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  1. #1
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    Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/02/2007


    On the day after the latest Sunday afternoon disaster, Scott Linehan wasn't all that interested in rehashing the hideous details or sorting through the glaring reasons why his football team officially is the worst in pro football.

    "There is an old saying, 'It is what it is,' " said Linehan, the Rams' coach. "I guess that's where we're at right now."

    It was Monday afternoon, and he already had evaluated several hours worth of gawdawful game films, listened to another gloomy briefing from his medical staff and scoured the personnel lists for some healthy, greatly flawed free agents to replace his injured, greatly flawed employed ones.

    In between, you had to wonder if Linehan didn't peek out the front door just to make sure the sky wasn't about to come crashing down on his furrowed brow.

    There's never any fun in watching a good man suffer. Every day you can see the pain spreading across Linehan's face. You can see it every time he bites down on his lip, grits his teeth, sticks out his jaw and firmly plants his feet, a willful man bracing for another harsh ill wind to blow.

    But for all the pain you see, you also hear the fight in his voice and see the stubbornness in his expression. Linehan has spent his entire coaching life scuffling to rise to the top of his professional food chain, yet now that he's here, the dream has become his worst nightmare.

    "We have to find a solution to the problem," he said in a defiant postgame outburst Sunday afternoon. "If I had a solution, I wouldn't be talking about what I am talking about right now. That's what we work on every day and night."

    He's working furiously, but it's not getting better.

    His team can't win. His team can't score. He has a revolving door of suspensions. His players can't stay healthy. He has a kicker who needs a hug, or a therapist. He has a prognosticating wide receiver who might be a little delusional, another receiver who apparently doesn't know the playbook, and a season that's on the verge of becoming a calamity of biblical proportions.

    After Sunday's 35-7 embarrassment in Dallas, an anonymous Rams player told Yahoo Sports NFL columnist Mike Silver, "I'm worried. I'm looking at our schedule and I'm scared we might go 0-16."

    Yep, just about the only thing missing from this 0-4 madness is a little famine and pestilence. And locusts. Yes, definitely locusts.

    And just to add insult to injury, a revived Kurt Warner is coming to town next weekend with the Arizona Cardinals to give us a little nostalgic blast from the past.

    And now for the good news: At least the game's on track to be blacked out on local television.

    Linehan keeps preaching that hard work and confidence will turn this mess around. He firmly believes that rolling up his sleeves and studying better, coaching harder and never letting anyone see him sweat will be enough to lead his troops charging over this mountain of misfortune.

    I hope he's right, but Linehan has some serious issues to overcome. It doesn't mean he can't do it. He did pull them out of last year's midseason death spiral when they lost seven of eight games before ending the season on a three-game winning streak. It just means he's fighting an uphill battle to inspire confidence among his players in what he's coaching. The grumbling is festering under the surface. But it's starting to seep out, as evidenced by that anonymous quote from a player worried about an 0-16 catastrophe.

    What bothers me the most about watching Linehan suffer is how he has become the new face of a failed franchise. He's the one with the bull's-eye on his chest, and that's not right. If the Linehan regime does spiral out of control (and I want to emphasize "if"), it will be for the same reasons that ruined this organization in the Mike Martz regime.

    The wrong people still are in charge. Bean counters. Accountants and lawyers. Football people — real football people — still are powerless pawns who end up getting saddled with the results of the bad choices made by a team president/general manager (Jay Zygmunt) who deludes himself into believing he should be making critical football personnel decisions.

    Martz may have been a paranoid madman who alienated the entire building. But apparently that doesn't mean he wasn't right about the folks who purged him from Earth City.


  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    I'm not a big fan of Burwell's columns, however, in a single paragraph.....1 simple sentence, 1 run-on sentence, and 2 sentence fragments......55 words......Burwell reaches the epicenter of the quake that is leveling this franchise.
    Quote Originally Posted by Burwell
    The wrong people still are in charge. Bean counters. Accountants and lawyers. Football people — real football people — still are powerless pawns who end up getting saddled with the results of the bad choices made by a team president/general manager (Jay Zygmunt) who deludes himself into believing he should be making critical football personnel decisions.
    Children should be made to recite this in school. Old men should read this paragraph to young men. This paragraph should be stitched into pillows. The Franklin Mint must design a series of commemorative plates around this paragraph. This paragraph should be given so much weight that the ACLU is forced to sue local governments for having this paragraph carved in stone outside county courthouses!

    Nothing changes, until the front office changes.......either in philosophy or personnel; I'm fine either way.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    Good read.

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    Thumbs down Re: Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I'm not a big fan of Burwell's columns, however, in a single paragraph.....1 simple sentence, 1 run-on sentence, and 2 sentence fragments......55 words......Burwell reaches the epicenter of the quake that is leveling this franchise.
    Children should be made to recite this in school. Old men should read this paragraph to young men. This paragraph should be stitched into pillows. The Franklin Mint must design a series of commemorative plates around this paragraph. This paragraph should be given so much weight that the ACLU is forced to sue local governments for having this paragraph carved in stone outside county courthouses!
    I agree. I believe it'll be a long time until the stars align again for a franchise run like the Rams.:\

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    Re: Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    That front office was in charge when we won the SuperBowl too.
    I don't like it when people refer to the Rams as a "failed franchise". That is rediculous. We made the playoffs more times in the 80's than any other team. We were competitive almost every year from the 50s to the 90's. Granted, we were the worst team in football from 90 to 98, but that shouldnt take away from what this franchise has accomplished.
    Yes we are doomed this year, and after we get a new coach we will probably be doomed his first year too. But you know what? My team won a SuperBowl. I will always cherish that memory and I can tell you right now that I am, and always will be, proud to be a Rams fan.
    We are NOT a failed franchise. Up yours Burwell

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    Re: Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    Scott, I hear what you're saying; and when viewed through the eyes of history, the Rams would have to rank at the top of the league as a successful franchise. However, this league is all about the here and now. Past is forgotten in the NFL. With the exception of the GSOT, this franchise has averaged less than 5.5 wins per season since 1990. This year alone, a strong argument could be made for the Rams as the #32 team in this league.

    "Failed" is a term that can only be defined alongside success....or in this case, expectation of success. In those terms, this franchise has been a "failure" since 2002 because there was such high expectations. The same could be said of our current state of affairs. In nearly every sense of the word, the 2007 Rams are a "failed franchise".

    The good news is two-fold: 1) 2007 ain't over; and 2) 2008 will be here soon enough.

    Recognition of present short-comings on the field does not indicate future short-comings from the stands.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams' errors off the field haunt team on the field

    Perhaps it is the fact that misery loves company, but I look around the NFL this year and with the exception of New England & Indianapolis, I see complete disarray. Who would have guessed San Diego, Chicago, New Orleans and our beloved Rams would be as awful as we are? Not to mention how does Pittsburgh lose in Arizona or Cleveland convincingly beat Baltimore?? Has there been a stranger start to an NFL season than this. I'm 55 and have seen plenty of seasons, this one is wierd!

    As for our plight, I totally agree that we are NOT a failed franchise. We are the victims of a front office with less than great football people in place. I can go back to the Carroll Rosenblum years and recall the fine minds we had in place then who kept us in the playoffs throughout the '70's and even after his death they were there to keep the talent pool afloat and hire the right coaches who kept us in contention throught the '80's.

    I take solice in the fact that teams rebound far quicker now due to Free Agency than back then and the college draft brings players along who can contribute faster as the collage game ahs adapted to a more pro style of play.

    I realistically know this season is now hopeless. We need to take the opportunity to season our younger players and sustitute in bench players to give them more game exposure if they need it for injuries. Perhaps this was Linehan's strategy for the pre-season? We will again be a feared opponent I know it. Unlike the '90's there is genuine talent here. I'm sorry for Isaac Bruce who may be in his final campaign, but such is life in the NFL.

    While the HC debate will go on through this season, I hope the best decision is made for this franchise. I don't personally know what it is. I do know if we make a change, we must look at proven talent on the sidelines. That could include Marty Schottenheimer, John Fox, Jon Gruden, Gregg Williams or Mike Shanahan to name a few. Being in NYI I see a young talented coach like Eric Mangini and marvel at how he has converted the Jets. Iif we make a change let us hope we get the same results, although the Jets are hardly having a banner year either.

    I look forward to our first win so we remove the stigma of losing. The Rams are NOT a losing team since I've been a fan since the late '60's, that's what hurt so much about the '90's.

    Go Rams! I won't quit on you, nor will the others on this great site which I've enjoyed immensely since joining!

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