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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    By Jeff Gordon
    ONLINE SPORTS COLUMNIST
    Sunday, Dec. 09 2007

    Scott Linehan still has a LOT to prove as a NFL head coach. Unfortunately,
    circumstances will prevent him from proving much as this disastrous season
    winds down.

    Hence John Shawís dilemma.

    The Rams president wants to be fair. He doesnít want to earn a reputation for
    knee-jerk management. He wants other football men to respect the organization.
    He realizes how untenable Linehanís situation became as the injuries mounted.

    On the other hand, he has a profit margin to protect Ė and a Linehan-coached
    team would be a difficult sell in 2008. This man is 11-18. He lacks charisma. A
    once- thrilling offense has become pedestrian on his watch.

    So what is Shaw to do?

    Last week, he told Post-Dispatch Rams reporter Jim Thomas that he intends to
    give Linehan a third season. The Ramsí 19-10 loss at Cincinnati couldnít have
    changed that view, since the team had to play castoff Brock Berlin at
    quarterback.

    A bad situation somehow became worse. With both Marc Bulger (concussion) and
    Gus Frerotte (torn shoulder labrum) injured, Berlin fell into the quarterback
    job with precious little preparation time.

    Under adverse conditions, he didnít embarrass himself.

    ďItís very difficult,Ē tight end Randy McMichael told the Associated Press
    afterward. ďThe week before he was on the practice squad. We didnít do enough
    to help him. He managed the game well. He did a great job. Weíre proud of him.Ē

    In this corner of cyberspace, we wonít go that far. Berlin seldom threw the
    ball down the field and he never connected with Isaac Bruce. But, sure, it
    could have been worse under the conditions.

    That is the motto for this team in 2007: It Could Have Been Worse Under the
    Conditions.

    Naturally, many fans are crying for Linehanís dismissal. Their emotions range
    from outrage to frustration to apathy. They vow to avoid the team at all costs
    if Shaw doesnít make major changes with the football operation.

    Either way, the Edward Jones Dome look as bleak as an ďI Am LegendĒ street
    scene if the losing continues next season.

    My position is somewhere between Shawís public stance and the angry e-mails
    stacking up on my list.

    I appreciate the injury issue; few coaches could have done much with this
    depleted roster this season. Injuries arenít just an excuse for losing, they
    are the primary cause of this teamís failure. All the other factors are
    secondary.

    The Rams pulled unemployed players off the street to man several key positions.
    Thatís not good.

    They just started a quarterback with exactly zero experience in a real NFL
    game. Again, not good.

    Iím amazed at all the complaints STLtoday.com got about Linehanís game-planning
    and play-calling Sunday. What did people think was going to happen with an
    emergency quarterback taking his first snaps under fire?

    On the other hand, I still wonder if Linehan has the motivational and tactical
    skills to direct one of the 32 NFL teams. His is a quiet leader, to say the
    least, and he is strategically conservative.

    Maybe he has it, maybe he doesnít. We certainly havenít seen it so far, for a
    variety of reasons.

    Iíd like to rally behind Linehan because he is a nice guy. But then again, the
    team is 3-10.

    He should have won the first two games this season while he still had most of
    his expected lineup intact. Those agonizing losses put his head-coaching career
    in danger.

    But during the second half of the season, with the lineup blown to bits, he and
    his assistant coaches have kept the Rams competitive. This team won three games
    after their break and fell one play short of beating Seattle at home.

    Elsewhere in the NFL Sunday, the winless Dolphins fell behind the Bills 31-7 in
    the second quarter at Buffalo. Now THAT is futility.

    Oakland lost to Green Bay 38-7. Carolina lost to Jacksonville 37-6. The Chiefs
    capitulated at Denver 41-7. The ***** fell at home to the Vikings 27-7. Those
    teams fell hard again this week. Those teams caved.

    By comparison, the Rams kept their spirit. With another break or two, they
    could have actually won the game Ė albeit because the Bengals are playing like
    a NFC team this season.

    It Could Be Worse Under the Conditions. Thatís not much of a motto, but itís
    all Linehan has right now.


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    I appreciate the injury issue; few coaches could have done much with this
    depleted roster this season. Injuries arenít just an excuse for losing, they
    are the primary cause of this teamís failure. All the other factors are
    secondary.
    On the other hand, I still wonder if Linehan has the motivational and tactical
    skills to direct one of the 32 NFL teams. His is a quiet leader, to say the
    least, and he is strategically conservative.
    I think this is the position where many posters labeled as "Linehan supporters" tend to fall, including myself - not yet convinced this guy is the next great coach in the league, but certainly not convinced that he deserves to be fired for not doing better during a season so wrought with turmoil.

    But during the second half of the season, with the lineup blown to bits, he and
    his assistant coaches have kept the Rams competitive. This team won three games
    after their break and fell one play short of beating Seattle at home.

    Elsewhere in the NFL Sunday, the winless Dolphins fell behind the Bills 31-7 in
    the second quarter at Buffalo. Now THAT is futility.

    Oakland lost to Green Bay 38-7. Carolina lost to Jacksonville 37-6. The Chiefs
    capitulated at Denver 41-7. The ***** fell at home to the Vikings 27-7. Those
    teams fell hard again this week. Those teams caved.

    By comparison, the Rams kept their spirit. With another break or two, they
    could have actually won the game Ė albeit because the Bengals are playing like
    a NFC team this season.
    Great point by Gordon.

  3. #3
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I think this is the position where many posters labeled as "Linehan supporters" tend to fall, including myself - not yet convinced this guy is the next great coach in the league, but certainly not convinced that he deserves to be fired for not doing better during a season so wrought with turmoil.


    Great point by Gordon.

    And I agree Nick. Now this thing about "lacking charisma" ... hmm, not exactly an 'attribute' of successful coaches!


  4. #4
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    We're #1 in the category of "not embarassing ourselves." !

  5. #5
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    Bill Belichick won't win a popularity contest anytime soon, but he seems to be getting away with it

    As for Linehan, I agree with Nick entirely. I wouldn't stake a year's mortgage payments on him being the winningest coach in franchise history, but I'd like to see him coach a team not hobbled from the start.

  6. #6
    RamOfDenmark is offline Registered User
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I think this is the position where many posters labeled as "Linehan supporters" tend to fall, including myself - not yet convinced this guy is the next great coach in the league, but certainly not convinced that he deserves to be fired for not doing better during a season so wrought with turmoil.
    It's a reasonable position as far as I'm concerned, I don't agree with it, but I do understand where you're coming from. His playcalling, gameplanning, personnel decisions, generally timid approach to the game (playing conservatively not to lose) and what I see as his apparent insistence on running 'his system' even without the guys to do it properly (trying to fit a square peg into a round hole) are the factors that have convinced me that he is not a viable head coach for us. Some of those factors can be discerned through the injuries and some are affected by them, in the end it's a judgement call.

    But it looks like Linehan will be getting another year for sure, so we'll hopefully see him develop and correct some of his weaknesses next year. He is still young as a headcoach so maybe he can improve a lot, but I hate to have our headcoach learning on the job so much, especially if veteran guys like Cowher and others with proven track records could be available.

  7. #7
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    Itís looks like he will be back; if thatís the case it will be interesting to see what the Rams FO does in the off-season. Hire a new OC, not sure what that will do itís Linehan offense. What side of the ball will they build on, the improving D or the stagnant offense? As AV mentioned maybe they bring in a big time offensive coordinator that might help sell tickets. Hire a new GM? New conditioning coach?

    As far as Linehan no one knows what he can or canít do which has been stated. I just hope he starts quick and I mean in preseason!

  8. #8
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    Re: For Rams, it could have been worse under the conditions

    I think conditioning has been a much larger issue than the average fan has seen. Our team has fallen apart several times in the 2nd half... a direct sign of other teams in better shape than us (as well as a sign of them being able to adjust and us not).
    The offense just flopped this year. Yes, injuries hurt, but the backups are paid to know the system as well, so we can't keep blaming that.
    I see us going after another OC soon after the season.

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