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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    05/10/2006

    After running parallel courses since being born six months apart in 1963, Scott Linehan and Greg Olson finally have landed in the same place: Linehan is the Rams' new head coach; Olson is his offensive coordinator.

    Their trek began in small towns about 10 miles apart in eastern Washington. Linehan grew up in Sunnyvale, Olson in Richland. Each was a quarterback in high school.

    "We didn't play together or against each other," Olson said. "But we knew of each other."

    More similarities followed.

    "I worked with Dennis Erickson at Washington State, and Scott had played for Dennis" at Idaho, Olson said. "Scott would come to practices before he got into coaching, and I got to know him a little bit there. Scott was hired (as an assistant) at Idaho, and when he left I took his position there."

    Both continued as assistants in college, Linehan at Washington and Louisville, Olson at Central Washington and Purdue. Linehan got his first shot in the pros in 2002, with Minnesota; Olson moved up to the NFL in 2001, with San Francisco.

    Linehan, 42, arrived in St. Louis from Miami, where he'd been offensive coordinator. Olson, 43, came from Detroit, where he'd coached the quarterbacks.

    Now, they share a goal: reviving a Rams outfit that has had just one .500-plus season in the last four. Part of that task is reconstructing an offense that charged into the new millennium as the scourge of the league, the explosive "Greatest Show on Turf."

    But the blissful seasons of 1999, 2000 and 2001, when the Rams went a combined 37-11 in the regular season and led the NFL in total offense each year, are fading quickly. In the last four seasons, the Rams were 33-31, their records reflecting the decreased potency of their attack.

    Olson has sketched out a plan aimed at restoring the luster. It includes:

    Keeping quarterback Marc Bulger, who missed a total of 10 games over the past two seasons because of injuries to his throwing shoulder, on his feet.

    Getting the tight ends more involved in what still is a dangerous passing attack.

    Getting first-team running back Steven Jackson at least 20 touches per game, with able support (10 to 12 touches) from Marshall Faulk.

    "We're going to address . . . how many situations we're putting (Bulger) in where he's vulnerable to being hit," Olson said. "Any time you put in a game plan, those are the first things that come about, protections. How are we going to protect our quarterback? Obviously, that will be a priority."

    Also, Bulger will be allowed to audible, a luxury he didn't have under former coach Mike Martz. That should allow him to check out of some perilous situations.

    When healthy, Bulger ranks among the league's elite, Olson maintained.

    "He has such great anticipation, and he's extremely accurate. I think he's got some special qualities," Olson said.

    Bulger's targets in recent years have been almost exclusively wideouts and backs. Last year, Rams tight ends caught 22 passes, a total that Olson considers "low for that position for the offense that we'll be running."

    The team drafted two tight ends, Colorado's Joe Klopfenstein in the second round and Southern California's Dominique Byrd in the third. It traded starter Brandon Manumaleuna to San Diego.

    "It was an area we felt like we needed to address," Olson said. "But we're not going to force-feed these tight ends. They're young, and we'll slowly bring them along. . . . But I would probably be disappointed if they didn't, between the two of them, have more than 22 catches."

    In 2005, his first season as the team's primary back, Jackson got as many as 20 carries just three times; he averaged 129 yards as the Rams went 3-0 in those games. Their record was 1-3 when he had 12 carries or fewer.

    "If you can get the ball to him 20 times or more, he seems to get better," Olson said. "We think that's a good number to shoot for. He's one of our primary weapons that needs to get (more) touches."

    In his limited role last year, Faulk carried 65 times and caught 44 passes. Faulk, 33, had "clean-up" surgery on both knees after his 12th NFL season and missed last month's minicamp.

    "We're anticipating that he's going to come back healthy," Olson said. "We still think he's going to be good for 10 to 12 touches a game and can still be an explosive player in that role."

    * * *

    Where the Rams have ranked in the 32-team NFL in total offense, beginning with 1998, a year before their Super Bowl championship season:

    1998
    Rank: 27th
    Record: 4-12
    Playoffs: Did not qualify

    1999
    Rank: 1st
    Record: 13-3
    Playoffs: Won Super Bowl

    2000
    Rank: 1st
    Record: 10-6
    Playoffs: Lost in wild-card game

    2001
    Rank: 1st
    Record: 14-2
    Playoffs: Lost in Super Bowl

    2002
    Rank: 13th
    Record: 7-9
    Playoffs: Did not qualify

    2003
    Rank: 9th
    Record: 12-4
    Playoffs: Lost in NFC semifinals

    2004
    Rank: 6th
    Record: 8-8
    Playoffs: Lost in NFC semifinals

    2005
    Rank: 9th
    Record: 6-10
    Playoffs: Did not qualify


  2. #2
    RamsFan16's Avatar
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    Re: Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    From 1999 - 2001 .. The St. Louis Rams had the most explosive and the funnest offense to watch in the history of football!
    RamsFan16

  3. #3
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    Re: Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    Makes me proud to be a rams fan
    :clanram:

  4. #4
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    Re: Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    At least 20 touches for Jackson and at least 10 for Faulk..... i like that.... i hope jackson gets 100+ yards and faulk 50+ yards a game.....that would be awesome

  5. #5
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    Re: Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    Its good to hear that he is committed to running the football. Everyone knows our record when either Jackson/Faulk rush for over 100 yards. I'm pretty excited to see how the tight ends are going to be used in this offense also. Should be exciting to watch this year.

  6. #6
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    Re: Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    We still have a chance to show the world we still have it
    , We have have what it takes and the talent , the mind is a very powerful thing and when its running on all points watch out !!!

  7. #7
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    Re: Offensive upgrade is goal for Rams

    You can look at this stat two ways:

    1. The Rams, when healthy offensively, are a force.
    2. The Rams, when offensively unhealthy, are a pushover.

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