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  1. #1
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    Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/09/2007

    Rams head coach Scott Linehan.
    (John Froschauer/AP)

    CINCINNATI It looks like Scott Linehan will be back in 2008.

    In a handful of interviews this season, Rams President John Shaw has been adamant that he will make no coaching change during the 2007 season. But that's as far as he would go.

    Beyond that, Shaw's stock answer had been that he would wait until after this season to evaluate Linehan's job security beyond '07. But in an interview with the Post-Dispatch late last week, Shaw all but said Linehan will return next season.

    "I've maintained all along that we'll evaluate it at the end of the season," Shaw said. "And we will look at our entire football program. But in all fairness, the head coach has had a tremendous amount of obstacles to overcome. And the team has competed throughout the year despite its record."

    Then came the clincher: "It would be surprising if there was a change in our head-coaching position," Shaw said.

    Linehan has been under pressure since opening day. The offense struggled out of the gate for the second consecutive season, leading to criticism that the Rams were too conservative in their play-calling, and that Linehan didn't play his regulars enough in the preseason.

    The Rams' lost second-half leads in their first two games, both played at home, and the rough start spiraled into a full-fledged 0-8 disaster. Linehan took over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Greg Olson, but the losses continued to mount.

    The Rams never led in any of their first four road games. Cornerback Fakhir Brown and defensive tackle Claude Wroten missed four games apiece for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. A trickle of injuries in the preseason accelerated into a tidal wave of bum ankles, torn-up knees, balky backs and broken ribs.

    By halftime of the regular-season opener against Carolina, the Rams already were minus three of their top six offensive linemen. Bulger finished that game with sore ribs. If they weren't broken against the Panthers, they were the following week against San Francisco.

    The Rams currently have 11 players on the injured reserve list. Entering Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams' offensive line will feature four players who weren't opening-day starters, including graybeards Andy McCollum and Todd Steussie, plus a pair of "street" free agents in Milford Brown and Brandon Gorin.

    The injured reserve list includes Pro Bowlers Orlando Pace, Leonard Little and Dante Hall, former first-round pick Tye Hill, and one of the team's better defensive players in Pisa Tinoisamoa. And now, the Rams will face Cincinnati without Bulger (concussion) and Gus Frerotte (shoulder) because of injuries.

    Linehan made it official Saturday morning on Bulger. The two-time Pro Bowler will miss his second consecutive game since suffering a concussion Nov. 25 against Seattle. Bulger was cleared to practice Tuesday, and worked Wednesday and Thursday with no apparent problems. But after Thursday's practice, he told Linehan he didn't feel right.

    "If a guy is hesitant (about playing), then he probably shouldn't be out there," Linehan said Saturday. "He's just not himself."

    Linehan indicated that Bulger's absence could extend beyond Sunday. "It's indefinite," Linehan said.

    That leaves Brock Berlin, who has yet to play in a regular-season game, as the starting quarterback against the Bengals. Berlin has spent most of the season on the Rams' practice squad, and has gotten very little work throwing to the club's top receivers in team drills. Linehan said Saturday that Todd Bouman, who was signed Friday, will be the No. 2 quarterback against the Bengals.

    The Rams have won three of their last four contests, and were it not for a botched center exchange at the Seattle 1 by Frerotte, they might be entering the Cincinnati game with a four-game winning streak.

    Perhaps the ultimate referendum on a struggling head coach is whether the players are continuing to play hard. As Shaw sees it, the Rams haven't given in on the season; or given up on Linehan.

    "I believe he's a good coach, and the team has competed despite the obstacles it's had to overcome," Shaw said.

    Because of the way the season has unfolded, with the team playing noticeably better over the past month, those close to Shaw say he is surprised at the continued speculation over Linehan's job security.

    Shaw apparently has taken note of the fact that Atlanta's Bobby Petrino, San Francisco's Mike Nolan and the New York Jets Eric Mangini all have been given various votes of confidence by team management or ownership in those respective cities.

    "And those organizations have a whole lot less excuses than (the Rams)," said one Rams Park insider.


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    eauclare is offline Registered User
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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    He may be back, but I can see Shaw taking some power away. I think he will have input into FA and the draft, but will not have final say.

    He may even "suggest" to Linehan they aquire a new OC. I think Shaw will do something ala DV in 99 when he told him to make some changes.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    Hmmmm... maybe Shaw read my post about the Bulger situation after all.

    While I'm obviously not in agreement with the apparent plan to bring Linehan back, I am glad to read comments from Shaw that at least suggest that other changes are going to be made.

    Who knows? With a new GM, new OC, a couple of FAs and some quality draft choices, maybe Linehan could come into his own next year. I'm obviously not convinced that he's the right guy for the job, but if the Rams can win the division under Linehan and make some noise in the playoffs next year, I'll happily eat a double-helping of crow.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    Who knows? With a new GM, new OC, a couple of FAs and some quality draft choices, maybe Linehan could come into his own next year. I'm obviously not convinced that he's the right guy for the job, but if the Rams can win the division under Linehan and make some noise in the playoffs next year, I'll happily eat a double-helping of crow.
    Nice post Av. I'm proud of you.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    i like that post av.... but if you are correct in your analysis that linehan is not the right guy then we will be eating crow

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    .
    It very well may be true, but it's a mistake.

    He'll be fired at the end of next season. Probably a financial decision.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    I really have not gone either way on Linehan yet, I have said some good and some bad,but if in fact some changes are made(OC) I think he deserves a 3rd year.Hopefully he is taking this all in and learning from this season.I would not care if he was the coach for the next 10 years if he turns this into a playoff team year after year.

    I do reserve the right to change my mind at any time.
    Last edited by jkramsfan; -12-09-2007 at 08:08 PM.

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    I would love to be wrong about Scott Linehan. Honestly..... but as much as it hurts I'll just keep my pretty little mouth shut on this one.

    No okay, I can't. Since when has Shaw had ANYTHING productive to say about football operations in STL?? Oh, that's right... 2003 or so... I don't care *how* many injuries this team suffered this year, there was *no* reason to start 0-8. Only 1 other team in the NFL started as terrible as this team did. Many other teams had injuries, suspensions, accidents, what have you to *coach* through, but they managed to win a game before going 0-8. There is no question in my mind that Linehan should have been fired after the BYE week, Haslett should have been made head coach only because he has previous head coaching experience, and our FO should be out now recruiting with all of its money and power for an experienced head coach to clean this mess up.
    I am sorry, I have no vendetta, this has just been an embarrssing year for an isolated Rams fans. Say what you want about Mad Mike, but I don't remember going 0-8 with Mike Martz as head coach. EVER. I do remember Mike Martz saying that the FO would be happy with a head coach that could go 8-8 and while this is far from an 8-8 season, those words will ring true in my head until the FO goes out and finds a head coach that can win some games. There would be nothing wrong with making poor Linehan OC (a job, IMO, he does *NOT* deserve) and going after Bill Cowher. I would even be up for some Marty ball in STL next season. Whatever it takes to win. Something this franchise forgot to do a long time ago
    Last edited by Nick; -12-10-2007 at 12:08 AM.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    Well, at this stage I think his return is still in the 'likely' category.

    Shaw is merely stating the obvious at this stage. It is very difficult to judge Linehan on the fruits of his labour this year because of an appalling injury/suspension list. Quite simply, he hasn't had his roster available to him for a substantial portion of those games. So its not so much a question of Shaw supporting Linehan as recognising what many of us here have; its too difficult to judge this season and to use golfing parlance, a 'mulligan' may well be merited.

    He won't be fired for financial reasons either, as on a financial basis it probably makes more sense to keep him around deeper into his contract.

    Its interesting to note though, that Shaw, closer to the acction than most of us, seems to think the players are still turning up for Linehan and playing hard. I think that this is the ultimate test for a coach in our present situation and its good to see that the players public pronouncements aren't that far away from being true in Shaw's opinion.

    There will be changes I'm sure; Linehan I think, will inspire many of them if he's sensible and not just on the playing side of the franchise. If he does make it until next year, and I feel he should be given that chance, then he has to deliver a winning record, if not a playoff berth to keep his job. Shaw's patience will only stretch so far.

    I'm not known as being a big fan of Shaw's and this announcement hasn't changed things much, but if Linehan builds on the chance he's been given and develops the franchise into a perennial contender, then we'll have cause to thank Shaw for making the difficult call when it counted.

    If we fall flat again, they'll be plenty of crow out there and I'm sure I won't go short.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    I'm very unhappy with Linehan this year (less so last year), but even I have to admit that a big chunk of the problem resides with the front office. Having suffered through the George Boone years with the Cardinals, I'm craving a real GM who is a football man for the Rams before I watch us start drafting the likes of Clyde Duncan and Steve Piczarkaweitz.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    i don't know. I think we should cut the cord now and be done with it. Belicheck failed in Cleveland his first go round, and I don't think Linehan has what it takes now to turn this around. Even when we were healthy at the beginning of the year I didn't think this team was that good.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    i don't know. I think we should cut the cord now and be done with it. Belicheck failed in Cleveland his first go round, and I don't think Linehan has what it takes now to turn this around. Even when we were healthy at the beginning of the year I didn't think this team was that good.
    That's just it..We haven't been healthy from day 1 of the regular season.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    I know the St. Louis fan. Grew up around there, lived in the city for awhile. Next year is a put up or shut up year for Linehan. Lots of reasons:

    1. Fans in STL won't be coming to the games next year as they have in the past. They want to be entertained, not just see a team win. I doubt if the opener will be a sellout.

    2. Reason fans came to see Martz's team is that they were at least entertaing. Even last year this team seemed to be a yawner.

    3. When fans don't come to games, they don't buy stuff. When fans don't buy stuff, Georgia's bank account dwindles. When Georgia's bank account gets under 1 billion, coaches leave.

    Linehan gets a flyer on this year, but last year he didn't prove much to me either. He better have something magical up his sleeve or at least have a turnaround of Vermeil purportions. I don't see it.

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    there is a poll in the St. Louis paper today that asks does Linehan deserve a 3rd season ? 80% say No, how much of the fan non support will play into the decision ? or will it not affect Shaws decision at all ?

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    Re: Shaw says Linehan is likely to return

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan View Post
    there is a poll in the St. Louis paper today that asks does Linehan deserve a 3rd season ? 80% say No, how much of the fan non support will play into the decision ? or will it not affect Shaws decision at all ?
    Polls like this shouldn't affect his decision at all. However, when hotels don't have as much revenue as they did when the Rams were winning, when the gate receipts are down, when there is a television blackout in the STL area because the game won't be sold out, then those factors will affect his decision.

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