By Jim Thomas
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mike: Fall from Grace was an interesting article. It seems many are to blame for the Rams demise. But it seems Zygmunt is to be held most accountable. Why not let him focus on the books and hire a real GM? Shaw is willing to let this team spiral into the muck to preserve this friendship? I would think that if they are good friends then Zygmunt would understand that he hasn't done a good job and would accept a lighter work load for the good of the team.

Jim Thomas: Interesting point. Although I'm not sure if Shaw thinks Zygmunt is a problem or THE problem.
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Kevin Goeke: Jim,
Enjoyed your article on "How we got here!"...Seems to me that the Rams won in 99 and thereafter because Vermeil began the needed leadership that is required for success. My frustration is that todays leadership isn't football....it's football wannabe's. My question is, short of me not going to game's, how can I and others get this frustration to John Shaw?

Jim Thomas: Try this mailing address: John Shaw, St. Louis Rams, 1 Rams Way, Earth City, Mo., 63045
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RESPECT: Hey Jim, i have decided to not call for Linehan's job anymore, nor do i plan on criticizing front office. In my opinion, the season is beyond their reach. even in the lousy NFC West, the rams ONLY have a FIGHTING chance... (i hate Ike has to go through this again). Why? Because there are 53 guys (about 15 more injured) who have to decide whether or not they still care about their integrity, their comradarie as a team. the grit of rams football lies within the heart of those guys who are still dedicated to giving their best efforts. you cant mask a crybaby, and there are crybabies on this team that fall down hurt at the end of EVERY SINGLE GAME!

to hell with conditioning and freak injuries, some of these guys are giving up, were not punching guys in the mouth in the 4th quarter. They're falling down QUITING!!! Im not saying all of them are, but, there are a few CLEAR CUT LOSERS on the team... Ask Mr. FAULK how many of these injuries did he have, and then ask him how many games did he miss because of those injuries. hey Jim, losing 8 games isnt the greatest feeling in the world, but, i really wanna know how many of our players are willing to risk it all to give the fans something to cheer about and respect!

Jim Thomas: No doubt, Marshall Faulk was a great player and a great competitor. But he missed 29 games in eight seasons with the Rams. Only in the 1999 and 2005 seasons did he make it through an entire season without missing a game. It's ludicrous to me that you can equate injuries to quitting. I wonder if Orlando Pace felt like a quitter when surgeons were carving up his shoulder in September.
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john: Hi Jim,

I just wanted to send in a vote of confidence for our beleaguered Coach Scott Linehan. I believe John Shaw should step up to the plate and just say that Scott will be back in 2008.

the injury situation has been awful, and i don't think even the great Bill Belichek could muster a fancier record with what the rams have.

let's face it, all the preseason prognosticators were just simply dead wrong. this was NEVER a playoff team, and to expect this team to actually compete with a healthy roster would be a fool's folly. my most optimistic projection for the year was 6-10...assuming no injuries. i am one of the few people i know that went into this season fully expecting a 5-11 record.

Look at the roster...we have very few homegrown players. Our drafts the past several years have been atrocious, and our free-agent miscues just put the final nails into the coffin that is the Greatest Show on Astro-Turf.

What coach (outside of Mike Martz) could come in and do a better job? Sure, the second half performances this year are most certainly an indictment on the coaching staff and it's overall lack of imagination, but what could they have done differently given the roster?

The only move i regret (besides the absurd number of useless tight ends on the roster) was letting Ryan Fitzgerald go for a 7th rounder. We could have used our bad season (and Bulger's injuries) to see what Fitz was capable of for a few games...perhaps solidify our QB position's future for the next decade... I think Scott Linehan dropped the ball on that one. Gus Ferotte has never been impressive in the NFL...and signing him to big back-up money was a total mistake...

I don't care how well he knows the Linehan system. Neither Ferotte nor Brock Berlin have been impressive once the ball is snapped. The one area I feel Scott Linehan is poor at is QB evaluation. As an OC, he's never had to develop a QB...and I think it shows. This is an area that I think needs improvement.

My question is....when does John Shaw give a full vote of confidence to Linehan? Sure, some cosmetic changes might need to be made to appease a foul-tempered fanbase, but I think a high quality Offensive Coordinator along with a good spot in the draft could put this team back onto the right track.

The Rams are in full rebuild mode, and the coaching staff should be given the benefit of the doubt for 2008. If they continue to be awful in the second half of games, then changes should obviously be made...but not until the end of next season. This season was a lost cause going in...EVERYONE IN SAINT LOUIS SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING...

It just wouldn't be fair to Scott Linehan, and besides what coach would want to come & work for this team right now?

I don't think the Rams coaching position is a very enviable position to be in. There's just no good young football players to build around...outside of Ryan and Carriker. I think Steven Jackson is a hot dog, and a greedy player. His "this is not how i wanted MY SEASON to start" comment after the week 1 game pretty much dropped his stock to 0 in my book. He's gonna bail to some middle of the pack team for big bucks, and the Rams would be foolish to sign a self-centered player like that.

I don't care how many yards he puts up. he's a big baby who needs to learn that football is a TEAM SPORT and not a FANTASY FOOTBALL personal glory & statistics race. Until proven otherwise, Steven Jackson (and any other Ram player who is more obsessed with personal stats than winning) needs to get the boot. All those yards last year mean NOTHING as long as the Rams keep losing.

The Rams will not win a game this year. Mark my words.

thanks jim! you are one of the best football beat writers in the business, and it's a real pleasure to read your work week in and week out regardless of how good or bad the Rams may be.

Jim Thomas: I don't think Shaw will give Linehan a vote of confidence for '08 during this season, because he's leaving the door open to possibly make a change at the end of the season. Injuries or not, I think Linehan is coaching for his job over the final 8 games of the season.
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Edward Guillen: Well after reading some of what concerns many; is why haven't the Ram Organization made any front office changes, I do believe John Shaw & Mr. Zygmunt are a pair of morons on account of why some many good players left the year the rams won the super bowl, I have seen other teams hold on to the same players and they keep win, but NOT the rams their is just to much politics going there, and it starts with Zygmunt, replace him; bring in a fresh new mind and you'll see much less trouble, like much in the way he dealt with Martz who by the way is having a good season, go ask him what the Lions wins are compared the rams.

I don't know and haven't seem out of Linahan, but where did he come from? Miami? who thought he could do anything for the rams?

Lets take a good hard look at where we are at 0-8 yah way to go front office Mr Shaw and Zygmunt; your the ones driving this team into the toilet, good defenders GONE! go receivers GONE! a good coach GONE!

I can just see you having ONE BIG LAUGH as you cash take CHECK! well laugh up boys your on a role, yaaahhh.

I was born a ram fan, and I love the rams till the day I die, but what makes me sick the most is not the players, you dumies in the front office, YPU NEED TO GO...

Jim Thomas: I think some of the players could use your passion.
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Jay: It was awfully generous of you to avoid mentioning what had to be the most assinine of all of the Rams drafts picks in that 3-year period and that was the 6th round selection of Steve Bellesari Bellesari wasn't a good college QB, he wasn't even a very impressive athlete, like a Brad Smith. Yet, somehow, Martz saw it fit to draft him as a potential safety?

That whole 2002 draft was a disgrace, maybe one of the worst in NFL history

I did get a good laugh at the idea of Martz seeing the loss of McLeon to free agency as a negative.

Jim Thomas: Bellisari was a 6th-round pick! You can afford to take gambles in the sixth round. But not in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4.
McCleon was a three-year starter who played on two playoff teams here and led the Rams in interceptions in 2000 with 8. Night Train Lane? No. But I'd hardly consider that a bust.
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john from juda,wi.: if we want to be the best, lets hire the best! dick vermeil for ceo. bill coher for head coach. if ram management wants to prove to the fans that they want to turn this thing around, hire the best people. there is no price caps on administration or coaches, so lets bring in the best. thanks for hearing me out!

Jim Thomas: Dick Vermeil seems very happy in retirement from football. He's not coming back.
As for BiCowher, he probably, can have his pick of any job opening that occurs after this season. Why would he come here, to a dome team whose best talent is on offense.
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Billy C: Fans screaming for massive changes must consider the landscape:

A Majority owner Georgia Frontiere has shown no willingness to sell the team.

B Shaw and Zygmunt have been with the organization for more than a quarter of a century. They will not get fired. The only way they will leave is if they resign.

C Linehan will finish the '07 season; after that, all bets are off.

D Meanwhile, the Rams have an aging group of core players, and few promising replacements on the horizon.

In short, there appears to be no easy way out of this valley, one that deepens with each defeat.

A= If not sell / at least Wake Up and be a LEADER / make some moves /// Cower is possibly going to Penn State if Joe Pa steps down /// at least talk to Bill befor he commits to PS .

B=One of them(or both ) needs to step down or away / at the Least hire Somebody who knows talent .

C= Sorry but 08 can not come without a New Coach // Please Some Coach that is a real Coach , HELP US / call Earth City . Im afraid they wont call you but they Do Need You .

D= Somebody put a draft together / A Draft is where a team picks Quality Players with heart and soul (The Key Word is Quality- - somebody in Ram management please look up the word quality / its easy to see nobody in management understands what it means.) and FA costs money yes but Mistakes cost more / God knows we learned that the last 18 seasons (well the Old School Ram Fans know it / I guess management & ownership doesnt .) I first met CR on the field 1975 at the Coliseum / we wrote to eachother often and sent Christmas cards to eachother / He knew ownership and leadership . CR had Heart . Current ownership / management DOES NOT .

Dont think a family guy will pay for $80+ each for tickets or souviners / let alone waste his time on a team that makes the same mistakes over & over & over . Loose the Little Guys and you loose it all . Mrs Rosenbloom you have been loosing too long . Make a move now . What would CR do ? The Old School Ram Fans know // hell we lived it . Billy C Old School Ram Fan

Jim Thomas: It should be an interesting offseason.
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Still a Rams fan: Can you believe it Jim? We didn't lose this Sunday!!!!!

Jim Thomas: Now, let's see if they can go two Sundays without a loss.
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Steve: Hi Jim. I have never done this before, re:submitting a question, but I really appreciate your forum and insight and thought I would give it a try. I'm a lifelong Rams fan from Ontario, Canada, going back to 1977 and of course L.A. days. As frustrating as this season has been, so many of our struggles are understandable based on injuries, bringing along rookies, our kicker having some unexpected inconsistency, etc. What I find most concerning though, is the lack of enthusiasm that our squad has shown in some games and/or at pivotal times in games when we still had a chance to win.

While this has improved somewhat, particularly against Cleveland before Steven Jackson was injured, do you agree that the Rams for whatever reason almost seem to give up too soon and not put "heart and soul" into every quarter of every game? I respect these guys as the best athletes in the world, heck its the NFL!!, and not one of the Rams got to where he is today by giving up on himself or his team. Is this a coaching issue do you think Jim? Watching Mr. Haslett coach in New Orleans was at times like watching Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher; in your face, enthusiastic, energized coaching.

Since joining the Rams, in my opinion anyway, Mr. Haslett does not seem involved at all on the sidelines of the games- seriously, no emotion, no fire. Is he feeling "under-valued" or under-utilized after going HC to DC? We need the intensity, not just on the field but also on the sidelines, that Jim Haslett used to bring to every game with New Orleans. Our rookies and young players, who are our future, need to play with fire and intensity and confidence every quarter of every game- and that comes from the leadership of our coaching staff and our veterans. We will not go 0-16 this year, but even if we did, us true Ram fans will still be backing the squad; provided that they leave their hearts and guts on the field after every game.

So Jim, my question is, do you think that the coaching staff could/should be showing more leadership and a more intense (winning) attitude on game-day or are they prepping the players (notably many rookies and non-veterans) sufficiently?

Jim Thomas: Football is a game of emotion, and passion. There are only 16 regular-season games _ each victory or defeat in football is like a 10-game winning streak or 10-game losing streak in baseball. I too, wonder, why there doesn't seem to be more emotion, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Scott Linehan doesn't have a demonstrative personality, but you can show intensity and focus without screaming like a maniac. See; Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith for example. So I wonder about that. I don't have an answer for you.

But I do wonder about that. I think 90 to 95% of the Rams players are giving maximum _ or at least what they think is maximum effort. I don't see guys dogging it _ at least not at this point. I too, thought Haslett would be more demonstrative on the sideline. But maybe I'm just basing that on a couple of "snapshots" from his days with New Orleans. And maybe he's toning it down some because he's not the head coach.
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Dave Carriger: Jim , any chance that after the season - if the coach isn't dismissed - that the front office mandates Greg Olson is replaced ?Also, any chance Ernie Zampese can come back to spark the offense ?

Jim Thomas: Why Olson over everyone else? He's not calling the plays anymore.
As for Ernie Zampese, he turns 72 in March. His time has passed.
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Murat from PA: Hello Jim;

Your live discussion has been a therapy for me. Thanks.

The other teams are also doing dismally in NFC West. Is it too late to expect a miracle out of the Rams, starting with a win next week, building momentum and wiing NFC West in the end? Wouldn't that be the story of the season (well in addition to those so-so Patriots)?

Murat

Jim Thomas: Had the Rams even won two of those first eight games, I'd say it's possible given the sorry state of the NFC West, and the fact that the Rams' schedule is a little easier over the second half. But at 0-8, I'd say no way.
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Robert: Jim- It seems to me that the Rams problems are
1) Poor drafting-

2) Poor decisions on what players to retain or to let go. Too many good players had left.

3) Poor pick-ups in free agents drafts-

4) Not resuppling the offensive

The Rams can certainly get back to the playoffs quickly becuase the NFC West is very weak.

And finally - Is the Rams injury bug due to the turf, poor conditioning or simply bad luck?

Jim Thomas: It's hard to argue with Points 1-4. I'm not sure what the cause of all the injuries are. I don't think anyone knows for sure. Some seem like just plain fluke injuries.
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Chris (Rams fan in Albuquerque): Rams question for you: Any idea if Dante Hall and Steven Jackson are getting healthier after their sprain and back injuries respectively? A lot of players say their coming back and then wait another month before they're on the playing field. What do you think, will we see either of them in New Orleans this weekend?

Jim Thomas: I would say Jackson is probable. Hall is probably out at least another week. But we'll know more as the practice week progresses.
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Russell Elzinga: About your article Sunday where you tried to make a case that the Rams are just in a down period following the "greatest show on turf". Wouldn't it be more correct to assume the mistake on the part of the Rams was the "greatest show on turf" and now it is business as usual.

Before the Rams cashed in on the city's ineptness at cultivating an NFL franchise, (selling PSLs)the Ram were the perennial door mats of all of sports. When they arrived to the hoopla a city in need always throws, they continues their ways of taking from the middle class and giving back a cheap imitation of pro football.

Than one day a deal was struck with the devil and an unheralded kid from korn feed Iowa became the greatest QB ever. Then the deal ended, he became mortal, they fired the coach and the pumpkin returned, Cinderella was gone. Now we are back to high priced, low budget football. And the only foot in this ball game is the one in St Louis's mouth for letting a cheap butt organization steal the hearts and dollars of the its fans.

Do not try to make excuses for the front office of one of the worst organizations in all of sports.
Just a thought, thanks for your time.
R

Jim Thomas: If you're considering the overall record of Shaw & Zygmunt, why do you exclude '80s, when the team made the playoffs seven times? Doesn't this count as part of the resume?
The Rams were cheap in LA, but they haven't been in St. Louis. They've spent to the salary cap every year.

Since the Rams last Super Bowl appearance in the 2001 season:
_ 27 of the 32 NFL teams have made at least one playoff appearance.
_ 26 of the 32 NFL teams have had at least one 10-loss season.
_ The Rams 41-39 regular-season record from 2002-06 is 12th-best in the league.
_ Only three teams, New England, Indianapolis, and Denver, have had five straight winning seasons.
All of those numbers were entering the '07 season.
I'm not saying you should be happy with where the Rams are, but those are the facts. Plain and simple.
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Buzz: Jim,
Have you heard writers or employees from other league teams comment on Linehan since things have gotten so bad? If so, are they inclined to think he's in over his head or are they cutting him some slack due to injuries and poor personnel decisions by the previous regime? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Haven't really heard from other writers or other team employees. They're too busy covering their teams or working for their teams. And there haven't been any national media folks around the Rams in quite some time.
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JustA Guy: JT,

Thanks for taking the time out to do this. I think you answer more questions than any other writer. Last week it was like 45 or 65, no I had that right it was 45. Anyway, my question is about Leonard Little. He played football at Tennessee and that is in Knoxville. The nickname of that team is the Volunteers and they play in the SEC. SEC stands for Southeastern Conference. He also plays defensive end which is at the end of the defensive line. So my question is, how long will his recovery time be?

Jim Thomas: We're looking at 4 to 6 months. By the way, have you worked in TV in the past?
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Mike: Hi Jim,

How great is it that the Rams are going to be able to draft Darren McFadden? The word is that he's the next Barry Sanders... a strech, yes this I know, however did you see what he did this weekend and what Peterson did to add life to the Vikings passless offense? McFadden in horns would sell alot of tickets! Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: An interesting thought. And you're right, an top running back can carry an offense a long way. At this stage, it definitely appears the Rams will be in the running for McFadden. But what do they do with Jackson, who's entering a contract year in '08?
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danny rector: jim considering the injuries I think coach linehan deserves another chance. I know everyone has a problem with his playcalling but when you have key people out of the lineup that will limit what you can do.do you think he deserves one more year.

Jim Thomas: I think more people would feel this way if the Rams had won two or three of those winnable games in the first half (SF, Ariz., Cleveland). There's no doubt the team has had more than its share of injuries. The Rams' three division championship teams in St. Louis _ '99, '01, '03 _ all had next to no injuries on the offense line. In '03, in fact, the entire starting offensive line started all 16 games.
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stewart: Jim,

Not much to say about the rams except there still remains a small possibility to make it to the playoffs.

Don't you think the most intriguing super bowl for rams fans would be Detroit playing the Patriots. I would love to see what Mike Martz would bring to that game.

Jim Thomas: Pats vs. Lions? Wouldn't that be something. I guess Dallas is the team to beat in the NFC, but I wouldn't call them a mortal lock would you? I wonder if Mad Mike gets another head-coaching shot if the Lions make the playoffs this year. How does this one sound: Martz to Cincy, replacing Marvin Lewis. Lots of offensive talent there. Former Martz assistant Ken Zampese is already there.
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Bryan: I remember back in early 2002, during the Rams / Patriots Superbowl coverage, there was a short article about how some people in New Orleans put a voodoo curse on the Rams. Well it seems to have worked. Is there anybody who can remove this curse on them when the team travels down to New Orleans?

Jim Thomas: I thought that curse occurred in 2000, when the Rams-Saints rivalry was at its height, Haslett and Martz hated each other, and the teams were battling for the NFC West (which was won that year by Haslett). Maybe we could get Howard Balzer to sing God Bless America on Sunday in the Superdome.
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JJG: Thanks for your time(i live in Los Angeles) so you guys are my ears.....nobody has asked the coach (at least not that I have read) much about why we did not bring in more free agent offensive lineman at the end of last season...some of this was forseeable with age and some of the quetionable players(barron'/incognito) yes talented but problematic....Pace down last year. ..loss of A.T....its suprising that after spending 65mill on Bulger .(i am sure Bulger would agree after last week)..that the Rams gambled
on the cards they had at oline? I think its not a stretch to say when are oline has a few all-pros and is top tier....the team has a winning record........

Jim Thomas: Pace, Setterstrom, Romberg, Incognito, Barron---that was supposed to be the starting o-line
Steussie, Goldberg, McCollum, and either Terrell or M. Brown were the backups (both Terrell and Brown made the final 53 when Steussie was hurt at the end of the preseason)

Of that group of 10, only Romberg, Barron, McCollum and Brown are still left _ and Romberg has missed one full game and parts of 2 others with ankle injuries. So I think the Rams thought that they had pretty good depth on the o-line. They were worried about backup tackle, in part because of Steussie's age (36). Saying that, I don't know why the Rams didn't bring back Timmerman. He played pretty well last season. Also, I would like to see the team spend more high draft picks on o-linemen. Barron, Incognito and John St. Clair are the only "first day" picks (top 3 rounds) since Orlando Pace was taken No. 1 overall in 1997.
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JJG: In my opinion Pace and Timbermann(who was the first Ram guard to handle B.Young DT of the niners) were not given enough credit in the rise of the greatest show on turf? Do you think because the Ram's head coach used to be an O.C. he focuses too much on the periphery (WR,RB,QB) instead of the "core" positions. If he fired how much could be atributed to ingnoring / neglecting the oline?

Jim Thomas: There's no doubt the Greatest Show o-line of Pace, Nutten, McCollum (Gruttadauria), Timmerman, Miller (Tucker) does not get enough credit. They were very good. The best line this town has seen since Dierdorf, Dobler, Banks, etc., in the '70s. But I don't think Linehan has neglected the line. They were simply wiped out by injuries. As I pointed out in an earlier post, six of the 10 are gone through injury (and in the case of Terrell, arrest). Next season, the Rams need to make finding a third offensive tackle a priority. Romberg is scheduled for unrestricted free agent _ Steussie and McCollum could retire _ there are injury concerns with Incognito. This is a major need area.
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don: Jim, Your Sunday feature nailed the Rams woes right on the head. Do you or any of your colleagues sense that Shaw & the rest of Rams management see the problem? Any chance they will revamp the entire football operation and bring it into the 21st century? On another note, what is your sense of Byrd? Does he look good in practice? Will he ever develop into a real-time player in your opinion? Throw this dog a bone!

Jim Thomas: This may scare you, but I'm not sure that Rams management views themselves as part of the problem.
Byrd, in my opinion, is a coach killer. Flashes talent, but lacks the consistent work ethic, maturity and professionalism needed to be an NFL starter. Rams coaches are hoping he grows up, but their patience is wearing thin.
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Jimmy: Jim- Is it too late to name a captain, either on the offensive side of the ball or the defensive side of the ball? It seems like the Rams could use some kind of visible leadership out there. It might just be symbolic, but there is something to be said about going out there and playing with a "C" on your jersey. I heard Linehan said that too many players got votes and he didn't want to leave anyone out, but in a way, it seems more like a cop-out than anything else - without a captain, no one can be singled out as not doing their job. Who do you think should be captain?

Jim Thomas: Linehan wanted to name nine captains, but since the league said you could have a maximum of five wearing the "Cs", Linehan said he wouldn't send any out with "Cs" if he couldn't send out all nine. Here's what I would've done: Name the nine "captains" to a leadership council who would serve as an advisory board and sounding board that the head coach could consult with on team matters. Then pick the top vote getter on offense, defense, and special teams as your three game day team captains.

There are several good candidates, but if I had to pick, I would pick Glover, Bruce and Wilkins, as the defensive, offensive, and special teams captains. All three players are great competitors and epitomize professionalism in how they approach their craft.
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Jingles: Jim:

When the Rams bring an offensive lineman "off the streets" for a tryout, is that really better than promoting someone from the practice squad? What kind of practice do these free agents have? I guess the market for offensive lineman is pretty thin right now, but why pay a guy like Bulger all that money and not protect him? I'm sure they didn't figure on all the injuries, but with the makeshift lines, it seems like they're just trying to survive until next season.

Jim Thomas: It doesn't speak well for the guys that are on the practice squad, does it? To a degree, I could see it with Dustin Fry. He didn't look ready coming out of camp. I'm told he has progressed. But what do you think if you're Jeremy Parquet? The guy has been around a little. Played, and played well, in the now-defunct NFL Europe. A million guys around you get hurt, and you still can't get promoted to the varsity.
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Felix: Jim-

What is the least amount of wins a team could take the NFC West with? And do the Rams still think they have a shot at winning the division?

Jim Thomas: Felix, 8-8 should do it. This may be the year that even 7-9 gets it done. I think the Rams need to worry about winning a game (one), before they start contemplating the division "race."
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Virgil: JT-

Can the home team buy the remaining tickets if the game is not a sell-out, or give the unsold tickets away so the game can be televised in a local market? It seems to me that there would still be people willing to go to the games (why not give the tickets to charity, or to servicemen and women, etc? I know they're trying to make money, but wouldn't a little good community spirit help this team too?

Jim Thomas: Yes, teams, corporations and individuals can buy up unused tickets.
The Rams have done a lot of this in past _ earlier this season _ and during the '98 season. But I think when the number of unsold tickets got to be more than 1,500 to 2,000, it got to be too big of a number for the team.
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petey jones: Hey Jim,

Did u see coverage of the steelers game where Bill Cowher was jumping up and beating chests with the steelers players (who are not even his anymore). They were excited to have him there and obviously he was loved and respected by all the players. I think Linehan HAD that...but 8 losses on the trot will do that too you. Linehan wants to win but does he have the player-to-player communication skills that Cowher or Schottenheimer could bring?

In terms of the new saftey signing, his only purpose is special teams right?

Thanks

Jim Thomas: No doubt the players respond to Cowher. And to some extent Schottenheimer as well. Linehan doesn't have that type of personality. And if you're trying to be somebody your not, most players can see right through that. But you can be a leader of men, without the chest-thumping. But I'm not sure how Linehan plays in the "big room" (the team meeting room) with his players. New safety is strictly a special teams guy.
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Todd: Rams 0-8, Phins 0-8. Linehan has his mark on both. Coincidence that both teams stink ? This is what happens when you hire an OC of a losing team. Shaw & Zig took the cheap route again. You get what you pay for.

Jim Thomas: No sale on the Linehan connection to the 0-8 Dolphins. Linehan hasn't been there since '05 _ Miami finished 9-7 that season.
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Roy: Will we ever see Leonard and Jackson on the field at the same time this year?

Jim Thomas: Jackson's injuries have kept it from happening too often. According to my notes, Leonard was on the field five times against Carolina in two-back sets with Jackson; 15 times in two-backs sets against San Francisco; and 12 times in such sets against Tampa Bay.
Then Jackson gets hurt.
Against Cleveland, Leonard was in for five plays at FB with Jackson, and then Jackson left with the back injury.
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DBQIA: The rams drafted a later round offensive tackle that was labeled as raw but with talent. If I remember correctly he was injured in training camp and was cut. Did he show enough to warrant a second look? It could be worthwhile to at least have him on the practice squad.

Jim Thomas: You're thinking of Ken Schackleford, a sixth-round pick (No. 190 overall) out of Georgia. He showed next to nothing in training camp, making some of us regulars who cover the team on a daily basis wondering why he was even drafted. Don't think he's the answer, even on the practice squad.
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Jack Cramond: Its nice to hear that the rams are ready for their "new season" , but unfortunately the realities of our continous slide into the black abyss will become ever apparent on Sunday after the game with New Orleans. It really is too bad. When you think how weak the division is, we could have claimed another division title if nothing else. Whats even worse, is that I have to hope they continue losing so the "powers to be" are finally forced to make "changes", starting at the top and working their way down. One can only hope.

Jim Thomas: No doubt, the Rams are hitting New Orleans and Drew Brees at the W-R-O-N-G time. The Saints are outscoring their opponents by an average margin of 13.8 points and averaging 413.5 points per game during their current four-game winning streak. Brees is 66 for 88 with 7 TDs and 0 INTs over the past two games.
As for management, if 0-8 _ even an injury-ravaged 0-8 isn't a wake-up call _ I don't know what is.
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J.D.: Jim,
I was up in chicago last weekend and the sports talk up there was dogging Lovie Smith hard. Do you see them going a different direction in the off season? If so do you think we would have a shot at getting Lovie back as the rams head coach?

Jim Thomas: No matter what happens the rest of the way in Chicago, I don't think the Bears dump Lovie one year after reaching the Super Bowl. The Bears need a quarterback, not a new head coach. I do know this about Lovie: the players play hard for h im and respect him.
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Mark: Jim,
You NEVER answer my question. Do you think the Rams still care? Do the vets (Bruce, Holt, Bulger, Glover, Chavous) have any pull on this team? I am still in shock this team is 0-8, but I guess all the little things are adding up. Lastly, is Isaac Bruce in his last year in STL? I know he is intensely private, but I think he clearly loves the Rams and knows his legacy...

Jim Thomas: Yes, the Rams still care. At least most of them. Yes, the players look up to Bruce, Holt, Chavous. But Bruce and Holt aren't the most vocal guys around. Chavous has been hurt. In the NFL, it seems the guys that are on the field and playing the best usually become the de factor leaders. Isaac Bruce has a year left on his contract. He's due a $3 million base salary next season, plus a $2 million roster bonus at the start of the league year (in March). I think he's earned the right to play out his contract here. But if he doesn't have a productive second half of the season, I wonder if management doesn't release him in February.
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Doug: Jim,

Thanks for the forum!! Was wondering what your thoughts were on replacing O. Pace? Seems to me that he is getting a little long in the tooth and does not display that fire that he once had prior to the big payday. If Pace is not replaced via the first round, should we go wide receiver instead? I am still having nightmares of Braylon Edwards kicking our butts and do not see a legitimate threat in our receiving corps anymore.

Thanks

Jim Thomas: I'm not ready to give up on Pace. But I do think the Rams need to draft a tackle some time in the first day as the No. 3 tackle and as Pace's eventual replacement. Your comment about Pace losing his fire puzzles me. He was making $3 million a year for his first 4 Pro Bowls, and $5 million plus for his next three. That's pretty good money. Does suffering season-ending injuries two years in a row constitute "losing your fire?"
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Todd: Why would you pick Wilkins as a captain. He's a kicker. He doesn't get hit. If you have a kicker for a captain that tells me your team isn't tough and you couldn't find a better, tougher player. He's out on the feild for how long. Put a "C" on some one that plays all game. Plus Wilkins needs to keep his mind on making a 28 yard feild goal. A KICKER! What? is this a football team or a Soccer team.

Jim Thomas: I guess you haven't seen the Rams kickoff coverage in recent years. Wilkins gets hit more than you'd think _ making or trying to make tackles.
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S. Monkey: Hey JT,

Was it true the BYE was -3 to the Rams? Did you enjoy your bye week? What's up with the rumor about Jimmy Johnson becoming part of Rams management?

Jim Thomas: Hah-hah. Enjoyed the bye week. Haven't heard the Johnson rumor.
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JerseyRamFan: Hey Jim,

Just curious. Any word on the Rams wearing throwback jerseys this year? I was also curious as to the protocol on throwbacks. Do they have to be approved by the league before the season starts? I would love to see the blue and whites again, or even the 1999 colors so they can at least look like winners.

Jim Thomas: Answered this one last week. Have to get league permission before the start of the season. Rams talked about throwbacks at one time during Martz tenure, but haven't talked about it since Linehan's been around.
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Walter: Hello Jim. Who is expected to take the kick returns this week, Dante Hall or Brandon Williams? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Dante Hall (ankle) isn't ready yet; it looks like Brandon Williams will handle return chores once again.