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Jim Thomas Live Tuesday, January 15
By Jim Thomas
Mike: Hi Jim,
Thank you for your time and forum on the St. Louis Rams!
I live in Orange County and have taken my son to a Rams game every year since they moved to St. Louis. The time we spend at the games has been great.....but....this was the first year that I could not stomach a trip to see this team.
My question is..."What can management due to bring the fans back to the dome?"
The organization seems to be living in a dream world. The fan experience is horriable, the coaching situation is well below NFL standards and Player Decisions have sucked the past 5 years. Does Georgia, Stan, John S...know this?
Let's take McFadden...trade Jackson for pics and rebuild the DL and OL....kick out Byrd, Wroten, Chaveous and Bennett. Let's sign a PROVEN back up QB when Bulger get's hurt again and get the fans back in the dome.
Let's get an audio visual person to the dome to pump in crowd noise and make this the second coming of a stones concert....if they want to lose...make it fun at least.
Venting Rams Fan
Jim Thomas: Before even making a decision on players, coaches, etc., club management could announce they are not raising ticket prices. Why not take it a step farther, and say: We are not raising ticket prices until we have another winning record. I've suggested this in the past even brought it up to someone in the front office. (Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen, although I don't think they'll raise ticket prices for '08.)
You could do a lot for the atmosphere at the dome, in terms of music, (fewer) commercials, better scoreboards, better sound system. Some of this is in the works; some are being considered.
Ron: Why is it that Torry Holt's knee problems appear to be chronic and will affect him the rest of his career? As I recall his operation was pretty much suppossed to be a relatively minor procedure,i.e. no ACL tear, so what gives? Did arthritis set in or what? Thanks for this forum Jim.
Jim Thomas: A good question, Ron. The procedure was supposed to be pretty much standard. But turns out Holt has very little cartilage remaining in that knee. To my understanding it's pretty much bone on bone, which causes the discomfort. Holt even had some kind of lubricant injected into the knee to help his movement.
In short, the lack of cartilage in the knee is what caught up with DT D'Marco Farr and RB Marhsall Faulk. And it could catch up with Holt.
Gabriel to Snow: Hello Jim, Haslett has a penchant for leaving receivers uncovered when blitzing, especially the slot receiver who is often completely uncovered until 10 to 15 yards downfield. Matt Hasselbeck recognized this & ripped us up using the slot man. I've seen this over & over all year. If the staff couldn't recognize this inherent weakness in their scheme, & use one the many alignments & adjustments available to correct it over the course of an entire year, I think I will be taking the Niners & the over in both their games against the Rams. Mad Mike is going to clean our clock. How do you see the Martz hiring playing out.
Jim Thomas: I wouldn't say the alignment you're talking about happened over and over, but the Rams were burned more than once on it. It puts a lot of pressure on the safeties and linebackers, and it doesn't make much sense to me either.
Mad Mike needs playmakers in San Francisco. He is great at maximizing talent, heck, Mike Furrey caught 90-plus for him in '06 in Detroit. But the ***** don't have a proven QB, don't have a No. 1 WR (they barely have anyone you'd consider a good No. 2 _ perhaps Darrell Jackson), and they have a much-hyped TE (Vernon Davis) who doesn't have good hands. What the ***** do have is a good defense, so that will help. And if Martz gets a couple of weapons, look out.
Justin: I guess Scott Linehan didn't get the memo when the Post Dispatch told him to STOP HIRING HIS FRIENDS!! Hopefully Art Valero will not be another mistake by this organization.
Jim Thomas: "FOSL" (Friend of Scott Linehan) or not, I hear good things about Valero. Trouble is, if he's the Rams' offensive line coach, he has yet to be an o-line coach in the NFL. In his six NFL seasons _ all with Tampa Bay _ he coached RBs and TEs. All of his work as a line coach came in college, and I did have one NFL assistant say in college he had a reputation as one of the best in the college game. But can that translate to the NFL?
Marc Furtado: Jim, we have exchanged e mails before. I am a football coach and a life long Rams fan (going back to the days of Tom Mack, Charlie Cowan, Joe Scibeli, Ken Iman et al)and am beside myself with the latest Rams coaching news. I was supportive of Shaw's decision to retain Scott based on the horrendous injury bug that hit the team this year, especially as it pertained to the O-Line. However I think it is crazy for Scott Linehan, given his short leash, to hire Art Valero as O-Line coach. How you come up with essentially a college O-Line coach (he has only coached backs and TE's in the NFL) when guys like Mike Solari and especially Hudson Hauk were available. This is obviously a critical year in Scott's tenure and this move just doesn't add up for me, especially given what happened this year. I cannot think of any great teams in NFL history that did not have great O-Line play. The O-Line, I have long held, is the foundation on which great teams are build. This is a terrible mistake on the team's part. What do you think?
Jim Thomas: See my answer in an earlier post. It could be possible that Solari and Houck have no interest in coaching with the Rams. I had at least one offensive coordinator candidate tell me he was a bit leery of joining the Rams since Linehan could be one-and-done in '08.
Almost all coaches hire friends or people they have worked with before. I do think Linehan takes it to the extreme, both with coaches and players.
Hen: Hi Jim,
I have so many questions or rather concerns with the state of the Rams. 1) Why did Linehan get a pass with the injuries and Boudreau did not? 2) What role will the 2nd round pick Leonard have next year if Pittman beat him out? An undersized FB? I thought Linehan was going to look at the things he did wrong but it looks like he is hiring another of his long time associates from the Bucs. What role...OL coach? Does he have any experience as an OL coach in the NFL? 3) Will we continue to carry 4 tight ends and no true fullback? 4) Why are the Rams waiting around to make the changes that are needed?
We got rid of Hedgecock & Fitzpatrick, signed Bennett & Ferrotte (2 million/yr). I have concerns that the Rams will continue to make poor personnel decisions.
The biggest concern I have is that I don't think Linehan gets the most out of the talent he has. Good coaches do. I would appreciate your comments.
Jim Thomas: There are more questions than answers this time of year, but here goes:
1.) Maybe it's because Shaw made the decision on Linehan; while Linehan made the decision on Boudreau. But I do agree that Boudreau got the short end of the stick.
2.) It was very puzzling that Leonard barely got the ball over the final 8 games. I'm not saying the guy is Red Grange, but he did rush for 100 yards against Arizona. Personally, I'm not sold on Pittman as the No. 2. Yes, he flashed once or twice, but that was about it.
3.) McMichael and Klopfenstein are the only TEs sure to come back; I don't think Byrd is long for the Rams, and Walker is an unrestricted free agent. But it would be nice to have a true blocking fullback on goal-line and short-yardage plays, wouldn't it?
4.) Obviously, except for your own players, nothing can be done about signing players until the "league year" begins the first week of March with the start of the free agency and trading period.
As for coaches, with the elimination of the Cowboys from the playoffs, some of the dominoes should start to fall very soon. I don't think Linehan has as much time to assemble his staff as he thinks.
Don: Jim, So much, yet so little happening. Can you give us a glisps of what you think will happen Ram-wise in the next 2-3 weeks, as well as your opinion on those happenings?
As I always tell you "Please give us some hope!"
Jim Thomas: After the summit meetings conclude this week in LA, the coach staff and scouts will head to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl. At the very latest, Linehan should have his coaching staff completed by then.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, nothing really can happen in terms of player acquisition until March (unless the Rams re-sign some of their own players).
I know fans, and media, want the answers to everything immediately. It's the nature of the society we live in today. But the offseason takes months to unfold, and we won't have a good idea of the shape of this team until after the draft in late April.
Loren Baker: I am a lifetime Ram fan and even had my picture taken with Torry Holt at the Pro Bowl a few years back at the JW Marriott. He seemed like a great guy who had passion for what he does. This is the reason out of everything that went on this season him yelling at his coach really opened my eyes. I hoped it opened coach Linehan's eyes as well. We do have leadership on this team and Linehan needs it now more then ever. I live in Idaho so I really want him to succeed. I even watched a few games with his Nephew here in Boise. My question is if we hire Cam Cameron what will Coach Linehans responsibilitis be. He will have a offensive coach and a defensive coach with much more experience then he has and what respect will he generate from these two. I feel for the guy they are almost putting him in a no win situation. If the Rams do well its the coordinators the Rams have and if they fail its still falls back on the head coach. What does Linehan need to do to make this a win for him.
Jim Thomas: At the start of the 2007 season, only 10 of 32 NFL head coaches were calling their own play. So having Linehan as the CEO, overseeing what's happening on offense, defense and special teams with input in all three areas, is what most coaches do in the NFL.
Under your scenario, if the Rams click with Cameron as OC and Haslett as DC, Linehan will still be a head coach. Which is what he wants.
Pat Morrill: Jim,
What do you think the chances that the Ram's bring in Cam Cameron in? If they do would the offence be his or would Linehan have the same amount of involvement as he did with Olsen? If not Cameron is there any other names getting tossed around Ram's Park?
A die hard Ram's fan in Massachusetts
Jim Thomas: As I wrote in last Saturday's paper, and it was also on Stltoday.com, the new offensive coordinator will call the plays. So by definition, I don't think Linehan will have the involvement he had with Olson. Other possibilities that I've heard of through team and league sources are Bill Callahan, Chan Gailey, Mike Mularkey, and Ken Zampese. Supposedly, the Rams have a working list of 10 to 12 candidates.
I think Cameron is a longshot. It apears that he has a few options (Baltimore, especially), and I think he might want to bring in an assistant or two to the offensive staff, which I'm sure Linehan wouldn't be crazy about.
Brian from Vegas: Jim,
Thanks so much continuing these chats. I wanted to know what you thought of the following young players, in regards to their NFL ability, skill and intangibles. They should represent the "core" of the Rams team the next few years. If you have any comments on their contract status or likelihood of resigning with the Rams, I would appreciate you sharing it.
Jon Alston and Claude Wroten - ha ha, just kidding
Jim Thomas: Barron--Remains an enigma. Immature, needs to be pushed as a worker. Doesn't like to lift weights. But has the physical attributes to still be a special player. Seems to play his best against the best competition. Underrated in terms of toughness; has played hurt on several occasions over the past couple of years.
Incognito--He's the style of player that Linehan prefers on the line. Big, strong, and physical, with a nasty streak. Trouble is, Incognito at times has too much of a nasty streak and his temper has gotten him _ and the team _ in trouble on more than one occasion in the past two seasons. Injuries also have to be a concern after Incognito appeared in only four of 16 games because of ankle and knee problems.
Tye Hill--I think Hill was starting to come into his own during the '07 season when he suffered his season-ending wrist injury against Atlanta on Dec. 2. Remember, he missed four games at the start of the year with a back injury, so you have to wonder about his durability, particularly since he's undersized. Hill is very competitive, still needs to work on his tackling, has the speed and quickness to cover the league's fastest receivers. He's a guy who wants to get better.
Ron Bartell--Bartell has grown on me. He has the size and speed that Haslett loves in a CB. He has better playmaking ability that he was given credit for coming out of college. Still needs to use his size to be more physical, although he's getting better in this area. Quicker receivers give him some trouble, but he's good in the slot.
Victor Adeyanju--Unless he suddenly develops pass rush skills, Adeyanju will never progress beyond being a role player and rotation player. He is a high effort player, who's pretty good against the run. As he fills out his frame, he could end up being 290-plus and provide value as a rotation player at end and tackle.
Jerome Carter--He had a reputation as a hard-hitter coming out of college, cut I've yet to see it in the NFL. When healthy, I thought he was a disappointment on coverage units. When he's gotten a chance to play safety, he has shown some playmaking ability from time to time. I think he's a backup.
All of the above players are under contract with the Rams for '08 except for Carter, who's a restricted free agent.
george_allen: any word on how pace and little are healing up?
Jim Thomas: Have not heard anything lately. But at last check, which was during the season, they were on schedule with their rehab.
Benjamin: Hey JT,
Can we revisit my worst fear coming true now that Martz has been hired in SF? What are the odds that Ike gets cut and ends up a niner?
Jim Thomas: As a vested veteran, Isaac Bruce would not have to go through the 24-hour waiver process. Other than the financial details that needed to be worked out, I would say Bruce would be a '49er in _ oh, about 15 minutes _ if he got released by the Rams.
What I'm now hearing at Rams Park is that the team would like to bring Bruce back, but in a reduced role. Perhaps as the No. 3. (I know, who then is the No. 2? Drew Bennett?) And would a reduced role mean a reduced salary? Any way, this is different than what I was hearing during the season. We'll see how it plays out.
george_allen: a pair of the teams recent 1st round picks have noticeable holes in their game :
1) barron's false starts
2) jackson's short-comings in pass protection
has the coaching staff invested any individualized, quality time with these two in order to correct their respective issues? they're both clearly worth a little extra attention.
and if the coaching staff has put in the investment, which coaches and what have they done with the two?
Jim Thomas: Believe me, they've worked on both, particularly Barron's false starts.
I don't think Jackson is a liability as a pass blocker, in fact, I think he's generally pretty good. But I do think he regressed in pass protection last year. Why? I'm not sure.
Nick: Why did the Rams blow their chance to coach the Senior Bowl? First, I don't agree with their decision to fire the OL Coach. If Linehan gets a pass because of the injuries, then why not the coach where the injuries probably affected the team the most? Second, if they wanted to fire the OL Coach, why not do it after they were selected to coach the Senior Bowl? In recent years, teams have chosen their early round selections from knowledge after coaching this game (Tampa Bay - C. Williams,RB; San Francisco - P. Willis, LB are some prime examples). They could have scouted the incoming talent, especially since they have the second overall pick and are expecting to add a GM. Another bad move by the Rams! San Francisco jumped at the opportunity because they know how valuable it is.
Jim Thomas: That's a puzzler to me as well. Supposedly, the Rams couldn't guarantee the league that they would have most or all of their entire staff in place by the Senior Bowl. As much as Linehan wanted to coach in the game, I think he had hesitations about coaching a squad all week and trying to interview coaches as well. San Francisco was able to hire an offensive coordinator very quickly (Mike Martz). The Rams are taking their time. The Rams coaches and personnel people will still be at the Senior, watching practices and talking to players at night. But it's not the same as coaching the players. San Francisco has drafted six players in the past two Senior Bowls it has worked _ not just Willis. It's a great way to get to know the players.
Pete: OK....so linehan hands off play calling and the offense to someone else....so that he can be a motivator as a head coach?? The same guy that lost support of most of his team is going to be a motivator? Just doesn't seem likely. Linehan should have been sent on his way, along with his offense if this was the plan the whole time!
Jim Thomas: Pete, there's no doubt Linehan has to regain the respect and support of some veterans. Whether this can be accomplished certainly is debatable. But I don't think he's lost "most of the team."
1. Chris Long 2. Glenn Dorsey: Once again rams management is too slow. I get the impression that linehan already feels pressure in having Haslett waiting for HC that he wants to take his time so we DONT get Cam Cameron, therefore eliminating another candidate to take over from him mid season.....hurry up and sign the guy...he could make SJ the BEST, and could finally use randy mcMichael! (he also made McCardell, V.Jackson helpful who remind me of Bruce and Bennett in terms of size and abilities)
Jim Thomas: Actually, Cameron got rid of McMichael during the offseason in Miami _ McMichael was cut before the Rams signed him.
And how excited should we be about landing a guy who was 1-15 as a head coach last year?
bobby: hi jim. i was wondering what you thought about the whole isaac bruce thing? do you think they'll wanna get him back or rather search for a younger, faster wideout?
Jim Thomas: See the earlier post. I think it's possible to do both. Bring Bruce back and have him and Holt helpt groom a new younger, faster receiver.
Philip Douglass: Reflecting on the Patriots' offensive prowess this year, it strikes me that their offense in many respects (including not running the ball) is very similiar to that of the new offensive coordinator of the San Francisco *****. Yet no one seems bent out of shape about the run/pass ratio up in New England. What are your thoughts?
Jim Thomas: Great point, Phillip. I see a lot of similarities in the two offenses, and if you put the truth serum into Belichick, I think he would tell you that he's borrowed a few things from Mad Mike's scheme over the years.
Philip Douglass: Coach Linehan is bringing in a new offensive coordinator, however I do not think the process is without restrictions. I do not believe that he will allow someone to come here and install an offense that has ties to the "Don Coryell" tree of offense. He cannot to me allow that to happen because it would be too similiar to his predecessor, which would imply he made a mistake in changing the offense to begin with. Your thoughts?
Jim Thomas: I think it has less to do with that than perhaps installing a scheme that's more similar to what he does, so that he can have more input. There's also a little bit of a danger in trying to re-invent the wheel in one offseason. Plus, there are only so many plays out there. A lot of systems employ a lot of similar plays from other systems.
Philip Douglass: If Linehan wanted to implement the "Denver" style zone blocking system for his running game, how does it affect his choice of personnel in both lineman and coaches. How does all this impact his choice of an offensive coordinator? Which choice or hire is made first, the OC or the Line Coach? Is the current personnel on the O-Line atletic enough and capable of executing this type of offense?
Jim Thomas: If Valero is indeed the o-line coach, I don't know if he's a zone blocking guy. It might make them more predisposed with linemen who are used to the zone-blocking scheme.
Mark in NY: Jim,
Boudreau is correct. He was thrown under the bus, and it should have been Linehan. Why? Shaw wants to give Linehan a "free pass" because of injuries, but still throw us fans a bone by firing "someone". OK, I get it. But we all know the real reason Shaw won't shake things up is because the organization is going through such turmoil with ownership issues. I get that too. But he could have fired Linehan, and easily given the job to Haslett without the team missing a beat, and the Rams would still not have entered into any long-term contracts that might handcuff the organization's future. I understand Linehan is a smart and likeable guy, Jim, but he makes Mike Martz look like a good head coach. Too many mistakes over two years with absolutely no progress whatsoever. A new coach would have helped "sell" this team next year, and that would have been good for the organization. I'm not a big Haslett fan, but he had that defense playing hard this year, and I'm sure he could bring that same approach to the offensive side. What am I missing here?
Jim Thomas: I don't think you're missing much at all. Some of the very issues you're talking about are the ones that have Rams fans so disconlate and pessmistic that things will get appreciably better next year.
The only quibble I have with your comments is that Mike Martz was 56-36 as a head coach. I would say that would qualify him as a good head coach. He was a good head coach who had trouble getting along with each other, got bent out of shape in '04 and '05 because he wanted a contract extension, and basically wore out his welcome in St. Louis.
Cody: With McFadden entering the NFL Draft, is it possible the Rams could strengthen their team by trading Jackson for more pieces and picking McFadden second overall. I believe McFadden is going to a great Pro and Jackson should have solid value.
Jim Thomas: Sure it's possible. It would depend on how the Rams feel about McFadden after studying all the tapes and watching the workouts, etc. And it would depend on what other teams are willing to offer as a trade.
The revelation that Linehan was "much more involved in game planning and play calling" early in the year blows my mind. Olson did an admirable job down the stretch the previous year, albeit against weak teams. So by my count running the offense the Linehan way has accounted for 7 victories in 2 years. Olson called the plays on his own for 6 games, and the Rams went 4-2.
a couple of things here:
1. It takes Linehan 2 years to learn "It's hard to be the head coach and immerse yourself as a coordinator," He has now twice "fired" himself from play-calling duties.
2. Letting Olson run the offense without meddling accounts for the majority of the Rams wins the last 2 seasons, and so obviously he should be fired, demoted, or reassigned.
3. Linehan makes excuses for the O Line's play all year attributing it to injuries in order to save his job, then promptly cans Boudreau? Where's the accountability?
Don't these seem like things that point to a guy who can't see the forest from the trees?
Now for the management team that kept this guy around for another year...
I'm incensed that they botched the staff hiring/firing process so badly that it cost us the Senior Bowl evaluation period... all the worse is that the niners now get that opportunity. This is a tremendous advantage wasted. Remember a few years ago when the Chargers had the chance to work the Senior Bowl?... They only came out of that draft with Phillip Rivers, Igor Olshansky, Nate Kaeding, Nick Hardwick, Shaun Phillips, Michael Turner, & Shane Olivea... not to mention the #1 to draft Shawne Merriman the next year. That's 7 starters and a RB who will be a starter next year, that's a MONSTER draft. Rivers, Turner, Hardwick, Olivea, Phillips, & Kaeding were all at the Senior Bowl that year. It should be noted that not only were they able to identify players they liked, but players they didn't like allowing them to zero in on Olshansky,who left early as a junior, as a superior prospect at DE.
Not that the Rams talent evaluation can hold a candle to SD's, but still... why do they continue to blow opportunity after opportunity?
Jim Thomas: It's not that Linehan can't see the forest for the trees. He's a coach on the hot seat, who's trying to save his rear end. He had to make something happen staff-wise, and so far Boudreau and Linehan are sacrificial lambs.
See my earlier post on why the Rams aren't coaching the Senior Bowl. (Not that I agree with it.) Again, it's not that the Rams coaches and scouts aren't going to be there _ they will _ but they won't get that extra edge by actually coaching an entire squad on the practice field all week.
Lenny: Hi Jim,
I don't understand many fans desires to trade Steve Jackson and pick up McFadden in the draft. What this team needs is linemen plain and simple. Our skill position players just cant get it done if they dont have the time. Do you think that this trade senario is plausible? Or are the Rams going to do whats right and draft Dorsey (hopefully hes there) or one of the Longs?
Jim Thomas: As I mentioned, sure a Jackson trade is plausible.
And given the Rams draft history, I don't think we can say with any degree of certainty that their going to do the right thing on draft day.
Jeff: Hi Jim:
The Rams seemed to consistently lack leadership on the sidelines and on the field in 2007. The offense, in particular, has starters in key positions complaining about silly things like music at the stadium, failing to play through injury or disrespecting the head coach instead of challenging teammates to play with passion. Bulger and Jackson have not shown to be the type of leaders the Rams need to win. Torry is another story... at least he has a ring, the other 2 haven't been close.
However, I believe it's time for some bold changes. Trading Jackson, and either Barron or Pace to load up the first round in the draft to get a new feature back, starting left tackle and/or starting defensive end will restructure the leadership and get a youth movement started. At the same time, trading for an experienced QB (e.g. Cleveland's Anderson)will push Bulger and protect the team against injury. Gus is not the guy. I'm worried about the front office and coaching staff and the lack of apparrent engagement, but the problems with leadership are equally concerning on the field. 3-13 calls for a significant and decisive strategy to change the team attitude - you agree?
Jim Thomas: Can't argue with what you're saying. But I can't say for sure that we'll see a ton of dramatic changes.
Gabriel to Snow: Jim, what are Ram fans that advocate trading Steven Jackson thinking? He is a proven commodity in the NFL. Even hampered by perhaps the worst offensive line in the league in 07, he was great when healthy. He can run inside, outside, break the long one, and is an exceptional receiver. Blitiz pick up could be better, but you could say that about 95% of the running backs in pro football. I'm not sure I would trade him for ANY other back straight up. Sure, you can argue LT, but who else? McFadden is fun to think about, but he has never played a down in the NFL. I doubt he is another Lawrence Phillips, but who knows? A team will be fortunate if McFadden ends up providing Jackson like productivity. Haven't we seen enough ex-Rams excelling for other teams? Let's try and fire up the old grey matter this year and fix what IS broken, instead of tinkering with our few strengths. Agree?
Jim Thomas: I've said a trade is possible. I haven't said a trade is a good thing. Me personally, I wouldn't trade Jackson. I do think he's among the elite backs in the league, and Linehan would like to make him the centerpiece of the offense. And as good as McFadden was in college, there's a difference between doing it in college and doing it in the NFL.
Bryan: Im not sure how much cap space the Rams have, but do you know if the Rams are going to try and restructure Pisa's and Little's contracts so that we can free up more cap space? I don't know if they could fo the same with Bennett's as well but I would really hope so.
Jim Thomas: I don't have the exact figures at my fingertips, but the Rams will be in decent shape cap-wise. The contracts of Tinoisamoa and Bennett aren't really amenable to restructuring. The Rams are considering what to do about Little's $7.17 million roster bonus, and a restructuring is a distinct possibility.
John in DC: Hi Jim,
Recently I saw Ken Zampese's name on the list of potential O. Coordinators. Any chance he comes here, instead of Cam Cameron? I think there are too many advantages to having him. First, he was here from 00-02. And what he's done over the past several years in Cincinnati, I think proves his ability beyond those GSOT years. Maybe he just brings a little bit of "cred" back for the offensive guys. I think with Cameron, you have a new system and new philosophy. Secondly, I think with Zampese, you get a lower priced coach, but don't necessarily lose anything. The risk any coordinator takes in coming here is that Linehan will be gone at the end of the 08. Maybe Zampese takes the chance to prove himself. Finally, he's the son of Ernie Zampese of the Air Coryell of the Old Rams . I think with all these working in his favor, it should be hard to overlook him.
Jim Thomas: I know Zampese a little bit; not a lot. I think he's ready to be a coordinator; he's had enough seasoning as a QB coach and is ready for the next step. Bringing him back might be a way to get some of the disgruntled veterans back to buying in totally. And schematically, I think he'd bring back some of the plays the vets like.
Jeff: Hey Jim:
In 1995 the Rams moved to St. Louis and the management (John Shaw) cited fan support as the key reason to leave the 2nd biggest market in America. Of course, at the time, the team was one of the poorest, if not the poorest performing franchises in the NFL for a decade. I was there during that time as a season ticket holder in Anaheim. The football product was awful and an embarrassment to the heritage I relish about the Rams. Only the most loyal of supporters, like me, could stay on to witness the bungled shadow that was once the LA Rams.
However, as fans we should be very concerned (again) about the current state of the team St. Louis spent a lot of money investing in. I attended the Green Bay game and there were a MINORITY of Rams fans at the game at home – it looked like a domed Lambeau Field. It was a disgrace and John Shaw is again saying the same things to the media he said in Anaheim about “cycles” and “down periods” in terms of NFL team performance. He is failing once again, to take responsibility for team performance on the field and thus by inference blaming fans for not supporting the team. Its different this time however as the Rams do not have 49 years of heritage in one geographic area like they did in the Los Angeles area. They also do not have 15 to 18 million potential fans in St. Louis like they did in LA. When they lose fan support - it is a St. Louis Football Cardinals-type scenario. The passion and depth of support for pro football in St. Louis is thinner than most other cities of it’s size. Frankly, I think St. Louis is a great sports city – but it's baseball and hockey before football. Forced PSL’s can’t fix this – that’s a one shot deal.
Obviously, Mr. Shaw has survived a lot of turmoil to lead the franchise. Georgia Frontiere has made a great fortune from what he has engineered in his position with the Rams through relocation. Also, he was fortunate to get Dick Vermeil to St. Louis to deliver results on the field and create a short but fleeting legacy. However, beyond making money for the owner in relocation and getting a handful of successful years out of 25 with a decent product on the field, what else has Shaw done for the Rams?
The current state of affairs is an outrage. John Shaw and his associates are mostly lawyers and finance people that do not understand football fans (the customer). They do not take care of the fans and they are not committed to success on the football field. They lack the competence to lead our team to be a consistent competitive winner. John Shaw lives in Los Angeles and he seems to be allowed to do so because he lined Georgia’s pockets (the real truth). What can Ram fans do to push folks like Stan Kroenke to take control and stop the insanity? Are we destined to endure this pain further and further?
Jim Thomas: With Georgia Frontiere ailing, and her prognosis not good, changes in ownership and the front office are looming. It may take several years for all of the scenarios to unfold. But I don't think it will be business as usual for much longer. (Of course, that could also mean that things get worse!)
vanessa: yes jim thomas I would like to know if the rams would have interest in chad johnson.question number 2 if you was scott linehan and your team is sitting at number two in the nfl draft who would you pick glen dorsey or mafadden for 2008.third question will issac bruce be back with the rams in 2008.last and final question will john shaw and company ever give marshall faulk a job in front office as a black guy.
Jim Thomas: Don't know if there's any interest in Chad Johnson.
Although I reserve the right to change my mind, right now I'd pick DE Chris Long of Virginia.
Not sure on Bruce, although I think there's been a shift in stance lately at Rams Park on Bruce. (See earlier posts.)
Lastly, the current top two officials in the Rams' personnel department are "black guys" _ Tony Softli and Lawrence McCutcheon.
My question is: Does Faulk really want to spend hours grinding out tape, traveling all over the country to out of the way campuses? That's what personnel guys do.
Jim: I cant believe they would evan consider keeping Linehan.He has proven to be awful at every phase of coaching.I can't stand the thaught of suffering through another season with him.Any chance they will fire him during the summit?It was tough enough remaining loyal to the Rams after leaving Ca.I don't think I can any longer with such awful coaching.Jim
Jim Thomas: The only scenario in which Linehan still could go _ and I'd say it's less than 1% _ is if management insists on certain changes and Linehan says no. I do NOT see this happening.
Jingles: JT- Was there ever any chance Martz would have returned to STL as an offensive coordinator?
Jim Thomas: Not as long as John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt were still working for the Rams.
roger cooper: IS JIM hasslet going to keep is job i hope so.
Jim Thomas: All indications are that he will be back. Although, Linehan told me Friday that any coaching staff changes wouldn't necessarily be limited to offense.
Dominic: Hello again Jim.
Thank you for taking the time to answer the same questions over and over again from us fans.What is your gut feeling on the cap casualties on those who will be cut? My list consists of James Hall,Chavous,Glover,restructering of Littles and hoping Bennetts contract.
And do you think we will run the 3-4 or 4-3? I prefer the 3-4 and we arent that far off from getting the players needed to run it. You are greatly appreciated!
Jim Thomas: Something has to be done with Little's contract to reduce the cap hit. Other than that, I don't know.
As for 3-4 vs. 4-3, I don't believe that topic has been discussed at length yet at Rams Park.
Greg: Die hard ram fan here in Syracuse,Ny.
Question 1: Why does it seem like the only professional football team that consistently has injuries are the Rams?
Question 2: I have noticed a big decrease in effort on both sides of the ball. One Pro Bowl players are now barely pros. Linehan has lost this team. So didn't Vermeil. My question is this, Vermeil knew what he was doing, Linehan doesn't, when is the front office going to see this, and when are they gonna hire Eric Dickerson or Marshall to be a running back coach. 39 has all of the talent, but I think his lack of training in the off season makes him assessable to injuries.
Thank you for your time, I have loved my Rams since I was 8, i am now 36, still feel like the same old Rams. Where's Kurt?
Jim Thomas: The Rams certainly had more than they're share: 12 on IR, 27 players who misses at least one start; 152 games lost due to injury. But I don't know who this ranks with the rest of the league.
The easiest thing to say when a team starts losing is that the players have given up. To a large degree, I don't think that's the case, particularly on defense.
Also, do you think Dickerson and Faulk really want to work about 90 hours a week seven months of the year for $200,000-$300,000?
It appears that the Rams offense is best suited for a Mike Martz type of offense. We need to hire a cordinator that runs that type of offense or similar to so that we can be more effective with the personal we have. So Jim dont you think that Cam Cameron will be a good fit with the organization? Also what players do you think we have a good chance of getting in free agency to fill holes and the draft?
Jim Thomas: The two best players from the Martz system _ Holt and Bruce _ aren't what they used to be. So any Martz-like offense could have only a short-term impact. Also, I think Linehan makes sense trying to build the offense around Jackson _ he's clearly their best offensive player when healthy. (Which means you need a good No. 2 back in case of injury _ and I'm not sure that guy is Pittman.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I think Ken Zampese might be the best bride between the old and the current system, because he worked for the Rams before going to Cincy.
It's hard to predict what's going to happen with free agency. For example, OG Alan Faneca won't return to Pittsburgh. He's a 7-time Pro Bowler, but also is 35. He will still command a lot of money in free agency. Is it worth it for the Rams to spend a lot of money on him as a short-term solution. And what if signing Faneca then means you don't have enough money for someone like CB Marcus Trufant of Seattle or WR Bernard Berrian of Chicago? Those are all the kinds of issues the Rams have to sort through.
jerry bartels: Hi Jim, truthfully you have answered most of my questions. I just want to say how much I enjoy your column and I think you said you like Cris Long for our pick--thats my choice. Keep up the good work. a 40 year fan from Elk grove CA
Jim Thomas: Thanks--It's amazing to me how many Rams fans the team still seems to have in California. I guess if LA had a team right now, it'd be different.
rjlar: First, thanks for the chat session. Since the powers to be at Rams park are not returning any calls, we can get some good info from our best writer.
I am under the impression that there is no sense of urgency with the Rams' management right now. According to your recent article, Rams players held several players only meetings to "gripe" about Linehan. Is there any possibility that Shaw decided to fire Linehan and has been seeking another coach on his own? It just seems odd that only one coordinator has been hired and does not even know his job title. This is purely conjecture on my part, but if Scott has indeed "lost" the team, management would have no choice but to remove him, for the benefit of the entire team. Your thoughts? Thanks.
Jim Thomas: I've been wrong before, but I don't think there are any Oliver Stone conspiracies going on. Shaw is aware of some of the player problems with Linehan _ more aware than one might think. And I'm sure Linehan is getting asked some questions about that this week in LA.
You mentioned five possible candidates for Rams OC in your Sunday article. Realistically, do you think any of them would seriously consider coming to the Rams? Have any of them run an offense similar to what Linehan prefers? Thanks.
Jim Thomas: Buzz--Unless I've missed something here in the last day or so, Cameron, Callahan, Gailey and Mularkey are all out of work. This is a chance for them to work, regardless of the circumstances. (Although, in Mularkey's case, I've been told he may sit out the year.) Zampese, I believe, is still under contract with Cincinnati.
I don't think it's a prequisite of the hire that he runs a system similar to Linehan. In fact, I think management would like something at least a little different.
One last OC question. Suppose Linehan can't persuade an experienced NFL OC to join the Rams. You know that there is a position coach out there that, if given the opportunity, could do a nice job as OC. He could be the next Mike Martz, currently coaching QBs somewhere. Can you name a position coach you think would be a natural if given a chance? Thanks.
Jim Thomas: Not that I'm getting on the bandwagon for him or anything, but as I mentioned earlier, Cincinnati's Ken Zampese probably is ready to move on from QB coach to coordinator.
Go Rams!: Is there any news on the rams moving to a 3-4 defense? Any indications? Hasletts name hasn't come up in head-coaching circles yet so i figure he will be back to lead the defense....
Also, is the offensive line and offensive co-ordinator (running linehans offense), the only people responsible for the 3-13 season? Sounds like a dumb logic to me....surely the secondary and special teams coaches deserve to be shown the door
Jim Thomas: As I mentioned earlier, there has been very little discussion of such issues as Linehan first comes to grips with what will happen with his staff.
As for staff changes, I'm not sure how many will follow. But when you go 3-13 and the head coach stays, somebody else has to go. Fair or not, that's what's happening here with Olson and Boudreau.
Rams fan: Who do u think the rams will try to re-sign out of the impending list?
Plus, is TE a need in the draft, how do the coaching staff feel bout klop and walker (FA)....
The draft is deep at RB, CB, TE....i would like the rams to look at CB in the second and maybe TE in the fourth but i know both are unlikely....ur thoughts?
Jim Thomas: The Rams have shown at least initial interest in re-signing Romberg at center; as for Chillar, it looks like the Rams are at least willing to explore the LB market.
As for Klop and Walker, the new offensive coordinator may have a lot of input in what happens there.
I would like to see the team add a corner _ you can't have enough. At RB, I'm not sold on Pittman as No. 2. As for TE, if the Rams add one, it should be a blocking tight end.
david: I fail to see the logic of the Rams management in keeping Scott Linehan. Management recognizes that he better make some significant improvement in the 2008 season or he's gone. So as a result, any prespective assistant will take that into consideration, and any assistant of any quality is likely to go else where. End result: the Rams will have another miserable season. Scott Linehan has not proven to be a leader in any way,shape or form. Take the financial hit from his contract and move on. Otherwise I foresee alot of Rams fans moving on, and Rams management can take their financial hit ( a more severe one) in that respect. Linehan had plenty of talent to work with, and the injury excuse is a poor one. Every team has injuries, and it is up to the head coach to work thru those injuries with a game plan each week to utilize the talent available most effectviely. Example: look how much Arizona improved with the insertion of the right coach.
Sorry Scott, your fans don't support you, the team doesn't respect you, and your decision making ability is poor. Solution: pink slip immediately.
Jim Thomas: Keep wishing. But the earliest your wish might be granted is the end of the '08 season.
Gus Catanzaro: I realize our Practice Squad had little/no talent so we picked up a multitude of Street Free Agents when players went down. Why didn't we claim some needed replacements off other team's Practice Squad instead? It's apparent most teams are a better judge of talent they want to keep than we are.
Jim Thomas: Actually, at least seven players who were on the Rams practice squad at one point in the season sent time on the 53-man roster at some point in the season.
The Rams tried to sign a few players off other team's practice squads over the course of the season. OT Mark LeVoir was one of them.
tater: Is it becoming increasingly difficult for Lousyhan to attract top shelf coaches to round out his staff? Why would they want to come here? What is the factor that would draw them here?
If the Rams would go 10-6 the next two seasons his track record would still be under .500
Jim Thomas: As I mentioned, at least one offensive coordinator candidate told me he would be leery of coming to St. Louis since Linehan could be out after the '08 season. So you make a legitimate point.
Are you seeing you wouldn't take 10-6 the next two seasons. Fact: Dick Vermeil finished one game under .500 in his three seasons with the Rams.
Richard Spittlehouse: Hi Jim,
Four questions here:
1 Do you regard an O Line of Pace, Setterstrom, Romberg, Incognito and Barron as potentially successful in the NFL?
2)Of the potential Free Agents on the market in 2008 in need positions for the Rams, have you heard any links to the following: Bernard Berrian, Patrick Crayton, Alan Faneca, Floyd Womack, Jared Allen, Justin Smith, Kawika Mitchell, Marcus Trufant or Ken Hamlin?
3)Do you think Jake Long is the inevitable first draft pick of the Rams? Most mock draft boards are in no doubt.
4)Do you think that if the Rams have a fully fit O Line, pick up a deep threat WR, get a quality pass rushing DE and shore up the corner opposite Tye Hill, they are a playoff team again?
Thanks for the info.
Jim Thomas: 1.) Because of injuries to Pace, Setterstrom, Romberg and Incognito, I don't think you can regard this group as being "potentially successful" in the NFL. Plus, we just haven't seen enough of Setterstrom and Romberg (and even Incognito to some degree) to conclude that they're the answer.
2.) Haven't heard. Obviously, the Rams are intrigued by Faneca and Trufant.
3.) I would lump Jake Long in with Chris Long and Glenn Dorsey at this point.
4.) Actually, Fakhir Brown's a better corner than Tye Hill at this stage of their careers. But the answer to your question _ is yes. Assuming Bulger, Jackson and the WRs stay healthy.
JC: Does Brock Berlin have a legitimate chance of being the developmental QB the Rams need?
Jim Thomas: I don't think so.
JustMe: 1) Is it a lock that Leonard Little & James Hall with his $3 million base salary will be on the roster in 2008?
2) Any worries about Carriker maintaining all the extra weight he gained while rehabbing his injury? Have the Rams even considered allowing this kid to get back down to 275-280 pounds like he was his junior year in college and moving him back to DE?
Jim Thomas: 1.) No.
2.) Carriker didn't gain that much extra weight, at least not based on what he weighed at the combine. I think they like him as a DT-DE versatile player.
Kenny H.: Jim,
Does management consult the opinions of players like Bruce & Holt (or Faulk, when he was still here), or do they feel the players should only play? Specifically, would they ask these leaders questions to aide in their evaluation of coaches and/or players? Is there ever that type of relationship between management and certain players? Thanks!
Jim Thomas: They should, at least in terms of game-planning and the playbook.
And even some feedback on potential coaching hires probably would be helpful if the players know about the coach.
I would think even in free agency it might be helpful. For example, if you're considering Seattle CB Marcus Trufant, ask Torry Holt what he's like to work against. But I don't think it happens too often in terms of free agency and potential coaching hires. It does happen in varying degrees when it comes to game-planning and the playbook.
David Naglieri: Dear Jim,
Great work this year covering an awful football team! With rumors starting to fly about a possible Steven jackson trade and drafting Mcfadden what can you tell us about the status of contract negotiations between jackson and the Rams? With 2008 being the last year fo his contract I can only guess the Rams will want to have him signed to a long term deal before next training camp in order to avoid a lame duck season?
Jim Thomas: I'm not aware of any contract negotiations at this point, but that doesn't mean they're not taking place. But if the Rams are even thinking about dangling Jackson as possible trade bait, it makes no sense to tie him up to a long-term contract before the draft.
When is Linehan's contract up? I originally thought that he was signed for a 3-year deal with his last being this coming season, but I've heard another version that he has 2 years left on his contract.
If he has only 1 year left, what are the chances that Cowher would be hired as his replacement after this season?
Jim Thomas: Linehan is under contract through the 2009 season; he has two years left.
Charlie Connors: Jim,
When the offensive line doesn't block and the receivers do not get open, you get your first rushing td in week 8 or 9, is it possible for a Qb to look good?
Bad habits and all, how much better do you think Brady (who doesn't even know what it is like to be touched) Manning, etc. would have faired?
Also, why did Rams give Olson a 3 year extension after last year only to scapegoat him this year?
Jim Thomas: Answer to Question No. 1: No doubt Bulger had next to no help. But he still could've done some things better. He conceded as much at the end of the season.
Answer to Question No. 2: They gave Olson a 3-year extension after last year in part because they weren't expecting to go 3-13 in '08.
Les Dean: Jim, Why are folks making such a big deal with the Rams trying to hire an OC? Most teams have a Head Coach and two Coordinators? I know Linny was brought in to run the Offence but many teams fire their OC and get another one.
Jim Thomas: It's just a byproduct of the intense interest in the NFL. And it's also a reflection on how bad the offense was in '07.
Steve: Jim...Rams management has experienced fan apathy in the past to the point where they had to relocate the franchise to St. Louis. Evaluating Shaw/Zygmunt's responses thus far to lackluster performances on the field and radical attendance declines...it appears the two didn't learn a thing from prior mistakes in LA. Because of this..it ca only be a good thing for St. Louis where ownership of the franchise is about to change hands.
I read where Georgia's son is going to sit on some of the team meetings this week in L.A.....any chance of getting a one on one with him and asking the right questions?
Jim Thomas: Actually, Rosenbloom has attended his share of league meetings in the past and meets regularly with John Shaw. Of course, we'll interview Rosenbloom when the time is right.
Larry in Alaska: Is there a way the club plans on freeing up cap room to persue free agents or do they plan on sticking and staying. Plus how does this effect signing a number 2 pick if they keep it?
Jim Thomas: The Rams are in pretty good cap shape to begin with for '08. But they can free up several million dollars alone by converting Leonard Little's $7.17 million roster bonus into signing bonus. (That's because for cap purposes, signing bonus money can be spread out over the length of a contract; roster bonus money cannot.) There are a few other players with high base salaries for '08 that can be converted into signing bonus to free up cap space.
The Rams' cap situation is such that it won't affect the signing of a No. 2 pick if they keep it.
James Arnold: Jim,
Can you provide any insight or thoughts as to how the rams will proceed with the 2nd pick? any chance they trade down to avoid having to pay the bigger money to the 2nd pick? any chance of trading the 2nd pick all together for a veteran now?
Jim Thomas: I think all of those trade scenarios are possible. If they keep the pick, the four names that are in play right now are Glenn Dorsey, Darren McFadden, Chris Long and Jake Long.
And that's about as far as it goes right now.
Dave: Hi Jim!
Thanks again for being here for us!
I have a comment really, more than a question. It's about Madison Hedgecock. Have you noticed that in the last two weeks of the playoffs how much the commentators love this guy!? Collinsworth went so far as to essentially call Rams management a bunch of boobs(it takes one to know one!) for outright releasing him and Joe Buck commented that the G-men love him so much that they signed him to a 5 year contract extension!
I saw on two TD plays that Hedgecock cut blocked one guy to clear the way and crushed a linebacker to make the hole that Brandon Jacobs waltzed through. Is this just not another nail in the coffin of the Shaw/Zygmunt/Linehan brain (t)rust!?
You just know these guys are going to sign Brandon Chillar to a long term contract for big bucks this off season when the guy gets blocked by everybody's grandma! I can see the return of the 90's already!
Jim Thomas: Dave--There's no doubt letting Hedgecock go was a mistake, particularly since he was replaced with Richard Owens.
As for Chillar, it doesn't look like he will be re-signed.
rambro 180degrees: boy ,that cromartie would look good in a ram uni, ...tye hill, it wasnt even close!!!!!!!!!!
we need co offensive and defensive co ordinators ,so if we f up we can fire one during the season, draft dorsey, felix, lbs and wr's till we are done.......easy
go rams in 08, i hate seeing dallas in playoffs without my rams to knock em out like the old days
Jim Thomas: There can be no doubt Cromartie looks like a slam dunk better ick than Hill right now, but two years is a little early to judge and there were injury questions surrounding Cromartie when he came out.
Jackie Chiles: Jim,
My question is about the Edward Jomes Dome and the current Football Operations there.
Who is responsible for upholding the lease requirements for the Dome? Have the requirements been met for the 10 year period?
I have been to almost each and every game in 2007. I noticed that the pre-game functions, game functions and halftime show are terribly depressing to listen to and to watch. The music is off, it doesn't coincide with the big screens, and the whole football atmosphere is just a wreck. Does the NFL or the Rams manage the complete football experience inside of the dome for game day?
I recently read in an article that a poll was done in each NFL city rating the whole game day experience along with the dome itself and the football experience inside of each dome. St. Louis was among the bottom.
Does the Rams ownership know this and what are they doing about it?
Do the rams plan on pursuing a real full time fullback for 2008? James Hodgins (sp) was the last true one we had. Is he still around?
Jim Thomas: The lease requirements are monitored by the Rams and the people who run the dome (I believe it's the Convention and Visitors Commission.)
Anyway, the Rams and the CVC have only recently agreed on meeting the 10-year requirements. (13 years into the dome lease.) About $30 million of improvements are scheduled in the next year or so; in a $300 million stadium, it's not like this is a massive facelift.
The game day activities and entertainment, etc., are the responsibility of the Rams, subject to some NFL regulations.
I wrote an article about the Rams game-day atmosphere nearly two months ago now, I believe, and cited the stadium survey you're talking about. I'm sure management knows about it. They are aware that there are game-day problems. But knowin there's a problem and doing something about it are two different things.
Don't know about the fullback thing. They could use one. I think Hodgins is out of football.
Kathy: Hello Jim , Do you any idea or do you know if the Rams are starting to get concerned with ticket sales next year ?
Are they concerned with the backlash of having their Head coach return . I am waiting to see what they do the next few weeks before I decide
Jim Thomas: If the Rams aren't concerned about ticket sales, they could be in for a big shock over the next few months when the PSLs start coming in. (Or more precisely, don't start coming in.)
I think they have a sense of this.
Time to go. Thanks for all the questions. I got to as many as I could. We'll have a chat again next week. Stay tuned for details.
Re: Jim Thomas Live Tuesday, January 15
RE: The atmosphere on game day.
Outside the DOME is fine in my opinion. It's inside the DOME that's lacking. We need more of the RAH RAH, DE-FENSE DE-FENSE leadership by the PA announcer or the big screens.
Last edited by laram0; -01-17-2008 at 01:03 PM.
Re: Jim Thomas Live Tuesday, January 15
I like when we said we needed money for CB Marcus Trufant of Seattle or WR Bernard Berrian of Chicago. If only it could happen huh...it'd be nice to be able to resign our key players (including Bruce) and signing those two.
We could use more of a defense...
Re: Jim Thomas Live Tuesday, January 15I would say Bruce would be a '49er in _ oh, about 15 minutes _ if he got released by the Rams."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
-01-17-2008 #6Registered User
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Re: Jim Thomas Live Tuesday, January 15
What a blunder that we won't get the chance to coach the guys in the Senior Bowl. Although on the bright side we'd **** it up somehow if we did get the chance I'm sure so I guess we're not missing much...
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