Pace's status up in the air; Tinoisamoa likely to play
COMPILED BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
09/18/2006

Rams coach Scott Linehan said the team was “guarded, and optimistic at the same time” that tackle Orlando Pace would recover from his concussion this week and play Sunday.

“They are going to do the testing, the standard things you do when you have a concussion of that magnitude to make sure he is OK,” Linehan said. “He’ll be limited, at best, through most of the week.

“We have to give him time off here to make sure he is OK.”

Linehan also said linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who suffered a dislocated elbow during Sunday’s 20-13 loss at San Francisco, would attempt to play this week with an arm brace.

“We’re going to evaluate it this week,” he said. “He’ll be day to day as the week goes on.

“Pisa is a pretty tough individual. He doesn’t ever complain about anything, really. Certainly he wasn’t complaining about his elbow today, he was talking about the game. He was not showing any concern about it. If anybody is going to go out and play this week, it is going to be him.”


Here are some other highlights from Linehan’s Monday news conference:


On losing the game:

“It was certainly not a good enough effort by our football team. Playing on the road, you can’t make the errors we made and expect to win an NFL football game. It’s a learning tool for all of us. You can’t let it affect you in a negative way, but you also can’t let it just roll off your back like it didn’t happen. You have to take accountability for it, learn from that and improve.

“I know I’ve been saying that a lot, and harping on it, but really it’s the only way you can think or else you can certainly get into a downward spiral. There are some things we are improving on, you have to build on those.”


On the continuing offensive struggles:

“It’s easier said than done that you make a transition. I know these players have played together, but there is enough newness that we just missed on some things. If we had a couple plays (made), we would probably be singing a different tune. But we missed some opportunities and the accountability falls on the entire offense, starting with me. We have to accelerate that.

“It’s a timing issue. We had some things that went on in the game, early, that caused us to be off timing-wise . . . We get in our first third down, we have really two mental errors on the protection that turn two guys loose. That is not a good way to start when you are trying to get into a rhythm, a flow, in the game. It certainly gives the other team much more confidence in their ability to get after the quarterback regardless of what happened.

“Those are the things we have to eliminate. We have to become more consistent as a group, whether it is being more accurate throwing the ball, being better in pass protections . . . being solid in technique, getting open in the receiver spot . . . those mistakes can compound a problem. We have to eliminate those. That is what is holding us back right now. Everybody has accountability on their shoulders for where we are. I really feel confident we’ll continue to improve each week.

“We went from 23 percent (conversion rate) on third down to 41 percent, that’s improvement. Our goal is to have 60 percent completion percentage. We have a very accurate quarterback, in my opinion. We threw three balls away, so we go from 53 percent to 56 percent. If we hit two or three plays we have an opportunity to hit . . . we continue to improve.

“Last I checked, there is a whole new coaching staff here. So there is some change. Not to harp on it, but I wouldn’t be here if everything was perfect last year, too.

“You can’t have it all at one time. It’s a hard thing to convince people . . . we’re changing an entire culture, not just an offense. We’re changing the culture of how our team is going to play football. (The offense) has changed more than maybe anybody in the entire building. They have gone from one philosophy to the next. It doesn’t mean that one philosophy is better than the other, it really doesn’t. It just means that is our new philosophy. It will take time and it does take time.

“The biggest emphasis is protecting the football and we’ve done a good job of that so far. It hasn’t paid the dividends that we want. I think it did in the first game, certainly. This game the turnovers weren’t the different. But the ability to make plays and score points were. And so that is the next step.

“We have to continue to protect the ball, not be careless with it, pushing it down the field . . . we have to have our cake and eat it too.”


On the pass protection issues:

“A couple of them were just mental errors by certain players . . . when you are in the pocket and turn a guy loose and you take a negative gain . . . the first time we turned two guys loose. That is inexcusable.

“Football is such an intricate game. If one guy makes a mistake, it compounds a lot of problems for you. That is what we have to eliminate.”


On the inability to make passing plays downfield:

“We’re going to take some shots (downfield). A lot of those were play-action passes and we missed on them. To be where we need to be as an offense, we have to hit on a number of those. You’re not going to hit on them all. The percentage goes down when you start throwing the ball down the field. We’re certainly good enough to improve in that area, get back to where that is a weapon for us.”


On how the Rams would configure their line if Pace can’t play:

“If Orlando was going to be unavailable this week, we would do it that (same) way. That was the plan from the beginning. That is the best for our personnel. I thought Richie (Incognito) played well at center, for it being the first time he ever played there. He played very well, very physical. Todd (Steussie) had a very tough assignment. He was in that (guard) position to help. His normal position to play is left tackle. We play Adam at (left) guard, that is a better position for him than tackle. That would be a temporary set-up based on (Pace’s) status.”