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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Linehan knows future is now

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/24/2008

    At age 44, Scott Linehan is still young and inexperienced by NFL head-coaching standards. He has been around long enough, however, to realize what he's facing this year.

    "I feel like I've got to win," Linehan said. "I'm not going to (con) anybody. There's no question."

    In some way, shape or form, Linehan must win "X" amount of games this season to keep his job. And what's the magic number?

    "I don't know what it is," Linehan said. "But we've got to win."



    Linehan says no one in upper management or ownership has communicated that to him. But they don't really have to.

    "They know that I know we've got to win," says Linehan, who's entering Year 3 of a four-year deal. "They've been nothing but supportive, between Chip (Rosenbloom) and Lucia (Rodriguez), and John (Shaw). And obviously, I work with Jay (Zygmunt) on a day-to-day basis.

    "They want nothing more than for our football team to have success, and to say, 'We did pick the right guy.' It pains me to not be able to give them the product. Especially a year ago."

    After an 8-8 inaugural season in 2006, a year in which the Rams closed strongly and barely missed a playoff berth, the wheels fell off in '07 when Linehan's injury-ravaged team finished 3-13.

    "We felt we should have done a lot better, in every way, basically," Linehan said. "But it happened. If you lament about it, it's not productive. You've got to take the experience, turn it into a positive, and work that much harder. Make sure you're smarter about your approach."

    The early weeks of the offseason were perhaps the toughest stretch of Linehan's coaching career. He looked inwardly at what he could do better, and then outwardly to see what could be improved around him. Here's what Linehan came up with:

    HE HAD TO HANDLE LOSING BETTER

    There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of Linehan moping after losses, to the point of even returning to Rams Park on Sunday nights following a defeat, munching cereal and roaming the halls in sweat pants. Trouble was, those feelings spilled over into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and on.

    Linehan concedes: "My biggest flaw is that you spend all week beating yourself up to the point where you can't let it go."

    Imagine how those feelings compounded last season as the Rams endured an 0-8 start.

    "I think that's the No. 1 job of a head coach that he gets his team moving forward no matter whether you win or lose a game," Linehan said.

    Easier said than done. In the end, it's what drove Dick Vermeil out of coaching after his first NFL head-coaching stint with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976-82.

    "I couldn't handle it at all my first seven years at Philadelphia," Vermeil said during a trip to Rams camp earlier this month. "I was still mulling over on Friday why we lost, and we're playing (again) Sunday.

    "Later, you develop a philosophy where, hey, you move on, and you learn how to handle it. If you as the leader can't handle it, your squad isn't going to handle it. Your coaching staff's not going to handle it."

    So how does Linehan do a better job of handling defeat?

    "Well, we're going to find out," he said, smiling. "You've got to have that short memory. You've got to move on to the next week, and you can't get caught up in how it feels."

    HE REALIZED HE WAS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM

    This led to some tough decisions about staff changes. Perhaps we'll never know how much management influenced Linehan to make changes, but when all was said and done, seven coaches were gone from his 2007 staff, and six new coaches were added.

    "It was very unpleasant," Linehan said. "But you've got to do what you think's best. ... The biggest lesson I learned last year is I need to surround myself with as good of people as I possibly could.

    "The people who have been successful in any business, and in this game, have had great support. I'm talking about from players to coaches to support people. The real good ones do a great job of delegating the responsibilities, and trusting and having faith in those people."

    HE DECIDED TO TURN OVER PLAY-CALLING DUTIES

    This was a telling move. Linehan wouldn't be a head coach today if not for his prowess as an offensive coordinator in the pro and college ranks. And in Al Saunders, he hired an experienced, high-profile coordinator and former NFL head coach. Someone who would run the show, not just be a figurehead.

    "Really, it wasn't hard," Linehan said. "To me, I feel like I could always go back and coach at a high level as a coordinator. But that's not what I want to do. That's not my goal. Those were my goals.

    "Once I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity that I have in St. Louis, it's all about being the best head coach that I possibly can be. And to do that, I need to have the best coordinator I can possibly have on offense. The best coordinator I can have on defense. The best special teams coach. And then assistant coaches, and then players that fit our system, and support staff."

    HE DECIDED TO TAKE A CEO APPROACH

    Because he was so tied up with offense, Linehan felt he was neglecting other areas of the club. Now that Saunders has taken over the offense, Linehan has been free to roam the field during practice, have a better handle on defense and special teams, and try to set the overall tone for the entire team.

    "I think it's important that I have a relationship with all the team," he said. "I always felt I had a good relationship with the players, but I'm not sure I could say I knew every player because I was pretty consumed with the offense."

    Linehan is trying to change that this season. He's trying to give his assistants and players the best working environment possible, and in doing so, demanding a certain level of performance.

    "There has to be a sense of urgency from everybody within our organization, to not just do better, but do a lot better," Linehan said. "Take it to a whole different standard. If by approaching it that way, it doesn't work well, so be it."

    And if it doesn't work, well, Linehan knows what could follow.


  2. #2
    jkramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Linehan knows future is now

    the guy realized he needed to change things and that what he was doing wasn't working so you have to give him alot of credit for that,in the big ego world of sports its not always easy to admit your wrong,so I am going to support our head coach this season,nobody better than him knows what is at stake.

  3. #3
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Linehan knows future is now

    "In some way, shape or form, Linehan must win "X" amount of games this season to keep his job. And what's the magic number?"

    I not sure what's the magic number but the team can not start out like last season. He would lose the fans for good.
    :ramlogo:

  4. #4
    Ramblin` Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Linehan knows future is now

    with a four year contract, id say 9-7 with or without a play-off place;lets him see out his final year of that contract.
    then if his 4th year returns to last years form..he`s gone,goodbye extension!

  5. #5
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    Re: Linehan knows future is now

    I would only keep him if he won x (10) amount of games. 9-7 is still unacceptable. He took an 8-8 team and decimated it. 9-7 would have been fine in his first year. To add insult to injury after last years performance would be keeping him after an 8-8 season.

    10-6 is my answer and one playoff win. Nothing less, otherwise "CAN" this guy without flinching. Escort him to the front gate and don't say bye! Angry Ram Avatar! Urrgh!
    Last edited by LA Rammer; -08-24-2008 at 08:19 PM.
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    Re: Linehan knows future is now

    10-6 sounds like a reasonable number, better of course would be 11-5 and a division championship. Baring that, beat San Fran and Seattle twice and ending 8-8 would be a maybe.

    Nothing like holding ones feet to the fire to motivate success. The NFL is the perfect example of a "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY" universe we live in.

    Who really can explain the Rams?? You have a HC on the hot seat, the fans are restless, ticket and merchandise sales are down. And what kind of off-season did the Rams have? Notta, much more then a peep. For the Rams I think after 5 regular season games, will be the bell weather for the whole of this season

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