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    Jim Thomas Live, Jan 31st

    By Jim Thomas
    Thursday, January 31, 2008 01:30 PM CST [ LIVE ]


    Pat: Jim,
    Should I be getting as excited as I am (pretty giddy) about Al Saunders possibly coming in? I'm thinking a return to exciting football. With his history with the Rams and the Chiefs and the talent we have things are looking up. The Redskin's never had the talent his previous teams did (especially at quarterback), so I cannot hold their lack of offensive success against him.
    Do you think we should give him that much credit or is he that good?
    Thanks Jim,
    Ram Fan in Patriot country

    Jim Thomas: I think you should get excited about Saunders. Of course, you're only as good as your personnel. But I think Saunders is pretty good. For several seasons earlier this decade, the best offense in Missouri resided in Kansas City _ not St. Louis _ with Saunders calling the plays for the Chiefs.
    Fred: Hi Jim,
    Thanks again for answering our questions.
    I'm sure everyone is going to ask about the possible Saunders hiring so I'll go in a different direction.
    How about special teams. Do you think Wilkins will put in another year? I read where he might be contemplating retirement because of medical issues. What are those issues? He's one extra point away from holding the all time consecutive PAT record which he is now tied with Elam for. He does seem to have lost a little on kick-offs and one of our worst problems has been starting field position for both offense and defense.

    Jim Thomas: I think Wilkins is at least considering retirement. I think he had some foot/leg issues at the end of the year although I'm not sure if it was his kicking leg or plant leg. Wilkins has lost a little on kickoffs, but is still better than average there.
    Buzz: Jim,
    Any word on whether Haslett plans to go more to the 3-4? Or will he continue to use it situationally as he did this year? Also, is his relationship with Linehan strained to the point that it could effect on field performance next season?

    Jim Thomas: Pls see earlier answers.
    Bruce: I supported the Rams faithfully as a season ticket holder in Los Angeles and Anaheim, I was dissapointed when they packed up for the midwest but understood. Now that Ms. Frontiere has now passed away, where there was absolutely no chance of the Rams ever returning, is there now a small chance Mr. Rosenbloom might consider moving back to Southern California?

    Jim Thomas: Don't hold your breath.
    Frank: I have heard rumors about the possibility of Roy Williams of the Lions being available for a second rounder. Would this be something the Rams would make a move at, it would give them a legitimate big receiver and help Torry draw less attraction from defenses. This would be a move that could solidify the WR spot without having to take chances in the draft and maybe it would actually help Bennett to earn some of the money he is robbing from the organization.

    Jim Thomas: At face value, Roy Williams for a second-rounder is worth exploring.
    Ron: Jim - Just a few quick questions:
    1- Did Stanley make enough of an impression in the late season to be taken seriously as a WR/return option?
    2- Any idea on the long-term plan for strong safety? Is that a mid-round draft consideration?
    3- How much gas does Jeff Wilkins have left in the tank/

    Thank you.

    Jim Thomas: 1.) Yes. (But for now, more on the return side.)
    2.) I think _ repeat, think _ the Rams would like to get another year out of chavous and then start thinking about a replacment. Under that logic, a mid-round pick at SS makes sense.
    3.) Despite his woes in '08, I think Wilkins has a few years left. That is, if he wants to come back. You may recall, he was hinting at retirement at the end of the season.
    David Carriger: With the fact that John Shaw maybe leaving the organization soon.Is there now a chance that after Scott Linehan falls flat on his face in 08' that Mike Martz may return under a different front office? You know he can only dream of the numbers he can put up with the offensive talent on this club.

    Jim Thomas: As I mentioned before, I don't think there's much chance of Martz returning here under any circumstances.
    RT: I would like to see Tony Softli's role expanded. Why
    does this clown Zygmunt continue to believe HE is God's gift to pro personnel? His arrogance is a big part of
    the problem as I see it.

    Softli is qualified. Uncle Ziggy is a bean counter.

    Case closed.

    You would think upper management would do something meaningful to correct the way they evaluate players both at the pro and college level. Don't they see that this is at the root of all their problems?

    Until this is corrected/improved I don't see how we can expect ANY kind of improvement.

    Your thoughts?

    Jim Thomas: As I mentioned before, I would be surprised if Softli is around much longer after the draft.
    Kevin: Hi Jim,
    I live in Nj but have followed the Rams since LA. First question, what are these people thinking when talking about trading Steven Jackson? This is a guy in his prime and one of the best in the league. When he's not in the lineup look at the #'s. Second, would you go defense line or OL or trade down with the #2 pick? and finally who would you go with for OC? Keep Bruce!!..He's still a gammer!
    Thanks and have a good one.

    Jim Thomas: I know the Packers since Steven Jackson is the best back in the league.
    I would go defense with the first-round pick.
    And of course, Saunders is nowt he OC.
    bfulton: Any new word on adding a personnel man? I understand that the front office doesn't want to saddle a new owner with too many new guys but they are making a lot of changes amongst the coaching staff. With free agency and draft coming up, doesn't even make sense to make changes in the personnel office at this point?

    Jim Thomas: I expect Softli to be around at least until the end of the draft. We're too close to free agency and the draft to change personnel chiefs right now.
    Nick: Jim,
    Any chance the Rams try and sign a WR in free agency? I hope they decide to keep Bruce, but if they do an he is in a demoted role are the Rams content with Bennett as the no.2? I would love to see a Bernard Berrian or Bryant Johnson, personally...

    Jim Thomas: In Linehan's mind, I think WR might be his top need. Since there really isn't a WR prospect in the draft worthy of a top 10 pick, I think free agency might be the way to go. You'd have to overpay for Berrian, but didn't the Rams' overpay for Bennett? Didn't the Eagles overpay for Curtis? In a sense, Berrian strikes me as a one-trick pony _ a deep threat. But isn't that what the Rams need?
    james: Jim,

    I read that Mr. Shaw and Mr Zymut might be leaving, when can we expect that? In my opinion, they are a large part of the problem. We've had 3 good years out of what 25? Whether or not the coach had a big say in drafting, we have done so very poorly. If we had a real GM, one capable of evaluating talent instead of relying on statistical analysis, things would probably be better.

    I still can't believe that Rams weren't allowed to coach the Senior Bowl. One of the biggest mistakes in years. A chance to work with these kids all week and we blew it because we can't get our coaching situation settled, what a disgrace.

    Coach Linehan is still a joke. He keeps hiring FOSL's and what does he have to show for it? I know you advocate giving the guy another year as Mr Vermeil had a poor record, but lets look at the facts. Dick Vermeil never lost his players. They always played hard, even when they stunk. Mr Linehan had 3 Pro-Bowl players argue or yell at him on the sideline this year, including Torry Holt! If that isn't a sign that he lost the team I don't know what is.

    I just pray that Mr. Rosenbloom gets real football people in the front office and hopefully within the next few weeks. There is plenty of blame to go around for our bad season, but it all starts at the top.

    GO RAMS!

    Jim Thomas: I guess you forgot the near-revolt under Vermeil early in the '98 season when player rep D'Marco Farr went up to Vermeil's office to voice a formal complaint about many problems with practices, etc.
    And at the end of the '98 season, several players either skipped the team flight from the season finale at San Fran and/or skipped the season-ending team meeting the next day. Sound familar?
    Dennis: Jim,
    I love reading your articles, just two questions:

    1) Who do you think the Rams should take with their first round pick? (I think C. Long or Dorsey are our best bets)
    2) Do you think the Rams will have a new GM and President by next season and if so who do you think would be the best fits?

    Thanks for your time.

    Jim Thomas: 1.) I would take Long. But I wouldn't quibble with Dorsey.
    2.) I think the Rams will have a new head of the personnel department (I don't know if he'll have the GM title.) I believe Shaw will step back to more of a consultant role and Zygmunt will remain president. (This is just my educated guess.)
    Ed Johnson: Dear Jim
    I have a two part question. With the possible hiring of Al Saunders who will really be the OC, Al or Scott? Question number two is simple, if Scott fired Willy Robinson (A movwe I still do not understand) and his relationship with Jim Haslett is not very good, then why would you not bring in Gregg Williams for DC? I believe the reeason Paul Boudreau was let go was Scott and Paul had numerous disagreements on the starting offensive line during 07, can you confirm this?

    Jim Thomas: Let me put it this way: If you think there was some grumbling by offensive players about Linehan, there would be a near revolt by the defensive players if Haslett was dumped. The Haslett-Linehan relationship is not ideal, but this "rift" talk is w-a-y overblown.
    As for the o-line, I'm not aware of any Boudreau-Linehan disagreements.
    tonyde: Thanks for the chat Jim.

    I'm wondering if the changes at O Coord. and O-line coach were driven by Linehan or the front office? I see the same thing happening here as 99'. Vermeil may have been considering making changes, but the perception always was he was "forced" to make them, which I doubt was true. Is Linehan being forced to make these changes, or is he the one driving this? If the Rams have any kind of success in 08 it will be because of hiring Sanders etc. Kind of unfair IMHO...

    Jim Thomas: Regardless of what is said to the media for public consumption at Rams Park, I think we'd all be a little naive to think that Linehan wasn't getting "nudged" (to put it mildly) to make changes. Especially since Saunders' offensive approach to a large degree is a return to towards the Martz system in many respects.
    pweb: Jim

    Despite whatever tension that exists between Linehan and Haslett, it looks like Haslett will be the Rams' DC for '08. How do you feel about the Rams moving to a 3-4 defense? Obviously there would need to be additional personnel added through the draft or free agency to make it happen. But it almost seems that their current defensive personnel lend themselves better to the 3-4 than the 4-3. Plus I'd love to see Witherspoon get the chance to play outside again.

    Jim Thomas: To this point, I think there has been very little discussion about schemes, offense or defense, 3-4 or otherwise. Linehan has been totally focused on his staff to this point, and still has a secondary coach to hire.
    pweb: Jim

    With the Senior Bowl in the books, anny new thoughts on who you think the Rams should take w/ their #2 overall pick? How do you feel about them trading down?

    Jim Thomas: Obviously, no juniors were at the Senior Bowl. And almost all of the projected top 10 picks who are seniors skipped the event. So nothing's really changed. As for a trade down, I think the offer would have to be very, very good.
    RamFanInPA: What can be done to breathe some life into the Rams organization for the 2008 season? I see 2008 as a "lame duck" season in many respects. There just doesn't seem like there is anything to feel positive about. Give me something! Thanks.

    Jim Thomas: Well, hiring Al Saunders as offensive coordinator was a start. A strong offseason in terms of the draft and free agency is the next step.
    Phil: Greetings, I have been a Rams fan since their days back Los Angeles. Last year I paid particular attention to the sideline body language of Coach Lineham looking for signs of Leadership. I was particularly distressed when Mark Setterstom was injured and Lineham tried desperatly to rally the troops with a sideline outbust that was reminisent of Marty S. However, none of the players responded. As a matter of fact they looking at him as if to say what the hell is this guy doing? I am certain he is a good person and want to do well. However, at this level one needs exceptional Leadership and Communication Skills. Therefore he won't make it as a Head Coach in the NFL..

    Jim Thomas: There's no sugar-coating it, Linehan needs to regain the trust and respect of some players. And that's easier said than done.
    ray kumpf: jim,
    with the second pick in the draft the rams cant really go
    wrong with either dorsey or chris long.i feel they should take long cause he has a non stop motor with a great attitude
    .this is a very talented draft this year i feel the rams can get good value and help in the later rounds

    Jim Thomas: The Rams have to hit at No. 2 overall and No. 33 this year. And both of those picks need to contribute right away.
    Buzz: Jim,
    I'm assuming that Al Saunders would not take our OC job unless he could install his system, devise game plans and call the plays without undue interference from Linehan. However, that's not to say that a HC shouldn't have any imput. For example, I think the Detroit coach had every right to ask Mike Martz to balance his offense a little more with some running plays. In St Louis, Martz accepted a fairly high turnover percentage in order to try and make plays down the field. Linehan is more conservative by nature - and so am I. Saunders will take his shots down the field. No problem. But I do think that it would be ok for Linehan to remind Bulger to check down if the deep pass isn't there. Don't force the ball. This way, we could have Saunders more exciting, unpredictable offense without all the turnovers of the latter Martz era. Does this sound good to you?

    Jim Thomas: In Kansas City, Saunders showed an ability to adjust the "Air Coryell" style of offense used by Martz to the talent at hand. The Chiefs didn't have great WRs, but they had great RBs (Holmes, Johnson) and a great TE (Gonzalez). Saunders adjusted the scheme to best fit KC's talents. I think he'll do the same here _ meaning Steven Jackson won't be neglected.
    But there's no doubt Saunders is more aggressive, and will take more risks than Linehan. Saunders likes to spread the field and use all sorts of alignments, formations, motions and shifts to create matchup advantages. That's something Linehan didn't do.
    Rams fan: Scott Linehan is known league-wide for his offensive schemes, not his leadership. So my question is, how can the Rams justify keeping him as a head coach when he is not doing what he was brought here to do. He does not have the leadership abitities and no-one in the locker room respects what he says (from what i've heard). Motivation is not his thing and i just feel that with Linehan in charge, we are destined for another top 5 pick. Any thoughts?

    Jim Thomas: You're right on Ramsfan. The Rams hired Linehan for his play-calling, game-planning and overall offensive prowess. What does he do now that Saunders has been handed the keys to the car? Linehan must grow and show leadership capabilities, organizational skills, and overall CEO characteristics. Can he do? I think it's a fair read to have doubts based on what we've seen so far.
    Mike: Jim,

    I was really intereseted in signing Ken Zampese for the OC spot but i feel saunders is probably better for the team, not to mention PR and ticket sales.

    My question however is, is there a spot on the rams staff that he could take. QB coach? Assistant head coach?

    Jim Thomas: I too thought Zampese would have been a good hire at OC, for many of the same reasons that Saunders is a good hire. The only different _ Saunders has done it before as an NFL player caller. Zampese has not. I'm sure the Bengals would not let Zampese leave _ and he may not want to leave _ for a lateral move as a QB coach. And the Rams already have an assitant head coach on offense (Valero) and defense (Venturi). So what would the title really mean?
    Brian from Vegas: Jim,
    Thanks so much for continuing with these chats.
    I have heard that the Rams are considering a switch to a 3-4 defense. I do not understand this...the Rams don't have a true nose tackle, Carriker could play end, but Little and Hall don't look like DE's in 3-4. Ryan would not have a position. Plus, the Rams don't have 4 good linebackers. Why would they consider the switch?

    Jim Thomas: I'm not sure they're considering a full-time switch. What you may see is a continuation of a lot of 3-4 in passing situations.
    wiramfan: If Hedgcocks remarks aren't enough to set the Ram's Brass ears on fire nothing will! Linehan is a joke will be joke and will continue to run this team to the bottom of the NFL!

    Everyday I get more upset that a guy like Scott Linehan can get head coaching job in the NFL.. We can't even hire coaches because he is a lame duck! Also because he is an unproven, unproductive, useless, cheap coach we can't offer contracts to decent assistants because they require real money!!

    This regime will get nata from me. Not a single dollar. No merchandise, no tickets, no shirts or hats nothing as long as Linehan has anything to do with the Rams!!!

    These were kind words, I have others but they are not suitable for this forum!

    Jim Thomas: Hedgecock isn't the first disgruntled player to rip a coach after he was cut.
    Ramalamadingdong: As the Rams continue to drift aimlessly, what effect do you think a change in ownership will have?

    It seems to me this franchise is years away from even being a shadow of the teams that went to the Super Bowls in '99 and '01.

    That said, now that we can count the days until Shaw, Ziggy and the throat slasher are gone, how long do you think it will be before the new owner, whomever that will be, will think about bringing back Mad Mike?

    Thanks Jim.

    Jim Thomas: Don't hold your breath waiting for Mad Mike to return.
    virginiatom: It is pitiful that the Rams didn't make a more aggressive effort to hire Greg Williams as defensive coordinator. He is truly a defensive guru and would have been a great addition to returning the Ram's to their glory days of an aggressive and effective defense. Their offer of secondary coach was an insult. Haslet and Linehan don't get along and the Rams defense has played poorly for the majority of time in the two years that Haslet has been here. The situation begs for a change. I know it would have taken alot to get him here, but a real offer should have been made. What are your expectations of the Rams defense next year?

    Jim Thomas: I think the defense under Haslett has performed better than the stats would indicate. The players play hard for him. I didn't see Williams reinvent the wheel defensively in Washington _ with much better players at his disposal than the Rams currently have.
    John: For decades I thought when Georgia was gone, things would pick up for the Rams. I had hoped someone would quickly step up and take over. I had fervently wished that Rams Nation would at last have a serious leader to carry us forward.

    This has not happened yet. How long do you think it will take for us to get a leader? Or, will we just float aimlessly along forever?

    Jim Thomas: John--Georgia hasn't even been dead for two weeks. Geez.
    Mike: Certainly, the Rams aren't going to pay big money to Saunders to run Linesham's offense. Could they also be promising him stong consideration as the next head coach should Linesham get fired at the end of the '08 season?

    Jim Thomas: Interesting question, because just two years ago, the Rams weren't interested in giving Saunders an interview for Mike Martz's replacement. (The job went to Linehan.)
    I don't think there were any promises made. But Linehan is now surrounded by strong-minded former NFL head coaches on both sides of the ball in Saunders and Haslett.
    Mike: What is the source and how serious is the rift between Haslett and Linehan? Could it cost Haslett his job?

    Jim Thomas: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! There is no "rift" between Haslett and Linehan. Haslett does voice some opinions behind the scenes _ not unlike Charley Armey used to. But like Armey, it's just who Haslett is. Haslett only has one year left on his contract, so it won't cost him his job.
    bash-on: Chris Long's name keeps coming up as a top pick in the draft. Yet, when I saw him play in September, he had one sack, (which forced a field goal), three solo tackles and three assists. A solid outing but certainly not a stellar performance. Also, most of his plays were against a first year sophmore tackle making his first start. This leads me to believe that if Glenn Dorsey is sitting there at #2, it's a no brainer to take him over Long. With the resources at your disposal, have you had time to research these guys and form an opinion either way?

    Thanks,

    Bash-On Regardless

    Jim Thomas: I don't think you can judge a player by one game. But there are those in the Rams organization who (at least right now) think Dorsey is the best player in the draft. So it's certainly not out of the question to think that the Rams could take him at No. 2.
    Mark in NY: Jim, thanks for letting me write...

    I understand the family needs time to grieve and all, but I'd bet this has also been a hot topic between Georgia, Stan, and Chip for many months if not years. When will something be announced?

    Also, is this Chris Long kid the real deal? We need a "can't miss" player desperately, and if he is a "disruptor" on defense he would be worth the #2 pick.

    Lastly, I think Madison Hedgecock's interview was the last nail in Linehan's coffin. How much better would the Rams offense have been if Hedgecock was opening holes for Steven Jackson, and do the Rams have any credibility left in the league?

    Jim Thomas: Chip automatically has taken over ownership of the team. That was part of Georgia Frontiere's will. I'm sure Chip will speak when the time is right.

    Don't know enough about Chris Long yet to say he's the real deal. But right now he makes the most sense to me at No. 2 overall.

    Was it a bad move to cut Madison Hedgecock and replace him with Richard Owens certainly? But I think we're all getting a little carried away with Hedgecock's impact. He was a C+ fullback _ certainly not a battering Ram like the Hammer (James Hodgins), and certainly not an all-around fullback like San Diego's Lorenzo Neal.

    The problem is, if you replace a C+ player, you've got to replace him with at least a C+ player. The Rams replaced Hedgecock with a D player (Owens).
    George Alicea: Hi Jim,

    As a Rams fan since 1969, I have seen every transition the Rams have made. I can tell you that no matter what changes are made in the front office and on the field, the problem is that Mark Bulger will never reach the Superstar level that is needed to create a lasting winner. He is a great backup quarterback but he will never reach the level such as Kurt Warner. I was totally against the quarterback change and I turned out to be correct from day one. I think that the bungling of the quarterback situation has set the franchise back for at least 7 to 10 years. I think that the Rams should cut their losses with Bulger and trade for Kurt Warner. The team should also draft this Ryan kid from Boston College and let him learn behind Kurt. I also think that management made a big mistake in changing the Turf. The team was built for speed and by going with the slower field, created a total disadvantage. I don't know who is making these decisions but if the front office wants to win, they should consider interviewing me so that we can avoid any future common sense disasters.

    Jim Thomas: There's no doubt that good quarterback play is the No. 1 element in winning championships, but to say that Bulger is a backup QB is ludicrous. Until this season, what had Warner not in then the NFL since his release from the Rams. Very little. Scout after scout. Coach after coach that I talk to marvel about Bulger's accuracy and touch. What you need is consistent offensive line play to protect him. Is Bulger at his best equal to Warner at his best? No. But I think he's good enough to win a lot of games with.


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    Re: Jim Thomas Live, Jan 31st

    Bruce: I supported the Rams faithfully as a season ticket holder in Los Angeles and Anaheim, I was dissapointed when they packed up for the midwest but understood. Now that Ms. Frontiere has now passed away, where there was absolutely no chance of the Rams ever returning, is there now a small chance Mr. Rosenbloom might consider moving back to Southern California?

    Jim Thomas: Don't hold your breath.
    Or better yet, do!

    I feel for the SoCal fans, but dang!......how many times does this question have to be answered?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Jim Thomas Live, Jan 31st

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Frank: I have heard rumors about the possibility of Roy Williams of the Lions being available for a second rounder. Would this be something the Rams would make a move at, it would give them a legitimate big receiver and help Torry draw less attraction from defenses. This would be a move that could solidify the WR spot without having to take chances in the draft and maybe it would actually help Bennett to earn some of the money he is robbing from the organization.

    Jim Thomas: At face value, Roy Williams for a second-rounder is worth exploring.
    This seems worthy of discussion -- even if it is only an unfounded rumor. Any thoughts folks?

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    Re: Jim Thomas Live, Jan 31st

    Quote Originally Posted by chiguy View Post
    This seems worthy of discussion -- even if it is only an unfounded rumor. Any thoughts folks?
    The one thing I think of and concerns me a bit is Williams has only played one full season without being injured and missing games. So is durability an issue?
    BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE


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