By Jim Thomas
Tuesday, October 30, 2007 01:00 PM CDT


David: Word on the street is that the Rams are interested in Ricky Williams if/when he is reinstated by Goodell. The Rams just released Terrell. They still have Byrd, Incognito, and Wroten on their roster. Besides the fact that Linehan likes plays favorites (seemingly random assortment of coaches, especially Olson; Frerotte; McMichael; and others), is there any reason why the Rams would want to take this kind of chance? Let's trade for Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, and Travis Henry while we're at it.

Jim Thomas: Isn't Williams still Miami property?
The last time I checked with Linehan, he is not interested.
JerseyRamFan: Hey Jim,

I just wanted to say "Thank You!" for opening up these discussions. It looks from my prospective, like a tough job. Even more tougher, when the team you are covering is 0-7. This little post is to say thanks and is not meant to be put up. I read where a fan tried chewing into you, and was glad you put him in his place. You wrote that you were not a fan, and I was glad to see that you're not. To be honest, I'd rather get informed from a non biased source than a rah rah writer. Everyone is so quick to criticize, but nobody appreciates what you do, until it is no longer around. I just think most of the fans are disgusted, and are looking to vent. Don't let it get to you. There are plenty of fans like me, that appreciate the time you take to answer our many and sometimes ridiculous questions. Keep up the good work!

Jim Thomas: Sorry I'm a little late. Tuesday's normally a day off for the team, but since it's the bye week they practiced today and I'm just back from the practice field and player interviews. Linehan cancelled Wednesday's practice, so the players are off until Monday. As long as they behave themselves, I think it's a good deal. Get their minds off football a little bit and let their bodies heal.
Holt, Bruce, Bulger did nothing at practice today. Little wasn't there. He was seeing a specialist in Charlotte on his toe. Richie Incognito is leaving today to see a specialist (James Andrews in Birmingham) about his knee.

As for your comments, people always ask me what it's like to cover a pro team. My stock reply is that it's not as glamorous as it might seem. But don't get me wrong, as my late father used to say _ it beats digging ditches. I'd be a liar if I told you it wasn't more fun for a writer covering a winning team. But there's always something to write about anyway. And judging from all the interest this forum seems to have, and the number of hits on Bill Coats' "Around the Horns" blog, there's tons of folks who are interested in the Rams no matter what the record.
Critical responses from fans don't really get me down. Although I may get irritated from time to time. One of the purposes for this forum is to be an avenue for fans to vent. And goodness knows they have plenty to vent about this season. But my job isn't to necessarily go with the flow, and go along with the knee-jerk reaction. I will provide some opinion on this forum. But as a beat writer, my job is to provide information, and hopefully some perspective and insight.
Billy C: Well if Lenahan is here after the bye week / you can kiss at least half of our ticket sales for this season good bye . Nobody believes anymore . I like Coach Lenahan as an assistant . Hes a good man. I think QB coach could be a good fit for him .
Why are all our guys going down ??? Are they "in shape" ???? What happened to Chris Clawson ??? With Claw I never remember loosing guys like this / at least not wholesale slaughter . I think we need a new Strength Coordinator . These guys are weak . Claw always had us ready .
I know we need OL (Alex is a BUST . I tryed to be positive but he will never be Orlando or Jackie or John Williams) but please use our #1 overall (and sad to say / it will be us first on the clock) on Brian Brohm . He is too good to pass . Even if we keep Marc / we could work Brian in slow . With a new Real Coach we will Win . Lets face it / its going to take more than 1 draft to fix us (we all know it ) . So take Brian / or at least a Killer WR .
There has to be changes at GM & HC & SC . I could never walk into the locker room the way it is now . The Old Timers would cry . But with a new HC (hopefully Bill or Jimmy ) there will be good changes to make us Real Rams again . If one more year of Lenahan & the same old management , it will be the "same old Rams" (like the ***** used to say / man we hated that) ... But in 08 "same old Rams " will have fewer & fewer fans in the Dome .
Unless there are BIG changes / St Louis get used to game blackouts . Georgia pull the trigger now or it wont be pretty . CR would have done what was needed to be done a long time ago . And unlike CR & The Colts / Georga wont be able to swap teams . ........ Billy C Old School Ram Fan

Jim Thomas: Linehan will be back after the bye week. There will be no coaching change during the season.
As for the injuries, that's a tough call. Some are simply freak in nature. But I think the Rams have to re-evaluate everything they do in terms of conditioning and weight training, what they do in OTAs, minicamp, training camp, preseason.
I wouldn't call him a bust, but Alex Barron has been a disappointment so far. I'm not sure how much he really cares.
I think the Rams have many greater needs than a QB with their No. 1 overall pick. A killer WR would be a good start, for example.
Don: As Shaw fiddles, we weep! There has been much talk in your posts, as well as others, that a huge change needs to take place with the Rams. It is so obvious that the overhaul should start 30 seconds after the end of the last regular season game. While I agree that you don"t fire a head coach in mid season, Linehan really needs to be done quickly at the end of the season and a new football organization needs to be built. Jim, please give us hope---do you get the feeling that Shaw knows this and is preparing to do somehting here?

Jim Thomas: Don, I haven't talked to Shaw since the Sunday night of the Seattle game. He seems committed to Linehan for this season, and generally supportive. But he's also leaving the door open to a possible change in 2008. So these final eight games are very important to Linehan. I think Shaw realizes that if Linehan comes back, and nothing "exciting" is done in terms of player acquisition, that ticket sales may plummet.
JScurvy: Do you think that with all of the injuries, it's reached a point where guys tearing their ACLs and suffering serious injuries is just plain funny? I mean, it's pretty much a comedy goldmine right now, isn't it?

Jim Thomas: JScurvy--Seinfeld (sp?) is funny. Will Ferrell is funny. Chris Rock is funny. I don't think injuries _ tons of injuries _ are funny. These players may be bad. They may be underachievers. But almost all of them care a lot about their profession and put a lot into it. I don't really get your question. By the way, have you ever done TV work?
PhredRam: Hi Jim,
Thanks for answering questions again.
Is the disc injury to Jackson something that could bother him
throughout his career?

Jim Thomas: A bulging disc is a lot more treatable than a herniated disc. But it has to be concerning. Maybe the Rams have to think about drafting a running back in '08.
RamFan in Seattle: Instead of complaining about this season, I'd like to offer my services to help the Rams.

I will be happy to join the team as a player. I've played every position in a high school game except kicker, so I am very versatile. I bring a rare combination hard-hitting defensive skills with excellent fundamentals and minimal flinching, plus amazing pin-point passing accuracy and tight spirals up to 11 yards downfield.

If not a player, I can coach the team. I coached a youngsters' (ages 11-12) team several years ago. We made it to the playoffs!

Better yet, I can be a player-coach for the Rams. Then I can blame that lousy excuse for a football player when I make a bad play, or I can scream about the horrible play calling and game strategy when the team goes nowhere. However, I expect that for the most part I will be commending myself for such flawless execution of my brilliant play calling.

All of this for a bargain basement of $2.87 million per year.

Where do I sign? Do I get my own parking space? Will Georgia invite me out for lunch? Do I get a free Rams hat?

Jim Thomas: Send your resume to:
St. Louis Rams
1 Rams Way
Earth City, Mo. 63045

--Attn. Jay Zygmunt
Stef Samoy: It's obvious that the Rams only have a shot at coming close in winning games if Steven Jackson is on the field for 4 quarters. If you look at the first game of the season..... sure Jackson fumbled twice.. which.. pretty much cost us the game.....but before that fumble... we were still in it.

Take Jackson out - then it's open season on Bulger and the receivers. Which (I feel) has happend to the season. Which is why we're 0-8 right now. Which is why Bulger threw some arrant passes and looks nothing but uncomfortable in the pocket. Which is why Linehan is using conservative plays because Leonard is not a feared running back and playing smash mouth football is out of the question. Take Jackson out - and this is what we get for the 2007 season.

Defenses are licking their chops at Bulger knowing that Jackson is not out there.

I say give Linehan a chance next season. Let him suck up this season. Go over the mistakes...go over the drafts...go over free agency... and hopefully he can find a way to start winning games even if there is a chance that JACKSON may go down. Which is (obviously) possible. Leonard is a great back for a rookie. I hope he'll be more than that next season. Threat.... should be on his "to do" list for next season.

Angry fans need to relax. There was a spark there from this past game. The spark was JACKSON. The link in what keeps Linehan's offense explosive. Take the link out...... and good luck in finding a WICK for your explosive offense.

As far as DEFENSE...... that's a whole new topic.

I STILL SAY - WE SHOULD GO WITH THE THROW BACK UNIFORMS!!!!

Jim Thomas: There's no doubt defenses play the Rams differently with Jackson in there. They respect the run more, which frees things up for the wide receivers. As good as the Rams looked early, keep in mind this was the league's 32nd-ranked defense.
James in Little Rock: Hi Jim - Appreciate your time.
What is the deal with throwback jerseys - most teams in the league use them as revenue producers and a way to highlight their history. I would most love to see the old Blue & Whites from their LA days with the Fearsome Foursome. I feel that the Rams ownership has compromised their history to some extent after the move - in other words, what happened in LA stays in LA. I find that unfortunate. I know that you were going to ask about throwbacks, so this is a reminder.
Second, with all of the injuries on the Oline, I am a little surprised that Fry remains on the Practice Squad - is he making progress toward the active roster? Is he just not as good as the street free agents at this point? What's up with Fry?

Last question - is there or is there not a Rosenbloom that is actually in the line of succession before Kroenke and is he interested in owning the team? The male Rosenblooms presided over a winning program.

Thanks again

Jim Thomas: 1.) I finally asked someone in the organization about the throwbacks. You have to get league permission to wear throwbacks, and there has to be a lot of lead time. The request has to be made before the start of the season, and the Rams haven't made that request. They haven't really even talked about throwbacks since Mike Martz was head coach. And which throwbacks do you go with? The white and navy blue of the '60s Rams? Or even the canary yellow and blue of the '99 Super Bowl champisonhips Rams?
2.) Fry is making progress. The Rams are working on signing someone off another team's practice squad. If that doesn't pan out, I think they might elevate Fry.
3.) Chip Rosenbloom, Georgia's son would be the heir. I don't know what kind of estate planning or tax ramifications would be involved however, if he took over. He's not around the club much at all. He's a movie producer _ the kids' movie Shiloh is one of his works.
Murat from PA: Jim;

What a big contrast between the 1st quarter and the rest of the game. Wouldn't you agree with me that the Linehan regime has given us this inconsistency including about 8 games in the middle of the last season? Don't you think that this is a bad team because bad teams find ways to lose as we witnessed on Sunday? With so much talent on hand, doesn't the blame for this team fall on the shoulders of Linehan, despite the injuries?

Murat

Jim Thomas: Well, I think at the end of the day, it may come back to bite Linehan. Even with all the injuries _ and it's been an unbelievable run, particularly on the offensive line _ if the team had been able to scratch out two or three wins (SF, Arizona, and Cleveland were all very winnable) _ I think there'd be much less heat on him. That's why I think these last eight games are very important for him, particularly if the team stays relatively healthy. (Jackson, the skill players, etc.)
Charlie Connors: Jim,

If the Rams win 0,1, or 2 games, doesn' that make it impossible to bring Linehan back?

Afterall, Martz and his interim replacement won 15 games in there last 2 seasons under very similar circumstances:
-badly injured OLines both seasons (Turley, Wohlabaugh, etc.)
-QB Bulger was out several games both seasons
-number 1 running back Faulk out with injuries

Linehan would have won no more than 10 games. in 2 seasons

I just don't see how another year with Linehan will move this fanchise forward; just the same situation next year. Vermiel was a time tested Head Coach that turned this thing around by brining in a bright offensive mind. Linehan doesn't appear to have any plan.

CC

Jim Thomas: All good points, C.C. Vermeil did have a track record in the '70s and '80s with Philly, but he was 9-23 in his first two seasons with St. Louis. Right now, Linehan is 8-16.
Some more food for thought for Martz bashers: His record in St. Louis _ games he was actually on the sidelines: 56-36.
The team's record since then (including Joe Vitt's tenure as interim h.c.): 12-23.
Tim Baltes: Jim,

It seems as though the Rams just don't have simple 5 yard patterns in their arsenal. Even the announcers were commenting on how we have to hold onto the ball way to long for routes to occur. Why can't we throw those quick outs, come back patterns and 5 yard outs that everyone else used to throw on us? Use Bulger's accuracy and the timing routes to our advantage. We have NO TIME back there..........appreciate your thoughts....

Jim Thomas: It seems like there aren't enough quick slants or short to intermediate routes over the middle. I also don't see many routes where the TE or back "chip" blocks for a while (to lull the defense into thinking they're staying in to block), and then release late on a short pattern. The Rams seem to rely on short "outs" a lot in third and medium situations, and those aren't the easiest passes to complete.
Rams4life: Jimmy,

Dave from Ohio here. You have yet to answer any of my questions to date so hopfully you can get to this one.

Where do the Rams go from here? Back to L.A.? Just kidding but they have lost there fan base. No more sell outs. Team is so bad it will probably take at least 2 seasons to build it back again if possible.

This is like 1994 when they were still in LA. Same senerio, same complaints. Do you see them wanting to move again in the future?

Jim Thomas: Thanks for your persistence. It'll take nothing more than a few wins to get the fan base back. But at this point, it's hard to say when the Rams will be a competitive team again _ in terms of being a playoff contender, I mean. The nucleus is aging, and there haven't been many signs that the team is rebuilding this nucleus. As bad as things look attendance-wise, the Rams still have a ways to go before they reach '94 levels in terms of fading fan support:
In '94, the Rams had home crowds of 32,969 (Arizona); 34,599 (Atlanta); 40,474 (N.Y. Giants); 48,103 (Denver); and Washington (25,705).
Daniel Frumson: Dear Jim,

I'm waiting for the good news that linehan and olson have been fired; that Hasslet has been promoted to interim head coach, and that henry ellard gets a chance to run the offense for the rest of the season. When's it going to happen?

Also, is there any chance of either Mike Martz or Dick Vermeil taking over for the 2008 season?

I mean, when we got rid of Martz, we had a top 5 offense, awuful defense and bad special teams. Overall the defense is slightly better this year, the special teams are still bad, and the offense is worse than it's ever been. Why exactly did we fire Martz? When Martz was here, we as an NFL franchise mattered. He was a superb evaluater of talent.
The Lions are 5-2 now, and will prolly participate in post-season football. So he should have some teams coming to him with head coaching jobs... the real question would be is there a chance he would come back???
I mean this might soud rediculous, but God I miss that team, not just the offense but that team.

Jim Thomas: Don't hold your breath on the Linehan, Olson firings. Won't happen this season.
Just curious, what has the Rams' defense, which is ranked 20th in total defense, and next-to-last in points allowed, done this season that makes you think Haslett merits a promotion.
Martz won't come back as long as Shaw and Zygmunt are here.
Vermeil is happily retired from football.
steve arrington: bulging disc in Jacksons back could be a chronic long term problem...remember Eric Dickerson had a bulging disc...ifrst thought to be no big deal but it was career ending...any initial reactions from the staff as to this concern...also is their any changes in the daily routines of the coaches since the nightmare began...

Steve

Jim Thomas: No noticeable concern from coaches about Jackson's disc problem. But we'll see how it responds to treatment. I think Linehan has had to deal with so many injuries, he's almost numb to them by now.
I haven't noticed any changes in the coach's daily routines. I don't think Linehan is leaving any earlier or any later than usual.
JJG: Gordo made a good point answering my question yesterday.....I asked about what could be done about Alex Barron's horrible play...."Jeff Gordon: As poorly as Barron played, the team is stuck with him at left tackle. There is nobody else. The loss of other offensive linemen really exposed him, eh? The more the Rams need from him, the worse he plays."I asked if we could moive him to guard or is he a lost cause?He looks worse than some of the guys we pulled off the street and he(barron) just watched when his guy crushed Bulger...he did not even help Bulger up!....your take?.....how do you think Bulger feels about him?

Jim Thomas: Well, remember Barron was one of the "suspects" last year when Bulger mentioned players who aren't putting in enough preparation, professionalism, and passion after the second Arizona game last season. There's no doubt, as I mentioned in an earlier post, that Barron has been a disappointment so far at left tackle. I'd say he's been just OK.
JJG: Jim
I know Shaw's stated position on the head coach but Linehan is no (mckay) from the 0-16 bucs from the 1970's..this team is not responding to his leadership... and he will have to start fresh with a lot of new players with some of the old to rebuild...do you think if we hired a more experienced coach it would hasten the team's recovery.........or stick with the current regime??(my opinion is that without change we will be the Lions(pre2007)of the nfc west for next few years until we have a regime change)...........your gut feelings?? Thanks for your time it helps me vent my frustrations. JJG

Jim Thomas: You know, there are times when I wonder if Linehan is in over his head. But I just don't know for sure. I want to see more games. Even with all the injuries, however, this team should have 2 or 3 victories. They just don't seem to respond well when something bad happens in a game. They don't seem to play smart football. And the second-half collapses and near-collapses have been mind-boggling.
I guess, in theory, a more experienced head coach could straighten things out more quickly, but it becomes a matter of who's really available, and who you could really get. And what if a new coach's philosophy doesn't fit some of the current core players, and you start bringing in even more new guys? You still might take a step backward before you move forward. It's just not an easy call.
JJG: I have watched each game Linehan has coached..but it seems it just bit too much for him ....he probably is a good cordinator BUT...head coaching is another kettle of fish.......do you think based on your obsevations he should continue as head coach?

Jim Thomas: I think he certainly deserves the right to finish out the season. After that, who knows?
JJG: Again thanks you for taking the time....As bad and as unlucky Linehan is....how shreud does Martz look for forcing his hand (forcing management to fire him)and leaving with his "offensive genius" reputation in tact?

Jim Thomas: I really don't think Martz's intention was to get fired. He had one of 32 head-coaching jobs in the NFL. You try to hang onto those jobs. What Martz wanted was a contract extension. All of the troubles/friction/feuding accelerated when team management was unwilling to do that prior to the 2005 season.
Bryan: Thanks for getting to my questions.

It has been said before that part of the problem with the Rams is the Front office. Zigmount does a fantastic job running the salary cap, but in other ways he is not so great as a member of the front office. Now Shaw won't fire him because they are friends. Shaw will not be let go because of indecision, to let somebody who will take over because he is good friends and Georgia Frontineer is loyal to him. Now is there any chance that in the near future, Georgia (for any reason, be it health, frustration, whatever) will sell this team to Stan Kroenke, and that he can make decisions in the front office that need to be done?

In addition, I thought the reason they hired Softli from Carolina was to become GM and run the personal department. (Scouting, drafts, free agency decisions). What is his role with the Rams, and how is his computer system he created helping the rams with player decisions?

-Bryan

Jim Thomas: To my knowledge, Georgia has no plans or inclination to sell the club.
As for Softli, I think his computer system is still being implemented. He runs the personnel department, in terms of scouting and evaluation of college and pro players, but he has no power in terms of deciding which players to take. As if to emphasize these job parameters, he was not given the title of GM. That's now part of Jay Zygmunt's job title.
tater: Jim,

In reading your comments from Coach Lousyhan this season it seems that he is very long on "Coach speak" and short on "Strategy." Do you get frustrated in your questioning that he doesn't provide a vision or plan of how to fix the problems but just spouts of motivational coaching lines? Is he a good friend with Big Mac "I'm not here to discuss the past?"

Jim Thomas: He sounds no different than Vermeil (ever the optimist) when his Rams were struggling.
Or Martz (Shoot, we'll fix it) when his Rams were struggling.
Spencer (a StL fan in LA): Jim,
Well the march to infamy continues, next up the resurgent Saints on the road. This thing is taking on a twisted life of it's own. Every team the Rams play the rest of the way will have the added psycological advantage of not wanting to be the first team to lose to a team that can't beat anybody! There's even a growing mindset among some people that I've talked to that it's in the best interest of the franchise to go on losing to ensure the demise of this inept head coach and/or the first pick in the draft. Losing has a sick momentum all it's own. Now in fairness, the team looked better Sunday than at almost any point all year and played a fairly entertainining game (the debacles in Baltimore, Seattle and Dallas were just about unwatchable!) and the Browns did everything in their power to give that game away. Once again dumbfounding play-calling at critical points along with curious packages and poor execution reveal the true nature of the problem: failed leadership for which Linehan must be held to account. The Browns penalties and miscues would have doomed them against even a sub-average team. But against the worst team in the NFL even a mistake prone Cleveland squad finds a way to win! Now last week Jim you didn't respond to my question about the plausibility of a reconciliation with the Rams and MM next year. Is there any consideration to that end? And what do you see is so wrong with Dennis Green? (He understands offense, is passionate about winning and anyone who can improve the football Cardinals is deserving of some consideration, right?!) Thanks.
Spencer

Jim Thomas: Sorry I didn't get to your question last week. But there are only so many questions I can answer each week. As I've stated in other posts, as long as John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt are working at Rams Park, pigs will fly before Mike Martz returns. The divorce between Martz and Shaw-Zygmunt was THAT bitter.
As for Dennis Green, exactly how did he improve the Cardinals' franchise? His record was 16-32 in three seasons.
mr. soccer: Palmer - I would like to know if Will is strong enough to stand up to the pressue of Oakville playoff soccer. Also, when will J.J. (No. 23) Thomas be moved up to the front line so he can score again?

Mr. Soccer

PS- What is the line on Wednesday's Oakville-Mehlville match?

Jim Thomas: I'm going to leave the evaluation of Oakville High soccer to Coach Robben, although No. 23 is a personal favorite of mine. Oakville won the regular-season matchup 3-0, but I believe Mehlville was missing four of its top players. So this is a close call. Oakville has a great tradition in soccer. They've been one of the best of the public schools for quite some time, although they're down a bit this year. I'll say Oakville ,favored by 1/2-goal.

P.S. _ have you seen Nicklaus lately?
Vinny: Jim,
Last week I mentioned that Haslett should be given the team for the rest of the season because the rams had nothing left to lose. I want to take back my comment..
Haslett is not the answer!
I am hoping that Shaw & Co. are showing loyalty to their coach for the remainder of the year for the sake of not losing potential candidates when the seasons over.

Your thoughts..

Jim Thomas: Again, I think Haslett is auditioning for 2008 (if there is a coaching change in St. Louis) over these final eight games as much as Linehan is auditioning for a return in '08. Kind of an interesting dynamic, isn't it? Haslett auditioning to replace Linehan if the defense plays well.
As for not wanting to scare off potential candidates, I think that is one reason why Shaw is showing restraint; 1 1/2 seasons isn't a very large sample size.
Vinny: Jim,

It's apparent the offense came alive against the Browns on sunday but the defense failed. Week in and out the two can't come together. Has the team lost faith in it's coaching staff or does the coaching staff really suck!

I'm sure linehan is a nice guy but let's be honest he is a terrible coach!

Thanks.

Jim Thomas: It is amazing isn't it? The defense gets a 14-0 lead _ it's first double-digit lead of the season _ and promptly gives up FIVE STRAIGHT scoring drives to the Browns. LIke I've said in print, this defense seems to play just well enough to lose.
I don't know if the team has lost faith in the coaching staff or not. But this team doesn't seem to have much resiliency, or any swagger.
Zeke: Jim,

Do you think management would like to do over the draft of 2005 when they traded down for Tye Hill and passed on Jay Cutler. I know hindsight is 20-20 but at the time I said this is going to haunt us. Bulger was fine at the time but it is always nice to have a young gun to groom for the future.

Thanks,

Zeke

Jim Thomas: I don't know. I haven't followed Denver that closely. Has Cutler played that well? And at the time of that draft _ the '06 draft actually _ I think they were committed to Bulger. Now that Bulger has signed the big extension, they have to stick with him for a couple more seasons at least because of cap ramifications. I do think, however, the team needs to think about a young QB in next year's draft because Frerotte will be entering the final year of his contract in '08 and he has hardly been overwhelming this season.
george smith: The rams need to turn around their losing culture. I personally do not think linehan is all to blame and probably should be given another chance, but im not sure that should be in st. louis. They need to change coach to a winner, a guy who the players believe in and understand their place (mike tomlin, ken wisenhunt, norv turner)....doesn't matter if he cant coach.....the difference between the Rams and the top 5 teams in the NFL is no more than a couple of injuries and a winning spirit. They always say fortune favours the brave, the rams are never brave under linehan. So to the question...

Who is the most likely guy to take over as head coach.....who are some of the realistic options that can turn the culture into a winning one and bring the crowds back?

Also, who is going to fill Incognito's spot on the active roster? A fill in till stussie comes back?

And finally, can i wake up one morning and please hear the great news that either Byrd has been cut or that he is going to get reps ahead of Klop and Walker. What is the point of having a trouble maker on the team who does nothing? Either give him a chance to contribute, or give him his walking papers!

Thanks!

Jim Thomas: I have to be honest. I haven't given much thought to possible replacements. There's plenty to keep me busy on a daily basis around here. But I've got to say, if the losses keep piling up, I'm going to have to look into it. I'm not sure if I'm ready to annoint Tomlin, Whisenhunt, and Turner as great successes. Tomlin, I'll admit, is off to a 5-2 start and looks promising, but he inherited a team that is only 2 years removed from the Lombardi Trophy. I like what I see so far from Whisenhunt, but they're 3-4. As for Turner, he's already lost more games in San Diego than the Chargers did all of last season _ and this is a Chargers team that has as much talent as anyone in the league. Turner's career record is 63-86-1 which hardly qualifies as a raging success.
Hiring coaches don't usually sell tickets. Parcells or Cowher might sell some in this market.
The Rams are looking at a practice squad player on another team to fill in for Incognito; if they don't get him, they'll probably elevate Fry from the practice squad.
As for the TEs, that whole carousel behind McMichael confuses me. Byrd doesn't have much work ethic. Klopfenstein's confidence seems shot; Walker is a decent journeyman. No one has really stepped up to take the No. 2 job.
eldiablo: Don't know about you, JT, but I'm ready to find out about the Cardinals' next GM. RamBall has always been an entertaining intermission from the baseball season but this season is really bringin' me down. But, hey, the Cardinals had two eight-game losing streaks in '06 and still won the World Series. Do you think that the Rams might pull off something similar. My man, the H-Man, seems to believe things are going to get better (after finally finding his way to Sunday's postgame show.) I've heard it said four times this season the Rams are ready to turn the corner. Last time I looked, you turn the corner four times and you're back where you started.
Set me straight, Jimbo. Am I missing something or are the Rams planting hallucinogens in their media feed line? An NFL information guy (who used to do a little coaching) tells me the Rams are the worst technique team in the league. Isn't that coaching? Work with me, JT. Work with me.

Jim Thomas: ElD--The schedule's a bit easier over the final eight games, and the team should be a bit healthier, but to me it looks like 3 wins might be the max for this unit in '07, with at San Fran, Atlanta, at Cincy, and at Ariz. looming as the best candidates. Now, if Jackson gets healthy and stays healthy, maybe that changes. But otherwise I just can't see it. Don't know who you're NFL info guy is, but I'm a little dubious about his "technique" remark. Is he looking at game film? Watching practice? Or is he basing this on second-hand info. WR coach Henry Ellard has a great reputation. I think the LBs and DBs are well-coached. It's hard to get a read on the o-line because of all the injuries. What I do see _ on tape _ is a team that doesn't always finish off blocks, that sometimes slows down in pursuit on defense and doesn't gang tackle, and that makes a lot of silly mistakes. And I guess that's coaching. Or lack of football IQ by some of the players.
0-8.....says it all: Hey Jim,

I see our offense only really lacking a speed WR, a RT and some backup OL who can play a bit....

On defense....safety, Pass-rush DE, pass-rushing LB seem like the biggest needs....

Would you agree? And who is scheduled to hit free agency that might help in these areas? And whom do the rams NEED to re-sign at the end of the season?

Also, who can the rams release at the end of the year to free up cap room but not hit massive penalties?

Jim Thomas: I would say speed WR, pass-rushing DE, and OT all are first-day priorities. With Setterstrom and Incognito both coming off injuries and McCollum probably heading to retirement, some help is needed on the interior o-line as well. Another safety would be nice.
I haven't checked out the free-agent list, but I do know, for example, that Arizona MLB Karlos Dansby _ who's a pretty good player _ is up, if the Rams decide to move Witherpoon outside. (Which I don't think will happen. They seem committed to him inside.)
I believe Steven Jackson and Brandon Chillar are two of the team's scheduled UFAs. Again I'm not nearly as up on this as I will be in a month or so. And I know at 0-8, I need to be more up to date. But the draft picture changes dramatically with early entries, particularly the first round. And free agents will gradually be taken off the board as team's re-sign their own. And when you spend several hours tracking down arrest info as I did last week on Clauder Terrell, it put you behind in other areas.
Jack Cramond: Well, thank god, we wont lose a game this coming weekend. We all know that major changes are required in both management and coaching in order for this club to make an about face. Nobody knows what will really happen. Will there be changes in the front office ??? Will there be changes at the coaching level ??? Who konows. I have to believe that an 0-16 season will demand huge changes, and therefore that is what I hope for. Never in all my ram years have I ever rooted for the opposing team, but thats what I'm forced to do now. Heads better be rolling at the end of this season or the franchise will not recover. Go Saints.

Jim Thomas: Don't know what to add to your remarks, but I think 1-15, 2-14, 3-13, etc., should demand change as well _ in approach, personnel, whatever.
steve in louisville: Hey Jim,
I'm a thirty year follower of the Rams and to overstate the obvious, this has been the most disappointing year by far, especially with the preseason "chat" of the Rams being a probable playoff team. What are the realistic chances that Bill Cowher would take this job next year? I like Linehan and have followed him since he was Off. Cor. at the University of Louisville several years ago, but it just seems this is not the job for him. Also, if the Rams manage to wrestle the number one pick away from the Phins, who would be the likely choice, in your opinion? By the way, for those Ram fans clamoring for Brian Brohm, please stop. I'm a huge Louisville fan and Brohm will be a good QB in the NFL, but he is NOT the answer for the Rams.....Too many other pressing needs.......Thanks Jim!

Jim Thomas: I have no idea about Cowher's interest. I'm sure it would take a lot of power and a lot of money. I would think he could almost have his pick of any NFL job opening _ why would he pick St. Louis _ an indoor team where most of the money has been invested on offense.
As for the No. 1 pick, I would say pass-rushing DE, OT, WR are the most pressing needs.
Ron: Jim - I've read that you and others have identified tackle as a draft need. Is the organization giving up on Alex Barron? I agree his play (and numerous pre-snap penalties) are incredibly frustrating.

Thank you.

Jim Thomas: I don't think they're giving up on Alex Barron, I thnk they're just disappointed in him. But even with Pace telling the P-D that he's coming back, there has to be some concern about his durability after back-to-back season-ending injuries. Plus, there's no real third tackle at the moment.
Bryan: I was wondering why with the disaster that is the Rams offensive line, what ever happened to Dustin Fry? Is he on the practice squad? If so, why is he not promoted to help out, I'm sure he cannot be much worse than pulling warm bodies off the street to fill in.

Jim Thomas: Fry is on the practice squad. As I've mentioned on a couple of previous posts, the Rams are trying to sign a player off another team's practice squad, and if that doesn't happen Fry will get promoted. During training camp and the preseason, Fry just didn't look ready. But the coaches think he's progressed to the point where he could merit a promotion to the varsity.
Bryan: I noticed that the Rams offensive line, the gaps in between the linemen were very small. Would spreading out the offensive linemen so the gaps are larger in-between each other, instead of almost on top of each other, help at all?

Jim Thomas: Interesting question. Don't know the answer.
Buzz: Jim,
I would like to take a moment to defend the play of our secondary against the Browns. There were no blown coverages. There were few instances of a corner helplessly trailing a receiver by two or three steps. Fakhir Brown was right with Edwards on several of his catches. Brown did state that it would be nice if he could have made a play on the ball at least a time or two. Keep in mind, corners that do consistently make plays like that are in the Pro Bowl. Let's give Edwards his due: he's been playing like Jerry Rice this year. Bernie said we should have rolled a safety on him, but would this have left us more vulnerable to Winslow? It's sort of like pick your poison.
Our real problem was the lack of pass rush by the front four. A healthy Little might have picked up a sack or two after one of their numerous stupid penalties. That would have buried them.
May I offer a humble suggestion? Activate Eric Moore from the Practice Squad. Use him in passing situations; he seems to have some natural ability in this area and we should take advantage of it. Put more pressure on the QB and our secondary will get a better post-game grade. Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Brown was indeed close to Edwards most of the time in coverage. And Edwards did make a couple of great catches. But is there a law that says Brown can't make a play? One play? Read the receiver's eyes or hand movements and turn in time to make a play on the ball?
And Jurevicius was WIDE open on several plays. I agree that giving too much attention to Edwards frees up Winslow. But why not mix the coverages more? Occasionally roll the coverage over to Edwards to keep the Browns and Anderson _ still a young, inexperienced QB _ guessing.
Without Little, why not blitz more? Sure, the more you blitz, the more you're exposed to the potential of a big play. But I saw one play where the Browns faced a third-and-17 and the Rams went with a three-man rush. Basically a prevent defense, and Cleveland converted. If you can't get a pass rush with your front four, you've got to manufacture one. Anderson was among the most in-accurate passers in the league entering Sunday's game, and he completes 72 percent against the Rams. Yet in the locker room, the DBs are basically saying how well they played. It wassurreal. Have the standards sunk that low?
As for Eric Moore, I think if Little opts for surgery now and goes on the IR, Moore will get his chance.
Martok: Hey Jim - At what point does team ownership say enough is enough and press for change? I remember when Dick Vermeil was told to make changes and the result was a super bowl win.

Jim Thomas: I don't know when ownership reaches that point. I just know it won't be during the 2007 season.
JerseyMo: Fakir Brown has one year left on his contract right? Not trying to sign Ryan Pickett has hurt this team right?? or drafting Jimmy Kennedy??

Jim Thomas: J.M.--Brown is in the second year of a five-year deal. Pickett is a good player, and very active for a nose tackle. The Packers love him. I always thought it was unfair to lump him in with Damione Lewis and Jimmy Kennedy as a first-round draft bust. In retrospect, I don't think the Rams did much research on Kennedy. They didn't think he'd be there when they picked in the first round, and were surprised and kind of unprepared when he was.
Chris: Why is it that the worst team in football still gets more press than any other sport in this city? They're horrible, 0-8, not going anywhere....how much more can really be said?

Jim Thomas: Well, judging from the number of questions on this forum, there's still tons of interest in the team. Bill Coats' "Around the Horn" blog was the most popular blog of ANY on Stltoday.com last week. Our coverage of the team still pales in comparison to most cities are the league, and it certainly pales in comparison to Cardinals baseball in this town. And last time I checked, they didn't have a great season, either.
Right now, this is a magnificent trainwreck. I think that's one reason why there's so much interest right now. A lot of people just can't turn their eyes away from it just yet. And it is the NFL, the nation's most popular sport. There should be a baseline of coverage for a professional sports team no matter how bad they are. And then you upgrade things if they get better. A newspaper shouldn't be a frontrunner, nor should it be a cheerleader.
Billy C: I am a Ram and always will be / but unless management changes us old timers wont be able to take it . It just hurts too much to see our proud club sink so low . Its not loosing / Ive been in the lockerroom for lean years / but its the "same mistakes year after year " . Bad drafts / bad FAs / poor coaching / players who give up or dont give 110% . That is worse than losses / if you learn from your losses you grow . This team is Not growing . We need strong leadership from HC to GM to ownership . We dont see it and its sad .
Make no mistake ... We have some real Class guys here / more than you know / but the slackers (players & leaders) are killing us . Little things will KILL every drive . They arnt getting the little things right . ITS TIME TO GO TO WORK . Win one for The Old School Rams / cut the crap / if a player wont give 110% then sit him / play the Real Rams . Find out who Should be here next season and show some pride . God this circus wouldnt last 1 month with CR . Heads would roll . This is a good Team with Class players // they just need to be inspired by an old school kick ass coach and a GM with Gleam . Those guys are out there / is management would just open their eyes . Billy C Old School Ram Fan

Jim Thomas: Billy, it's a mess right now. An unbelievable mess. And I think the last half of the season will say a lot about who wants to be here, who really cares, and who doesn't.
marty: Why is it that Linehan is still the head coach? I understand the injury bug is upon us but the play calling along with the team as a hole is pathetic !!! I flew out to St Louis from Arizona to see the 49er game to watch them lose by a point. I've got no choice, but I cannot spend any more money until they (Rams front office) decied to make moves beficial to the Rams and thier fans.

Jim Thomas: It's your dollar, Marty.
rambro... nyc to tampabay: isaac bruce is the catalist for this team, you dumbdumbs he has ALWAYS BEEN, just because he is quiet means nada ,so go ahead throw it to torry ,hand it off to jack or slow ass 2nd rd pk......BUT until gus ,bulg orbrock throw it to #80 earlyn often thisFUTILITY will simply continue.....its luck if we win now and thats a damn shame,byrd and pittman need real looks at this time....eh!

Jim Thomas: I have all the respect in the world for Isaac Bruce. And always will. He's still a very good player. I think he should get the ball more. But Isaac also has only six TD catches since the 2004 season.
rambro... nyc to tampabay: isaac bruce is the catalist for this team, you dumbdumbs he has ALWAYS BEEN, just because he is quiet means nada ,so go ahead throw it to torry ,hand it off to jack or slow ass 2nd rd pk......BUT until gus ,bulg orbrock throw it to #80 earlyn often thisFUTILITY will simply continue.....its luck if we win now and thats a damn shame,byrd and pittman need real looks at this time....eh!

Jim Thomas: See previous post.
rambro... nyc to tampabay: isaac bruce is the catalist for this team, you dumbdumbs he has ALWAYS BEEN, just because he is quiet means nada ,so go ahead throw it to torry ,hand it off to jack or slow ass 2nd rd pk......BUT until gus ,bulg orbrock throw it to #80 earlyn often thisFUTILITY will simply continue.....its luck if we win now and thats a damn shame,byrd and pittman need real looks at this time....eh!

Jim Thomas: See previous post.
Ken Martin: How serious is Stephen Jackson's latest injury? Are we talking about something that might take a few weeks to get over?

Jim Thomas: I think it's a tad optimistic to think he will return in time for the New Orleans game Nov. 11. I think a key is how the back responds to the first round of treatment, which I don't think will be known until early next week.
Pete T: Jim,
I can't imagine the Rams letting the head coach stay, so what about getting Bill Cower to St. Louis? Any chance??

Jim Thomas: As I've mentioned in previous posts, it would take lots of dough and lots of power. And Cowher should just about have his pick of any NFL job opening, whenever he decides to return.
Cole, Chesterfield: Do you think the Rams just overlooked the Browns in preparation for their bye week? I hear they are will be using it to convert their playbooks to Braile so that Linehan can read it. Any injury projections?

Jim Thomas: Hah, hah.
Romberg says he's playing against New Orleans.
S. Jackson, I would say is questionable.
It looks like Incognito's out for the season.
Dante Hall is getting better, but he's still probably doubtful for the Saints.
Jingles: Jim-


How much of Detroit's success this year do you think Martz is responsible for?

Jim Thomas: I haven't followed Detroit closely, but I would say a lot. He's a demanding perfectionist, and I'm sure he's raised the bar in terms of what's expected out of that offense. If the Lions make the playoffs, I would think Martz gets some consideration for any head-coaching openings.
Ima Ramfan: Many of your responses appear to defend Shaw, Frontiere et al. What is your honest opinion of the Rams front office and ownership as compared to, say, the Patriots and how much blame do you lay at their feet?

Jim Thomas: Let me get this straight, just because I'm not part of the pack mentality that wants to fire everyone, everywhere immediately, I'm defending Shaw, Zygmunt, or Frontiere. Sorry, I'm not a fan. And because I'm not a fan, that means I'm not necessarily going to tell you want you want to hear all the time.
Ultimately, Rams management gets the blame, because they're the ones who hired Linehan. And they're the ones who control the purse strings in free agency.
Bryan: What about Al Saunders as head coach? He has some ties to the Rams, coach during the '99 superbowl season. He has head coaching experience. He can have an exciting offense. Why not?

Jim Thomas: I like the idea of Saunders as a head coach. He is one of the game's most underrated offensive coaches and I'm surprised he hasn't been given another chance to be a head coach. But I don't think Rams management is keen on him, because I asked about him during the Linehan coach search. Exactly why this is the case, I'm not sure.
Amy: How is Marc Bulger, I haven't heard anything. Is he gonna be able to go for the Saints game?

~Amy

Jim Thomas: Bulger has a badly bruised thumb. He did nothing in practice today. But should be fine for N.O.
Gary Staat: I believe Larussa decision to stay says volumes that he believes the cardinals will go out and get some help.

But we need alot of help we need atleast to good bats and two significant pitchers pick up. Pitching has been bad the last two years and signing Suppan for what he got was crazy but we did not go and get anyone except KIp Wells and added looper and Wainright and Reyes. I don't believe and Reyes he has not the heart or the stuff and two years he has not shown nothing I thought getting rid of Harren at the time was crazy you put him Wainright,Carpenter and Harren and Looper as your fifth pitcher there's a staff you could win with.

I don't believe Mulder will ever get back what he had atleast not with us and now you & 8 bad.

We need a good coach. You can say what you want about Martzs but he made watching offense fun. And Hassellet don't seem to be able to get the job done either.

I don't want to lose our football team fans will come back if we get back our winning ways.

My opinion is release Linnehan now, he doesn't have what it takes to coach especially Head coach,Put Hannifan in there right now he could atleast do something with the o-line. Where's Dante Hall?

Jim Thomas: Can't help you out ont he baseball questions. I think you need to check in with Mr. Strauss, who I think is known as the Chatmeister or something like that, in some circles.
Jim Hanifan? Now that's a good one. Coach Hanifan is a local treasure. We all love being around him. But his coaching days are over. Dante Hall is still recovering from a severe ankle injury. He told me today it's feeling much better. But Linehan feels he's still doubtful for N.O.
James: Alex Barron been just OK?? He is a first round pick, first round picks are supposed to be better than just OK. He hardly ever maintains his blocks and I can't count the times he whiffs. The guy is just plain LAZY! It looks as if he is just going through the motions. With his size and ability he should be playing better. To me his attitude needs some serious adjusting by the Rams coaching staff.

Jim Thomas: I agree. First-round picks should be better than OK, particularly in their third season. And believe me, the coaches are trying to get more out of him.
Jay: In terms of "scaring off" head coaches, how can that happen by firing Linehan? He has been bad, period. And coach looking for a shot should have enough confidence to say "i won't make the same mistakes." There is a difference between losing and being beat, right now Linehan is losing. Whether it is a botched 4th down call, a special teams gaffe, or the inability to adjust a defense.

Jim Thomas: I agree, that most coaches will think they can do better. But not even superstar coaches can necessarily avoid injuries. And if you have your choice of jobs and one is a job where a coach got fired after an 8-8 first season _ which was two games better than his predecessor _ and then was axed only eight games into a second season in which the entire offensive line was wiped out, the team went a month without its Pro Bowl RB, two games without its Pro Bowl QB, was missing its top two corners for a month, went a couple games with literally no healthy receivers, and then lost its top DE to a toe injury _ would this be attractive to you? Wouldn't you wonder just a little bit about the patience and commitment of management?
Chris C: If you take in consideration all the injuries the Rams have sustained this season, is it fair to dismiss Coach Linehan after the season is over? Also after watching Bulger's play this season and the way he has handled himself, is he the quarterback that Rams need on the field to have sucess?

Jim Thomas: I think the final 8 games will have a lot to say about Linehan's return, particularly if the team continues to get relatively healthier.
I'm not ready to throw Bulger to the scrap heap. I don't think he's necessarily handled himself all that badly. From afar, I think he needs to communicate better with the head coach, and buy into the system a little more. But geez _ it was just an eye roll.
If you're factoring all that in, I think you need to factor in that the guy's playing with two broken ribs. And factor in his return against Cleveland after suffering a bruised thumb on his throwing arm.
John: Dear Jim, Once again, thanks for taking the time to answer the questions, and for your observations. This is just one of those years for the Rams, and by the way, for most of the League. Check out the Bay Area, Chicago, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Miami papers for consolation on a crummy pro football season. I cannot remember a season where so many teams were not even competitive with the top tiered teams. It seems this year has boiled down to two competitive franchises that cannot meet in the Super Bowl. After Indy and New England there are maybe five teams at a second level (Dallas, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and the New York Giants). There are fifteen really mediocre teams following that level before the bottom ten round out the league. I have followed the NFL closely for nearly fifty years and can never remember the League being so dominated by just two teams. Have you ever seen a season of complete domination like this with so many really bad teams? Thanks,

Jim Thomas: This is parity's league. But it does seem like parity has gone on vacation this year. Let's face it, barring a rash of injuries, New England and Indy in the AFC title game will be the Super Bowl. The actual Super Bowl will be anticimactic. I think this is the first time since 1996 that two teams have started a season 0-8.
But this is the Not For Long league. Almost every franchise has ups and downs. It's so hard to sustain things in the era of free agency and the salary cap. Which makes what New England has done, and to a lesser extent, Indy, all the more remarkable. The key is trying to minimize the valleys and maintain the peaks. The Rams obviously, haven't done a very good job of that. And the seed of their current troubles came in the poor drafts (2000, 2001, 2002) at the height of the Greatest Show.
Kevin: Jim,

Two questions and comments for you.

1) Since the Saint Louis Rams have been here, we have had only four winning seasons. How does that compare with other NFL Teams?

2) You and Howard Balzer seem to have a lot of respect for each other. I like when you two are on the air together. How long have you and H. known each other? Do you consider him a friend.

Keep up the great work!

Jim Thomas: 1.) I'll have to do the research on that one.

2.) Howard and I don't always agree. But I really admire his passion for the game. And he's a colorful character in his own strange way. I like characters. I've known him really since the mid '90s, when the Rams moved here. I guess we're friends. It's not that we hang out together, though. I'm not into the Karoake (sp?) scene. And I have a lesser opinion of Balzer's signing than he does.
Michael Wagner: HI Jim, Since it looks like the quest for 0-16 will be the most exciting thing facing the club this year, I have this question. Can the League discipline the Rams for not "competing" in all their remaing games? For instance, if the teams gets to 0-10 and Jackson and Bulger are held out for the remainder because of "nagging injuries" can the League challenge the legitimacy of the injury report? If so, what would be the potential consequences?

Jim Thomas: Geez, why do you even have to worry about the team "not competing?" If 0-16 is your goal, I think the team is doing just fine so far "competing."
E-man: So the Rams need 14 losses to tie and 15 losses to *set* the record for most NFL losses in a season? Think they'll do either?

Jim Thomas: Actually, 15 losses ties the record. I think they'll scrounge up a couple of wins over the final 8. Then again, I've been wrong before.
Tj: Grant it the Rams suck this year, but when a team has Bruce, Holt, Bulger & sometimes Jackson on the offense and you have hardly scored and only have 1 rushing TD all year. It's got to be the man driving the bus. All 4 of these pro-bowlers are having a bad year at the same time. Kind of hard to beleive. Linehan has taken this offense and has driven it straight into a solid wall. How can you have these players and stink so bad?

Jim Thomas: But how do you account for a bus with a couple of flat tires, a transmission that slips, and a leaky oil pan. Bulger injures his ribs in the first game. Holt is right from his knee surgery. Bruce is 35 in 10 days and misses two games with a hamstring injury. Jackson misses a month with a groin injury. Against Seattle, Holt drops a TD pass RIGHT IN HIS HANDS; Bruce falls down _ FALLS DOWN _ on another sure TD catch. Is all of that Linehan's fault?
James Jones: Is Joe Torre still available for a head coaching job? maybe we can get him to coach the rams and squeeze a win out of this season.

Jim Thomas: Torre remains a free agent. I think he could squeeze a win or two out of this bunch.

That's it for today. Thanks for the participation. We'll see you next week.