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  1. #1
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    Linehan vows to address defense

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/21/2006


    As he approaches his first NFL scouting combine as a head coach, Scott Linehan has made a promise to himself.

    "I can't just go back to my roots and spend every waking hour watching the quarterbacks, or the receivers, or anything like that," Linehan said. "I certainly am going to put a lot of effort into evaluating the defensive players."

    Linehan's entire coaching career, including four seasons as a coordinator in the NFL, has been on the offensive side of the ball. But as Rams head coach, he inherits a team that has many shortcomings on a defense and ranked 30th in the league last season.

    The weeklong combine, which starts today in Indianapolis, starts the process of filling those holes.

    "We've got some areas that we need to address as far as our team needs," Linehan said. "So I'll be spending time concentrating on some of those areas."

    So as much as Linehan would love to spend his time in Indy watching the likes of quarterbacks Matt Leinart of Southern Cal and Vince Young of Texas, or running backs Reggie Bush of Southern Cal and DeAngelo Williams of Memphis, his time will be better spent elsewhere.

    Like linebacker, where A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter of Ohio State, Chad Greenway of Iowa and DeMeco Ryans of Alabama figure to be top-20 picks.

    Or defensive line, where ends Mario Williams of North Carolina State, Tamba Hali of Penn State and tackles Haloti Ngata of Oregon and Brodrick Bunkley of Florida State should be top-20 selections.

    Or the secondary, where cornerbacks Tye Hill of Clemson, Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech and safety Michael Huff of Texas are expected to be first-rounders.

    Many of the above players will be on the board when the Rams pick at No. 11 overall in the draft April 29.

    While Linehan will be all over the map in terms of evaluating draft prospects, his assistant coaches will concentrate on their positions.

    "We'll meet daily to go over how guys are doing, or any surprises that have come up," Linehan said. "You're going to come up with people that pop up out of nowhere. Or somebody that maybe didn't get a lot of attention, all of a sudden shows up. That's all part of the process."

    With the help of general manager Charley Armey and the scouting department, Linehan plans to have someone in the Rams organization interview every one of the 300-plus draft prospects at the combine, whether it's during the formal interview sessions in the evening or elsewhere during the day.

    Players have become so well-schooled by agents on the interview process that Linehan feels it's difficult NOT to make a favorable impression during the 15-minute formal sessions.

    So Linehan plans to put a heavy emphasis on X's and O's in the Rams' interview sessions. "Just because you can find out what a guy knows, generally speaking, about the position," he said. "And how well, maybe, he's been prepared or coached. So, I think there's things you can find out in that 15 minutes more than just, 'Hi, how are you?'"

    Linehan will use the combine as a tool, but not an end-all, be-all, in assessing draft talent. Actual college production, and intangibles, go into the evaluation formula, as well as what shows up on the stopwatch.

    "You need the measurables," he said. "They're a great reference point when it comes to what you need. ... (But) you combine the measurables at that position along with the intangible qualities, the things that you can't really put a clock on so to speak."

    Any off-the-field problems a draft prospect may have are factored into the evaluation of intangibles.

    "If there is a red flag, you'd like to address those face to face and give the person a chance to give their side of it," Linehan said. "The character of your football team is maybe the key ingredient to your success or lack of success. So if you're just taking guys off measurables, and their ability to play football, I think that'd be a big mistake if you're not equally weighing their intangible qualities."

    In general, Linehan plans to address needs through free agency. When it comes to the draft, he would like to stick to the value board as much as possible, even if it means drafting someone at a position that's already an area of strength on the roster.

    So if the Rams are drafting, say, at No. 100 overall in the fourth round, and there's a player remaining on their board whom they rank significantly higher, Linehan wants to take that player. Even if he plays a position where the Rams are well-stocked, like wide receiver.

    Under that scenario, Linehan said, "You're compromising the process by going all the way down and picking the 100th player on your board because you need a linebacker. I don't think you pass up quality football players in this process. It always comes back to haunt you if you do. And that's going to be our philosophy."


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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    So if the Rams are drafting, say, at No. 100 overall in the fourth round, and there's a player remaining on their board whom they rank significantly higher, Linehan wants to take that player. Even if he plays a position where the Rams are well-stocked, like wide receiver.

    Under that scenario, Linehan said, "You're compromising the process by going all the way down and picking the 100th player on your board because you need a linebacker. I don't think you pass up quality football players in this process. It always comes back to haunt you if you do. And that's going to be our philosophy."
    I don’t think TE Davis will be better then every defensive player still on the board at 11.

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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    It sounds like he is going to spend TOO much time on the defense... I need some reassurance.
    There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    How can he spend TOO much time on the defense? He can't spend enough time on the defense

  5. #5
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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    My guess is that with the stability on offence he is going to take this chance to learn how to scout the defensive players from our defensive staff. This is a good idea in my mind for later down the road as to his own development as a head coach. Remember Scott is a rookie.

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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    Coach Linehan is acknowledging his priorities and evidently wants to MAKE SURE that the D improves.

    I trust he will allow Haslett the proper delegation and, at the same time, the necessary support to achieve a 'measurable' and definite upgrade for our defense.

    :clanram: This year FA's should be very interesting for the Rams!

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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    I really got high hopes for this guy, I think he'll do good with us...but I think some of our coaches (that are veterans and have a lot of experience) should definitely help him out with defense, and I think our offense if we even pick any offensive players, I think he'll be just fine.


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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    He's a lot like Martz in many ways. (Hopefully only in the good ways). Basically he's leaving the door open to get an offensive "toy" if one falls to him.

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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    In general, Linehan plans to address needs through free agency. When it comes to the draft, he would like to stick to the value board as much as possible, even if it means drafting someone at a position that's already an area of strength on the roster.

    So if the Rams are drafting, say, at No. 100 overall in the fourth round, and there's a player remaining on their board whom they rank significantly higher, Linehan wants to take that player. Even if he plays a position where the Rams are well-stocked, like wide receiver.
    Great just what we need ....more wide receivers.

    I don't like this kind of thinking. Stick to the value board....that is crazy talk. None of these guys in the draft are proven players. You can't rank them by value.

    I would stick to the best player for a needed position.

    With the help of general manager Charley Armey and the scouting department, Linehan plans to have someone in the Rams organization interview every one of the 300-plus draft prospects at the combine, whether it's during the formal interview sessions in the evening or elsewhere during the day.
    Wow so they are interviewing all 300 plus prospects. They must have a lot of time to waste.
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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz
    I don't like this kind of thinking. Stick to the value board....that is crazy talk. None of these guys in the draft are proven players. You can't rank them by value.

    I would stick to the best player for a needed position.
    I think it's got to be some sort of combination of the two. A team that goes into the draft and only picks the BPA may end up addressing absolutely no needs, which is a mistake. I think you have to rank players on your big board, but then also factor in team need as well.

    Furthermore, if you rank one guy as 10th best in the draft, and another guy as 14th best in the draft, I'm not sure it would be such an unreasonable selection to take the 14th best guy, who fills a bigger need on your team. Obviously you have him ranked that high because he's talented. I think it's when you have a guy that's ranked 10th and you pass him up for a guy ranked in the 20s that is problematic.

    Obviously player talent has to be a big factor in how your board plays out. But I think any team whose strategy is as simple as taking names off the top of the list and then selecting the highest guy remaining is, as Linehan says, compromising the process as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz
    Wow so they are interviewing all 300 plus prospects. They must have a lot of time to waste.
    Well, it costs something like $70,000 for representatives from each team to go to the combine. They may as well get their money's worth.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    I think it's when you have a guy that's ranked 10th and you pass him up for a guy ranked in the 20s that is problematic.
    I don't know about that. Walsh built a dinasty by trading down and getting talent that wasn't in the normal rankings among teams. Based upon the past, don't you think that the rankings are only so much fluff that attempts to put order on something that is intangible? Look at all the pro bowlers and play makers that have come from the third to sixth round in the NFL. Screw the best athlete available. Address the needs regardless of ranking.
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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    Quote Originally Posted by bigredman
    Based upon the past, don't you think that the rankings are only so much fluff that attempts to put order on something that is intangible?
    No, I don't. I think you have to go into the draft with some form of a ranking system for the players that are in it.
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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    Jesus, Nick. Don't you ever sleep? (Eat, go to a show, or something).
    :tongue:
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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    To me, the dropoff is crucial here. If I were putting together a board, I wouldn't necessarily be dividing it by round. I'd be saying "these are the guys we have little doubt will become stars in the NFL" and I'm going to try to get those guys as long as they're still on the board. Sometimes there are only going to be a handful of no-brainers at the top; the problem is when you're faced with a number of players you'd love to have on the team.

    After the creme de la creme is gone, then my board looks different: I'm going to have a tiered system of who I think will be able to start in the league or needs some work and could be a starter or is likely to be a career backup, and maybe another group whose skills especially fit holes in the depth chart, and another group whose skills especially fit my system, and so on. All of that is going to be weighed against what I project other teams are going to do. Then I'm going to put a profile of the player together and see who really fits into what I'm trying to do with the team.

    My final list would have a lot of factors involved with sheer talent figuring in both as one of the primary factors itself and indirectly in the way it affects my decisions about whether this guy really fills a need or fits my system. Hypothetically if I evaluate the personnel and decide that no safety past the top two or three is likely to be a starter and I've already got adequate young backups, I'm not really drafting for need at that position once the top guys are gone. I think it's too simple to say "Screw the best athlete available. Address the needs regardless of ranking." Or vice versa.

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    Re: Linehan vows to address defense

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    How can he spend TOO much time on the defense? He can't spend enough time on the defense
    Remember an offense doesnt keep itself up. It can fall apart if not given the necessary attention. Thats how he can spend TOO much time on the defense.
    There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

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