By Jim Thomas
Friday, January 4, 2008 11:00 AM CST
The Rams beat writer goes one-on-one with readers on Friday from 11 a.m.-noon in a live chat.
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lokeman: Hey Jim--I heard that Jim Haslett may either leave or get the axe when they make changes in personell. If he gets the axe, frankly, I think that would be a huge mistake. Accept for a few games this year, I think he did a decent job over all. Now having said that, if Linnehan gets fired at the end of the 2008 season do you think Hasslet would be the heir apparent for the Rams heading coaching job. He definitely has head coaching experience and even won coach of the year when he took the Saints to the playoffs one year.
Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: I've gotten no indication that Haslett is in any kind of trouble in terms fo being fired at Rams Park. So I'd be very surprised if that happened. In terms of going elsewhere as a head coach, it looks like there will be very few openings this year. Right now, we're at three (Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami). There's been talk that either Mike Holmgren in Seattle and/or Joe Gibbs in Washington might retire. But that's about it. I think Atlanta does have some interest in Haslett, but that he's not their top choice.
JC Garza: What is the coach supposed to say? He talks, talks, talks. Isn't that why Mr. Martz was fired. He talked about fixing and well the players let him down. Mr. Linehan is doing the same thing. I thought he should have been fired after 0-8. Haslett could have taken over and run the show with the same offensive coordinator with perhaps better results. Now that Mr. Martz is free my wife wants to know if there is the slightest glimmer that he could return as coordinator? Thank you.

Jim Thomas: Zero chance. None. Zip. Nada. Especially not as long as John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt are calling the shots. As you may recall, Mr. Martz wasn't exactly getting along with those two when he was fired in St. Louis.
JustME: Any chance that Adam Carriker can be switched back to DE and the Rams find another UT.

Jim Thomas: I think that's always possible. But unless the Rams swtich to a 3-4 full-time, I think the coaching staff feel Carriker is better suited to spending most of his time inside.
Mark in NY: Jim,

Assuming Parcells will choose Dorsey with the #1 pick, I am salivating over the thought of drafting Tim Tebow or Darren McFadden, except that the Rams really don't need them. Would you agree that the Rams need to trade the #2 pick for a couple of first rounders(hopefully)? My concern, however, is that one of those guys could be the next Adrian Peterson or Tom Brady? Someone has to make some tough decisions, and I'm not sure I trust Linehan. Your thoughts please? Thanks!

Mark

Jim Thomas: 1.) I don't think Tebow is coming out. Isn't he just a sophomore?
2.) The Rams aren't going to draft a quarterback in the first round.
McFadden, however, is an interesting thought if the Rams are starting at him at No. 2 overall. I don't know how the Rams could pass him up, unless in their evaluations, they have someone else rated higher (Chris Long? Jake Long? etc.) Then what do the Rams do? Go with McFadden and Jackson, which certainly wouldn't make Jackson happy but could give the Rams one heck of a backfield. Or they could trade down in the draft, but in that scenario, I would hope they wouldn't trade down too far.
Ray: Hi Jim.........

The news out of Cleveland is that Rome Crennell will take trade offers for Derek Anderson!
Why couldn't the Rams package their top pick and get a strong armed QB to Replace Bulger...Heck, trade the first pick and Bulger for Anderson and the Browns 3rd pick?
I just want Bulger out of town........He is scared, not confident anymore and easily frustrated!
Steven Jackson knows Anderson very well and hopefully will put in his 2 cents for him,.......that would make Rams Nation excited again!
Anyone who knows anything about Rams Football knows that we need a change at QB.....If you can get rid of the 2 time MVP of the league, you can get rid of weak armed Bulger who gave it his best but his best wasn't good enough!
Thoughts?
Thanks,

Ray
Franklin, Mass

Jim Thomas: The Rams aren't going to trade Bulger. Especially since $10 million of his signing bonus would accelerate directly onto the Rams 2008 cap if such a trade was made (before June 1).
Brian from Vegas: Jim,
That was one long bad season. But should we be surprised? Since 1980, the Rams have had 11 winning seasons. That is correct, in 28 years, the Rams have only had 11 winning seasons.
Shaw and Zygmunt have been the common thread during this time. So why does Zygmunt still have a job? I understand that Shaw is not going to fire himself, but why is Zygmunt protected? I have read that Zygmunt is great with the salary cap, but that he was a pain to Vermeil, that he hated Martz, and that he fancies himself as a football expert. Bryan Burwell in a column this week called Zygmunt a "scheming weasel." Zygmunt sounds like a cancer to me. Do you think Zygmunt is one of the major reasons the Rams have such a poor OVERALL record in the last 28 years?

Jim Thomas: Shaw and Zygmunt have been together for more than a quarter of a century with the Rams. As long as Georgia Frontiere or a member of the Frontiere family owns the franchise, I think Shaw and Zygmunt have the ultimate security. If the franchise is sold to someone outside the organization, all bets are off.
As for the performance of the Rams since 1980, the Rams went to the playoffs seven times in the '80s, and have gone five times since '99. But it's hard to ignore the drought of the '90s _ nine straight losing seasons _ and now the Rams seem to be starting another slide (no winning seasons since '03). Eventually, I would say, management has to be held accountable.
Happy 2008: Jim,
So we have Linehan "vowing to change", ownership in turmoil and a team full of players without any real leadership qualities to overcome the previously mentioned problems. Is there anything to realistically look forward too in 2008?

Jim Thomas: Teams can turn it around very quickly in this league. See: St. Louis Rams, 1999.
shawn dimick: Jim,
I've just recently started reading these discussions and I am a little irritated with the level of discontent among Ram fans. Yeah this year sucked and I had to listen to games on the radio all year because we stunk.

As a loyal Rams supporter since 81 when Vince left for Canada I just have to say...IT'S NOT THAT BAD! Given the opportunity to build depth on our line and stay healthy this will make all the difference in the world. Second half collapses to me were the result of true NFL players exploiting our weak sisters. I have a long list of positives to mention about our team right now. I am worried however this is not the forum for that kind of talk. Bottom line is we DO have the tools to return to the playoffs and win, just don't panic.

Question:
Would you care to estimate the number of games won by the Bad guys(Patriots) if they used our o-line this year. My guess is 5.

Jim Thomas: I don't know about five victories, but the Patriots certainly wouldn't be anywhere near 16 victories. Over the last six games of the season, the Rams were trying to win with two street free agents (Gorin and Brown), two 37-year-olds (McCollum and Steussie), and one underachieving tackle playing out of position (Barron). Think about that.
Doug: Jim, Love your insight! I'm fed up with the vets on the offense taking shots at the coach, from day 1 with Holt on the Bruce release, to the Timmerman release with his subsequent media tour, to Bulger constantly contradicting his coach in the media. In my wildest dream I can't imagine Bulger having what it takes to lead a team to the Super Bowl. Holt and Bruce are both 2nd tier poscession receivers that assume the fetal position as soon as they catch the ball. So if they're not going to fire the coach they need to rid the team of these malcontents. I say trade Bulger (I don't know the cap hit but there is so many teams so desperate for a QB that I think you could unload him with his contract). Trade Holt while he has any worth left. Arizona will cut Warner in a salary cap move or you can get him earlier with a late round pick. I'm not a Warner nut, I just can't stand the apathy in the dome right now, that would temporarily reengerize the fan base for a year or two while they develop a legitimate QB. What you think the Rams will do with this current situation between the vets and the coach?

Jim Thomas: The cap hit is too great to trade Bulger. (See my earlier post.) Obviously, there has to be some fence-mending, some discussion, and a meeting of the minds in the offseason. I'm not sure Holt's knee is going to get any better. I'm not sure that Bruce will be back. Obviously, if the team starts winning games, I think a lot of the grousing would go away.
Alex Alvidrez: What do you think of Rams legends Nolan Cromwell, Jerry Gray, and Henry Ellard as replacements for that joke of a coach Linehan?

Jim Thomas: Interesting question. Ellard is an EXCELLENT wide receivers coach, but he's never been a coordinator, and I don't know if his career ambition is to be a head coach. I haven't really followed the coaching careers of Cromwell and Gray.
Chuck Dimmick: Why is management so intent on giving Linehan another year? I went to the AZ game just to see for myself how boring, how mis-managed and inept the current Rams were...and they were worse than I had imagined. I am a fan from way back - over 40 years....I don't think I can stand to watch another season go by like this last one. And if I can't - how can the team's management think it's ok to let Linehan stay? It's like watching the captain of the Titanic trying to stave off the fact that the ships sinking by saying "hey - we just stopped to pick up some ice"

Please tell me there is a way for this maddness to end and that I'll wake up soon to read about a new Rams head coach...

Jim Thomas: Linehan will be back in '08. I think it's partly financial (the Rams don't want to pay off the two years remaining on his contract, plus much of his staff). But I think Shaw truly believes Linehan deserves a mulligan because of all of the injuries.
dodgerram: Hey Jim,

thanks for taking the time .
With Carriker severly injured and out for about 6 months (will he have his full strength back to play DT in 2008 ?) wouldn´t it be a good idea to draft Dorsey at Nr. 2 overall and move Carriker back to DE ?
A line of Little-Dorsey-Ryan-Carriker looks pretty formidable to me . If we add a pure pass rushing specialist DE/OLB via the draft (middle rounds) we should be set at d-line.
J. Long is a very good player but if Pace comes back (and to improve this team with all its other need positions you have to assume it) we should look somewhere else to upgrade. Dorsey is considered a relatively safe pick and probably will produce right away.

Thanks and keep up your great work.

Jim Thomas: Even without an injury to Carriker, I think Dorsey is in play for the Rams. This will certainly be Glover's last season with the Rams. Wroten is a bust. So if the Rams drafted Dorsey, they could play Little-Dorsey-Ryan-Carriker as you suggest on running downs, using Glover as a rotation player, but also sliding Carriker inside at times. If Dorsey's their guy, I think this all sounds rational.
Jack Cramond: Two words. NO HOPE. After the Arizona beatdown it was clear that the players, like the fans, have lost interest in their "coach". Given an opportunity to "renew" himself, Linehan will fail in 2008. This is not up for debate, this is a guarantee. Who cares what the free agency market looks like or who we will draft. LINEHAN CANNOT COACH. We will get a few good picks, but if we can't coach them, the results will be the same or worse than 07. Shaw is too involved with transfer of power issues to worry about the rams. He is staying very tight lipped concerning the teams future. We fans have no clue about the direction of our team, but what we do know is very frightening. Until we get rid of Shaw and Linehan, we have no hope. There is no positive spin to put on this debacle. The players have given up on the coach. Any new players will speak with their teammates and give up too. Every single Ram fan is fighting mad about the status quo, but what the hell, as long as John Shaw and Scott Linehan are happy, who cares what the fans feel. The rams ownership could care less about the fan base. Thats insulting.

Jim Thomas: There is no doubt that things look bleak. Linehan realizes that '08 is very much a make or break year for him. I'm not sure that team management realizes the sense of urgency among the fan base. They made be in for a rude awakening when the PSL renewals come in. Or I should say, DON'T come in. Not only do the Rams need a heck of an offseason. They need an offseason with some sizzle to re-energize the fan base.
dodgerram: Hey Jim,

The more I think about it the more I like the idea of trading S. Jackson. Checking some draft sites where they list team needs it is reported that the NYJ, Dallas, Atlanta,Detroit and the Raiders are probably looking to upgrade at RB.
Especially Detroit with Jones out again with an injury and Dallas with Jones a free agent could be players in such a trade.
Marinelli at Detroit wants a more conservative, ball controll offense (one reason why Martz was fired) and Jackson would fill that bill perfectly.
Detroit currently has the 15th pick . For that pick and their 2nd rounder I would sent them Jackson.
From Dallas I would want their two first rounders.

That would give us three first round picks and our own second rounder which de facto is the first pick of the second round due to NE having to forfeit their first rounder.

That is 4 picks out of the first 33 picks!!!!!! And if you trade down a couple of notches from the 2nd overall pick you could reel in even more picks and still get a very good player in the top ten.

Rams are not close to really challenge for the NFC pennant or even a SB trophy so there is no need to hang on to Jackson especially since he will command top dollar next year.

With all those picks it will open up so many options to rebuilt.
I am aware it is a certain risk in trading Jackson for draft picks (See the Dickerson picks which all were wasted on bums)but the
Rams are so bad right now they IMHO have to roll the dice for better or worse. If we make the right picks it could turn this sorry team around. Remember the Dallas Cowboys when they traded Hershell Walker for all those picks ? That was the beginning of their dynasty in the late 80´s and early 90´s.

Jim Thomas: Linehan really likes Jackson, and would like to build the offense more around him than the wide receivers. That being said, if McFadden is there at No. 2 overall, I wouldn't put a Jackson trade out of the question. (Particularly since Jackson is entering the last year of his contract in '08.)
Steve: i guess my question is...how bad is it, jim? do you see this getting any better next season, two seasons, three seasons from now? what free agents will want to come to st. louis? and don't give me that 'they go where the money is' crap, winners want to win and there has been little winning in st. louis. what ram free agents will want to stay?

Jim Thomas: Sorry to disappoint you Steve. But to a large degree, they do go where the money is. But what the Rams need to do is identify and sign young up-and-coming players in free agency; players that are entering their second contract (like Witherspoon). The trouble is, it's getting harder and harder to build teams through free agency because teams are doing a better job of keeping their own, especially with the cap going up due to the new CBA. To me, the overall picture doesn't look to bright. The Rams need to rebuild their offensive line, particularly in the interior. They have an aging WR corps, and need to inject some youth there. They are getting creaky at defensive end. I think they need another proven cornerback. And that's not even addressing the fact that the head coach may be gone after '08.
Steve: Jim

Any chance the Rams go after Marcus Trufant in free agency? How about Brusci or Briggs? This, on top of drafting DE Long with the first pick and BOOM... great defense.

Steve

Jim Thomas: I like your thinking here, Steve. Why not think big. I think there is some interest in Trufant. And I think the Rams need to be thinking about bringing in another corner, because Fakhir Brown is one failed drug test from being suspended for a year. I like DE Long. But at LB, Bruschi is too old _ he'll be 35 in June. Briggs will be very expensive.
Dave in Atlanta: Happy Holidays Mr. Thomas.

Now that the Rams season is done, do you have an outlook for the draft? IMHO, the Rams should take Long from UM. The worst thing they could do is take McFadden. RB's are seriously the most commoditized players in the NFL. Give me a good OL and I could run for 1000 yards. This is reflected in salaries and relative trade value of RBs.

Jim Thomas: DIA, I'm certain the Rams will look Long and hard _ pardon the pun _ at Long from Michigan. But as I mentioned, I think the Rams would have a hard time passing on McFadden if he is there. I do agree that running backs can be found almost anywhere, and that a good offensive line is a must. But Jackson is a special running back. And if the Rams feel that McFadden is a special running back, why not?
Don: OK--It is Jim Thomas' crystal ball time. What do you believe happens next? Is Donahoe the new defacto GM? Does Linehan hire a real OC? Cam Cameron is available and ran a Linehan-like offense with great success in SD! Can they really be serious about firing Softi? Give us some hope!

Jim Thomas: I wouldn't be surprised to see Donahoe in place after the draft. But again, he will not have final say over personnel. I am interested to see if Linehan gives up play-calling and hires a new offensive coordinator. If management wants Linehan to be a head coach of the entire team, that's the way to go. Cameron makes sense on a couple of levels. He did great things at San Diego (of course, it helps when you L.T. and Gates). And we know Shaw likes him _ he was one of the three finalists for the job that went to Linehan. As for Softli, I think there is some smoke there, and something might happen after the draft.
Nick: Yes it's early....but...as a 40 year Ram's fan who watched(unbelievably) every game this year and who has been "planning for the 2008 draft" for 10 or 12 weeks, I'll submit my 2 cents worth of opinion for their 1st round choice...Jake Long.
Early reviews have 3 pretty much at the top as "can't miss"...McFadden, Dorsey, and Long (Jake with Chris close behind).

IMHO "position wise" and "talent wise", it has to be J.L.
We have Jackson and simply more pressing needs to be able to afford McFadden or any RB at this choice. DE(or most any other defensive position) would have to come before DL.And no offensive skill player produces w/o a good OL.

Long gave up one sack, had no penalties for the year, and is a force both run blocking and pass protecting with experience at both tackle positions. If Pace comes back great...if either he or Barron go down, Long can play (and be capable of starting immediatly) at either position w/o resorting to moving Barron to LT...Barron seems to be (potentially only still) a very good RT at best.
I know opinions vary on Bulger but whatever one thinks and especially given the investment made, he's much too good to allow him to be sacked 5 or 6 times a game.

BTY(in case you're reading this Scott)...OG at top of 3rd round as well...maybe Roy Scheuning or some other stud interior OL horse. Use #2 for BAA who somehow slips through Round 1.

Tell me there is not some logic to this w/o simply saying "too early to tell". Even if a free agent tackle could be brought in, it seems to me no other position or player fits as well looking at this team immediatly as well as long term after watching this season.

Thanks.

P.S. For what it's worth, last year for pre-draft possiblities at 13, I suggested Patrick Willis #1 and Carriker #1a. Might have been very interesting if both had been available to see if our defensive coordinator is a little smarter and less stubborn than would appear. Witherspoon had a very good year at MLB again but he was "the man" coming off the edges to pass rush when, out of necessity, they finally had to try using him back outside occasionally. Don't you agree?

Jim Thomas: It is early, but it does look like Dorsey, McFadden and the Longs are shaping up as the top four. Most everybody sees Jake Long as an RT in the NFL. There's no doubt the Rams need a third OT, and someone with the potential to be a future starter. I think Gorin played well enough _ not tremendous mind you _ but well enough to come back as the fourth OT. But what do you do with long if Pace comes back and stays healthy? Do you bench Barron? Trade Barron? Or have Jake Long sitting on the bench? That's the problem.
Bill: Hello Jim, I understand the explanations that are being given as to why Shaw is going one more yr with Scott due to circumstances and the cost involved with changes. But still I think it would of been simple to let Haslett be the HC and just hire an offensive coordinator instead. At least Haslett is fearless, aggressive and coaches with personality. I wasn't too impressed with Linehan's sound bite for the upcoming off season. After 2 yr's, he's going to evaluate himself and his schemes? Too too much pressure for him this off season. Next yr in Sept it will be hugh, a slow start, say 1-3, 2-5, and then what, then you fire Scott and let Haslett take over? If you had to paint a picture for next October, that's probably the scenario we'll get. Shaw should of made the move now, it's simple and could pump life into the team. A guy with personality and fire. Did the 2 point conversion attempt against the Cardinals make any sense? Bulger rolls to his right, and has only one option to throw too? That guy's all covered and Bulger just stands their like a dead duck and throws an aimless ball across field. I'm sorry, but Scott Linehan just plain makes bad decisions. He can think all he wants this off season it won't matter, because he won't get it right, and with a whole slew of decisions to make, it will be very interesting to see how this all pans out. But I still say the pressure will be too insurmountable for him and Haslett will get the team next October, so why not now? Thanks and Happy New Year

Jim Thomas: I think Haslett's in a pretty good position. If the Rams bust out and have a good season in '08, he's a head coach somewhere else. If Linehan crashes and burns in '08, Haslett is there to step in.
Jeremy (Denver): Ok Jim, I have the solution to our OL problems...here it is:
LT - Orlando Pace
LG - Jake Long
C - Mark Setterstrom
RG - Richie Incognito
RT - Alex Barron

What do you think???

Jim Thomas: Appreciate the thoughts Jeremy, but you're moving two guys out of position _ Long to guard and Setterstrom to center. That's asking a lot.
Coach Mike Martz: Jim: I told you the Rams organization feels that they make more money if the team doesn't have a winning season every year. The only reason "Vanillahan" is coming back in 08' is because management is too cheap to buy out his contract.

They fired me and now their offense is non-existent. How many offensive touchdowns did the Rams have in the 2nd half of games this year........yeah that's what I thought!

The players respected me and my sources inside Rams Park tell me they all just roll their eyes when Linehan addresses the team.

-Coach Mike Martz (Mastermind of the GSOT)

Jim Thomas: Mike, I know at the end you had a hard time getting along with anybody and wanted just about everybody in the building fired. Then again, at the end, you were blamed for everything but global warming. But as time goes on, it seems more and more obvious that you were not the cause of every problem. You were, after all, 56-36 as Rams head coach. Since you last were on the sidelines _ before your illness in '05 _ the Rams are 15-28. Sorry to hear of your demise in Detroit. Best of luck.
Jim: Jim,

In your opinion based on your close observation of Linehan's 2 years with the Rams, can he change and develop into a top head coach/leader or is he simply lacking the necessary natural leadership qualities to ever be highly effective in such a demanding position?

Thanks...

Jim Thomas: That's precisely the question, Jim. And right now, I don't know the answer.
West Coast Ram: Jim,
I know that moving away from Bulger isn't possible due to the cap restrictions, but in retrospect, was it a wise move to sign him to such a large contract when the team was clearly going to be in transition.

Jim Thomas: Well, it certainly looks like a terrible move right now. But when you suffer a rib injury in Game 1, and are operating between the ultimate in patchwork lines over the course of the season, I think it's difficult to pass judgment. If the Rams are serious about helping Bulger, they better rebuild their line. I think it's much fairer to pass judgment after the '08 season, if that happens. My fear is that Bulger already has fallen victim to what my colleague, Bernie Miklasz, calls Battered Quarterback Syndrome. You get hit and pounded so much, that you get skittish, fall into bad habits, and start looking for the pass rush instead of the receivers. I think Warner fell victim to this in 2002 _ and it's taken him about five years to recover. (Warner looked revived against the Rams last week _ although the Rams didn't have much of a pass rush.)
Benjamin: Hey JT,

I've been connecting the dots of what may be the worst I could possibly imagine... is this conceivable?

1. Martz to SF
2. Bruce gets cut, signs with SF
3. ***** routinely destroy Rams from 2008 - 2012

Please, Please, Please, Please tell me that this can't ever happen.

Jim Thomas: No sweat on that one, Benjamin. A pretty good source told me earlier this week that Martz was not getting the job in San Francisco. And Martz himself told a Detroit newspaper earlier this week that he was not in play in San Francisco.
Benjamin: JT,

What's the word on the Haslett situation? Was there ever anything to the report circulating that he isn't coming back next year? Also, why aren't the Rams making any coaching moves (Cameron for OC?)

Jim Thomas: As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think the only way Haslett isn't back is if he gets a head-coaching job elsewhere, and it looks like that's a longshot at best. The Rams are working on coaching moves. Look for something next week.
Benjamin: JT,

Any word on plans to resign OJ & Chillar? I have to admit I never was a real big fan of Chillar, and OJ appeared to have more in potential than actual performance... all of that is until this year of course. These are the types of mid-level players the Rams have traditionally let hit the market, we need these guys as our base.

Jim Thomas: O.J. Atogwe is a restricted free agent. I'm sure the Rams will tender him at a first-round level. One way or another, he will be back. Chillar I'm not so sure. In a sense, he's the No. 3 linebacker on a 3-13 team. The Rams haven't given up on Chillar, but I think they'd like to at least explore what's out there in free agency at linebacker. I don't think Chillar expects to be back.
Bret Ware: Ever since we changed to those ugly drab blue and faded gold uni's we have been average to below average, maybe ?. Anyway what do you think about going back to the old school uni's like the the one's we uh ? went to the super bowl in ? Those were classy colors and recognized by all. Thank you.

Jim Thomas: I wasn't a big fan of those pre-2000 Rams uniforms. But if clothes make the man, there can be no doubt the Rams have been on a steady decline since the new unis came out (especially after the 2000 and '01 seasons).
Benjamin: Hey JT,

What is the deal with Softli? It can't even be remotely possible that they're thinking of getting rid of this guy. What's the party line for his dismissal?

It's just really frustrating that everyone knows all signs point to Zygmunt for most of what ails the Rams, but the one guy who can do anything about it won't (Shaw). So they pick the guys who actually know a thing or to about football, and make them the fall guy. Martz, Armey, Softli, all these guys are very intelligent football minds, but they're all sent packing just because Zygmunt can't check his ego?

How 'bout everyone in this forum wrangles up a few million and we buy the franchise... could we possibly do any worse?

Jim Thomas: Let me just say this on Softli: There are those on the second floor at Rams Park who question his organizational skills and his ability to get along with people. That's all I want to say at this time. Keep in mind, Softli wasn't their top pick. They were denied permission to talk to about a half-dozen other candidates. But based on Softli's '07 draft (Carriker, Ryan as starter--Leonard is what the Rams thought he was--Wade is raw but has upset---Stanley flashed some late--Fry could have a future) it looks like one of the Rams better drafts in recent years (although one season isn't enough time to make a definitive judgment).
Chris Long in the 1st: Hey Jim! So why are the Rams waiting a week to hold the meeting between Linny and Shaw? Other teams are making moves. I hope that the changes on the coaching staff include firing Greg Olson. I would love to see the Rams go after Cam Cameron or Brian Billick to fill that role in 08. Maybe they could add some wrinkles to the Rams offense so they wouldn't be so predictable. Heck, they may even install a play or two that involve us passing down the middle of the field instead of the sideline all the time Please keep these chats going through the offseason.

Jim Thomas: The Rams always wait until mid-January to have their summit meeting. They like to let the emotion of the season wane somewhat before they meet. This has no impact on free agency and the draft _ because the scouts and personnel department are working on that as we speak. (Or "chat" as they say in the Internet business.) But I am a little surprised that whatever coaching changes are going to be made have yet to be made. I mean, at least in terms of telling assistants that they will not be retained. Time is of the essence when it comes to assembling a staff.
Dominic: Hey Jim!!
We appreciate your time and work with following the Rams and keeping us informed on what is going on.My girlfriend and I are season ticket holders,but for how long....??? I would like the Rams to bite the bullit on Bennetts contract no matter what the cost rather than cut Bruce.How could you keep him over Isaac? Say goodbye to Chavous,Glover and rework Littles contract for cap relief and cut Byrd,Claude "Rotten" and any other knuckleheads on the team.Sign Gross in free agency and draft the best athlete after trading down for more picks.....we need players!!! What coaches do you think will get fired?
Awesome job Jim!!!!

Jim Thomas: I'm beginning to think Roberts is safe. Don't know about strength and conditioning staff. Offensive line and offensive coordinator also could be in play. Claude "Rotten" _ that's a good one.
Dave McGruddy: Hey Jim,

Happy New Year. After reading the post dispatch on line this past week. I think it's time for the rams to move back to sunny california. It's time for new ownership and the rams to get out of a city with writers who will not stand up and open up their eyes to see that this is a disaster. By the way what did your best friend Scott Linehan get you for Christmas.

Jim Thomas: Dave, apparently you have not been reading much of the Post-Dispatch. Have you read what our columnists have been writing about Linehan, Shaw, Zygmunt, etc. They have been absolutely pounding the Rams.
Also, do you realize the difference between a columnist and a beat writer. I am a beat writer. It's my job to write about what's going on with the team, what the coaches, players, front office is saying. Hopefully provide some analysis in insight. I don't really get paid to provide opinion like our columnists.
You need to open your eyes to all of this.
Bryan: Any chance the Rams will dump Olsen and try to bring in Cam Cameron as Offensive Coordinator? I know his team didn't do so well this year but he did seem to have the Chargers playing great offense. Just imagine, if(and it is a big if) he could do what he did with LT to Stephen Jackson.

Jim Thomas: Bryan as I mentioned in an earlier post, I think this is possible.
Bill Fleming: Hi Jim,
Thx again for this forum.

It seems to me that appointing a General Manager with personnel authority would make sense especially if there will be new ownership in the not too distant future. The value of the franchise will decline along with the teams lack of success. A football guy could stabilize the RAMS and, along with coaching improvements and fewer injuries, result in maintaining or increasing the value of the franchise for the Rosenblum heirs.

Donahoe would seem to be a natural fit given his past association and knowledge of the RAMS. I think he had a good run at Pittsburg before flaming out in Buffalo but I really don't know very much about him. What are your thought?

thx

Jim Thomas: Just a followup on a previous post. We do plan to have offseason chats _ at least through the draft. I'm not sure if we'll do them weekly, but keep an eye on this site and the Post-Dispatch for updates and info on that.


As for a GM with personnel authority _ I do not see that happening as long as Shaw and Zygmunt are at the top of the management chain. At least not a GM with full personnel authority.
I think Donahoe makes a lot of sense. He did well in Pittsburgh; not so well in Buffalo, although the Bills have hardly flourished in his absence.

Ron Romer Sr: Jim, I hear a bunch of people don't think we should draft an Offensive Takle 1st in the draft.... I hope all those doubters please listen... A great Offensive Line will cover for an average runner, an average Quarterback or an average receiver... if our QB had 5 seconds to pass everytime we again would be the Greatest Show on Turf...
control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and we are talking SUPERBOWL....how hard is this to understand ?

Jim Thomas: Whether it's through the draft or free agency, or a combination of both, the Rams need to make the offensive line a priority. I think they feel that way on the second floor at Rams Park.
Mitch Brian: Bulger? OK, I know that there is a lot of finger pointing going on. I also know that everybody is after Linehan. I was at the Arizona game and it was awful. There is plenty of blame to go around, but....

Is Bulger our QB of the future? Really? Bulger is a good QB, not a great QB. Why do I say that? Simple, he is a turtle. If he's got PLENTY OF TIME, he can hit guys in spots and spots on guys. If he has anything less than PLENTY OF TIME, he can't do anything except take the sack.

Yeah, I know, our offensive line has been battered and beaten, but how many years has that been the case? Bottom line is that Bulger is WAY OVERRATED and WAY OVERPAID!

I think we need a QB with even just a little more mobility. Just a little. Even Kurt Warner could out-run Bulger. For that matter, Jeff Wilkins could out-run Bulger.

I'm sick of the laid back, quiet, non-emotional Bulger. He's shown lack of respect for the coach, a tinder box body, and no ability to get out of ANY pocket EVER. We need a leader, a vocal leader, a real leader. Bulger is NOT IT and has never been it. NEVER. Prove me wrong. Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, all of these guys are VOCAL leaders and also have SOME ability to move outside of the pocket. Not Marc, not now, not ever. And he's skinny and weak. No muscle tone, no body to speak of.

OK, he's accurate, great, and so what. How many guys at this level are accurate? Oh yeah, most of them. For my money, when you have a 2nd pick in a draft, regardless of all the expert analysis, pick a franchise QB. We passed on Cutler, let's not do that again. Is there a franchise QB in the upcoming draft? If there is, we should get him now.

Barron is good, Pace is great, and the rest can be built with a better O-Line coach and better conditioning and training and a zone blocking scheme. Without a fairly agile QB, it's all for not. Bulger, the turtle, has got to go!

There, I did it, I didn't pick on Scott Linehan. I bet I'm the first one!

Jim Thomas: We're all entitled to our opinion, and here's mine.

Just when did Cutler become John Elway. Yeah, his numbers were decent, but last time I checked the Broncos had their first losing record since _ what? _ 1999. If you're going to second guess the Rams for taking Hill, second guess them for taking Hill over Cromartie.

Also, I wouldn't say Barron is good. Right now, I'd rate him as a C+ tackle. A little better than average. That's it.
Jeff: Hi Jim:
Any chance the Rams bring in a legitimate experienced NFL offensive coordinator? It seems Linehan tried to do too much and Olsen lacks the experience to help. Vermeil brought in Martz and things really changed - the Rams should learn from that. The playcalling clearly cost us games this year and Linehan obviously needs some help in managing the task at hand.

Jim Thomas: See earlier posts. I think a new OC is a distinct possibility.
Buzz: Jim,
Rumor has it that Tony Softli will be fired in the near future. Are the Rams unhappy with some aspect of his performance, or could they be looking to replace him with Donahoe? Finally, is Jay Zygmunt really a weasel? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: See my earlier posts on Softli. With all respect to colleague Bryan Burwell, I do not regard Jay Zygmunt as a "scheming weasel."
Smack Chick Chazzz: 1. Can we change team colors and uniforms back to the 70's style Rams ala Grey face mask and beautiful royal Blue and California Golden yellow.

2. Can we get the Rams back to Los Angeles where we belong.

3. It is too much too ask for a sellout crowd on the Night we retire a Legend like Marshall Faulk and where was Kurt, Mike Jones, Ricky Proel, Az Hakim during ceremony ??? We should have flown them in for the Special Occasion.

4. Can we get the Vikings ( our # 1 nemesis still in post season history ) to move outdoors so we can battle them in the snow of December's past like it should always Be.

Thank you, Sincerely Chazzz GO Rams Go

Jim Thomas: 1.) Have heard of no plans to change uniforms.

2.) As strange as this may sound, most of us in St. Louis like having an NFL team, even a bad one. LA won't get a team until it builds a stadium, plain and simple.

3.) It was a sellout crowd on the night Faulk's jersey was retired. (Trouble was, about one-third of them were Steelers fans.)

4.) Don't think the Vikings plan to move outdoors anytime soon. Also, don't you think the Rams got at least some "evens" by trashing the Vikes in the '99 playoffs?
Bryan: Any word on what changes are going to be made at the coaching and management level? Also who's taking over the team? I hope the Rams replace Olson with a better OC.

Jim Thomas: Nothing definitive on any of those fronts. Stay tuned.
DEKO: Hi Jim,I was just wondering how long was Steven Jackson under contract? And do you think besides a healthy o-line the Rams really need to worry about a true speed receiver on the outside to stretch the field to fix the offensive problems? I think with a healthy o-line, Holt, Bruce, Bennett, and McMicheal can run with the best of them. THANKS

Jim Thomas: Jackson is under contract through the '08 season. YES, the Rams would like a big speedy receiver. Trouble is, there is no Calvin Johnson type prospect in this years draft, so I see no scenario where the Rams take a WR at No. 2 overall.
Tackleberry: In a scenario where the Rams are sold, would you imagine that the new ownership would retain Linehan and his staff?

Also, doesn't the Billick dismissal, especially with his recent lucrative extension, sort of make the Rams coaching staff buyout price tag a moot point, and thus a worthless crutch for Shaw to lean on?

Jim Thomas: I don't think any new ownership (outside of Rosenbloom) would come before the '08 season. To my knowledge, there was a buyout provision in Billick's contract, so the Ravens actually are on the hook only for the '08 season, I believe. But I think that's one reason why the trend lately has been for teams to hire these unproven coordinators at about $2 million a year. Teams don't want to be stuck paying off a fired coach at $5 million a year (like Detroit and Mariucci).
Tackleberry: Is there any chance that John Shaw knows that this team is going to be sold and has no motive to be the bad guy with Linehan, knowing that the new ownership will come in and clean house and Shaw walks away with a clear conscience?

Jim Thomas: No. Shaw has no problem being the bad guy when he believes it's necessary. Trust me on that one.
RamHntr: Jim-

Ram fans are now aware that Linehan remains for the 2008-2009 season. We can debate this decision all day-but the fact is-HE IS RETURNING. My wish for 2008 is a change in the ownership/management team. I believe the current group truly wants to win-but has never developed a consistent winning tradition for this organization. Do you feel Shaw, Zygmunt, etc. can get this done? We Ram fans are very skeptical.

Jim Thomas: I have a lot of respect for Shaw and Zygmunt. But I too am skeptical. We all should be skeptical based on past history.
PB9: JT,

Do you feel comfortable with a lame duck head coach making an important decision on the Rams future with the #2 overall pick? Also, since Vernon Gholston owns Jake Long, do the Rams get both if they pick Gholston?

Excuses were a bad path for John Shaw to go down when giving the reason for retaining Scott "Big Interview" Linehan, IMO. If injuries hit the Rams in '08, won't it once again be impossible to properly evaluate Linehan? If not, why not?

Jim Thomas: Well, the Rams hit on Carriker last year with Linehan. So why not?
As for your second point _ about what happens if injuries hit the Rams again next year _ yeah, Shaw would seem to be boxed in.
Gabriel to Snow: Well Jim, I was looking forward to an eventful offseason. Linehan implied changes in staff & personnel were in the offing. This was music to my ears, because without change, it would be hard to get cranked up for next year. They say "If it aint broke, don't fix it" but it's difficult to discern a properly functioning element to the current regime. The ownership is abscent, in ill health, & could possibly transfer to parties unknown. There is even speculation that a return to LA is possible. The front office looks incapable of aiding in providing a better football product. Linehan returns, so evaluating his performance is moot. Haslett isn't boring, but his penchant for leaving slot receivers uncovered in order to blitz is an example of why this defense is feast or famine. Ellard is, well Ellard, no problems there. Everyone else should be filling out resumes because they sure didn't earn another year. Some should go. If Scott sticks with his buddy as special teams coach, when we flirted with having the worst special teams stats IN NFL HISTORY, I will be looking to 09, because he will lose me there. Whoever is going to be brought in should be acquired ASAP to aid in the draft, free agency, & all postseason needs. I want Linehan to succeed, but talk is cheap, why have ZERO moves been made? Is he so impotent that he can't make decisions without next weeks pow wow with the front office puppeteers? In the past week, most other teams in turmoil have made significant moves to address their own need to change. Surely Linehan knows it's more than changing the way they do things that's needed. This thing IS broke! Broken & poor performing parts must be replaced! PRONTO! Jim, is there any reason the rest of the league is already firing, interviewing, actually WORKING on improving for 08, while the Rams sit on their 3 & 13 hands?

Jim Thomas: I too am surprised the coaching changes haven't been made, at least in terms of letting coaches go.
jjg: I really liked and appreciated Gordo’s extremely candid view of the current state of the Rams franchise. You and Gordo should be on the Rams’ payroll for all the venting that Ram nation has done on you guys. This year has to be the worst I’ve remembered (and I’ve been watching since ’78). That may have to do with the amount of expanding media outlets, i.e. the net, that allows more information and interaction with the fan base. As a former season ticket holder that commuted two hrs. every Sunday from West Los Angeles, the perception within the community was that the franchise went downhill when the untimely and very unfortunate death of Carol Rosenbloom. The way Georgia (married to Rosenbloom for less than a year) ran the team and with her new husband, Mr. Frontiere, alienated the community and when St. Louis offered a sweetheart deal, you know the rest.

After reading Jay Zygmunt’s comments about not bringing in a football guy, not even considering one as an advisor with a weak coach, a semi-divided team with aging stars (exception Steven Jackson, who’s contracts up next year)… How do you feel Jim about the chances that the current regime, without any outside help, can restore the franchise back to competitiveness. I can go on but Gordo did a good job of summing things up and I’m just trying to get your answer(s) to the problems I addressed.
Thanks for the time,
JJG

Jim Thomas: A healthy team will help the Rams get back to mediocrity, but other than that, I'm not very optimistic that things will get markedly better.
jjg: A follow up to my first question, do you favor (staying the course) with the current regime, under the predication that no new blood i.e. Bill Parsel’s type…etc. will be hired and ship will ride itself from within or would you rather see the team blown up, bringing in some outside evaluators, new coaches, and management of some sort at the PPL level. Your opinion would be appreciated. JJG

Jim Thomas: I would like to see a strong personnel person with more say in personnel.
jjg: What is your feeling on trading Steven Jackson, I know he’s great, but we could possibly get a monster package for him and maybe even trade Holt also depending on the compensation. I feel Steven Jackson is an all pro super back, but to rebuild team, it will take a lot of high draft picks to fill both sides of the ball. Look at what the Hershall Walker deal did for Dallas and the Dickerson deal, which was muffed by the same management running the team today, probably was responsible for getting the Rams to the championship game back in ’89. Again, I want to say that I’m against trading our best player, but it may be the only way (combined with our number 2 pick overall) that we can start rebuilding the team with top talent. And if anyone wants to give us a decent player or pick for Alex Barron, I hope the team has an open mind, I’m sure Bulger wouldn’t veto the deal… Sorry for the sarcasm, but I feel only bold strokes are in order at this point. Thanks again Jim, for all the coverage and the time you give us. JJG

Jim Thomas: If McFadden's there at No. 2, you have to at least think about trading Jackson. But it would have to be a heck of a deal. Also, Linehan thinks very highly of Jackson, and would like to continue making him the centerpiece of the offense.
James: Hi Jim,

Does Zygmunt really think he knows more about football than a football person? Example: Ron Wolf, former GM for the Packers. I know there was an article a while ago that said Zygmunt is trying to get more control of the rams. Do you know when it was written or who wrote it?

I just can't seem to see the Rams going anywhere with this guy at the helm. My group of friends and I would rather he stay out of any football decision. Though a couple of my friends already cancelled their tickets this season with Linehan still being the coach and the F.O. really don't know how to draft or run a team.

And I can't believe that Shaw is going to form a committee to see how he can get more season ticket holders to renew their tickets or get more season ticket holders. It just shows to us fans that he doesn't know what he is doing. But I guess thats what an accountant does.

Jim Thomas: In a broad sense, Zygmunt is a football guy. You can't dispute that. He's been around a long time. Knows how to evaluate the value of players. He's been to upmpteen Senior Bowls, Combines, etc.
But he's not a personnel guy. Personnel guys grind tape for hours, attend workout after workout. Visit campus after campus. Like Ron Wolf did.

As for ticket committees, I'm not a big fan of marketing groups, consultants committees. If John Shaw wants to get the fans' attentions, he should say this: We will not raise ticket prices again until we have another winning record.
jjg: Jim
How did Jay Zygmunt comments make you feel? Did he satisfy you that the ship will be turned around and bold moves will be made to correct the mistakes(d,Bennent)(a.barron).(letting curtiss walk)..I don't want to hear about S Jackson we were lucky and he fell into our lap...I can still remember when this management group swapped picks with the *****...they picked B Young who destroyed Ram qbs for a few seasons until Adam Timbermann arrived...etc etc etc ..we were lucky to have Vermeil after he left so did some good judgement....Georgia's income comes from the team so I understand that the Rams cannot be finnacially run like the Redskins... but do you agree with JZ's approach from what was said and what was not said? Again your insight is appreciated....JJG

Jim Thomas: Zygmunt cares deeply about the Rams. It is his life. And I'm convinced there can be no one _ no one _ in a front office position that puts in more time than him.
But the Rams need to draft better. The Rams need to spend more time listening to THEIR scouts and THEIR personnel people. And the Rams need to have a dazzling offseason.
Rick R: Hey Jim I had a dream. This off season we draft G. Dorsey in the first round. Draft that USC linebacker in the second cant pronounce his name. He was outstanding this year. Then we pick up Alan Faneca as a free agent.Reality is you cant fix all the Rams problems in one year but I think this would be a good one year start. What do you think?

Jim Thomas: Sounds like a plan. But I doubt very much the USC linebacker (#58, I can't pronounce his name either, will be around in the second round). Also, do you go with Faneca, who's getting a little long in the tooth. Or someone like Indy's Ryan Lilja, who's a bit undersized but is entering his second contract, to help you at guard?
Vince: Yesterdays article in the Post had Marc Bulger saying all the teams in the playoffs have great offensive lines. He failed to mention that most of the teams in the playoffs have quarterbacks that can make something out of nothing. They can make plays, step up into the pocket, scramble, roll out and make a pass, and get this, throw the ball away when there is nothing----not just take a sack...Unfortunately, for us that's what we get for his big contract. His play has to "greatly" improve regardless of offensive line. Any thoughts???

Jim Thomas: I think Bulger did concede that he has to improve on a lot of things as well in '08.
Patrick: What are the RAMS waiting on? Fire Scott Lin and Find a way to Trade the Always Injured best O-Lineman in the game O-Pace. He is no good to us hurt.

Jim Thomas: If what you say about Pace is true, just what do you think the Rams would get for him in a trade _ a fourth-rounder and a bag of chips?
Rich Sielaff: Having Scott Linehan come back in 2008 should secure
the first pick in the 2009 draft! I wonder who do you
think the Rams should pick?? LOL

Jim Thomas: Sorry, I'm just getting started on the '08 draft.
Todd W.: Hi Jim,
First let me say this. I am a big fan of Bulger, but I am concerned, by why you and a few of you colleagues say Bulger and Linehan do not have the greatest relationship. Bulger has always had good career numbers, but last year was a career year. Shouldn't Bulger be thankful for Linehan and the contract he was rewarded?
What is the beef there?

Jim Thomas: Very good point, TW. I don't think Bulger makes nearly as much money on the new contract if he doesn't have the year he had in '06 _ under Linehan. I don't have specifics, but I'll just say that some of the offensive players think the Linehan offense is too simplistic and unimaginative. Oddly enough, these are some of the same guys who thought the Martz offense was too complicated and mind-numbing.
Jeremy (Denver): Jim,
2 part question...why hasn't Greg Olsen been fired yet and who are some possibilities for OC if/when he is fired?

Jim Thomas: Stay tuned. I like the Cam Cameron idea.
GoneGator: This pretty much sums everything up from your article...

---
The Rams are 3-9 against the NFC West in Scott Linehan's two seasons as head coach. They are 0-4 against Seattle in that span, and were swept by Arizona this season for the first time since realignment put the Cardinals in the West with the Rams in 2002.

"We have to find ways to build a team that can dominate within our division, and that's where it really starts," Zygmunt said
---

Build a team? If you are starting over it has to start with the head coach. What is the fascination, or glimmer of hope they have with Scott? I get tired of the comparison to Vermeil's "magical" 3rd season. Vermeil had a proven track record. And wasn't spiraling to an abyss. 2008 will be nothing more then a "told you so" year with the Rams returning to the cellar. And as a fan since '74, it sickens me to see the GM, management and ownership sit idle and act like it's a "quick fix league". That's a joke, and a testament to their philosophy on keeping a winning franchise.

Jim Thomas: I can only say I agree that things don't look too optimistic.
Buzz: Jim,
Awhile back I asked you a question about the three finalists for the Rams HC job, and you mentioned that you thought maybe Ron Rivera had "It". I took "It" to mean good leadership qualities and enough charisma in the personality to get players to follow his lead. Have you sensed any "It" in Scott Linehan? Any at all? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Right now, I don't see "it" in Linehan.
Keith: Jim: Thanks for your time. With all due respect to Georgia and her ill health, I find it absolutely ridiculous that John Shaw has too much on his plate to address the real needs (football leadership, knowledge and experience at the top and a new head coach) of the Rams. A perfect examaple of what needs to happen here just took place in Miami. It's obvious that winning is not a priority, Shaw is either incapable making good decions or just apathetic towards the needs here. Are we stuck with this until there is an ownership change and what happends if Georgia passes soon? Unless drastic changes are made, I see things staying the same and that means I'm staying away from the Ed.
Thanks JT.

Jim Thomas: We'll see what happens with Parcells in Miami. But what are his credentials as an NFL executive? None. The move in Miami strikes me as merely cosmetic, one to stir up the fans. When he hires several of his cronies, will that necessarily sell tickets in Miami? We'll see.
Troy Minton: Will the rams take jake long with the second pick in the draft. Jake long can take alex spot and replace pace in the future. What would you think about the pick and do you like it.

Jim Thomas: As I mentioned in earlier posts, I think Jake Long is very much in play for the Rams.
Not another useless offseason...please!: Hey Jim,

What do u see as the bigger 1st round need...RT, DT or RE? that is the ultimate question....which long or dorsey?

Jim Thomas: It is the ultimate question. But I'd add one more name to it: Which Long or Dorsey or McFadden. Now, I reserve the right to change my mind, but if I had to make the pick today, I'd say DE Chris Long, Virginia.
Draft gholston: Jim,

Wondering if you had an update on the injured rams (ones on IR) and how they are progressing through their injury problems, all back by training camp?

Finally, is there any chance the rams get a "big" name FA. Would anyone want to come to a team led by inexperience, poor management and with a terrible record....not to mention cap space issues...

Jim Thomas: Don't really have any updates on the IR Rams, but I think there all on track for '08.

"Big" name FAs would help create a fan buzz. But I'm not necessarily interested in names; I'm interested in guys that can play and upgrade the roster. As I've said before---money talks in free agency.
Kenny H.: Jim,

I know you often weigh in on topics from a factual standpoint, but I would like to hear your opinion on the Issac Bruce rumors. Should a coach with Scott Linehan's record be allowed to engineer the exit of a franchise hero? Rams fans (and the Rams) want to win, but there are many factors that go into winning, and I don't think anybody believes that Bruce is holding the team back. So to be more specific, I ask the following in addition to your opinion. 1) Is there a chance that management would veto any decision to let Bruce go (assuming the two sides agree on a reworked contract)? 2) Does Bruce want to stay unconditionally, or is a change tempting with the Linehan retention? 3) You have expressed here before that Bruce has at least earned the right to play out his contract. But what are your views on the value of keeping a probable HOF player until retirement when he has already spent his first 14 years there?

Thanks for the chats, reporting, and opinions!

Jim Thomas: 1.) As I've mentioned on the radio with Bernie and RK, I think management AS WELL AS Linehan is wondering if it's time to part ways with Bruce.

2.) Bruce would love to finish his career here. He'd go anywhere Martz was in a New York minute, but Martz currently is out of work.

3.) I do think Bruce does deserve to play out his contract. And I think he still has value as a wide receiver. But let me put it this way: As you watched the Rams play the Cardinals on Dec. 30, was there any doubt in your mind which team had the better set of starting wide receivers?
Bob: Wondering which ones will stay and which vetrans will be cut or traded in your opinion(salary cap issues and all)....

Glover, Little, Chavous, Bennett(doubt it), Bruce, Pisa

Tell me byrd and wroten will go into training camp with another team!

Any news on chillar?

Jim Thomas: As we sit here today, I can't see any reason why Byrd and Wroten should be back. As Dick Vermeil used to put it, some "weed-pulling" needs to be done on the roster. Byrd and Wroten are clearly weeds.
Little will have to redo his contract to return _ the Rams aren't going to pay him a $7 million roster bonus, not at age 33 (34 next October) after a one-sack season with season-ending surgery.
Chillar doesn't think he's coming back. I think the Rams want to explore the market at LB.
Frank Picone: This is the worst I have seen a Rams offense look since the dreadful Tony Banks days, with that will Linehan or the Rams force Linehan to get rid of Olsen and bring in an Offensive coordinator? When Torry Holt loses it on the sideline you know things are really bad.
What is Jim Haslett's fate and if they fire him who would be some possibilities to replace him?

Jim Thomas: I've addressed these topics in earlier posts, so in an effort to get to as many questions as possible, I'll move on. But there's no doubt, when Holt loses it, soemthing's wrong.
Jake Peterson: Hey Jim,

Name your predicted Rams starting Offensive and defensive lines in 2008....

Jim Thomas: How's this: LT Pace; LG Lilja; C TBD; RG Incognito; RT Barron.

And on defense: LE Little; DT Carriker; NT Ryan; RE Long.
Tom O'Sullivan: Jim;

Thanks for always being responsive with your e-mails. The Rams were 56-36 under Mike Martz from 2000-2005. They are 53-82 under all other head coaches since the team moved to St. Louis. Rams fans should never forgive Zygmunt and Shaw for running "Mad Mike" out of town. Zygmunt and Shaw are the problem, not the solution!

Tom O'Sullivan
Columbia, Mo.

Jim Thomas: Hey, the numbers are what the numbers are. But as you see from what happened in Detroit, Martz does have a problem getting along with people. It probably was time for Martz to go in St. Louis. It had run its course.
Mike: It sounds as though Adam Carriker's injury won't immediately force him to miss any games next year. However, what do you think the injury means in terms of Adam's off-season conditioning and thus, his effectiveness heading into '08? How dramaticlly does the injury affect the Rams' draft priorities? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Well, that's a good question. He certainly won't be able to do any weight training for a while, particularly upper body work. Carriker's conditioning and technque work could suffer as a result. But I still think the "damage" will be rather minimal if Carriker gets in a full training camp and doesn't experience any setbacks or after-effects from the surgery.
At the moment, I don't think it affects their thinking much on the draft. DE is still, I believe, a high priority. And I could see scenarios where the Rams take the LSU DT Dorsey as well.
Mike: Should the Rams not make a concerted effort to sign Jackson to a contract extension before April? If they are unable to they would then be able to take McFadden. Jackson is an elite back and the team should secure the future at the position one way or another.

Jim Thomas: Or should the Rams wait till the draft plays out, seeing 1.) How much they like McFadden; 2.) Will McFadden be there at No. 2; 3.) If he is there at No. 2, how much trade interest from other teams would there be in moving up for McFadden; and 4.) How much trade interest there is in Jackson.
Mike: Why does Zygmunt "chafe at the suggestion that the team needs to bring in a football guy"? In the last 18 years the Rams have had only 4 winning seasons and 5 playoff appearances. Does he consider those numbers good? How many draft busts and free agent blunders does it take before he thinks they aren't doing something right? This guy needs to pull his head out.

Jim Thomas: Points well taken. But if you're talking about the Zygmunt and Shaw resume, I think you have to include the '80s, when the team went to the playoffs seven times.
Midnighter: The Rams are wasting time. They need to can Olsen now and bring in Cameron as offensive coordinator. He proved himself in that capacity with the Chargers. He could take control of the offense and let Linehan concentrate on other things. Why are they taking so long to "make changes".

Jim Thomas: Uh, Midnighter, We're five days into the offseason. Not five weeks.
MADTOWNWIRAMFAN: According to an AP article in todays Wisconsin State Journal, it stated that a "source" claimed that Cam Cameron is in talks of joining an NFC West team as an offensive coord. Could this be us, and can you see this helping our offense in 2008?

Jim Thomas: It could be the Rams. It could be the *****. They're looking, too.
Ramifications: Jim, thanks always for the venue and for your time.

Before the rest of the league discovers that Marc Bulger is now the new Jim Everett, Chris Miller and David Carr I hope the Rams management seriously explores working a deal to some other QB needy team. Ideally it would be great for the Rams to offer Bulger to the Eagles for McNabb straight up. The hope is that the Eagles now in decline from their run will try to rebuild around a precision passer rather than an aging play-maker that the Rams really need at this stage to challenge anyone. The body language from Bulger suggests he would probably like out of town. What are the odds of this happening?

Jim Thomas: Repeating: I don't think a trade happens on two fronts. 1.) The Rams still like Bulger and remain committed to him. 2.) There would be $10 million of cap acceleration if the team trades Bulger before June 1.
Buzz: Jim,
The conclusion to your column on Jay Zygmunt was a little scary. He seems a little confused, but I think I can help him out. Please tell Jay that he is a football administrator and lawyer. Nothing wrong with that. But he must understand that he's not a football guy. A football guy can be defined as a former player, scout or coach who has advanced after a number of years to the point that he has been charged with making personnel decisions. So JZ really needs to understand that he doesn't qualify as a football guy, and never will. His job is to hire the best guy available to perform those tasks. Until he sees this, the Rams will continue to be at risk for making an uncommon number of poor player evaluation errors. Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Hard to argue with your points.
Mike: Isaac Bruce suggested he go play for Martz if the Rams let him go and Martz is rumored to be a candidate for offensive coordinator in San Francisco. It would be painful enough to see Ike in a different jersey but a Niners jersey would be unbearable. The two sides should make an effort to rework the contract just to prevent that scenario. What a sickening thought.

Jim Thomas: As I posted previously, a good source tells me Martz won't get the SF coordinator's job. And Martz has told a Detroit newspaper the same thing.
Chad: Jim,
What are the rams going to draft the best player or need for the team OT. What makes management think that Linehan will all sudden put up 1998 offensive numbers. He lacks creativity imagination and football savy. I was at the Cleveland game and watched on the jumbotron as Braylon Edwards made a catch along the sidelines. He clearly made the catch on the replay. So I turn around and before I know it our wonderful and smart unproven coach is overthere wanting to challenge the call. Hello stupid we just watched the catch so yes please challenge thats the smart thing to do. I don't care if someone (probably a friend or washed up overpriced player) upstairs is telling him to challenege. Linehan needs prepare his team for battle every week and continuly he can not. What about all of this is giving management the idea that all this is because of injuries. A good staff can prepare players whether they are starters or not. A team we played in the superbowl in 2001 just went 16-0 with not one injury. I can believe it. THE RAMS ARE A JOKE STARTING WITH TOP AND THE **** ROLLS DOWN HILL. One upset FAN. Thanks for the forum to vent Jim.

Jim Thomas: Obviously, you mean the '99 offense. Also, why so hung up on challenges? Wasn't Martz the king of bad challenges? That didn't prevent the Rams from scoring tons of points.
bfulton: If the Rams hire Donahue but keep Softli, what would Softli's role be? Have the Rams considered other candidates besides Donahue? Have they even considered just elevating Softli?

Jim Thomas: Softli will not be elevated. I'm sure the Rams will look at other candidates. Not sure what Softli's role would be if he stays and they hire a "GM."
YoMurphy: Hi Jim. Good article yesterday on the road ahead for Linehan. You mentioned that what his scheme really demands is an effective (and healthy) front line in order to establish a heavy dose of Jackson, and passing to be mostly created out of the play action. I remember seeing some of the play action work very well for Bulger last year down the stretch, so I can't argue that Linehan's "ideal" scheme is not effective. However, I am still very confused about what Linehan's style truly is. If I look at Minnesota under Linehan's direction, I think of Randy Moss stretching the field, Culpepper getting out of trouble, and both of them really helping to pad Linehan's resume.
The current Rams roster just doesn't look like this. Did Linehan actually think Drew Bennett was going to be his tall "stretch the field and toss it high" wide receiver?
I know "establish the run to set up the pass" is a simplification of an entire offensive scheme, but it seems like that is what every team wants to do. What has Linehan shown in terms of being unpredictable to opposing defenses? If I were a D coordinator preparing for the Rams this year, I would probaly have a lot of free time during the week, because I wouldn't need a lot of time to watch film.
Can you elaborate a bit on what you think Linehan's scheme is? Do you think the players know what it is?
Also, how do you expect the injury to Carriker will effect our draft, especially with Wroten playing his way out of a job and Glover getting older?

Jim Thomas: Yo--How are you?
I don't think Carriker's injury effects the draft. I think DE and DT are both very much in play in terms of draft needs, as I mentioned before.
I'm not sure exactly what Linehan's scheme is. In a nutshell, I think it's a balance between run and pass, minimizing turnovers, and taking the occasional deep shot. Jackson is his best asset at the moment at RB, so I think that's why he wants to make him a focal point.
I do agree that Linehan needs to be more creative. I would like to see him take more chances. But in the passing game, taking more chances can frequently equate to getting the QB killed unless you have a strong offensive line.
Dave: Jim,

It looks like we'll go D-line in the draft. Either Dorsey or Long. I don't think McFadden (Even if he's available) because we have S-Jax and the best runners in the league have been undrafted free agents or late picks this year.

I'm concered about our O-line. Especially at guard. Do you think we'll go after a big free agent like Faneca or someone else? Guards are who you run behind so this will open it up for S-Jax. Also, maybe a guard or speedy WR with our 2nd rounder??

Jim Thomas: I think Faneca is being considered. Whether he re-signs with the Steelers or is franchised remains to be seen. A guard (or center) and a speedy WR with some size make a lot of sense in the second round. Keep in mind, most of the free agency period (at least the significant guys) will have come and gone before the draft, so that may change the Rams' needs on draft day.

Hey, I've got to go. I really liked the questions today. Whether you agree with the decision or not _ and I'm sure most of you don't agree _ Linehan is back in '08. So I'm glad we've moved off that to other issues. As I mentioned before, we'll keep these chats going in the offseason, although I'm not sure of the schedule or frequency. Stay tuned, and appreciate your interest. . . .Happy New Year.