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Thread: Poor start puts heat on Linehan
Poor start puts heat on Linehan
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Sep. 17 2007
I wouldn't want to have John Shaw or Jay Zygmunt's job right now. Their choice
to lead the franchise, Scott Linehan, is only 18 games into his appointment as
head coach, and the town already is fizzing with anger.
Here's how we should evaluate a young coach: Is he getting better?
And do his football behemoths respond to him?
In Sunday's 17-16 loss to the San Francisco ***** at the desolate football
warehouse, Linehan's players did supply the kind of intense effort that went
missing in that flat-line loss to Carolina. The Rams came out Sunday, ignored
all of the bruises, bad breaks and bedlam, and played a hard four quarters.
And that makes it even worse that Linehan seemed lost (again) on the sideline.
I don't even want to get into it; to list all of the things that went wrong,
I'd need the Library of Congress to
catalogue it. But in terms of game management and handling the clock, Linehan
made Mike Martz look like Vince Lombardi.
"We haven't been able to finish for two weeks in a row and that falls on the
head coach," Linehan said.
A distraught Linehan was so peeved after the game that he accepted full
responsibility for team's 0-2 start, the Cardinals tanking in the NL Central,
Highway 40 construction and the dispute between St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
and Fire Chief Sherman George.
Shaw and Zygmunt hired Linehan on the premise that he could maintain Martz's
highfalutin' offense, and do so without Mad Mike's temperament. They're one for
two. The offense is down to one touchdown a game, and confusion still reigns,
but at least Linehan is a nice guy who plays well with others.
But as a HC, is Linehan growing or going the wrong way? In the final weeks of
his rookie season, Linehan seemingly progressed. I was impressed by the way he
steadied his team through some difficult stretches to win four of the final six
games. But the early days of 2007 resemble Linehan's worst days of 2006, and
I think it's premature to gang up on the HC so soon, but fans are starting to
carry torches, and they aren't going to shut up. The Rams are somewhere between
rot and a hard place. In the previous five seasons, only one of 60 teams ever
opened the season 0-2 at home and went on to make the playoffs.
Playoffs? At this point, I'd be grateful if the Rams just made it to the end
zone. They've scored two touchdowns in two games and have wasted talent and
yards. The breakdowns have been the result of bad blocking, head-scratching
play calls, some poor reads by Marc Bulger and tip-toeing by Steven Jackson.
Yeah, I know Bulger was under a heavy pass rush Sunday, but that's life for an
NFL quarterback. Bulger completed six of 15 passes in the fourth quarter and
had guys open. The red-zone problems continue. And so far Jackson has done his
finest and hardest running in commercials.
Were there any encouraging trends to pull from this 0-2 rubble? Sure, the Rams'
defense was superb on Sunday, except for one inexcusable lapse, Frank Gore's
43-yard run for a touchdown on a fourth-and-1 play. That can't happen, but I'm
not going to savage Jim Haslett's short-handed defense for one slip when they
held the ***** to 186 yards and eight first downs.
And Clifton Ryan, the rookie nose tackle, was a delight. After two games, he's
already made more big plays at defensive tackle than recent first-day draft
busts Jimmy Kennedy and Claude Wroten. And cornerback Ron Bartell had an
impressive game, and we saw why the Rams acquired defensive end James Hall from
Two games into the season, the storyline is set: Shaw and Zygmunt's young coach
is under fire, and with six of the next eight games on the road, he must avoid
becoming the next Rich Brooks. The Internet domain name, firescottlinehan.com,
is available for $100. Plenty of good tickets will be available for the
remaining home games. It's a cold world.
Re: Poor start puts heat on Linehan
I agree Linehan has not delivered on the promises that he was suppose to the Rams should at least be 1-1 and they are not.
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