By Jim Thomas
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 01:00 PM CDT

Derrelle: Hi Jim last week I sent you a message about how the Rams need to start enjoying football well that hasn't happened yet this team is so separated you could park a train between them. Remember when Linehan was first hired and he was preaching about how this will be a family type team what happened to that. Jim did you see when he was trying to hype the team up and the players were like "yeah whatever man" it is clearly animosity somewhere on this team, also remember you said that Bulger takes the O line out for dinner from time to time well it's about that time because he really dont trust the O line right now that's the reason for the interceptions. Why in the world does olson wait till the fourth quarter to throw the ball to Mc Michael. I would like to say in closing that the Rams need to have a team dinner and come together to solve this thing !Go Rams!

Jim Thomas: How do you come to the conclusion that this team is "so separated you could park a train between them?" I think it's a fairly close team _ but perhaps no closer or no farther apart than others of recent years.

I thought the offensive line played all right against Tampa, all things considered. The reasons for Bulger's interceptions:

_ A poor attempt by Bulger at throwing the ball away on the sideline pass to Bruce.

_ An underthrown fade pattern by Bulger in the end zone to Drew Bennett. (Bulger claims it was a miscommunication, but it doesn't sound like Linehan is buying that.)

_ A miscommunication with Brian Leonard. Bulger thought Leonard was turning one way on the pattern; Leonard turned the other way.

_ As for the delay in throwing to McMichael, I'll just say this. The play-calling in general _ especially in Games 1 and 3 _ has been a befuddling mystery
Murat: Hello Jim;

Last year when the offense was struggling, Linehan and Olson incorporated some plays from Martz's offense. I do not understand why Linehan is expecting a different outcome this year when the plays they call are completely anti-Martz. How many weeks should we suffer before we see a gutsy play from the offense instead of those line of scrimmage passes? By the way, are the plays getting dumb as we get close to the goal line?


Jim Thomas: The Rams actually called a lot of Martz-like plays against San Francisco _ the dig patterns and deep ins that were a staple of the Martz offense. The Rams had seven pass plays of 20 yards or more in that game _ a good day's work for any offense (even with the failure to convert those plays into touchdowns). But I agree with you about the very conservative play-calling against Carolina and Tampa Bay. You cannot play a game as if you are afraid to lose, or afraid to make a mistake. You have all these accomplished veteran receivers _ Holt, Bruce, Bennett, McMichael _ and you've got to find a way to get them involved while not ignoring the run. Although improved, the Rams defense isn't nearly good enough to hold up in games where the offensive game plan is so convservative.
As for the red zone offense, as I pointed out in Tuesday's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback Story" the Rams have a meager 30 yards in 21 red zone plays this season. I don't think there has been a single red zone pass thrown to McMichael in that setting.
Jim: I have never seen a team as flat as the 2007 Rams. The play calling is terrible. Why are the Rams going from sideline to sideline instead of endzone to endzone. These little passes at the line of scrimmage is a joke. If you need 6 yards, go for the yardage, why the sideline. Bulger got his money, he sure doesn't play like it. I think a change is in order at QB and Gus might be that guy. Bulger is his own worst enemy. His timing is terrible. It hurts to see a once proud organization fall on its face. I get so tired of the quote "same old Rams."

Jim Thomas: As I wrote about today in our "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" feature, those little sideline patterns are called "smokes" or "smokescreens." Most of the time when they have been called this season, they are audibles in a "run-pass" option. To wit: Bulger goes up to the line with a run play called; notices a bad "look" by the defense _ such as eight men in the box _ and checks out of the run into a pass. Well, most of the time, the pass is this quick sideline job to the WRs _ a play that obviously hasn't worked very well. As I've mentioned on the radio with Bernie, I've watched every game played by Holt and Bruce in their time with the Rams. Holt and Bruce have many talents; they've done wonderful things; they both should be in the Hall of Fame some day. But they've never excelled at this particular play. So it's mind-boggling as to why the Rams keep using it as the "check out" play in the run-pass option. Why not run a slant? Why not run a "smoke-and-go" _ where the receiver (and quarterback) fake like it's the quick sideline pass and then the receiver heads deep. This probably would've worked against Tampa because Bulger said in the locker room afterwards that Ronde Barber was biting on the "smoke" all day. Against Carolina, the Rams picked up a lot of yards on a pass interference penalty called against the Panthers trying to defend Holt on a "smoke-and-go."
Rodney Lusain: With his big contract in hand and a case of the jitters, wouldn't this be a good time to let Marc Bulger rest his sore ribs and watch how productive someone with some hunger can be in this offense?

Jim Thomas: First off, I don't think the big contract has anything to do with it. Bulger was making pretty big money last year _ finishing off a deal that averaged about $5 million a year, and had a career year.
Secondly, I don't think Bulger has the jitters. If you're questioning his toughness, check out the blow he absorbed completing that pass in the red zone to McMichael against the *****.
I just think Bulger is hurt. If the offense had to be dummied down so much to protect him against Tampa, I would've played Frerotte. Isn't that why you're paying Frerotte $2.1 million a year?
Geoffrey: Hey Jim,
Aside from all the glaring problems we saw Sunday. Has anyone else noticed that Steven Jackson didn't run north-south at all? He looked like a hopping madman every time he touched the ball. He'd get the hand-off, stop, then start bouncing up and down, then stop, then hop, then fall down. It made me dizzy at one point.

Jim Thomas: He has been doing more of that this season. It could partly be a result of there not being much running room. But once he finally got going, he did drag many tacklers for extra yards against Tampa.
ken: As of right now, do you think its time to clean out this coaching staff?

Jim Thomas: No. Not 3 games into his second season. We're just three chapters into a 16-chapter book. But obviously, all three chapters have been disastrous.
Slidermike: Whats up with the Lime green dots on the back of QB helmets in the NFL this year?
We dont have anything esle good to talk about with regards to the state of football in our city so how about a little info we havent hammered yet?

Jim Thomas: The green dots indicate which helmets have the sideline-to-quarterback communication system in them. I think the league found that some teams were violating the rule (Belichick?????) by having non-quarterbacks wear the helmets. So the green dots are an attempt to clean this up.
tater: Jim,
Since you have access to the Upper Management at Rams Park would you please let them know how satisfied us fans are with their Head Coach decision. It appeared that a key goal in the hiring was to find someone who would bring peace and harmony to the inner workings at Ram's Park.

That is so important to us fans! Having prior Head Coaching experience (at any level)is not important to us. Making game day adjustments to the schemes of other defenses is of no value. Providing leadership in figuring out a way to score touchdowns in the Red Zone doesn't matter.

What is important is that daily at Rams Park the Management organization gathers at the coffee bar, holds hands and sings songs from past episodes of Mr. Rogers and Barney.

Also let upper management know that when the Dome is empty it is not because we are dissastified with the dull leadership of the Rams. We fans are all out hugging trees, humming on hilltops and becoming in total harmony with Mother Earth.

Jim Thomas: Sarcasm appreciated.
David Naglieri: Jim,

What is the problem with the Rams offense? The offensive line injuries do not warrant this level of medoctrity? It seems to me a large part of the blame must fall on offesnive coordinator Greg Olsen. His lack of imagination and lack-luster game planing are bringing memories of the forgetful 1990's. Is there grumbling among players? How does the offense feel about Olsen and what kind of realtionship does he have with Bulger?

Jim Thomas: The conservatism of the offense against Carolina and Tampa Bay was mind-boggling. (The Rams moved the ball well against San Francisco--turnovers and red zone failures doomed them in that game.)
Although Pace obviously is a big loss, the Rams did move the ball well in the final six games of '06 without him _ going 4-2 in those games and averaging about 28 points a game. So I agree that even with the line injuries that doesn't mean the Rams can't score points.
As for grumbling, I think some of the offensive skill players are increasingly frustrated. The Rams' game plans against the Panthers and Bucs were very simple by NFL standards. I'm not sure about the relationship between Olson (and it's Olson, not Olsen), but I think it's fine.
Kevin: Do you see this season as a potential "tipping point" in terms of Rams fans? With a poor record, I can see attendance dropping significantly next year - to 50K or so.

The Rams raised season ticket prices this year. . .again. The product is poor and boring. The gameday event management is awful.

I've already heard rumblings from fellow season ticket holders about not renewing tickets or even selling PSLs.It seems that interest is fading.

Jim Thomas: After eight straight years of price increases, if I were John Shaw, I would tell Rams fans: We will not raise prices again until we have a winning season. Maybe a little financial pressure on the organization would stimulate winning.
There's no doubt the fan base is softening. And if team management hasn't noticed, they're not paying attention.
Kevin: Jim,

Since Mike Martz has not been coaching the Rams for almost two years, do you think John Shaw is starting to scrutinize how well his front office works together and is performing? The Ram's subpar performance can not be blamed on Martz any longer. Granted, Linehan deserves a good part of the scrutiny but so does Jay Z. and his cohorts. It takes a team to win and lose.

PS Jim, how is your son doing at West Point?

Jim Thomas: Well, with Charley Armey now retired, the front office consists basically of Jay Zygmunt and Samir Suleiman. Tony Softli, who heads the personnel department, provides scouting and evaluation info on players, but has next to no say in who actually gets signed. Shaw and Zygmunt have been together now for more than a quarter of a century. Whether right or wrong, Shaw has the utmost confidence in Zygmunt.

Son doing fine at West Point. He's taking Arabic, playing club football, he's the "saw gunner" or machine gunner for his squad.
Wildwood Curt: As Jim Haslet mentioned recently, our defensive philosophy is predicated on attacking an offense that is playing catch-up to the powerful St. Louis Rams offense (a la The Greatest Show on Turf). That is, we're a tad small at some key positions. As a result, with our impotent offense, this defense is getting mauled in the second half. Unless something changes on the offensive side, we are in for a long, long season. Agreed?

Jim Thomas: WC--I was talking to an agent earlier this morning who represents several Tampa players. They told him they had no problem moving out Adam Carriker and that blocking La'Roi Glover was like "moving" a linebacker. I don't know if the Rams defensive philosophy is "predicated" on playing with a lead, but the nature of the personnel certainly is built for playing with a lead. And the Rams haven't led by more than six points all season. I do agree that unless the offense wakes up, we're looking at a top 10 pick on draft day.
Roy: WOE, WOE, WOE is me. I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head listening to all the pre-season hype about our offense, now its like the Grinch, [Olsen] has stuffed my sock with a big lump of coal, Jim, this is very serious, what can and must be done to salvage some respectability and fun from the remaining 13 games that we have left?

Jim Thomas: No matter what the injury situation, the Rams can't play scared. They must attack opposing defense, not react to them. The key is getting all of the playmakers involved. Who says you can't stick to the run, while also taking shots downfield. They're not mutually exclusive.
I'd also like to see the defense take more chances. Yes, they're playing better. But on that field goal drive that gave Tampa a 3-0 lead at halftime, the Rams let Tampa off the hook on two third-and-10 plays without blitzing. Why not blitz? Take some chances. After all how much worse than it get than Lose, Lose, Lose?
Ray: Jim,

The Bucs reportly gave defensive game balls to Jermaine Phillips, Barret Ruud, and Scott Linehan. They felt that the Rams coach did as much to limit his offense as anyone in a Bucs uniform. Let's see, you have a Pro Bowl quarterback, two Pro Bowl receivers, and you decide throwing downfield is a silly idea? Good luck with that philosophy, Coach.

Jim Thomas: Actually, you're paraphrasing what was written by a columnist in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times newspaper. The columnist saracastically gave Linehan a game ball for helping the Bucs win with his conservative game plan. I thought it was interesting that the veteran Tampa Bay writers were as befuddled by the Rams' reluctance to throw the ball downfield as the St. Louis media. It was almost as if the Rams thought John Lynch, Shelton Quarles, Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, and Booger McFarland were still playing in Tampa, and still in their prime.
Steve Roberts: What is the situation with Marc Bulger's ribs? Marc was definitely on target against the 9ers but he seemed like a totally different player against the Bucs, uncomfortable in the pocket, weak on his throws and unsure of his reads. With this offensive line I understand his position but if he isn't healthy, I'd rather see Gus Frerotte give it a shot.

Jim Thomas: Last week in a story about Bulger, I wrote that he didn't want to know (from team medical officials) if his ribs were broken or just bruised, that he was playing anyway. But that he was concerned enough that he was even trying acupuncture to help ease the pain.
There's a fine line between being a tough guy, and taking one for the team, and actually hurting the team by playing injured. With two broken ribs, Bulger should have sat against Tampa. That's why Frerotte is here.
In a way, this reminds me of the situation late in the 2002 season when Kurt Warner played against Philadelphia with a broken hand, leading to the first "Brenda-gate" controversy.
patrick carroll: Jim,

Cory Chavous is a bad tackler and does a poor job in coverage. Why don't guys like Carter or Johnson get a shot? Also, do you think they should consider moving Pisa to SS?

Jim Thomas: There was a time when Mike Martz considered moving Pisa to strong safety _ I wrote about it a few years ago. But that idea never got off the ground. Pisa is a weakside linebacker, plain and simple.
I have great admiration for Corey Chavous as a player, a person, and a team leader, but I'll be the first to admit, he's not playing very well. I know we're only three games in, but it makes you wonder if he's nearing the end of the line. >From what I've seen of Todd Johnson, I like. He wouldn't be much in coverage, but he has thumper tendencies as a run defender.
greg: Dear Jim Ya gotta think like a Sicilian. He played Bulger knowing his ribs were probably cracked cause he thought he had a chance to win him against TB. He knows he would not win in Dallas with or without Bulger. This year the Rams are snake bit. The game with Atlanta may well prove to be the 'Booty Bowl'. I don't think it is absurd to think that the Rams would dangle Bulger in front of the Bears off-season at a bargain basement price. My only question is what kind of Cap Hit would the Rams take. Why should anybody on this team be untouchable? The St Louis Tepid Stove Football League is more interesting than watching the Ram games themselves. thanks Greg

Jim Thomas: Well, again, if you're paying Frerotte $2.1 million a year, you should have enough confidence in the guy to play him in a situation like this. The cap hit on Bulger would be punitive, so don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
patrick carroll: Scott Linehan is more nonsensical than Mike Martz and should be ashamed to present the likes of Bulger, Holt, Bruce, Jackson, Pace, McMichael and Bennett their weekly offensive game plan. This offensive offense would make Chuck Knox proud. Would you please care to help me understand the Linehan offensive philosophy and how you keep a straight face during his press conferences?

Jim Thomas: Can't argue with you. I'm not sure what the offensive philosophy is. I'm not sure the coaches themselves know.
Dave: It would appear that the Cardinals' injury woes are contagious, no? Provided the Saints win, the Rams will hands down be the worst football team in the NFL, if not the most underachieving at the same time. The past four seasons (including this one), it's obvious that the players for whatever reason have not meshed. Even when the defense starts to turn the corner, their progress is nullified because the offense doesn't put up points. My question is this: is it really that awful if the Rams go 4-12 and get a very high draft pick to rebuild around, or will we have to sit through more mediocre teams while they try to "take their shot" with Bulger? Thanks!

Jim Thomas: The only problem with accumulating high draft picks with bad teams is that Bruce, Holt, Pace, Wilkins, etc., are getting no younger.
J.T.: Dear Jim,

This could be the year the all-time loss record for a season is set. Now that Stephen Jackson has to shut it down, we could see that Tampa Bay 14 game o-fer eclipsed by these Rams. Oh, I know the report is that it will be a week to week evaluation, but a tear in the groin means his season is done. It is painfully obvious management has not addressed serious declines in performance for four straight seasons now. Could you find out and report which potential free agents are out there for next season? Well, if the Rams get close to the all-time loss record at least they'll get some mentions by the national media.

Jim Thomas: As bad as things look, I think it's a little early to start thinking about free agency. Jackson won't miss the season. But it's obvious this is more like a one-month injury that a one-week deal.
valhalla: Jim-

With the makeshift line, there are some drastic changes that need to be done if Bulger is to survive this season and not end up in an iron lung. Same with Gus, if he goes in, this line is just going to let him get destroyed like Bulger. This team needs a QB with some escapability right now, any possibility we'll see the Rams start to put some packages together for Hagans? It certainly can't hurt, this season needs some kind of shot of adrenaline and he certainly could provide it. I certainly don't expect him to be the savior but this offense needs someone who can get out of there when the pocket collapses.

Jim Thomas: Obviously Hagans couldn't be an every down player at quarterback. But even as the team's 3rd QB, which has been his designation each week so far this season, Hagans is eligible to enter games in the fourth quarter. I'd love to see him come in for a play or two with some kind of trick play just to shake things up. He works at QB with the regulars for a few plays each week, and I've even kidded Hagans about getting in. He definitely wants to.
justin: I think the Rams should fire Scott Linehan and hire a coach like Marty Schottenheimer to turn this team around...Do you think that there is a possibility that could happen if Linehan has a losing season this year?

Jim Thomas: But how far is Marty going to take you? To 10-6 and a first-round playoff loss?
Kenny Hickerson: Jim,

The PD columnists are all over the offense for its fearful approach this season, as are the fans. Is there anything to indicate that Linehan and Olson are ready to attack yet? Linehan's post-game comments grow more and more ridiculous with each loss. The bit this week about knowing there was no margin for error, due to the scaled back game plan, indicates they weren't expecting to score much!? What kind of plan is that when this team is clearly built around the offense? We all want Bulger to be healthy, but he has to be in or out - halfway is clearly not going to cut it! What are the O coaches so afraid of anyway...blowing it? Oops! Too late!

Jim Thomas: Couldn't agree with you _ or our columnists _ more.
Wes: Has anyone contacted Shaw or Georgia for their comments on the collapse of this team ?
Why does Linehan soft soap everything ? I think the fans would respect him more if he didn't try to cover up the obvious !

Jim Thomas: I spent a good chunk of time with Shaw prior to the San Francisco game, but haven't talked to him since.
Linehan "soft soaps" stuff because that's his personality. He's not going to get too high or too low. The Rams wanted an even-keel personality like that after all the rancor with Martz.
glen: Hello Jim,

I'am running out of things to complain about.But don't you think we have about slim and none chance of beating Dallas and slim is leaving town.I just hope the coach comes up with something other than a normal game plan it is going to take lots of trick plays onside kicks etc...for us to even stay close.What do you think?

Jim Thomas: When you're not good enough to beat a team straight up, you've got to catch them off guard. Why not mix in some no huddle? Have Hagans come in to run some "slash" plays. Blitz all over the place? Etc. Such an approach can't work over the long haul, but it might help you for one afternoon. If the Rams won in Dallas, it would be a h-u-g-e upset.

Jim Thomas: Boy, you know someone is ticked off when the message comes in all caps. We've all waited all summer for this. And it's very depressing. Six months of buildup, the draft, free agency, minicamp, OTAs, training camp, preseason, and I've got to say, it looks like it's O-V-E-R for the Rams after three games. I feel your pain.
Bryan: Who is out there as a free agent for help on the offensive line? I know there cannot be much, but there has to be somebody that might help this team at least as a backup. Also are there any other players not with any team for one reason or another at any position that could help this team?

Jim Thomas: The Rams brought in three veteran offensive linemen _ all currently out of work, but all who have started in the league _ for visits last week: Keydrick Vincent, Barry Stokes, and Cosey Coleman. Here's the latest info I know. The Rams offered Vincent a minimum contract with a "split" (a clause that agrees to pay the player only a little more than half the deal if he's injured). Vincent said no thanks. Stokes is in a holding pattern, waiting for an offer from the Rams. Rams o-line coach Paul Boudreau has coached Sotkes before, so this one makes sense if the Rams think Stokes can still play. Haven't been able to get a bead on Coleman.
St. Louisan Bennie Anderson was supposed to come in for a visit last week. He's a road-grading guard who started lots of games for Baltimore in recent years. But Anderson sprained an ankle preparing for last week's Rams workout and did not come in for a visit. That's how bad things have gotten for the Rams; even the o-linemen preparing for workouts are now getting hurt.
Harry Lockner: Jim,
With all the injuries why don't the Rams bring Adam Timmerman back? He still has to have some ability. I heard that he is in shape and wants to play.

Jim Thomas: I thought Timmerman played fairly well last season. Is he the Adam Timmerman of 2000? No. But I thought he was good enough to start in this league. I'm not sure if Timmerman wants to come back, or if the Rams want him back. It seemed pretty clear that Linehan wanted to turn the page when he released Timmerman. And there was some friction between Linehan and Timmerman after the release.
Mario Alatorre: Can Marc Bulger be an effective quarterback versus the Dallas Cowboys this week given that he is playing with broken ribs, and the injuries suffered to his offensive line?

Jim Thomas: If there's a weakness to Dallas, it's their secondary. They are 23rd in pass defense this week. I say if you're afraid to throw downfield with Bulger Sunday in Texas Stadium, than Bulger probably shouldn't be playing. That might be the only way to hang with them, especially with Jackson out.
Michael Camuso: Jim, the plan to use Stephen Jackson was fine but to totally abandon the pass was nuts. The Ram philosophy this past Sunday was to assume the front five won't be able to pass block so when we do pass it will be quick throws and lateral passes - this type of thinking of "playing scared" cost us the game. Bulger has to survey the field to be successful. What can they do this week to have a chance against Dallas?

Jim Thomas: P.S. to Harry Lockner's post about Adam Timmerman. Just talked to Timmerman's agent, he said they have NOT heard from the Rams. With all the injuries on the line, if the Rams had any interest in Timmerman, I'm sure they would have heard something by now. Timmerman continues to work out and stay ready. His agent has talked to several teams since the regular-season started. But at this stage of his career, it would have to be the "right fit" for Timmerman to play again this season.

Mr. Camuso: As for the the conservative game plan against Tampa, I agree that it looked like the Rams are playing scared. As for how to beat Dallas or even make it a game, I've answered that in a couple of earlier posts: Be bold with the game plan. Pass the ball against a somewhat suspect Dallas secondary. Play Frerotte if you're that concerned about Bulger's ribs.
Bill Fleming: Hi Jim. Thanks for this forum... The offensive line has been a problem since we lost Fred Miller in 2000. Historically the LA RAMS have had good to great O lines. Since coming to STL the O line has been generally weak. Isnt it strange how some teams have a "blind spot" when it comes to staffing certain positions. The RAMS have done well at QB and End in recent years but the O and D lines have been poor. Is this due to primarily to poor personnel decisions or poor coaching?

Jim Thomas: Well--I think the o-lines in general from 1999-2003 were very good. Pace, Nutten, McCollum, and Timmerman were all very good in their time. But right tackle has been a trouble spot. The Rams were penny-wise, but pound foolish in letting Fred Miller go. (He's still going strong, by the way.) They repeated the mistake two years later with Ryan Tucker. But ever since Miller and Tucker left, the Rams have had an endless cycle of guys trying to play the right tackle position. Kyle Turley was an expensive mistake. John St. Clair and Grant Williams got quarterbacks hurt. And just when I thought Alex Barron was settling in at right tackle, he's switched to left tackle. So I would chalk it up more to poor personnel decisions and poor financial decisions over poor coaching.
Nkabuije: Hi Jim. It's really becoming more and more difficult to remain a Rams fan these days. Never would I have thought our biggest issue would be our offense. Short of a miracle, I definitely don't see us coming close to making the playoffs; but shouldn't the Rams front office replace OC Greg Olsen (or even Linehan) now, so that we can at least see some offensive improvements within the course of the season, instead of waiting to be disappointed again next year?

Jim Thomas: It's unfathomable with all the offensive talent on this club, that the Rams would have 32 measly points in three games. I don't know what to tell you about replacing Olson (it's Olson by the way, not Olsen) or Linehan. I think it's still way too early for that. But we'll see what happens.
Jack Cramond: The headline should read "Excuses continue to mount for for the rams offense". If memory seves me correctly, the rams were very healthy for week 1 against the Panthers, but lost that game miserably none the less. By the way, the Panthers are no Superbowl contender. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to see how little motivated the players are. You can take mediocre talent and win a Superbowl when the players are properly motivated. Scott Linehan has taken great talent and put it to sleep. Thanks very much. In 6 months, I will celebrate 40 years as a Ram fan.If only the coaches had a 10th of the passion that I have for this club, we'd have a consistently great product to put on the field. I think that we can conclude that this little experiment is over and Mr. Linehan has my permission to do the right thing and leave town now. The franchise is lost for the year, and probably several more. I need to find Roman Gabriel so I can cry on his shoulder.

Jack Cramond

Jim Thomas: In case you missed it, the Rams were minus their starting right guard Richie Incognito (ankle), their $30 million wide receiver Drew Bennett, and their No. 3 offensive tackle Todd Steussie against Carolina. They also were missing their starting left cornerback Fakhir Brown due to a four-game NFL suspension. Prior to halftime of that game, they were also missing their seven-time Pro Bowler at left tackle when Orlando Pace went down. (And there was no Steussie on hand to replace him as was the case last year.) Early in the fourth quarter, when Carolina was grinding out yards on the ground, Pisa Tinoisamoa was on the sidelined with an ankle injury.
But I will agree with you on this: I would like to see a little more fire, a little more energy, on the sideline, in the huddle, on the field for the Rams.
Buzz: Jim,
Many have said that the Rams defense wore down physically against TB; yet the Rams had the ball 5 minutes longer in this game. Don't you think the late cave in was more mental than physical? I ask because the mental toughness of our D has been questioned for years. Of course, the Bears D fell apart late against Dallas, so maybe this can happen to any D that gets no help from the Offensive side. Problem is, I see little chance for Offensive improvement in the near term. Thanks.

Jim Thomas: My belief is that it was a mental "breakdown." And yes, it can happen to anyone. But it seems like whenever something bad happens to the Rams' offense or special teams, it spills over to defense. That shouldn't happen. And the coaches, and the team leaders should make sure it doesn't.
Ramalamadingdong: Heya JT - there's no doubt about it. It's a mess.

A mess of Linehan's making with his let's not take ANY chances for fear of a TO approach.

Do you think he'll pull in the horns even more this weekend?

And what's the mood at Rams Park?


Jim Thomas: The players seem to be OK. And by that I mean, they're frustrated but realistic and not defeated. The coaching staff obviously feels like they're a bit under siege. Overall, I still think they're in a bit of denial about the conservative game plans on offense. Judging from the Carolina and Tampa Bay games, I'd say we should expect another conservative game plan this week. Which I think would be a recipe for disaster in the Big D.
Joe H.: Coach Linehan said, "there's nothing wrong with the play calling". Seriously?...Dude. Do you sense any frustration coming from the players, particularly the skill players, who are being grossly underutilized? All I'm sensing is denial. Please tell me I'm wrong.

Jim Thomas: There is frustration from some of the skill players. How much, I'm not sure.
Jon: Hey Jim, given the disaster that the Rams offensive line has become, don't you think it would make sense for the coaches to find a way to get Mccollum and Romberg on the field at the same time. If Timmerman hasn't signed with another team it would make sense to me to try and bring him back as well. Thanks, Jon

Jim Thomas: I don't think the Rams have any choice but to at least work McCollum at guard during practice. Check my earlier post on Timmerman: Rams showing no interest.
Tom Brady: The Rams fans should give coach Scott Linehan a chance to prove himself. Scott Linehan is going to be a great football coach, St. Louis better wake up and realize he will be a good coach. If the Rams keep loosing like they are do you think the front office will be shopping around for a new coach after the season ends? I get frustrated with Mark Bulger for throwing stupid interceptions. Do you think the Rams should look for another quarterback if Mark Bulger does not show any improvements in his game? I realize he did have sore ribs, but that was the coaches fault for having him play. They should have put in Gus Ferrotte.

Thanks Tom Brady

Jim Thomas: As I've mentioned before it would take a disaster _ 4-12 or worse _ for John Shaw to even consider firing Linehan. Of course, we're heading down that slippery slope right now, aren't we? But I wonder in Shaw's mind if Linehan doesn't get some sort of mulligan because of all the injuries/suspensions. Bulger is going nowhere.
And one last thing, Tom: Good luck this week against Cincinnati.
Troy of Maryland: Hey Jim the Rams were put in this position by Mike Martz and management 3 or 4 years ago they had picks that they just threw away for second tier players and now they dont have clue to get it right Jim tell me with if im wrong about this if you need a MLB get one not and OLB to play it and that goes for any position that they have neglected for the last 8 years. Thanks Jim living in Maryland with Ravens and Redskins fan is hard but that being said GO RAMS.

Jim Thomas: There's no doubt the Rams made some bad personnel decisions under Martz. But I don't think you can blame Martz for the fact that this offense _ with all these established skill position players _ scored 32 points in three games.
As for MLB, I'm also starting to wonder if Witherspoon wouldn't be better suited for OLB. And it has taken me a while to reach this conclusion.
Santa: Since it's nearing the holiday season, I thought I'd offer some gift ideas for the Rams.

Scott Linehan: Resume Builder - he'll need it come January.
Greg Olsen: a clue - Maybe then he would be able to expand on his 3 page playbook.
Corey Chavous: Talent - he needs it.
Jeff Gordon: an intern - He needs a break from the anger expressed repeatedly during his post game chat.
Rams fans: a product worth watching.

Jim Thomas: And happy holidays to you (a couple of momths early).
Mike: Does Linehan get a little sympathy from the brass because of all the injuries that have befallen this team since he's been head coach? I still think they can do better with the players available but O-line problems like the Rams have experienced can end even the best offenses chances of success.

Jim Thomas: Good question. If this season indeed ends in a disaster _ and all signs are pointing that way _ I wonder if Linehan gets a mulligan because of the injuries. I'll try to check on that as the season progresses.
Gerald Dunlap_disgruntled rams fan: Jim, why are the Rams Coaching staff afraid of success? Could it be because they have nenver had it? Why are the Rams and Greg (sucks) Olson still calling the same tired plays over and over? Please help me understand because I dont get it!!!

Jim Thomas: None of us get it. But in Linehan's defense, he's had success offensively (as a coordinator) at every level in college and the pros. That's why he's now a head coach. Maybe he needs to start calling plays again.
chris: With Steven Jackson being out do the Rams realistically have a chance sunday againts Dallas? I think the team has lost faith in Linehan. Holt,Bulger and the rest use to be part of one of the best offenses in the NFL, watching them dink and doink down the field has to be frustrating. When is the front office going to step in and demand the offense be more aggressive..thanks

Jim Thomas: It's hard to see the Rams even staying close to the Cowboys on Sunday. I don't think the players have lost faith in Linehan _ yet. But the game plan's have got to be more creative and more aggressive.
Brian: Hi Jim-
As a die-hard fan since 1983, I will never give up on the Rams. With that said, I have a suggestion for you to pass along to Coach Linehan that I think might help if you could. Would Coach Linehan consider moving Olsen up to the coaches booth in the press box? I think this would allow Olsen to view the game from a different perspective. He could see the types of defenses that teams are running. I think this move would be a positive move for the team on the offensive side of the ball. I believe!!!

GO RAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jim Thomas: This is something I meant to ask Linehan on Monday and forgot to ask. I'll try to see what's up with that sometime this week.

With that, I've got to go. Thanks again for all the questions. As was the case last week, my plan is to answer more questions tonight. Although they won't be in the form of a live forum, at least the transcripts will be posted tomorrow. Regards. . . . .