By Jeff Gordon
Monday, September 17, 2007 01:00 PM CDT

Ram1380: Gordo,
Lets open up with a huge round of applause for Ryan Clifton and Ron Bartell.These two kids played the best game of their young pro careers.Now to the ugly,do you think the
o-line can jell before Bulger goes out on a stretcher?Don't you think this unit is made to pound the rock not pick up exotic blitzes all afternoon. I expected Steve Jackson to handle the ball 25-30 times and Hall to handle it everytime he touched it.I guess I was
Waswrong on both accounts.

Jeff Gordon: This game wasn't all bad. Like you say, Ryan and Bartell had stellar games. The "D' was strong, but for one play. And even with that, it was a "plus" game for the unit. As for Bulger, he can't last another game getting beat up like that.
Eric: Why did Ch 5 have to show the hopeless Cardinals instead of a historic beatdown by Tiger Woods yesterday? They did the same thing two weeks ago with the Labor Day telethon. Actually, I guess it was good yesterday because it got me off of the couch to finish remodeling the family room. So at least my wife thanks Ch 5.

Jeff Gordon: Booking all those Sunday games at the expense of golf seemed like a good idea at the time, but now . . . well, not so much. But even a bad Cards team draws ratings and revenues.

George M.: Hi, Jeff. Just finished reading your chat from yesterday. I always find it interesting, informative, and entertaining, and this one was also.One comment just sent me through the roof, though. In discussing Andy McCollum, you said "Andy wasn't excited about playing back-up guard". What? WHAT??? Andy lost his starting job. He may not agree with that decision, but it is not his decision to make. In the NFL, a backup offensive lineman HAS to back up more than one position. Andy is, in effect, saying "I don't want to be a backup offensive lineman on this team". Someone on the coaching staff needs to explain to Andy that they don't have enough roster spots to carry a guy who is just a backup center (at least, not while carrying so many tight ends), and give him about 15 minutes to reconsider. While I haven't been a fan of Andy's run blocking for several years, I thought he could do a decent job of pass blocking, and should have been in there doing it yesterday.

Jeff Gordon: McCollum expressed that sentiment after learning of his demotion. He was down at the time. If the team needed him there - and it may yet need him there, given the O-Line play this season, my guess is he would jump in if needed. He had a great camp at center, but the Rams decided to give the younger player a chance to grow into a regular role.

john: Being a Ram fan since the days of Roman Gabriel this team is an embarrassment! Since the day they moved to St. Louis they have been the softest team in the league. The great offense has always made up for this. The last few years since the offense has gone downhill it has become so obvious. There is no fie on this team. Prime example; Isaac on 3rd and 17 on the last drive. He catches the ball ans instead f turning up the field to try and make the first down he goes running straight to the sideline to avoid getting hit. The corner was at least 5 yards off of him. He and Holt do this all game. The can both catch the ball but are as soft as tissue paper!
Your thoughts?

Jeff Gordon: You say that, but earlier in the game Holt fumbled while trying to gain a few extra yards. In that case, going down made sense. The Rams passed for 368 yards and Bruce and Holt got open all day. I'm fine with them.

Jay: I have a great deal of respect for both Bruce and Holt and the way they play the game. However, they both have traditionally dodged contact by running out of bounds or hitting the deck. On the Rams last play prior to Wilkinsí attempt, Bruce caught the out pass but made no effort to get the first down. I realize that we were out of timeouts but a fresh set of downs, even with a running clock, is better than stopping a clock and being two yards short of a first down. Does Linehan ever hold them accountable for this?

Jeff Gordon: I'd have to look at the play again to see if Bruce could have gotten the first down by turning upfield. In the two-minute drill, in a no-timeout situation, those guys are trained to get out of bounds. The Rams had enough down left.

Steve: Jeff, Hasn't this team heard of play-action in the red zone on first down (especially around the 10)? It seems they always run Jackson into the line on first and second (except for that dumb end around) then throw on third down.

Jeff Gordon: Play action would be nice, once the run is established. That has been a focal point this year -- run in the red zone with Jackson, then play off that to the tight end or WR. But the running game still hasn't been established.
chris: Do you think Linehan is in over his head honestly? Watching the game yesterday I feel that he is. What do you think this team will do next week? If the rams go 0-5 will he be fired?

Jeff Gordon: He has a lot to prove, let's put it that way. And he is running out of time in a hurry. He understands the predicament and the challenge. Now what will he do about it?

Ronnie Mason: Jeff, I have so many complaints about the Rams its difficult to find a starting point! One is the lack of picking up the blitz. The receivers rarely ran any routes to compensate for the obvious, and i mean obvious, blitzes. Do you have any idea why? Does Bulger not call audibles? Is he allowed to call audibles? Does he know how to call audibles?
I have never been a Steven jackson fan so I try to not go overboard on my critique of him. But he is lousy. He is not a team player. His goal of eight million yards or whatever is about himself. And please dont give me the "if he does well, the team does well" thing. He is too busy wanting to be a receiver instead of a running back. His pass protection was absolutely horrid. And a complete back does block and do grunt work; not just live in the limelight of the offense.
Im not a Tory Holt fan either. Too soft and too self image conscious.
The Rams need more character guys. Talent is neccessary but, is to a large part, teachable. Character and heart are not teachable. I know it sounds drastic and rare, but i would trade some of these guys for whatever I could get. Even if it is for draft picks, peanut vendors, or players. Maybe thats the old Ron Caron philosophy of the old Blues, but something has to give. We are rebuilding and what better way to do it? Rarely do you get full market value for a player in an NFL trade, but maybe we should do some "addition by subtraction"
Linehan is dissappointing, but whoever wants Martz back must be smoking some good stuff!

Jeff Gordon: I AM a Jackson fan and I empathize with him. The Rams aren't run blocking for him. Ideally, he would get lots of touches on first and second down, plus third and short. Leonard, a better blocker, would play lots on third-and-long. But Jackson spent much of Sunday trying to pick up and fend of blitzes -- something that isn't his strength.

As for the general concepts of countering the blitz, Martz was great at this. This offensive staff appears less adept at making teams play for the gamble.

Ryan: What are the chances that the Rams can fire Scott Linehan and hire Bill Cowher after this year since Cowher has just taken a year off? He has won a Super Bowl and he'll know how to create a power running game around Mouth Jackson.

Jeff Gordon: This is the first Cowher request, joining a list that includes Martz and Marty Schottenheimer. It's early to get into all this stuff, but the prospect of a disastrous season is real. Unless this team turns its season on a dime, we'll spend the last eight weeks of the season speculating about the coaching situation.

Rich: Gordo: Thanks 4 taking my question. What's the deal with the green dot this year on the QB's helmet'?

Jeff Gordon: Did a Google search on this topic and came up with this: "The green dot is the result of a new rule in effect for the 2007 NFL season. The green dot helmet indicates that the helmet is wired with a radio for calling in plays to the quarterback."

John: what record do we need to have for the Rams Front Office to make a coaching change during the season or does that have no chance of happening ? Thanks

Jeff Gordon: During the season? It would take something really radical. But it will come up if the team keeps losing -- and the fact that the fiery Haslett is on hand will enter the equation.

The Rams have started the season with two home loses which have included a division and conference loss. Pace is done for the season and his future is cloudy. The team's receiving core is aging and no longer explosive. The defense is undersized and still not speedy and lacks a dominant component. Two defense starters are still serving suspensions. The head coach looks overwhelmed. The team will undergo a head coaching change within the next season or two. A new quarterback will have to be groomed. Jackson will be older.

As I see it, the Rams have Bulger and Jackson as bright spots. Beyond that, the team is made up of a bunch of below average and average NFL players.

Would you be surprised to see this team actually win more than 4 games this season? Don't you anticipate this team performing very substandard for a number of seasons?

Jeff Gordon: Could this team win more than four games? Sure. The D looked solid Sunday despite missing key people. Bulger threw the ball great, before the beatings took their toll. But the schedule IS tough, so this team could spent the whole year trying to get back to .500.

Despite his struggles this summer, he could still be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter given ample time to prepare for next season. His health is better, so that's a start.
Larry: Everyone seems to be happy with Marc Bulger. I believe him to be extremely good bewteeen the 20 yd lines. I have said this for two and half years. Bulger is not a good quarterback inside the 20 yd lines. Look at his feet, look at his decicions, he doesn't know how to look off a receiver inside the 20's. He is so focused every defensive back out there knows where he is going. His stats between the 20's are great. Bulger is not a finisher and it is not all on the coaches, except they continue to make him their number one quaterback.
Bulger is good but he isn't a quaterback that is going to make the team better. He wasn't in college and he is probably where he is at because Mike Martz had it with Kurt Warner. I don't know what the answer is but unless the Rams are content with being stat happy and lacking results that is all they're going to get with Bulger. It certainly gets him a great paycheck throwing in all the stats but it would be interesting for someone to put together how often the Rams score 6 inside the 20 with Bulger at quaterback. Heck we can't even score on a run much less count on a TD pass inside the 20.

Jeff Gordon: Until the Rams do better in the red zone, Marc will have to live with this knock. He made some nice red-zone throws Sunday, but he also gunned some balls into heavy traffic.

Gary Staat: Bulger took a beating he won't last the whole season at this rate.
Jackson forget how to run?
It seems we might be in for a long season?
Is there no help out there fro the rams with the injuries and the men's suspension were in trouble?
What's your take?

Jeff Gordon: Finding help now is tough. The Rams brought in new guys with experience to provide emergency depth, but they will need weeks to settle in. The healthy fill-ins just have to do better.
Cristo: How concerned should we be going into next season with Mulder? The article in the post today mentioned he had gone to the trainers telling them he has a "tired" arm. With the surgery he had I would think that is to be expected and a full season of off-season conditioning to rebuild the strength in his arm will be the cure (at least I hope)? Also, with the Mulder situation being as it is today how does this change the team's outlook towards sigining and/or trading for more starting pitching?

We ran Mike Martz out of town after he took us to the playoffs 5 out of 7 years, including two Superbowls. (I'm counting the one year as offensive coordinator, also). We did this even though St. Louis had NEVER had any success in football prior to his arrival.

Now folks want to run LaRussa out of town too so they can "turn" the baseball team around. Are we nuts????
The fact the we were even competing for the playoffs in early September was remarkable given our injuries and patchwork starting pitching. This should be Tony's job for as long as he wants it!

Jeff Gordon: But the question with Tony is, would he be happy coming back? Does he need a change? I believe he should stay if he wants, since much of the team is turning over due to advancing age or injury issues.

Kenric Bourne: Jeff,
I am a Ram's fan living in the DC area. Fortunately for NFL Sunday Ticket I can see our hometeam play. Unfortunately, this year is not going well. Being a Soldier I understand adversity. I am giving my all for a conflict that is not well understood or popular for mainstream America (I find it sad that a war should be popular for our citizens to be supportive but that is a whole other discussion). I have been a lifelong fan of football (the Rams since '95) and my observation this year is simply this. The offensive coaching staff is timid. The in game adjustments are poor. The offensive line is beat up so I will not hammer them too much, but still they are all pro's (back up or starter is not the point). I saw the blitz by Clemments before the snap, I was yelling at the TV screen so why did the right tackle, Steven Jackson and Bulger not see it? I give credit to the defense this week, if they had played like week 1 the inept ***** offense might have blown us out. The HC is the leader of the team, when he lacks the confidence in his players they will emulate that lack of confidence in themselves. The calls on the field and lack of accountability have to fixed this week. I watch our servicemen go out day after day and do what they have to do to defend our nation, and I find it sad that our local hometown "heroes" who make butt loads of cash cannot find the heart to win a game (with very minimal life threatening events at stake). But hey its just a game its too bad the organization thinks the fans should believe and cough up cold hard cash to watch this group of underachievers. Winning is a mindset, especially when talent is lacking, unfortunately for Rams fans our team has the mindset of trying to prevent injuries (which any kid who has played the game knows is the quickest way to be injured). Atleast I have Madden 08, where I can take this same group of individuals playing on All Madden level and still win the Superbowl. Thank God for X Box 360.

Jeff Gordon: Yeah, actual football is different that video game football. Better talent doesn't always prevail in real life. You make some valid points, although U do believe the offense did have the green light to take more downfield shots this week.

Greg: Gordo,
Is it safe to say that this upcoming game against Tampa Bay is do or die for the Rams season? If we lose this game, I gotta believe the remaining believers in Ram Nation can stick a fork in em. What do you feel our chances are on the road in Tampa Bay?

Jeff Gordon: Um . . . not good. The long-suffering Bucs are coming off a great game and they see blood in the water with the Rams.
Mona: Gordo,

Hank Navarrete: Why did Bulger spike the ball on the last drive?- even a 5 yard delay penalty would have been better than losing a down, which proved very costly. They should have tried at least one run by Jackosn on the last drive - the QB sack proved lethal as well. Don't you think that Scott Linehan is over the head as head coach?- he looks to me more suitable as coordinator.

Jeff Gordon: Linehan took the blame for the spike play, admitting he should have called a play there. As for Linehan being over his head, he is now 8-10 with decent talent. He has a lot to prove and not much time to prove it.

Tackman: What a depressing weekend for St Louis sports fans! Can we have a mulligan? I was hoping the Rams would provide some optomism for us on Sunday, but I look back scratching my head. The big thing that bothers me with the Rams is the lack of a vertical passing game. I know the O-Line is banged up, but you have to find a way to at least try to make something happen down field. Besides the chance for a big yardage play, defensive pass interferece is called so often. The running game would also benefit by attempting to stretch the field any maybe we wouldn't have to deal (as much) with all the red zone futility. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.

Jeff Gordon: The Rams tried to go down field and, in fact, succeeded in a few cases. But without better protection, the Rams can't ask Bulger to take a lot of deep drops and wait for slow-developing plays to unfold.

Tom Cuthbert: Gordo:
How bad is it? While I'm not happy with the 0-2 start, there are some positives that can be seen in the play of the Rams. They move the ball well, their Defense plays well much of the time and for the most part special teams has improved. While I realize these have been offset in the first two games by an inability to score touchdowns, allowance of big plays on D and some key special teams gaffs, I don't think all is lost. If some unlucky breaks don't happen (Holt's fumble, Gore's run, Hall's muff) things are much different. Don't you think this could easily be turned around once the O-line gets settled and the D makes minor improvements? Thanks.

Jeff Gordon: Bad luck is one thing, but continuing sloppiness is enough. Teams that aren't sharp turn the ball over more often. Bad teams make their own misfortune.

Jack Murphy: Gordo,
In your opinion, is Linehan the right coach here? I'm not suggesting Haslett takes over, I'm just not sure that Linehan has all the tools to pull this off. What do you think?

Jeff Gordon: Scott still has time to prove he is the right guy. But, again, he is running out of time. Right now, it's hard to say he IS the right guy.

Aaron Williamson: Jeff,
I'm not trying to sound pollyanna-ish, but I think the Rams are better than they have looked. They have made some stupid mistakes that cost them a game (the SF game is a "they didn't win it, we gave it to them" situation in my mind), but I think if they clean up their mistakes even a little bit they will turn out alright this year. That being said, I think the responsibility for the mistakes (stupid penalties, fumbles, lapses, etc.) fall on Linehan and Haslett and has me a bit worried about their abilities as coaches. Thanks!

Jeff Gordon: It's hard to knock Haslett after this game. His "D" gave the Rams every chance to win.

And what you do think the problem is with the Rams offense? They have players that easily rank in the top 10 in their position at QB, RB, WR and TE, shouldn't they be reminding us of the "greatest show on turf" with all the talent they have?

Jeff Gordon: Ryan would be a good cost-cutting move, yes. That might free up money for other needs. As for the Rams offense, it's just mistakes -- turnovers, missed blocking assignments and occasionally a poor QB decision or play call.

Mark Simonis: How many more years before every team in the NFC is 8-8 ???
The Nfl wanted mediocrity, well, they certainly have it now.

Jeff Gordon: Yes, the NFL has achieved pure mediocrity in the NFC. Congrats!

Buzz: Gordo,
The D was much improved from a week ago. The corners held up much better than I anticipated. However, after viewing the game, I'm afraid I'll have to join the anti Corey Chavous bandwagon. He seems to struggle in coverage, even though he's a former corner and has watched more film than Roger Ebert. But what has me riled was his non-tackle on Gore's long TD run. They were face to face, and Gore ran through him like he was a ghost. Would the D coaches be looking for someone who can tackle better? B.

Jeff Gordon: His coverage hasn't be tremendous, either, so he is on the spot a bit. But is there somebody better on the roster? I don't think so.

DennisB: With all the injuries on the O-line, seemed like a bad move to release the fullback last week. Was he that bad?

Jeff Gordon: The coaches thought so, yes.

How much do you miss Mike Martz?

Jeff Gordon: Miss Martz a lot. Thome has a ways to go for the Hall of Fane, since the 'Roids Rage has devalued homers hit in this era. Jim has more work to do. As for Willis, again, I'm not sure the Cards have enough to deal.


Jeff Gordon: Since his neck is on the line, that could come up. Linehan has do some things differently to get better results.

Ken: Not to spoil the good time that all the manic-depressants are having, I believe there are a lot of positives to the 2007 RAMS. First special teams are very much improved; second the defense put on one of its best performance in a long time and it looks to like it will get even better with returning players in 4-6 weeks; Finally the offense can still come around, especially if the turnovers are stopped or at least we win the turnover battle. Besides does anyone think the RAMS were going to the Super bowl this year. My goal was to get in the playoffs and if not, just keep improving. The glass is definitely half-full, the upside looks pretty good and I look forward to watching for continuing improvement. The only thing I worry about is keeping Jim Haslett after this season.

Jeff Gordon: I see the points, but I still see this team having a tough battle just to finish 8-8 again. And that's not good enough.

Rob Randolph: Did you get flashbacks of the Big Red during the Ram's game yesterday? I did. Did Roger Wehrli'e induction to the ring of fame bring back the spirit of the old St. Louis Cardinals and their practiced skill of finding ways to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory? The Ram's seemed to have gotten an infusion of the bad juju that plagued the prvious StL team.

Jeff Gordon: I'm having flashbacks to Tony Banks' final season. That team almost always found a way to beat itself.

cburgman: Gordo,
Why no screen passes or draw plays to counter the blitz? And maybe Leonard could do a better job than Jackson blocking, if the Rams are going back to the Martz offense...

Jeff Gordon: Fair points -- and I'd like to more sight adjustments to counter that defensive tactic. The Rams did a great job of that under Martz.

Damien Domingo: Hey Gordo,

Looks like the D is improving on stopping the run. However, the offense is far from the one Linehan ran in Minnesota and Miami. Last year, the Rams were 5-3 without Pace so where did the Rams go wrong on the O-Line yesterday?
Also, why was Jackson fuming at the end of the game? He may have been wide open when Bulger misfired to a receiver but a true teammate would not get angry at the coach which will ultimately look like he really was upset at Bulger. I don't think Bulger fumed at the coach when Jackson lost the two fumbles last week. Lack of class and "teamwork" from one of the "leaders" like Jackson could spell the end of our season, don't you agree?

Jeff Gordon: Jackson didn't talk to the media, so we didn't hear his answer to that question. The Rams survived Pace's loss last year because Steussie was here. But now Steussie and Pace are both gone -- and Milford Brown may not be the answer.

See you Sunday!