessarily being in that quarterback room with Marc (Bulger), or in that offensive room with that offense, I think it was, in general, an overall benefit for the team that they understood that I was taking on that much more of a role. I think gameday, I actually can be very helpful for the offense still in my observations as an offensive coach in that area, but also be able to see how we’re playing and the whole approach to how we’re playing on the other phases, defense and offensively. It is our philosophy, it’s not my philosophy on offense, or Jim’s (Haslett) philosophy on defense, or (Bob Ligashesky) Liggy’s philosophy on special teams, it’s ours, and the only way you can do that is to have yourself involved in all three phases. I think I’m smart enough to keep my nose out of things that I’m not necessarily an expert on, so I spent a lot of time listening and learning to be honest with you.”

(On rating himself as a first year head coach)

“I don’t rate or compare players. I don’t grade myself. I’m going to be honest with you, a lot of our shortcomings I take responsibility for because that’s my job. On the flip side, I also feel that the things we were able to adjust and do, I feel like myself, our staff, and our players were able to make the adjustments necessary to put ourselves in a good light or a good direction as far as our future’s concerned. We’ve got a lot to learn, and it’s what you learn after you think you know it all that it matters, and I’ve certainly found that out in my first year. We’re going to continue to be progressive and improve daily, and continue to get this thing headed in the right direction.”

(On what he thinks the major weaknesses of the team are)

“Generally speaking, I think we were able get off to a fast start. I think the inability to keep that going was certainly a deficiency, but also being able to adjust enough to get ourselves headed back in the right direction was a positive. I’m sure I’m speaking in very generic, general terms, but I think that kind of sums it all up. I think the reason we’re 8-8 is because we did, about half the time, a pretty good job. About half the time we didn’t do a good enough job. I think the way we finished is the best sign of our future as an organization, coaches and players alike, and our organization. We have made the necessary adjustments to put ourselves in a position to achieve the goals that we’ve set each year. We already know our schedule. We don’t know who we’re going to open up with, but we’re going to set our goals to open up with a win, and be able to get a handle on this division, get into the playoffs, and eventually once you get into that second season, hopefully we can make another run at another world championship around here.”

(On evaluating current players and potential new players)

“We’re going to evaluate both in the next three weeks and we have the Senior Bowl coming up too, so we’ll be going down there. We’re spending all of our time on our current players and evaluating our players and our team. We as a staff will be evaluating where we are in all phases; offensively, defensively, and special teams in the next two weeks. We’ll spend all of that time evaluating ourselves and once we’ve decided where we are, we’ll continue to do things that we were doing well and address the things we were not doing well. That’s what this month’s for. We’ll take a little vacation once we get that done at the end of the month. We’ve got to get right to that right away. We met as an entire staff to discuss the timeline of making those decisions. It’s easier said than done. We have guys whose contracts are up and it’s easier said than done to say if you want a guy back. We have work to do to get that done or to make a decision on whether we’re going to get that done or not.”

(On what the Rams need to improve on for next season)
“You can make some obvious assessments as to areas that we need to improve on, but I think we need to evaluate ourselves first and ask if we made enough improvements in an area at the end of the year to say that this person warrants a shot to be a starter at this position or a backup at this position. Until we make that assessment, it’s too early to start jumping on what we need to be able to get done in free agency or in the draft.”

(On when the Rams will start looking at new players)

“The Senior Bowl will be the start of looking at new players. We’ll meet some of the players down their as a staff in the mornings. We’ll actually meet with the players, like we did at the combines, during the evenings. It was something that we did at Miami that I thought made it much more productive than just a coaches convention. We can get a lot of things done as far as evaluating those players when we get there.”

(On some Rams coaches possibly moving on)

“I don’t anticipate any, and they’re not always for a bad reason. I would never hold it against a guy that wants to make an improvement to the position he’s already in. I think guys understand their contract status and things like that. If a guy was not happy here or had an opportunity to improve himself professionally, I’ve always said that you ought to give people that opportunity if indeed it is a better position. Those things come up occasionally, but it hasn’t come up yet, so there’s nothing to comment on at this point.”

(On what the Rams coaches plan to do in the upcoming weeks to evaluate the season)

“We watch our cut-ups and we also look at our statistical numbers. A lot of stats don’t lie. You can have positive stats that confirm you’re doing something well and you can have negative stats that show areas that need to be improved. We do the general studies on those things. I think it’s pretty obvious to find areas that we did well and didn’t do well in. It’s not always personnel. You have to look at what you’ve done schematically and say, ‘Are we giving our guys the best chance to be successful here?’ If we are and if this is what we are going to do, do we have the right personnel for it? I think we’re going to be able to make a much more educated evaluation now, just because we’ve been through it with our guys.”

(On his first season as an NFL head coach)

“It’s been great, to be honest with you. I can’t say that it’s always been easy. It’s a grind, as with what you guys do. I see you guys in here working late hours and putting the time in. The reason we do what we do is because we love what we do. It’s easy to love it when everything’s going well and you’re winning, but you really get tested when it’s a gloomy day outside and you just got shut out. I think the thing that was most gratifying for me is that our guys stayed pretty steady. I think it’s a testament to our staff and the maturity level of our players that they were able to keep their heads above water and keep their wits about them when things weren’t that good. I think know that we’ve ended the season on a positive note, even though we didn’t make the playoffs, it certainly gives us a lot to look forward to in starting over. At some point we’re going to have to recharge the battery and take a little time. Just like I told you guys after the game the other night, this is the first time in a long time I’ve felt like I just wanted to keep going. I don’t care when that vacation is because you want that vacation to be after the Super Bowl, and that’s how we felt.”

(On how he plans to talk to the team about this past season as well as the future)
“I’ll meet with every player individually. We’ll have a team meeting here in about 25 minutes. We go through some things and capsulate the year. We already have our offseason calendar set, so we have an idea of that. Like you said, there are a lot of things that can happen and there are going to be some new people in these seats come March and April, when we start our OTAs and minicamps. Those things we’ll address then. I want to meet with each player individually and I’ve met with about 20 already, so they have an idea of the evaluation we have of them, also thank them for the effort this year, and kind of get an idea of what their plans are. If you don’t have that meeting it can probably leave some things unsaid that need to be said right away.”

(On when the players will return to Rams Park to begin offseason workouts)
“I can’t give you the exact day, but they have an offseason conditioning program that starts the fourth week of March and we can pay players for being here during the week for conditioning. We’ll start an OTA program in May and go four days a week then we’ll finish with our minicamp in June. It’ll be kind of an extension of our OTAs, we’ll have a rookie minicamp like we always do on the weekend, but our veteran minicamp will be an extension of our OTAs and meet during the week.”

(On free agency)
“The one thing about free agency that’s a little odd this year with the new agreement is that they kind of raised the salary cap a little bit this year. Every team probably has the ability to go out and spend the money to get an improvement on their team. We’ve certainly got an area that we have prioritized and that’s to improve our run defense. Whether it’s in our front or our linebackers. Whatever it is that’s going to help us, we’re going to scour the league and see if there is somebody there that fits what we lack. I think it’d be too early to say that it is a certain position, but we will address that, if we can, right away in free agency.”

(On the Rams coaching staff having the main influence on offseason acquisitions)

“I think it was explained best at the beginning by John Shaw when he said, ‘We’ve hired a coach that’s going to draft the players and pick the players in free agency.’ They’ve got a veto power, which is how I think you do that as a team. We will pick the team and somebody’s got to say that guy, and we as a staff will determine what our needs are and we’ll prioritize what players we think fit those requirements. In a logical order, we will make the efforts we need to make to get those players here. I think last year we were able to get it done and we hadn’t decided exactly how we were going to do it, but we were able to get it done because we came in, had an experienced group of guys that knew how to do it and worked together as a team. I think we did a remarkable job last year of putting that together. I think this year we can refine that and make it even better. I’m not sure we’ll make it more scientific, but I think we’ll certainly have a well mapped out plan as far as who the priority is going to be and move on to the next guys after that.”

(On G Adam Timmerman)

“I just actually met with him and we just talked about the year. We weren’t evaluating him or the team. He didn’t indicate anything to me about his future, nor did I with him. It was more just to talk about the year. I know at the end it was hard for him and it was hard for all of us not to have him in there, but those guys stepped in and took advantage of their opportunity. Those are the kinds of things that need to be communicated this time of year with players so they understand where they stand and why we do things.”

(On the Rams draft strategy)

“We have it set. The draft is easy. We set the board as a group and decide that if we get to number 13 and this player is there, that’s who we’re taking. If for some reason I went crazy and wanted to draft my brother-in-law, John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt are going to say I’m crazy and tell me I need to draft that big fellow below him. It really never comes down to that, but we’re going to use a democratic way to look at it and decide as a group.”

(On re-signing QB Marc Bulger)

“You have to do all of these things in phases. It’s a no-brainer that we want Marc (Bulger) to be our quarterback as long as Marc wants to play quarterback in this league. We’re doing it in logical phases and we’re going to be getting it our here pretty quickly.”

(On how the Rams are going to approach the draft and free agency this offseason)

“I spent enough time so we understood how we want to do things in the offseason, how we’re going to grade players, and set the calendar for when we’re going to do the things necessary to get to the draft and free agency. We’re going to do free agency a little bit like we do our draft, so we have an idea of how the grading system will work. It’s a lot less entailed because you don’t have that many free agents to evaluate, to be honest with you, when it comes down to it. We’ll utilize that a little bit as the warm-up to the draft. The actual draft was the priority this offseason with Tony Softli. One reason Tony was gone a lot because we felt that one of his best strengths is evaluation and going out and looking at players, so he was on the road a lot. I think some of the best personnel guys in this business are out there beating the doors down and watching the players. That was our thing to get things set up for the draft more than anything else. I’m really comfortable with where we are right now.”

WR Torry Holt

(On what he plans to do about his knee injury)
“Since the game I’ve just been relaxing. I spoke to (Rams Head Trainer) Jim Anderson today, but I haven’t really gotten any details about what’s going to go on yet. I’ll be here throughout the week, so I’ll make some decisions in the next couple of days. It’s a possibility (that the injury will affect my Pro Bowl status), but I haven’t come to that conclusion yet. I’m going to talk to my family, Jim, and Coach Scott Linehan and see what’s best and go from there.”

(On the way this season ended giving the Rams momentum into next season)

“I’m really excited about how we finished as a football team. Obviously, you’re hoping that it gives you some momentum into the offseason and the new season and finish a lot better in ’07 than we did this year. That’s what I’m excited about and I think this football team is. The players have mentioned that and I think the coaches feel the same way too. I think it’s going to be a very good ’07. I think we’ll all have something to smile about.”

(On the Rams’ three-game winning streak to end the season)

“When we went on this three-game winning streak, a lot of new guys stepped up in key areas for us to allow us to win three in a row. Some guys they had some question marks by, they wanted to see if they could play some football. Speaking of a guy like (Brett) Romberg, I think he finished up well and put himself in a good position to be back here next year and give us an opportunity to be 8-8.”

(On QB Marc Bulger’s statements following the loss to Arizona sparking something in the team)

“I think it woke us up. I think it got our attention. It got my attention. Since he said that, I think I’ve played better in certain areas. Looking back on when that was said, I think everybody felt his comments and made something happen. It’s one thing to feel it and here it, but to apply it was the obvious reason why we finished 8-8. It was good on Marc’s part because that’s what leaders do.”

(On what he was told to do about his injury)

“They haven’t said anything. They basically are going to let us make the decision. I haven’t seen a doctor yet. I had a couple of MRI’s and exams, but I’m planning on doing that in time. I have a lot of stuff that I need to make decisions about fairly quick, but I do like the fact that I can take it at a controlled pace and get done what I need to get done. I think by having an injury like this before, I would say that it is cartilage. I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to end me. I think it’s just going to take some minor things to go in, punch a couple of holes in, straighten some things out, and let me get back to those hills and back to playing football. I’m looking forward to making this decision, relaxing, and enjoying ’07.”

(On how he feels about his performance this past season)

“Overlooking the whole season, and I did that a little bit last night, I thought I played very well. I had some opportunities that I missed that I don’t miss. It’s rare. I can count on my fingers how many opportunities that I blow. Statistically, people probably say that I didn’t match what I did last year, and I didn’t. But in other areas of my game I feel like I got better. I got better as a leader, I got better in blocking on the perimeter, and I got better in knowing situations thanks to Coach (Scott) Linehan. Overall, looking at my game, I feel like I’ve grown. I didn’t take any steps back. Going into next year with some tune-ups can be a 1,300-yard season, which will be my goal again, with 90-plus catches and 10-plus touchdowns. Hopefully from a statistical standpoint, I will feel like I’ve arrived in the league.”

LB Pisa Tinoisamoa

(On looking forward to letting his injuries heal in the offseason)
“I wasn’t used to sitting on the sideline and watching, but it did allow me to heal up and get mentally right. That appetite was craving some football, but I’m sure I’ll be ready to go out there next year.”

(On when he thinks he’ll be 100 percent)

“I don’t know. I kind of feel good right now for everyday activity. Football may be a little suspect, but just walking around, I’m fine right now.”

(On being happy to put this season behind him)

“It was a long one for me. I wish I could’ve gone a little longer for the team, but it is definitely good to just chalk it up and keep it moving.”

RB Steven Jackson

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

(On ending the season 8-8)

“Coming into this season, we really felt that we had a lot of guys that were key pickups in our free agency and draft that would be able to contribute to our success. For us to finish 8-8 and not throw away the season when we got kind of behind in the playoff run, and to make it a last effort and push, I think that’s pretty big for us.”

(On being the NFL leader in yards from scrimmage)

“It means a lot first off. More importantly, it says that with a young back like myself, there’s more to come. There’s something to build off of. I’ve set the bar pretty high for myself coming back next year. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. I have an offensive line that’s very hungry and young as well, so when we get some of our guys back like Orlando (Pace), and pick some things up in the draft, get another year under our belt with the offense, I think it’s very scary for us in the future as an organization.”

(On saying the best is yet to come)

“Why wouldn’t I? I’m only 23.”

(On what his magic number was and if he reached it)

“I told the guys after the game 1,600, 2,000 total yards overall, so I’ve achieved one goal, and missed one just by a little bit.”

(On there being a change with the way they used him)

“It was never a doubt of ‘Did the organization want me here?’ It was just a matter of allowing me to get comfortable and do what I’m used to doing. I’m not a scat back, and I knew that given the opportunity to touch the ball 20, 25 times a game, I’d be able to put my offense and my teammates in a position to win the game. I think I’ve proven that when I’ve had an opportunity to touch the ball that many times.”

(On looking forward to the offseason and this team improving next year)

“To be honest with you, I’m going to just rest for at least a month. I’m just going to relax my mind, get my body back to 100 percent and just go from there. So right now to be honest with you, I’m not even thinking football.”

(On Coach Linehan turning play-calling duties over to Coach Olson)

“I think Coach Ollie (Olson) did a great job of keeping us in balance and allowing us to tack down and be able to use a little play action pretty much to perfection. Set up the run, and allow for us to throw off of it. A lot of teams that we faced in the latter part of the year were good against the run. Not only did he keep with the run, but he allowed for the run to set up other things.”

LB Will Witherspoon

(On next season)

“I think I’m only going to be that much better next year. Again, coming back to not having a reserve on defense, not having to take that second step and…make myself that much better actually moving into that season because everything’s in place. Everything’s already known. Now it’s just fine tuning everything and making it that much better.”

(On what the team needs to do to improve against the run)

“I think something that, again, comes back to learning about how to really approach defense in every scenario, and see all those looks, all those different approaches we have to take towards every scenario, towards every team, and towards the way that each one of those teams is approaching us and trying to attack us. I think now that we’ve seen those scenarios, we can make ourselves that much better. Everybody’s going to say it could be the front, everybody could say it’s going to be the linebackers, everybody’s going to say we can do this and that differently scheme-wise, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think now we’re at a point now where everything’s really going to be sound, stable and ready to go.”

(On not making the playoffs but finishing out the season strong at 8-8)

“I think really just the way the team played is what makes it a better deal. You can’t really control kind of where you were at the end. That’s something that kind of came down to one or two wins here or there, and it could have been a different scenario. When you look at it now, yeah, those things are good, those things are great, but I think what’s really the best thing about it, is that nobody ever gave up. Nobody ever gave in. nobody ever said ‘Hey, you know what, forget it.’ I think the fact that we’re all willing to move on, willing to move forward and trying to get better day in and day out is what makes us who we are, and is going to make us a better team next season.”

(On what needs to be worked on for next season)

“Definitely offseason preparation. Moving forward from there. Then you have to come out and say…every player has to approach their own personal outlook on themselves. For me, it’s fine tuning the things that I need to learn as middle linebacker. Making sure I understand every facet of the defense; what everybody around me is doing. For every guy, it’s something a little different. For the whole team to win, everybody’s got to get just a little bit better. Everybody’s got to keep moving forward in the right direction, and keep striving to get the things done that we need to get done to make us better next season.”

(On every player meeting with Coach Linehan)

“It’s pretty common for the head coach. It’s again, coming back to saying ‘Hey, what do you think about yourself? What do you think about how we approach things? What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you think we can do better?’”