Linehan vows to change
By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
After a 3-13 season, Rams coach Scott Linehan said the organization has to do many things better in 2008.
And that starts with the head coaching.
“I’ve got to do a much better job,” Linehan said today in a conference call with reporters. “I’m the first person to tell you I’m evaluating myself first. I’ve got a lot of things I have to do a better job of. I’ve never, ever dodged that responsibility. It goes with the territory. I accept it.
“I understand it has to be a lot better. I’m not going to continue to do things the same way. If you do that, I’ve always believed there is a good chance you will get the same result. I’ve got to make a number of adjustments.”
Linehan wouldn’t discuss potential changes to his coaching staff -- other than to say whatever happens will happen quickly.
“If there are going to be any changes, whether they are changes that happen because somebody has another opportunity or changes because we need to make some adjustments, this is the time of year you want to do that,” he said. “There is not big windows . . . if there is anything that is going to be done, it’ll be done sooner than later.”
Linehan indicated he would prefer to keep the second overall pick rather than trade down for multiple draft picks.
“You don’t want to have that high pick -– unless it’s through a different avenue -– too many times,” he said. “When you do, if there is a player that can come in and help affect your team, you generally want to hang onto your opportunity . . . I would take one great player over a number of players that may take time to pan out. One player that could come in and potentially change your football team, I would take that any day.
“At this point, it’s too early to speculate what we would do at that pick.”
Here are some of Linehan’s other comments:
On his overall view of the season: “Very disappointing. There’s no way to describe a 3-13 season. If there was ever a year where you learned your lessons well and hopefully can apply that to the upcoming season, this will be one. This was a combination of our ability to execute consistently and be a consistent team, was part of our downfall. We had far too many turnovers offensively. Defensively we weren’t as consistent as we need to be in our games overall. We weren’t able to get it done, especially in some of our closer games . . . overall we have to perform much better as players and coaches.”
On the offensive line injuries: “A lot of the guys that ended up playing for us a good majority of the year had not played within our system much. One thing that will help now . . . we played a number of guys that will be back. (They) may or may not be starting, but will significant time in our system and will be able to step in a lot sooner and not have to go through a learning curve.”
On potential schematic changes: “We have to make adjustments. We can’t continue to do what we did a year ago. We have to really look at what we’re doing. If it fits, good, keep it, if it’s not good, if we have to change it, change it, don’t hesitate to change it.”
On the need for a dramatic turnaround: “Our goals are going to be similar to what they always are, but I think there is going to be a much different sense of urgency to getting there. There’s no messing around. We have a year to really get ourselves where we expected to be last year and the year before. Hopefully we can get that done in one year.”
On the need to change the team’s culture: “We’ve got to change the landscape and continue to work on the whole attitude change . . . if you can go through with a veteran here or there in free agency, whether it would be on your team or another team, you have to look at it.”
On the team’s lack of a pro personnel expert in the front office: “I think there is a big misconception around the way we’re doing things. Everything we’ve done has been as an organization. If there is magical person that could help me and our organization some way, I’m all for it. There is absolutely no resistance to that whatsoever.
“There is a perception that we just make decisions here or that either I pick it or Jay (Zygmunt) picks a player. The way this organization has been from the very get-go is that it’s an organizational pick. The head coach ultimately . . . makes the final decisions, but our picks are Rams picks. Our free agents are Rams free agents and our draft picks are Rams draft picks.”
On when he will meet with John Shaw for the year-end review: “Next week, the end of next week, by the weekend. (We will discuss) in general, a lot of the things we’re talking about, the direction we need to go . . . changes that will be possibly made . . . how we will go about executing those things . . . we’ll be looking at what we’re doing schematically, too, offensively and defensively and special teams and any adjustments that are going to be made. We’ll get pretty serious into the personnel side of things.”
On potential player turnover: “Generally speaking in this day and age I’d say about a third of the roster gets changed each year. I’m not anticipating more than the average, but I would say there would be potentially some significant change.”
On the impact of owner Georgia Frontiere’s health problems: “I guess my view on that is the only concern I have is for Georgia herself right now. My thoughts and our thoughts and prayers are just for her well-being. She’s been such a kind and generous owner from my vantage point, somebody who has given me every chance I ever dreamed of.”