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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    By Steve Reynolds on April 9, 2007 01:35 AM


    What does Rams head coach Scott Linehan have in common with country music icon Kenny Rogers?

    They're both gamblers.

    Linehan has, through addition or subtraction, addressed nearly every position on the team thus far in the free agency period, with one exception.

    A rather glaring exception.

    The head coach has done nothing to rectify the weakness at the defensive tackle position. Considering the Rams finished next to last in run defense last season, it's a bit odd that Linehan seems to be sitting on his hands at this point, explaining that the team will most likely address the issue on the first day, but not necessarily the first round, of the draft.

    Or maybe he's bluffing.

    Linehan is not above such chicanery. After all, the Rams' head coach was able to squeeze an extra third-round pick out of the Broncos last year (which they used on a DT, Claude Wroten) by trading a couple slots down in the first round with Denver when Tye Hill was the player they coveted all along.

    However, Linehan hasn't addressed the DT position since last year's draft, making Rams fans more than a little nervous. Most agree that any defensive tackle help acquired via this year's draft won't do much in the way of immediate dividends.

    Linehan seems to be optimistic that his current crop of players can turn things around, citing the Colts as a team that did just that, "They (Indianapolis) played pretty darn good in the playoffs against arguably three of the best rushing offenses."

    Regarding D-line improvement, Linehan added, "I think people will be very, very happy -- hopefully with the addition of somebody if things work out right in this upcoming draft, whether it be the first round or (later rounds). Somebody else is going to be in that mix that's going to make us better. But I really think the players that we have are going to be that much more improved."

    However, this begs the question, is hoping a run defense that was among the league's worst can somehow turn itself around a blueprint for success?

    Linehan's allusion to the Rams being able to improve upon their disturbingly poor run defense next season without additional free-agent help is unnerving for fans. However, one could also argue that all of this season's free-agent DTs of consequence were re-signed by their existing teams, leaving only potentially overpriced, underwhelming options on the market.

    So what's a head coach to do?

    Should the Rams seek a trade? Does Linehan have an ace up his sleeve? Will there be any shocking revelations come draft day?

    As far as largely standing pat from here on out in free agency and believing the Rams will nonetheless produce a competitive defensive product next season goes, one thing is certain:

    Linehan is in the minority.

    Fans see the de facto starting unit of Jimmy Kennedy and La'Roi Glover meeting with no more success than they did last year.

    In fact, most in Rams Nation feel that fielding a dramatically improved defense without additional help at DT is about as likely as statisticians uttering "Michael Vick" and "65 percent completion rate" in the same sentence next season.

    But the fact remains that with existing players, the Colts were able to turn around their terrible run defense and go all the way, so that means the Rams can do it as well, right?

    If you're gonna play the game, boy, you gotta learn to play it right.

    It's quite a notion to bet your season on.


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Linehan better not be betting that another team can run with a poor defense and get lucky in the playoffs. I think the Colts were lucky and they would not be the team that I would be trying to emulate.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Linehan has done more things to impress me than to irritate me so far in his campaign. With that said, I will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves he doesn't deserve it anymore. If he doesn't make a move, and our run defense is fine, kudos to him. If he doesn't make a move, and our run defense sucks, then we can begin to heavily criticize him ...

    There is no guarantee that even bringing in a premier run stopping tackle will fix our run defense. I watched every game last year in some form or another, and often I would see the following type scenarios:

    1 yard gain, 2 yard gain, 0 yard gain ... then a 37 yard run!

    Other backs like Gore and Tomlinson just gashed us, but the problem runs deeper than DL. We have some tackling issues also, granted that these may be fixed if our LB's and safeties have more space to create angle if they are not jammed by OL pushing downfield ...

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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Well, this report is severly missing two things that the Colts have that we don't: Booger McFarland at DT and Bob Sanders in the secondary. Those two are run stuffers and there is no one on our roster at those positions that remotely resemble their talent.

    As a die hard Rams fan, I hope Linehan knows what he is doing. He has three years to get this team to the playoffs as far as I'm concerned and he's already wasted one.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Regarding D-line improvement, Linehan added, "I think people will be very, very happy -- hopefully with the addition of somebody if things work out right in this upcoming draft, whether it be the first round or (later rounds). Somebody else is going to be in that mix that's going to make us better. But I really think the players that we have are going to be that much more improved."
    Does anyone know when he made this statement? Here is a big reach on my part and I'm desprate for a DT. Could he be hinting that we had a deal for Jenkins that would take place on draft day when he made this statement?

    Maybe Panther have pulled out of the deal and now want to shop him?

    I'm with most thinking a rookie DT will not have much impact unless he is a real stud, I don't think many fans are going to do back filps until we see a DT that we drafted play well.

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    I think a lot of this is just psychology.

    Until you acquire a replacement (whether in the draft or via FA or trade), you need to express confidence in the players you have. What good does it do to openly state "we really need some help on the defensive line."? If you say that and then you are unable to obtain the player(s) you covet, the players returning know that the coaching staff has no confidence in them and would replace them if they could.

    Not exactly a formula for success.

    If I were in Linehan's position, I'd be publicly expressing that I believe the players on the rosters can succeed - while at the same time working the phones to try to get some better players.

    My guess is that is exactly what is occurring.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    If anything, Linehan is a talker. He knows exactly what to say and when to say it ....

    Further, I believe the team has confidence in him and has bought into his system. I think we saw this belief waver a little bit towards the latter half of the season, but the minute Marc stepped out and called the guys out, I think it flipped the dimmer switch all the way to bright ....

    How can you not believe in things when your quarterback, who has barely spoken a word in five years, steps up to grab the reigns?

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Yeah, he can't very well say "If we field the same defense we had last year, God help us." I think he's just stuck. He didn't believe there were any starter-quality DTs available in free agency, and he wasn't going to sign a backup for starter money.

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti
    I watched every game last year in some form or another, and often I would see the following type scenarios:

    1 yard gain, 2 yard gain, 0 yard gain ... then a 37 yard run!
    That is a valid point, and I suppose that would be the argument that internal improvements could make the difference. If we could eliminate the mental errors or whatever enabled them to break all those big gains, it'd make a huge difference.

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Here is the way I see the problems with the run defense. This is all under the assumption that our LB's and safeties are not stupid, drunk, or high on drugs:

    Our DL is subpar, no doubt. I don't know if it is so much that they just aren't good, or that they are undersized. Often they got pushed around at the front, and the oppositions OL often had their way with us. It ultimately leads to two scenarios:

    1. The linebackers and safeties know that the DL is going to get pushed back, so they play further off the ball, which will provide them with better tackling angles. This tends to lend alot of those 5-15 yard gains, often up the middle, that we gave up last year, particulary to gives like LJ, LT, and Gore.

    2. The linebackers and safeties play where they would typically play and get forced our of position by OL, tight ends, and even wide receivers due to the lack of push from the DL. In this scenario, we make some stops here and there but get gashed by 20+ yard gains, often to the outside, when our guys get pinned before they get an angle.

    These guys are professionals. They know how to play and they know how to tackle (I think). We just need to free up a little bit of space. I am not sure that our backers and D-backs will know what to do when they get a little free space.

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Maybe Linehan is counting on an explosive offense which cah grab large enough lead early enough to cause the opponents to forego the run in an attempt to get back "in the game"?

    Yup, uh huh!

    RnD

    GO RAMS!!
    RnD

    GO RAMS!!

  11. #11
    z.nrd Guest

    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Maybe it's just me, but, my bet is that he uses one or two of their 9 draft picks to go after defense.

    Just a thought.

  12. #12
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Quote Originally Posted by z.nrd View Post
    Maybe it's just me, but, my bet is that he uses one or two of their 9 draft picks to go after defense.

    Just a thought.
    My clairvoyance tells me that is a pretty safe bet....

    RnD

    GO RAMS!!:l
    RnD

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  13. #13
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz View Post
    Linehan better not be betting that another team can run with a poor defense and get lucky in the playoffs. I think the Colts were lucky and they would not be the team that I would be trying to emulate.
    Why would you not want to emulate the team that just won the Superbowl?

  14. #14
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsanddodgers View Post
    My clairvoyance tells me that is a pretty safe bet....

    RnD

    GO RAMS!!:l
    Mine told me i'd make a choice today...

    This is the reason why i pay her top dollar. She's always right.

  15. #15
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    Re: Rams' Linehan engaging in most dangerous game

    If Linehan is basing on improving this defense next year through the draft, then he won't make the playoffs and I guarantee people in STL won't show up for the last two or three games. When fans quit showing up, they quit parking their cars, buying souveniers, buying consessions, and quit spending money. When fans quit spending money, the coach is on a very short leash. Linehan has three years IMO to take this team to the playoffs or he's fired. He's already had one.

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