New Coaching Staff First Step in New Era
Monday, May 8, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
Any NFL offseason brings about a certain amount of change to every team in the league. Some years that change is greater than others.
For the Rams, this offseason has brought change in almost every capacity of the organization. Those alterations began the day after the final regular season game against Dallas when the team parted ways with coach Mike Martz.
That change had been in the making for some time and was the first official step toward a new beginning for Rams football. After months of due diligence and hard work, the Rams named former Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as the team’s head coach on Jan. 20.
The Rams made it clear in hiring Linehan that they were ready for a new, fresh start. And Linehan was the perfect man for that job.
“The one thing I want to make sure is really established right away is that this is going to be a family environment here at the Rams,” Linehan said the day he was hired. “We will do things cohesively as a group, as a unit and make decisions as a team from day one. That’s how things get done. That’s how things get done properly. That’s the most important thing that I feel needs to be established right away.”
But Linehan brings more to the table than ideas on family, though those are the basic tenets of his philosophy. As offensive coordinator in Minnesota, Linehan had one of the league’s most explosive and dangerous offenses. In Miami, he took an ailing offensive unit and turned it into one of the league’s most improved and balanced groups.
For most of the coaching search process it was assumed the Rams would look to add a defensive-minded coach, but in the end, Linehan’s ability to see the big picture and keep the team’s offense at a high level made him the right fit.
“I believe this is a new Rams era within, what I believe, is a great tradition,” Linehan said. “The term dominance is something that will be strived for in what we do and how we aggressively pursue, day in and day out, to achieve. We want to be one of those feared teams. One of those teams that nobody wants to play, a team that for sure nobody wants to come to our house to play, a team that they don’t want to have on the schedule when they get the schedule out in the spring. We want to be that kind of team that has that dominant personality and continue that tradition.”
With Linehan on board as the leader, he promptly went into search mode, looking for the two biggest keys to his coaching staff in the coordinator positions. More so than any of the team’s offseason addition, the Rams made a big splash when they named their coordinators just four days after Linehan’s hiring.
While Linehan’s history is on offense, he made sure the defense was well taken care of by convincing former Saints head coach Jim Haslett to take over the reins on defense.
Haslett brings with him a tough, hard-nosed brand of football that made him one of the most respected defensive minds in the league. In other words, he was just the medicine for what ailed the league’s 30th ranked defense a year ago.
“He’ll be running the defense,” Linehan said. “My biggest goal here was to hire a qualified coach, the best coach we could to fit the system we want to run with the Rams. That coach, it’s his job to go out and implement the plan.”
Also hired on that day was offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Olson had never served as a coordinator in the league, but is thought to be one of the bright young minds in the game. Although he won’t be handling the play calling duties, Olson will input the offense and grow in his role, according to Linehan.
“Greg’s strength as an evaluator and quarterback coach will be great in this situation,” Linehan said. “It’s going to be a big role. Calling the plays is one thing, but on a day to day basis, implementing the plan during the season and evaluating the personnel that fit the characteristics that we require of our offensive players as a group…he will have big input in all of those things. I think his strength as an evaluator and a position coach will serve him well in all of those things.”
With the three main components to the staff in place, Linehan and the Rams turned their attention to filling out the staff. The goal was to find a mix of veteran, experienced coaches to complement some rising minds.
On Feb. 6, the Rams added eight coaches to the staff, bringing in that blend of coaches young and old, experienced and inexperienced. Leading that group was a number of recognizable names including linebackers coach Rick Venturi, offensive line coach Paul Boudreau and secondary coach Willy Robinson.
Running backs coach Wayne Moses, tight end coach Judd Garrett, offensive quality control Randy Hanson, assistant secondary coach Ron Milus and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier came on board next. A week later, the Rams added four more coaches, including Joe Baker (defensive quality control), Jim Chaney (assistant offensive line), Jeff Horton (special assistant/offense), Todd Downing (coaching and special teams assistant) and Brad Roll (assistant strength and conditioning).
Brian Baker was hired as defensive line coach on Feb. 21, rounding out a staff that kept important holdovers Henry Ellard (receivers), Bob Ligashesky (special teams) and Dana LeDuc (strength and conditioning).
While Linehan knew most of the coaches brought in, finding a balance was a priority.
“That’s part of putting the staff together that’s important,” Linehan said. “If I couldn’t even remember these guys’ names when I came in here, and we were still trying to get to know each other, I think that would be difficult. So, it kind of goes back to that original question. There does need to be some familiarity within the staff, but it isn’t the only requirement. There has to be some diverse ideas and backgrounds as well.”
The final addition to the coaching staff was the last step in the first major revamp of the offseason. With his staff in place and on the same page, Linehan and the Rams quickly turned their attention to the next step in the new era of Rams football: free agency.
“There isn’t any number one formula or any number one position that makes us better,” Linehan said. “We just need to create a better depth situation, and just a better team overall on the defensive side. In doing that, we need to evaluate our entire team. We’re putting together our list, as we say, from top to bottom on what we think will best fit our systems.”
Re: New Coaching Staff First Step in New Era
Your always one step ahead of me RamWraith...... i was about to post this and then i see this thread