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  1. #1
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    Rams fire special teams coach

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/26/2007



    The Rams will have a new special teams coach after all in 2007. After much deliberation, coach Scott Linehan has decided not to renew the contract of Bob Ligashesky, who has coached Rams special teams the past two seasons.

    "He's a good coach with a bright future," Linehan said Thursday. "But we need to make some improvements on special teams. Sometimes change is good for both parties."

    Ligashesky has been given permission to interview elsewhere, and according to league sources, already has spoken with a couple of teams and may be close to landing with another club. Pittsburgh is one possibility. (He is a Pittsburgh native and coached in the college ranks for the Pitt Panthers.)

    Linehan, meanwhile, interviewed two potential replacements in Mobile, Ala., while attending the Senior Bowl college all-star game workouts. Linehan, who was returning from Mobile on Thursday afternoon, said he planned to interview a third candidate before making his decision.
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    "They're good candidates," Linehan said. "So I think it'll be a win-win for both parties."

    Linehan did not reveal the candidates' names. One veteran special teams coach who is available is Pete Rodriguez, who was recently among several assistants fired by Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville. Rodriguez was named NFL special teams coach of the decade in the 1990s by the Dallas Morning News. As recently as the 2005 season, the Jaguars' special-teams unit was ranked eighth in the NFL by the Morning News. But as of Thursday afternoon, Rodriguez had not heard from Linehan.

    Another possibility is Scott O'Brien. He was brought to the Miami Dolphins by Nick Saban as coordinator of football operations and assistant to the head coach. But Saban has left the NFL for the University of Alabama, and O'Brien has a long track record as one of the NFL's better special teams coaches, most recently with Carolina (1999-2004). Linehan knows O'Brien after spending the 2005 season as Dolphins offensive coordinator.

    "You look for continuity," Linehan said. "You don't want to change year after year. I'm looking for someone who's going to be here for a while, and you hope it works out."

    Despite signs of improvement in some areas in 2006, the Rams again finished near the bottom of the league in punt returns (tied for 25th), kickoff returns (26th), and kickoff coverage (28th). Rams coverage units did force and recover a fumble against San Francisco on Nov. 26, and recovered a muffed punt at Oakland on Dec. 17. But the Rams also yielded three return touchdowns on a punt return by Seattle's Nate Burleson on Nov. 12, and twice on kickoff returns by Chicago's Devin Hester on Dec. 11.

    Rams special teams have struggled this entire decade, beginning with Mike Martz's first season as head coach in 2000. Ligashesky's replacement will be the team's fifth special teams coach of the decade, a list that includes Mike Stock (2004), Bobby April (2001-03), and Larry Pasquale (2000).



    Over that span, Rams special teams have allowed 20 touchdowns, while scoring only six. Things weren't quite so bad during Ligashesky's tenure. The Rams allowed four special teams TDs, while scoring two in '05 and '06. Both Rams scores came in 2005: Chris Johnson returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Seattle, and Brandon Chillar returned a blocked punt 29 yards for a score against Jacksonville.

    Ligashesky, 44, was among only three coaches from Martz's staff retained when Linehan was named Rams head coach 12 months ago. At his season-ending news conference 3 weeks ago, Linehan said he didn't anticipate any staff changes. But he has been contemplating making a change at special teams coach since the end of the season, something Ligashesky was aware of.

    Ligashesky could not be reached for comment Thursday.


  2. #2
    LA Rammer's Avatar
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    Good, be gone!

    Now hopefully we'll get a new special teams focus with a few returns and critical stops often. We can't be giving away good field position and starting deep in our own side of the field.

    Now who knows good defense, effective special teams, and a smash mouth offense we could be scary!
    Last edited by Nick; -01-27-2007 at 12:17 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    We desperately need to improve on special teams.It is after all a third of the game and is vitally important and has been over-looked for to long..:l

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    It would be nice to have a SP coach who, one understands that being in position to tackle is important, and two, can teach the proper angle of attack to complete the play. It would also be nice to have a coach who will be here for more than two years.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    Rams special teams have struggled this entire decade, beginning with Mike Martz's first season as head coach in 2000. Ligashesky's replacement will be the team's fifth special teams coach of the decade, a list that includes Mike Stock (2004), Bobby April (2001-03), and Larry Pasquale (2000).
    What bothers me is that there are some pretty well respected special teams coaches in that mix, and none of them could figure out our problems?

    Could it be that we just don't have enough quality players? :\
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

  6. #6
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    Didn't take him long to find a new job - he's already been hired by the Steelers. :x

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    Lousy special teams follow lousy defense. If the Rams improve the quality of players on the defensive side of the ball their kick coverage will improve.

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    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    "You look for continuity," Linehan said. "You don't want to change year after year. I'm looking for someone who's going to be here for a while, and you hope it works out."
    I'm glad to hear the coach recognize the need for stability and state this publically. I think that in this age of football, coaching stability is an important factor. Detroit come to mind, a team with average talent but has performed below its potential, in part due to the constant coaching changes.

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams fire special teams coach

    Haven't heard anything about who we've been interviewing. I'd imagine that we'll hear a decisicion within this week.
    RamsFan16

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