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    Jim Thomas Live, December 4

    Jim Thomas Live
    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, December 4, 2007 Part I

    Son_dee: Jim,

    Speaking of our GM Jay Zyggy, there has been a lot of talk about the Rams hiring a GM in the off-season. I think a REAL GM is a good step to fixing this franchise but I’m concerned how our current front office would deal with the power change. While Rams coaches have normally been given lots of power over personally, it’s GM Jay Zymunt that runs the team. Softli is a glorified scout. And he who holds the purse in today’s NFL holds the power. So wouldn’t GM Jay Zyggy have to take a step back if we hired a GM that’s not a glorified scout?

    You’ve mentioned that Tom Donahoe is a candidate and has even worked with the Rams in a small capacity this year. Do you think that GM Jay Zyggy could step into a somewhat president/CEO-ish type role since he runs the cap and is close with current president John Shaw? What I’m thinking is a situation similar to the Arthur Blank/Rich McKay situation in Atlanta where there’s a REAL GM working closely with the guy who controls the money (Zyggy).

    Jim Thomas: I'm still a bit skeptical on this GM business, because the Rams have not gone this way for at least a quarter of a century. A real GM, with real GM powers? I'd have to see it to believe it.
    If that happened, I think it would represent a reduction in Zygmunt's powers. I think he has more influence over player personnel (particularly in free agency) than you'd think.
    -------------------------------
    Jim: Two quick questions. Will we ever look for some player not involved in Lineahan's past. I bet they are real happy they let Fitzgerald go for a 7th round pick. In all my years watching football and 38 years as a Rams fan I don't think I have ever heard of going into a season with only 2 QB's.
    Thanks

    Jim Thomas: You can look around the league. Hiring players your familiar with happens all the time. Coaches like to hire players they know _ it eliminates some of the guesswork. Of course, it always helps if the player you hire can actually play. I think in this case, it would help to hire someone that has worked with Linehan and has some experience running his offense.

    As for 2 QBs, it may be knew to the Rams, but it's a growing trend around the league. About half the league is going with just 2 QBs. Given all the QB injuries every year, it doesn't make much sense.
    -------------------------------
    Buzz: Jim,
    Do ALL of Linehan's mistakes come back to haunt him? I thought the Rams might lose their remaining four games with Bulger at QB. Anyway, can Berlin be any worse than Chris Chandler? Will his Europa experience help prepare him if he needs to play? Of course, it is comforting to know that we can fall back on Todd Bouman, from that QB factory at St Cloud St. I'm not even sure you can say he knows this offense just because he played for Linehan in 02. I thought Linehan and Olson collaborated to put this explosive attack together, adding in elements of the West Coast offense. Do you smell blood in the water? Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: If this is your way of saying that the Rams should have kept Ryan Fitzpatrick, I'll say: agreed. But I'm not among those who thought he was the second coming of Joe Montana. Or even Tony Romo.
    Although he did have lots of mobility, which helps during times like this when the o-line is hurt and struggling, Fitzpatrick didn't play well at all in the preseason until the final game. It's not like he was dazzling in August.
    -------------------------------
    Son_dee: Jim,

    Thanks for taking the time to listen to the wild musing of us fans. Do me a favor and travel back in time with me just over two years ago. Correct me if I’m wrong, but going into our search for new head coach the general thought was that we needed a defensive minded head coach to “fix the defense” and an offensive coordinator to “tweak the offense.” Yet it was our GM, Jay Zygmunt, who not only went outside the box by suggesting an offensive minded head coach (since there were plenty of good defensive coordinators), but it was also Jay who pretty much personally lobbied for Linehan.

    So despite the fact that this win wasn’t particularly resume building for Linehan, and despite the fact that I’ve lost all trust in his ability to be the head coach of a team, I’ve always had the strong feeling that Linehan will be given a third year to prove himself. He’s started the second half of the season with three wins (although against less than stellar opponents and there SHOULD have been a 4th win), then there’s the negative feedback that could be perceived from firing a rookie head coach after a second season filled with injuries. Most importantly though, I think our GM Jay Zygmunt doesn’t want egg on his face from admitting that the coach he practically selected was an complete failure.

    Which leads me to my question – am I correct in this line of thinking? Doesn’t Linehan have a bit of a built in cushion this season? Not from the rash of injuries, or from Shaw saying all the right things, or for three wins out of four, but because if Linehan got canned after two seasons it would reflect VERY badly on our GM Jay Zygmunt’s ability AS a GM???

    Jim Thomas: Your memory is half right. Yes, the Rams went into the search process looking for a defensive-oriented head coach. But they ended up liking the offensive candidates better (the 3 finalists were Linehan, Cam Cameron, and Ron Rivera--only Rivera among those 3 has a defensive background). In the end, Shaw felt it would be easier to hire an unproven offensive-minded head coach and couple him with a veteran defensive coordinator, than hire an unproven defensive-minded head coach prospect (like Rivera) and find a veteran offensive coordinator.
    But I'm not aware that Zygmunt pushed for Linehan. In fact, I get the sense he liked Rivera a lot, and really wanted to go defense. (Although he also liked Linehan.)
    ------------------------------
    Mark: Hey Jim,
    #1 What are the odds (in your opinion from seeing or talking to Bulger and the Rams staff) of him playing Sunday? Brock Berlin? OUCH. Ironically Ryan Fitzpatrick will be on the other sideline, maybe a trade? (Just kidding)

    #2 Everyone blames Linehan for the 2nd half collapses, and he does deserve a lot of it, but they have to execute. I think this team simply lacks confidence. A perfect example is the route in the second half where they split Steven Jackson out wide, and he ran a seam route. Frerotte made a nice play and SJ simply dropped it. At worst that is a first down in FG range or maybe a TD. Also, Frerotte is a career 54% passer, he is not super accurate. He missed Holt and McMichael on third down passes to kill drives. That is not Linehan's fault. Also, with a horrendous line, they can not run to chew the clock.

    #3 Can you ask Linehan why they do not exploit the middle of the field very much and why so little play action? I know the running game was getting bottled up Sunday with ATL running eight in the box, but SJ does warrant some respect, huh? As always, thanks for your time.

    Jim Thomas: 1.) Don't know yet about Bulger.
    2.) Sure, the players have to share part of the blame in the second half. That dropped pass by Jackson would've been a 30-yard gain. Maybe more.
    3.) The Rams do run their share of play-action, so I don't think that's an issue. But I agree with you that the Rams don't use the middle of the field as much as they should. (Although they did use it more often against the Falcons.)
    -----------------------------------
    Gabriel to Snow: Hello Jim, Kudos to the Rams Director of Fan Apathy, mission accomplished. I do realize there are several factors conspiring to create the terrible atmosphere & energy at the ED. Is there an NFL restriction on how boisterous a PA announcer can get? Can they exhort fans between plays, point out crucial moments, etc.? Thank goodness we have a road game this week. Also, when a team picks up a player from another teams practice squad, is there any compensation required? Congratulations to Ike, just quietly & professionaly doing his very best all these years. he is a quiet man, but he DOES care.

    I will never forget his weeping on the sidelines when he believed the Niners were finally falling to the Rams after 17 losses in a row. I am one fan who says it would be a disgrace, with consequences to team morale, if he is run out of town to save a few bucks next year. I believe he is due 3mil., but the figure is almost irrelevant. Make cuts elsewhere, treat Ike with respect, let him retire a Ram. How do you feel about it Jim? One last thing, When Haslett blew a gasket at the end of the third quarter, there was a few moments where it appeared he & Linehan were seriously at odds.

    I thought Scott may have jumped him because the bad language was too over the top. Haslett even resorted to calling the refs some coloful names. Loud & in their face is fine, the gutter vocabulary seems unprofessional to me. Was that the subject of their heated words, or something else? Keep fighting the good fight Jim, you do a great job.

    Jim Thomas: _ Whether the Rams are winning or losing, I think we all agree that the atmosphere needs to improve at the dome.
    _ There is no compensation required when you sign someone from another team's practice squad.
    _ Isaac Bruce: I've gone back and forth on this one. While still thinking the Rams need to add a young speed receiver on offense--Ideally a big receiver with speed who can get YAC yards--I think Isaac has earned the right to finish out his current contract with the Rams (1 more year).
    _ I don't think the sideline seen between Haslett and Linehan amounted to much. Call it heat of battle. I saw them talking together Monday at Rams Park in the hallways, and everything seemed normal.
    ----------------------
    Stew, TRF: Jim,
    I enjoy reading your analysis of the Rams. I have been following this team since the George Allen days of the sixties. Your coverage is the most thorough from the L.A. Times and Orange County Register, (60's-90's) to St Louis Post Dispatch Internet writers of today.

    My question is this: With all of the injuries to the team and consistent poor play in the second halftimes of all of the games could the team's conditioning program not be up to NFL standards?
    Stew

    Jim Thomas: Stew, thanks for the kind words.
    I've referred to this in some previous posts today _ I think the conditioning program as well as everything else that goes into preparing NFL players to play will be reviewed once the season's over. But a lot of these injuries _ as I pointed out earlier _ are pure fluke.

    FOLKS--I've got to make a few calls. But don't go away. I'll be back in a few.
    -----------------------------
    scott from so. cal: Good am Jim -

    Below are a few things we should should take care of in the '08 draft and free agency period :

    1. big physical wide reciever with speed
    2. depth on the o line ( obviously )
    3. young qb to develop
    4. safety
    5. defensive end

    What do you think the other glaring needs are to get this team back on track ?

    Jim Thomas: You've hit the top spots, I believe. I would say they need more than depth on the o-line. They may need a starter or two there.
    ------------------------------
    Todd W.: Hi Jim,
    Please tell me the Rams will go after some big free agent lineman like Faneca.
    Also, can you please post a story about Bulger, when you find out the results. I believe the Cinn. game is winnable. What's your take?
    Thanks

    Jim Thomas: I'd love to see them go after a Faneca or Lilja in free agency. I think they need to. They can't do all that needs to be done with the line in the draft.
    As for Bulger, we'll try to keep you posted.
    Cincy game is winnable _ if Bulger is at QB and the Rams can get another early lead. If Hill _ who has in fact underwent surgery on his thumb-wrist _ can't play, the Rams may need to score tons of points, or blitz Carson Palmer with everything they've got.
    -----------------------
    Larry: Hi Jim,
    I know you are a beat writer and not a fan but what is your take on winning so called meaningless games as opposed to losing and getting higher draft picks ?

    Does winning the games have a positive impact ?

    Jim Thomas: C'mon now. It's all about winning. No matter the record. No matter what time of year. No matter the circumstances. Especially in the NFL, where either you do it or you don't.
    --------------------------
    Mark: Seemed to me like the punter had an off day, more wobbly and shorter than normal. Was he out of sync or maybe a little hurt? I'm right in front of the sideline practice net and didn't see him kicking into it.

    Jim Thomas: Interesting observation about the practice net. I'll try to check into it. Jones' work has leveled off somewhat the past two to three games, but a 45.0 gross average and a net of 40.3 _ which were his numbers against Atlanta _ are still awfully good.
    ---------------------------
    Rogurs: Be honest Jim, how secure did you feel with the Rams up 21 points at half. This is a game the Rams should have won by 2 or 3 touchdowns after the great first half they had. I guess I'm trying to understand how a team can consistantly be this bad in the second half! I'm happy we won, but it never should have been this close...

    Jim Thomas: The disparity between the first and second half of recent Rams games has been mind-boggling. I will explore that subject in more depth in the P-D sometime this week. Naturally, games have ebbs and flows, but it's been ridiculous lately. Against SF, Seattle, and Atlanta, the Rams were one score away from putting those teams away, but let each of those three teams back into it, and of course, Seattle eventually won.
    ---------------------------
    LongIslandRam: Jim,

    What do you think of the Rams rookie class? I think Carricker has proven a lot in terms of work ethic, team play, conditioning and hard work. He seems to be still improving, learning to fight pressure. Leonard has been as advertised, a nice complimentary player with a lot of skills. After that? Wade's toughness seems like a real question. Ryan has had some nice plays but there must be a reason he isn't playing more. Fry can't play here?

    Jim Thomas: Carriker is a keeper, and has played very well _ far better than the stats would indicate _ since about Game 3 or 4. I agree with you on Leonard _ he is as advertised. Ryan hasn't played as much recently because the Rams have played some pass-happy teams, and with the leads they've had in the past month, have forced teams to pass more than they'd like.
    I'm not sure on Wade. He hasn't done much on special teams.
    Fry isn't ready.
    -------------------------------
    Charlie Connors: Jim,

    Linehan got really lucky yesterday. I just don't think he is ready to be a successful nfl coach yet. Perhaps, he needs a couple years under a proven winner. To me, he resembles his stated mentor Dennis Erickson, or Saban or Tice.

    -his gameday sidelines are chaotic...Jax screams at him...Bulger rolls his eyes, Haslett acts like the Head Coach with the refs. This is not consistent with other winning coaches.

    -his schemes are only effective in the first half of games. Once the Rams get through the new stuff put in for the week; the other teams know exactly what he is about to do. You ever notice that is when most of the interceptions occur?

    -he doesn't have enough talent to run this system. His receivers might shock themseleves to death with Yac. and we know about the line...

    -Rams Mgt is too sloppy for this coach. as a young coach, he needs guidance from them. Wrong place for that! That is why Tomlin is off to a good start, he doesn't have bs going on all around him in the front office. Furthermore, they are a consistent organization...unlike the Rams who are run from La, Ca.

    -He plays decent teams here on in...

    Linehan might be a successful coach someday, but it won't be here.

    PS
    Rams Fans should appreciate their QB's after watching the Falcon's. (2 First Round Picks and a 3rd rounder. yikes Rams Fans should appreciate their QB's after watching the Falcon's. (2 First Round Picks and a 3rd rounder)

    CC

    Jim Thomas: You make some good points, but I really don't sense any chaos at Rams Park, from management or otherwise. This is nothing like the soap operas of '04 and '05.
    -------------------------------
    RESPECT: Hey Jim,

    its seems as if the Rams will have a bigger dilemma on their hands than expected if the "D" keeps getting better. Hasslett's been without a head coaching job for a while and despite our record, his group's been solid all year long. There should be enough head coaching vacancies to practically "give away" by the years end and i wouldnt doubt that teams already have their eye on him. is it worth losing Hasslett in favor of trying to prove to everyone that Linehan is the right guy for the job?

    And though i've developed a working man's respect for Linehan for his passion and his positive stance, i really cant help but look at these last few wins as "too little too late", some wanna talk about the players and their salaries, isnt our coach supposed to be hired to- produce favorable results?

    Jim Thomas: You make good points, but at this point in time _ I emphasize, at this point in time _ I get the sense Linehan will be back in '08. The last four games could change that.
    -------------------------
    Ruben: Jim,
    Thanks for taking my question. With Donahoe consulting with Shaw, do you see Kroenke giving advice? My guess is Shaw will keep Linehan, if he hires Shaw's/Donahoe's OC of choice. Why not have Kroenke involved versus Donahoe? If I was Shaw, I would hire GM, Pioli, Donahoe, ect. Then, I would fire Linehan, promote Haslett and go with coordinator of choice, Zampese, Ellard, Saunders...What would you do?

    Jim Thomas: Kroenke is consulted on the bigger decisions, no doubt, but as a minority owner it's not like he's got the final say. Plus, he's got plenty of other interests outside of the Rams, in other professional sports and outside of sports.
    ----------------------------
    Kenny Hickerson: Jim,

    I just wanted to throw in a plug for Brandon Chillar. He's been shredded over the years on these various forums, mostly because the defense was bad and he didn't dance like Ray Lewis. Now that the d-line is actually able to protect the LBs (as they should!), we see that Chillar is playing quite well against both the run and pass. Not to mention that he has good size and has been very durable, unlike a certain overpaid colleague of his. Thanks for doing the chats!

    Jim Thomas: I've become a believer in Chillar. After a slow start this year, he seems to have gradually gotten more confident in his play. He does a lot of different things _ cover TEs, and backs, play the run, blitz _ and seems to be getting better. He rarely misses a tackle. He's got good size. I'm not saying he's a superstar, but he's developed into a solid player whom the Rams probably could re-sign for a modest price.
    --------------------------
    Coachvh: Jim, have enjoyed your work for years. I remember your great work for the Sporting News - that was you, wasn't it? What the heck happened to that once great rag?

    Anyway, are you a proponent of taking the best player available, or drafting for need? And, what do you see as the Ram's most pressing need - OL, DE, or some other position?

    Jim Thomas: I'm still a correspondent for TSN. The magazine is still around. The Rams have so many needs, I don't think they should be hamstrung in the early rounds. In other words, I don't think they'll have to reach for need, because there should be somebody available that grades out highly at a position where they need help.
    At the moment, here's how I'd handicap the Rams top needs (keeping in mind it's a moving target that will be affected by free agency).

    1.) DE--preferably a speed-rushing DE. (But Chris Long would do.)
    2.) OT--Pace is a question mark, and even if he's not, the Rams need a third tackle.
    3.) WR--Bruce and Holt getting no younger. A speed receiver who can get yards after the catch would be great.
    4.) G-C--There are plenty of question marks on the interior, due to age and injury.
    ------------------------------
    JerseyMo: Jim,

    What happens to this team in 3rd and 4th quarters this year! Does a 14 year veteran back-up quarterback have any excuses for turnovers?

    Jim Thomas: 1.) He's human.
    2.) There's a reason why he's a backup.
    3.) The state of the offensive line.
    4.) He was hit as he threw the first interception which might have affected the trajectory.
    5.) As we found out later, Frerotte shoulder was injured while throwing that first interception, and it might have affected him the rest of the game.
    -----------------------------
    Billy C: Hi Jim / where does Isaac rank (Stats) for catches / yards / TDs : on the Ram All Time Rankings List / and / On the NFL receivers All Time Rankings List??? Do you think we will keep The Reverand for a few more years ? I know Ike has the heart and desire and Quality to play for us at least 2 or 3 more seasons / what do you think ? Id never cut him loose , hes been too good to Our Rams ..... Billy C Old School Ram Fan

    Jim Thomas: Bruce is the Rams' career leader in receptions (925), reception yards 13,911, and is second in overall TDs scored (83, to Marshall Faulk's 85).
    On the NFL list, Bruce ranks 7th in receptions, 5th in receptions yards, and 17th in TD catches (not overall TDs, but TD ctaches).
    Bruce has one year left on his contract, and is due a $3 million base salary plus a $2 million roster bonus next season.

    I'm not positive, but I get the sense that Linehan plus management would like to get on with a youth movement at the WR position. So I think at the moment, it's 50-50 whether Bruce comes back. What he does over the final four games, might help influence the decision.
    ------------------------------
    JerseyRamFan: Jim,

    Can anyone tell Linehan that the game is 60 minutes long and not 30?

    Jim Thomas: Not just Linehan. Haslett and the players need to get the memo as well.
    ------------------------------
    JerseyRamFan: Hey Jim,

    You know, I've been thinking. The Rams Organization should consider scrapping their "Gotta Go To Work" mantra, and change it to "Gotta Finish The Job". It seems that Steven Jackson got that memo, but I don't think the coaches did.

    As much as I would like Linehan to succeed in this league, it doesn't look like he's Head Coach material. At least not yet. But, because I don't want to see the Rams Organization blow the whole thing up next year, what are the odds of Haslett taking over as Head Coach next year?

    Jim Thomas: Actually, the Rams haven't used "Gotta Go To Work" since about 2001.

    But I agree, they need to learn how to finish.

    If a change is made, you could make a case that Haslett will be a safe choice. He knows the personnel on both sides of the ball, and they know and respect him. That alone would lessen any transition period. It would also save John Shaw the trouble of either A.) gambling on another unproven coordinator as head coach; B.) Or spending a ton of money on a veteran "name" coach.
    -----------------------------
    Billy C: Why are all our players going down this year ? Ive seen serasons we lost guys but with Claw we were always in shape . By the way where is Chris Clawson ??? He was great. Our S&C Department (to me) is not as good as when we had Claw .

    Do they pump enough ? Isaac has said some should spend more time in the weight room . Do they have a checklist for different workouts for each player (for their individual need) ? Ive watched Claw do all that over the years .

    Does Dana & Brad have any individual plan for each player as per their own needs ??? Are they weighing in / then sending out for McDonalds after ??? Good question . Some of our guys are flat lately . Claw wouldnt stand for that . I guess Claw was another good one that Ram management let slip away > I dont see this team getting better or smarter . I see a sloppy slide .

    Make no mistake / I was and will always be a Ram . Thats what hurts so much > If I didnt care , Id just laugh it off . But I cry for my Team .... Billy C Old School Ram Fan

    Jim Thomas: I think every aspect surrounding injuries will be examined at the end of the season, whether it's offseason conditioning, what happens in the OTAs and minicamps, how much contact there is in training camp, how much veterans play in the preseason, etc. But as a mentioned in a previous post, there is a fluke element to many of these injuries.
    ---------------------------
    Scott S: Hi Jim
    Season ticket holder, since the beginning (95). How good do you think our offense would have been this year, if the Oline protected Bulger in each of their games? Do you think the head coach would have still had the same overly conservative (scared) approach?

    Regarding the dome atmosphere, Wallace stated they play the same number of commercials as other venues. Obviously, he is not including all of the times they have Jim Holder make commercial type announcements, like selling swim suit calendars. All of these interruptions, including the loud music at times, prevents the crowd from creating that football atmosphere.

    All commercials, and announcements should only be done in between quarters, and at half time, not in-between plays and not during a change of possession. Wallace’s comments about the commercials just reiterates the fact that the Rams care more about the revenue than the football atmosphere. He said the problem is the team's record. Even though the Big Red were losers most years, there still was a decent football atmosphere at Busch, in my opinion. The crowd was given the chance to create that atmosphere. You travel on the road with the Rams, what are the other stadiums like, regarding this topic?

    Jim Thomas: Two things happened in the first half of the season opener that had a dramatic impact on the season:
    _ LT Orlando Pace goes does with a season-ending shoulder injury, on what really was a fluke injury.
    _ Bulger took a shot to the ribs. The ribs may not have been broken until the following week against SF, but the injury originally occurred fairly early in the Carolina game.
    Who knows how the season unfolds if those two things don't happen? But that's football.

    In terms of stadium atmosphere, I would rate the Edward Jones Dome near the bottom. Get a mascot, get a pep band, do something. About 45,000-50,000 die-hard fans are going to be in there cheering on the Rams every week whether they're good or bad _ because it's their team. I think anything that can be done to make the atmosphere more entertaining would help the diehards get through the down times.
    I always use the example of Minnesota, where the Rams played their '06 season finale.

    The Vikings were going nowhere. They had a lackluster offense. But the atmosphere was very good. They had the Viking mascot guy riding in a motorcyle, that incessant Viking hard, the place was much better lit than the Edward Jones Dome. They had a kiss-cam during TV timeouts, livelier music, T-shirts hurled into the stands, etc. Now sooner or later, the play begins and all the other stuff is forgotten, but it was still a better atmosphere. There are only 16 games in the NFL and each game should be an event.
    -----------------------------
    James: Jim,
    Even though Linehan couldn't call a good offensive game if his life depended on it, don't you believe the Rams could possibly be at .500 or a game better if they had experienced less injuries to key players? Which brings me to my question, shouldn't we blame the conditioning coach as much as the offensive cordinator. I mean if you put in a bunch of out of shape, overweight guys out against physical specimen that play in the NFL, you are going to experience a lot of injuries. Maybe the head that should roll should be the guy who lets these guys off easy on the conditioning. What do you think?

    James Young

    Jim Thomas: There's no doubt in my mind anyway that the strength and conditioning coaches will be under scrutiny by Linehan. But some of the injuries are so fluky, they cannot be explained away by fitness level. Orlando Pace blowing up his shoulder on a routine hand punch; Tye Hill hurting his back earlier in the season in a collision with teammate Oshiomogho Atogwe; Aaron Walker blowing out his shoulder striking a tackling dummy in practice; Frerotte hurts his shoulder on a borderline late hit; Bulger breaking his ribs; Setterstrom getting his knee squashed when about half a ton of opposining linemen fall on him funny on a PAT _ all the wind sprints and weight lifting are going to do nothing to prevent those injuries. It's just been a strange year _ injury-wise _ and one that I think defies explanation to a large degree.
    ------------------------------
    Cory- Parker Colorado: Jim,

    All I see is the fan base and the media questioning Scott Linehans second half play calling this year. Could it be that it isn't the playcalling, but the play execution? I mean after all, the Rams are starting a lot of street free agents and backups at a lot of positions right now, especially on the offensive line. These players were conditioned in the off season to be backups and took 1/3 of the snaps that the first teamers did. Could it just be a lack of conditioning rather than the play calling?

    Cory-Parker Colorado

    Jim Thomas: The disparity is so great between first half and second half performance, particularly over the past five games, it's more than just one thing. I would say the play-calling has been conservative _ on both sides of the ball, not just offense _ once the Rams have gotten these double digit leads. I would say opposing defenses are adjusting on the fly to what Linehan is doing in the first half. And the same goes for opposing offenses. There's only so many ways you can blitz a quarterback. After a while, they are coping better with what Haslett is bringing. Conditioning could be a factor. And perhaps the players are easing up _ even if subconsciously _ with the lead.
    ----------------------------
    JC: Hello again, Jim.

    How's Leonard Little recovering from his toe surgery? Do you think it's bad enough that the Rams will cut him rather than pay his huge roster bonus in March? And if he stays, can he be a rush LB in a 3-4 alignment?

    Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: I haven't seen Little since his surgery. I think what the Rams will do is re-work Little's contract so that the $7 million roster bonus he's due can be spread out over several years instead of just one for cap purposes. As for the 3-4, I don't know if Little can cover well enough to make that work, particularly after so many years as a down end. But the thought of Little and Witherspoon coming at QBs from the edge _ at the same time _ does sound appealing, doesn't it?
    ----------------------------
    dodgerram: Hi Jim,

    what happened to Claude Wroten ? Is he still in the DT rotation ? Haven´t heard his name called in some time now.
    Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: Claude Wroten is a third-round draft pick playing like a seventh-rounder. He gets knocked off balance too easily, and doesn't seem all that quick coming off the ball to me. He's getting a regular turn in the rotation, seeing his most duty in 3-man fronts and in obvious passing situations. He has been a disappointment both on the field and off.
    ----------------------------
    joe brannan: Hi Jim, thanks again for hosting this forum. What a sad season this is for the Rams. Another home blackout and another Sunday trying to resist the urge to root against the blue and gold. Peter King wrote on SI.com that if the Rams blew the 21-0 halftime lead on Sunday, he thought Linehan would be gone. I was thinking the same thing when Atlanta got the ball back with about two minuetes to go down by five. I hate losing, but it seems to me that winning only decreases draft position and increases the chances of Linehan coming back.

    I am more impressed with Haslett's D every week. I have drastically changed my opinion of him and I hope he gets a shot at HC if Linehan goes. Also, good to see Ike and Torry get in the end zone in the same game; Seems like old times, weep.

    Jim Thomas: If the season ended today, I believe the Rams would get the No. 5 overall pick. At "worst" they appear a lock for a top 10 pick. We'll see what these next four games bring. I'm not sure the Rams win any of them, particularly with the current QB situation in limbo.
    I too, have come to appreciate the job Haslett has done in keeping the defense going. They've had their share of injuries now, too.
    As for Torry and Isaac, they are truly local sports treasures. And at the risk of being overly dramatic, this may be the last year we see them both on the field for the Rams.
    -------------------------------
    Francisco Prado: Jim, as always a pleasure to discuss in your weekly fan forum of my beloved Rams. Keep up the good work. My question is how is Torry Holt's knee holding up? Is it a chronic issue? What needs to be done in the offseason to be 100% percent? Despite not being fully healthy I think he is having a pro bowl season despite not having a good offense. Also Isaac Bruce can play as long as he wants to, I love to see him retire a Ram.

    Jim Thomas: Holt is learning to manage the knee. It's now common for us in the media to see him with a wrap or ice on the knee after practice. He routinely either sits out or is limited in practice on Wednesdays. This may be a case where he's reduced to bone-on-bone in the knee following cartilage surgery. It's basically what ended D'Marco Farr's career and Marshall Faulk's career. There's only so much you can do in this case. So yes, I think to a degree, the injury may be chronic. And Torry no longer is a spring chicken. Next year will be his 10th in the league.

    Even so, it is relatively amazing that Torry has been able to put up the numbers he has this season. He's on pace for 96 catches and more than 1,200 yards. I too, would love to see Isaac retire as a Ram. But somehow, I don't see that happening.
    -------------------------------
    Team-Sport: Jim,
    You said Todd Bouman "knows the Rams Offense".
    My questions are:
    1) What exactly is the Rams Offense? After 1-3/4 Seasons with Linehan, it's not clear to me what defines the Rams Offense.
    2) How does playing for Linehan in Minnesota, in 2002, when Linehan was the Vikings OC, equate to someone being able to know the Rams Offense (such as it is) in 2007? Is it exactly the same after 5 years, with Linehan changing teams twice? Are there no wrinkles or nuances specific to the Rams, and their personnel?
    3) Why hasn't Linehan already gotten Bouman on board? If this report is to be taken as glowing as it sounds, he should have already been here. Bouman has actually started 6 games in the NFL, Berlin nada. I'm really glad we didn't have to use Berlin against Atlanta. And I hope like heck we don't see him on the field in Cincinnati. And since Bouman already "knows the Rams' offense", I guess that means he'll be just "plug and play".

    Jim Thomas: 1.) Very good question. What exactly is the Rams offense? I'm not sure anyone knows, at least in terms of what it stands for, it's personality, etc.
    2. & 3.) By knowing the offense, it's mainly a case of the terminology and ways that plays are called. In other words, each offensive system in the NFL has its own peculiar language _ and until you know the language _ there's going to be an adjustment period. The fact that Bouman worked with Linehan will lesson the adjustment. That's all I was saying in today's P-D article. I'd hardly call that a "glowing" assessment. Perhaps you need to read more carefully.


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    Re: Jim Thomas Live, December 4

    I too, would love to see Isaac retire as a Ram. But somehow, I don't see that happening. -- J.T.
    Well, I sure hope the Rams will make it happen! :\

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