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Rams Notebook: New architect on offense sees a smooth transition
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Aug. 19 2006
Handed the keys to a Ferrari, Greg Olson knows he'll get much of the blame if
the engine fails to hit on all cylinders.
Olson, the Rams' new offensive coordinator, takes over the a unit that ranked
among the league's top 10 in six of the last seven years. Sure, the "Greatest
Show on Turf," the record-breaking troupe that produced the NFL's No. 1
offenses in 1999, 2000 and 2001, took down its tents. But the Rams remained an
entertaining crew when they had the ball.
Spotty defense and shoddy special teams were the culprits in a swoon that left
the team with just one winning record in the past four seasons. Logically,
those areas received the most attention as first-year head coach Scott Linehan
shuffled personnel in the offseason.
Yet if the offense falls off significantly, those moves won't mean much. Olson
said he's optimistic that won't happen.
"I feel it's gone smooth, ... the whole transition has been good," Olson said.
"I'm surrounded by very good assistant football coaches, and I'm real happy
with the way the offensive staff has come together."
The group's first game experience together produced a perfectly balanced attack
-- 202 yards rushing, 202 yards passing -- and few mistakes in a 19-17 victory
over Indianapolis on Aug. 10. The Rams' second exhibition contest kicks off at
7 tonight at the Edward Jones Dome, with the Houston Texans, 24-14 winners over
Kansas City in their preseason opener, providing the competition.
Linehan, former offensive coordinator at Minnesota and Miami, and Olson work
hand-in-hand in game-planning. "Philosophically, a lot of our thoughts and
ideas on the calling of the game, aggressiveness and downfield passing" are
similar, Olson said. "We're starting to find out more about one another, and
more specifically I'm starting to find out more about what Scott wants from me.
I've enjoyed the role that I have."
On game day, Olson makes suggestions from the booth, but Linehan calls the
plays, as did his predecessor, Mike Martz. "Before the game, we talk about what
things we're looking for, things that we want to try to expose against the
defense," Olson explained. "We try to stick with that plan. As the game goes
along, if he hasn't hit on a call, I'll just remind him of that and we'll talk
about plays in between series."
Olson, 43, has four seasons of NFL experience as a quarterbacks coach. As a
coordinator, he's having fun deploying the multiple weapons in the Rams'
arsenal. That starts with quarterback Marc Bulger, who has had an outstanding
camp, Olson said, and includes a cadre of accomplished wide receivers headed up
by Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
"It's unbelievable ... fun to watch," Olson said. "It's one thing to see a
receiver make a great play once a week, but when you're seeing it two or three
times in a practice, it's awesome. ... I can't imagine there being many teams
in the league that have a much deeper corps than we have at wide receiver."
Steussie is ready
Todd Steussie, a 13-year veteran, hasn't been a full-time starter since 2003.
But if Orlando Pace, nursing a sore right ankle, knee and hip, doesn't suit up
tonight, Steussie will be in the lineup at left tackle.
Steussie enjoys being with the first unit, he said. "It's nice being around
some guys that have accrued some playing time and I'm not the old man hanging
out with the young guys."
At 35, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Steussie has settled into a backup role. "It was
an adjustment at first," said Steussie, a Pro Bowler in 1998 and 1999. "But I
still enjoy the game, I still like being around it. And when my number's
called, I get a chance to compete again. I always joke that it's better than
growing up and working for a living."