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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Linehan's philosophy limits playing time for Curtis, McDonald

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Oct. 15 2006

    Nothing more dramatically illustrates the difference in offensive approach
    between first-year Rams head coach Scott Linehan and Mike Martz, his
    predecessor, than the whittled-down numbers of Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald.

    After five games last year, Curtis and McDonald -- the Rams' No. 3 and No. 4
    wide receivers behind Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt -- had combined for 47
    receptions and 547 yards. Martz favored multiple-wideout sets, and there was
    plenty of work for all.

    After five games this year, Curtis and McDonald have mustered only 14 catches
    and 120 yards. Linehan, who leans far more heavily on the running game, had
    deployed four wide receivers only 16 times before last Sunday's game at Green
    Bay.

    Curtis (three catches, 21 yards) and McDonald (two catches, 30 yards) were on
    the field together 14 times vs. the Packers, as Linehan sought to exploit Green
    Bay's young safeties.

    Still, Curtis is on a 16-game pace for 29 receptions and 211 yards, a huge drop
    from his 2005 production of 60 catches and 801 yards. McDonald projects to 16
    catches and 173 yards; he had 46 receptions and 523 yards in '05.

    "They certainly have not done anything to not deserve a chance to play,"
    Linehan said. "It's just that we utilize a number of personnel groups, and you
    can only get 11 guys out there at a time. . . . If we think (using multiple
    wideouts is) something that can help us going into a game, we have the luxury
    of the depth at receiver to be able to do that."

    First, though, Linehan wants to make sure that he has plenty of protection on
    the field for quarterback Marc Bulger and sufficient blocking for running back
    Steven Jackson. He does that by using more "base" formations.

    Linehan's formula is paying off for Jackson -- who is leading the NFL in yards
    from scrimmage (runs and receptions) and is tied with San Francisco's Frank
    Gore for No. 1 in rushing yards -- and for Bulger, who has been sacked 11
    times, compared with 20 in the first five games last season.

    Most important, the Rams are 4-1 and a half-game ahead of Seattle -- Sunday's
    foe at the Edward Jones Dome -- in the NFC West. A year ago, they stood 2-3.

    "I definitely wouldn't mind being on the field with more chances to make
    plays," McDonald said. "But we're winning games, so it doesn't matter who gets
    what."

    Still, he acknowledged that at times, "you feel like you're out of the game
    because you've been on the sideline for so long. You've just got to stay
    focused and wait for your opportunities."

    Curtis, who has been in for more snaps than McDonald because he's used in
    three-wideout sets, said he had "no complaints."

    "Actually, I feel like I'm playing quite a bit," he added. "I might not be
    getting my hands on the ball as much, but I'm getting plenty of opportunities
    to get in there and make a difference in some way, whether it's blocking or
    it's running a route to open something up. . . .

    "The biggest thing is, if every guy does his job, then we're going to win
    games. And as long as we're winning, it doesn't matter if I catch two balls or
    five. I really mean that."

    Like Martz, Linehan calls the plays on offense. So far, he's ordered runs 43.6
    percent of the time. In the 23-20 win at Green Bay, he struck a perfect
    balance: 30 runs and 30 passes.

    Martz's run percentage in the first five games in '05 was 32.5 percent. When
    Martz contracted endocarditis, an infection of a heart valve, Joe Vitt took
    over for the last 11 games, with offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild calling
    plays.

    The season ended with the Rams running on 37.0 percent of their snaps. And a
    6-10 record.

    Despite their emphasis on wins over stats, Curtis and McDonald could be headed
    toward a more tangible loss than mere individual numbers. Both will be
    unrestricted free agents after the season for the first time in their four-year
    careers.

    Back-to-back seasons of impressive production would enhance their value in the
    market; conversely, a major downturn might cost them millions.

    "You can't really control a lot of that, so I don't try to focus too much on
    it," said Curtis, 28. "Being a professional, you've got a job to do when you're
    out there, and my biggest focus is on that."

    McDonald, 25, said: "It's just something you can't really worry about."

    The Rams probably will be more interested in re-signing Curtis, who is viewed
    as the eventual heir apparent to Bruce, who will be 34 heading into next
    season. McDonald conceded that while he's benefited from his exposure to Bruce
    and Holt, he'd likely get more playing time elsewhere.

    "I'm definitely happy to play with those guys, because you learn a lot every
    day just watching them," McDonald said. "But at a certain point, you want to
    get on the field and show what you can do. When the time comes, I'll probably
    look for the best opportunity."


  2. #2
    STLRAMSFAN Guest

    Re: Linehan's philosophy limits playing time for Curtis, McDonald

    I always enjoyed watching the WRs we had during the Martz era. I always dreaded watching out TE's. I like the new Linehan approach more protection of the QB, do not turn the ball over, run the ball more and try winning the time of possession. IMO any more then three good WRs is a waist when you start trying to involve the TE and running game. I would like to see us resign Curtis and fill the 4th WR with a young prospect either a late round WR or some one cheap. We will have more areas of concern then a fourth WR next off-season. I like what we are doing this year and IMO we will be in a position to improve this team even more next year. Curtis and Little are going to be the only ones we need to try to lock up. The Offense is set at RB, WR, FB, TE, OT, C, WR, and QB. The only thing that may need upgraded is Guard. The Defense has two good LBs we need one more. The DL and CB could use an upgrade and as well. We have a lot of numbers at CB but none of those CBs could we call a shutdown CB.

    From what I have seen the following is my opinion on what we will need to upgrade the most next off-season after signing Curtis and Little.
    1. Guard (will help running game and QB)
    2. DL (will help protect against the running game)
    3. LB (Chillar is not the answer)
    4. CB (we have numbers we donít have a shut down corner) I would like to see us get a good veteran like we did with Chavous at safety and hope a younger CB develops.

    I am excited about this year but IMO we should be even better next year.
    Sorry if I am a little off the subject.
    Last edited by STLRAMSFAN; -10-14-2006 at 04:28 PM.

  3. #3
    letsgoramz's Avatar
    letsgoramz is offline Registered User
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    Re: Linehan's philosophy limits playing time for Curtis, McDonald

    Lets keep mcdonald he's a big part of the rams and I wouldn't want to see him go
    Torry Holt Dont play that

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