By Jim Thomas
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 01:00 PM CDT
The Rams beat writer goes one-on-one with readers on Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. in a live chat.
Ed Johnson: Dear Jim
What are the chances of the Rams securing Coach Bill Cowher for next year? Let's start a poll for a new head coach and see who gets top nominee!!!! The Rams have to make changes if these two games are any indications on how this season will spell out.
Jim Thomas: Slim to none. Barring a 1-15 season or something awfully close to that, Linehan will not be fired after two years.
Tommy: By the time Scott Linehan's press conference takes place this afternoon there is a good possibility that we will find out that Marc Bulger will be out for a length of time with cracked ribs.
Seeing that the Ram's were only carrying two quarterbacks and Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer here, what would be the Ram's options at backup quarterback if Gus Ferotte steps into the starting role?
Jim Thomas: Bulger's ribs are "only" bruised. If something happened to Bulger, the team would simply elevate Brock Berlin from the practice squad. That would be the short-term solution anyway.
John: How much longer do we give the coach,I know the coach doesn't play but it looks to me like these guys are not ready and prepared to play and that is the responsibility of Linehan.
Jim Thomas: As I mentioned above, it would take a big-time debacle for the Rams to change coaches after only two seasons: Something along the lines of 1-15, 2-14, etc.
Despite the terrible loss, I saw many positives in the team and I think next week will be a breakthrough. Two years in a row, the offense is off to a shaky start in the first 2 games. We were lucky to win the Denver game last year. I wonder whether this has anything to do with the way Linehan runs the training camp. It looks to me like the Rams would benefit from 6 preseason games (just joking). What do you think?
Jim Thomas: Linehan and the players can say what they want. I say a trend is a trend. For two years in a row the Rams have barely played their veterans in the preseason, did not have the first-team offense score a touchdown in the preseason, and struggled coming out of the gate in the regular season. I'm sorry. I don't think it's a coincidence. The offense looked very much out of sync against Carolina, but was much sharper _ at least between the 20s _ against San Francisco. But last year, the Rams didn't score more than 18 points in any of their first three regular-season games. This year, they've scored 13 and 16 in their first two regular-season games. Scott Linehan made a conscious decision to protect players from injury in the preseason. It worked out pretty well because the only injuries of any significance were Steussie's broken foot and Incognito's high ankle sprain. But the trade off is your team, particularly your offense, enters the regular season out of sync. Last year, the Rams were fortunate enough to win 2 of those first 3 games even with a struggling offense. Obviously, that won't happen next year. In my opinion, they need to re-think the preseason strategy next year.
Dave M.: Did you notice Holt disappeared in the 2d half - he has a habit of doing that when he gets hit in the mouth - and what a soft gutless fumble. Chavous has to be sat down - he cannot pass cover and cannot tackle! Don't we have any receivers that will go across the middle? I know Holt won't. Bulger seemed to be staring down his main receiver and if not open, he then panicked. He seems to have no pocket awareness when it comes to sensing & side stepping the rush. And Jackson was dancing again & running soft instead of squaring his shoulders and getting what he could. Dante Hall needs to sit and it is time to get Hagans in the kick return game as well as the passing offense. Embarrassing loss!
Jim Thomas: Way too early to give up on Dante Hall. Torry Holt was not hit "in the mouth" on the fumble. It was poked out from behind. Bulger did look like he was starting down the first receiver, but admitted he did so because of all those hits. He didn't want to take the extra time to look at secondary receivers. Jackson did seem to tiptoe a little. It's hard to go across the middle if there are no pass plays called to go over the middle. Holt and Bruce have made a career going over the middle, by the way. The deep-in pattern was one of the staples of the Martz offense, and is still part of the Linehan offense, although not called as often. No doubt, the offense is a mess. And the frustration is mounting.
dog boy: Please tell me that I'm going to see a better performance this week at Raymond James. I can't go in to the stadium all Rammed out and see this for another week.
Jim Thomas: I actually thought the team was much-improved against San Francisco. The defense gave up only 186 yards. Got pressure on Smith, and did a very good job on Frank Gore. Even with all the pressure on Bulger, the Rams had seven pass plays go for 10 yards or more. The problem is finishing. In both the Carolin and San Francisco games, the Rams had an opportunity to finish off an opponent with 13-7 leads, and couldn't seal the deal. Almost half of every NFL game is decided by 7 points or less; the Rams haven't figured out how to win those games yet. Maybe they never well _ at least not in '07.
jjg: Former season ticket holder.....follow them on direct tv in los ANGELES....SHOULD HAVE TAKEN JAKE CUTLER...traded Bulger and bruce for a package of players and draft picks. I think MarTz(Detroit) would have payed a steep price FOR HIS QB and we would have avoided Bulgers monster contract on our cap. Bruce has lost a step and we could use the money to start shoring up are "gaps" in the defense with better players>>>>>>>just a thought.
ps-if we had done this you can't say we would not have a better record than are current one.
Jim Thomas: Bulger would be the t the first to tell you he hasn't played as well as he'd like, particularly in the Carolina game. But I still think he's one of the game's best QBs. The problems on offense are more the running game, or lack thereof, and the lack of pass protection by the offensive line. By halftime of the very first game, the Rams were minus three of their top six offensive linemen. Yeah, I think Bruce has lost a step. But did you see him turn Pro Bowl corner Walt Harris into a pretzel on several plays. Bruce still has the quickness and change of direction skills to get separation. He had eight catches for 145 yards against San Fran _ the yardage total is the seventh best in the NFL so far this season. I'd hardly say that's the sign of a washed up receiver.
jjg: Another thing>>>>I know the O-line is beat up but at least when Bulger was getting hit this much(whats going to happen on the road?)he was throwing the ball more than 5 or 6 yards a play....we almost never go deep and without K. Curtiss , there is no real deep threat....Wade may develop but will see........i think this team is in big trouble and the hole will only get deeper>>>I wonder in hindsight how many people would take Martz back.....just make sure that we keep a restraining order for larry marmie active >>>>>>what's your take at 0-3 starring us in the face...................JJG
Jim Thomas: The Rams had seven pass plays of 20 or more yards against San Francisco. Say what you will about the other problems on the team, but for one Sunday at least, throwing the ball downfield was not a problem. As for Curtis, I don't know if you've been paying any attention to what's happening in Philly, but he's hardly lighting it up for the Eagles.
As for Martz, it seemed like the whole town was ready to run him out a couple years ago. How many of those same people want him back?
daniel: this isn't a question as so much a statement. Coach Linehan is doing a terrible job! Steven Jackson is way overrated! This team has gone from possible playoff contenders (when martz was coach) to bottom of the league. We would be much better with martz as a coach. good job st. louis fans on chasing away one of the great offensive minded coaches of our time. bring the team back to l.a. where they are really appreciated.
Jim Thomas: There is a lot of frustration mounting on the offensive side of the ball. The defense regrouped impressively against San Francisco. Linehan has to get the offense going. I do not think Steven Jackson is overrated. But I'll say this: if you talk the talk, you better walk the walk. As for Martz, he was and probably still is one of the greatest offensive minds in modern football. I think Bernie Miklasz said it best when Martz was about to be fired: Be careful what you wish for. . . .
Daryl: Have the Rams ever heard of a screen pass? Just wondering.
Jim Thomas: Didn't seem to be in the game plan last week, did it?
Art Pineda: Hello Mr. Thomas
I can't believe the dumb mistakes that are being made this all goes down to coaching. Didn't we get Mc Micheal and Drew Bennet for the red zone offense?
Our offensive play calling stinks we don't make any half time adjustments and we can't even win in our own house!
I don't know if we have the right coaches!
It seems that we can't finish the job after getting a lead!
I am disgusted as well as disapointed!
Jim Thomas: Geez. I don't know what to add to that. It's hard to disagree with any of those observations.
Dave: If we go 4-12, and I think we will, is Linehan gone?
Wouldn't Okam or Dorsey look great in blue and gold?
Jim Thomas: I don't know if 4-12 does it, but that might put him on the bubble.
Bryan: Why has almost every punter in the NFL abandoned the corner kick? With doing that you would 1: Not have to hope the punt stops at the 1 yard line and has a good bounce backwards, 2: Hope one of your players can dive and knock it back before it touches the other side of the goal line, 3: Trying to tackle the return man.
Why not do a corner kick for punts, at least close to the 50 yard line? It would seem they would have a better chance to keep it within the 10 yard line, and occasionally to the 20 for a touch-back, but without the threat of a long return.
Thanks for getting to my question.
Jim Thomas: I guess it's easier said than done. I do know the Rams work on it a lot and Donnie Jones has become better at directional kicking. And San Fran's Andy Lee pinned Dante Hall in the corner with his 71-yard directional punt.
Frank BB,Ca: Hey Jim,
First of all, thanks for giving us fans a place to vent.. With the way are defense played and we know what our offense can do, when their clicking... Dont you feel that to many fans are writing us off to early?
Jim Thomas: First off, I totally understand why fans vents. Each win is football is like a 10-game winning streak in baseball. Vice versa for each loss. So here we are two weeks into the season, sitting with the baseball equivalent of an 0-20 record. I say vent away! I too am dumbfounded at how an offense with so many weapons can have only two TDs in two games. (Granted, you have to factor in the offensive line injuries.) I too am dumbfounded at how the run defense could be so porous against Carolina. (Although it was much, much better against San Francisco.) I too am dumbfounded at how the kickoff return unit seemingly doesn't block anybody (following that one big return by Hall in the opener).
But 0-2 is w-a-y too early to throw in the towel. The 2001 Patriots started 0-2, and were 5-5 after a mid-November loss to the Rams and went on to win the Super Bowl. So it can happen. But this is as much a test of the Rams' character and mental toughness as anything. Let's see how they _ and the coaching staff _ responde.
Reynill: What do you think the Rams record will be heading into the bye week and is there any realistic chance for them to go in the playoffs?
Jim Thomas: I'm probably the world's worst picker. But I'd say the most optimistic assement would have them at 4-4, winning at Tampa, and at home against Cleveland, and Arizona.
Sharon Johnson: Jim, Have you ever met a more fan friendly pro football player than Kurt Warner? We just love him. We went to see him in Flagstaff, Arizona this summer at football camp and he was the only player there to sign for every fan waiting in line, no matter how long it took! (just how he did in Macomb, Illinois when he played for the Rams!)
Jim Thomas: I've been covering the NFL since 1991 _ a few years before the Rams moved here. I've met a lot of classy athletes over those years, both on the Rams and on other teams. But Warner was special. No doubt. He seemed to treat everybody with respect, no matter their standing or station in life.
Is there any chance Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will cover any Rams games on Fox this year? I realize the Rams are not the Giants, Cowboys, or Bears, but still, why do we always get stuck with the worst announcing duo Fox has to offer? And, do you know how it is decided which pair will cover what game? I'd think that if Joe wanted to cover a Rams game, the network would let him.
Jim Thomas: There's only a couple of ways to get the No. 1 broadcasting team. Have a record that merits FOX's top duo, or draw the kind of ratings that demand it. The Rams have neither at this point. They're simply not on the NFL's radar. Take Steven Jackson's sideline tantrum against San Francisco, for example. Can you imagine the kind of attention that would have commanded nationally if it happened to T.O. in Dallas? Or Randy Moss in New England? Etc.
Hugh: J.T. - Is Steven Jackson turning into a Randy Moss? What was up with his attitude on Sunday? Did Linehan address this publicly or privately?
Jim Thomas: Check out our story on that topic in today's Post-Dispatch, or on line at Stltoday.com. Jackson took the high road, chalking it up to the heat of battle. Linehan's public comments about him were curious. At first, he almost denied that it happened. Then, he hinted strongly that it had to do with a pass protection issue. On the play in question, Alex Barron was beaten to the inside by a ***** pass rusher, hitting Bulger as he was throwing, and causing the pass to fall well short of intended receiver Drew Bennett. I don't think Jackson is turning into Randy Moss. I don't think he is a selfish player. But he is emotional and like many of his skill position players, he is frustrated over what's happening on offense. And no matter how many injuries there are on the line, the guys have got to block better.
Did the Rams ever express any interest in going after Tank Johnson?
Jim Thomas: Am not aware of any interest in Tank. But with two players currently serving drug suspensions (Fakhir Brown, Claude Wroten), and with another player facing two trials for alcohol-related issues (Dominique Byrd), why would the Rams even think about going after Tank?
Is there any reason you can think of that causes all of this fumbling.I really beleive if we don't have them we are 2-0.I know the coaches must stress this during practice so what is the deal? Do you think we have any chance against Tampa?
Jim Thomas: Sure the Rams have a chance against Tampa this week. The NFL is a week-to-week proposition. The teams are so close. And what happens on one Sunday often has little or nothing to do with what happens the next. For example, how many NFL fans out there had the Saints sitting at 0-2 right now? How many had Derek Anderson out "slinging" Carson Palmer? I know I didn't. The key for the Rams: Do they get down about what's happened? Or do they do something about it? Get focused and come out with some intensity against Tampa. In my mind, they certainly have enough talent to go 10-6. But so do about 15 other teams. The key is working through injuries, minimizing mistakes, and staying focused.
The fumbles are bizarre. Hall should have fair caught. Holt should have sensed the tackler. Jackson should have covered up because on both of his fumbles he saw the contact coming _ it was right in front of him. But humans make errors. Maybe playing more in preseason would've helped.
Ram1380: Jimmy T,
I think the Bucs are taylor made for the Rams this week.They have an undersized lb core and a suspect front 4 on defense. On the offensive side of the ball they have 1 playmaker,Galloway , a 2nd tier rb,and a dink,dunk qb. I'm not down on the Rams, take away 4 big plays and the Rams are 2-0 with a defense that yielded 142 yds to San fran.My question is;Do you think keeping 4 TE's and cutting the fb after a spectacular season last year for Jackson has affected the Rams redzone playcalling? Ram 1380
Jim Thomas: The Rams have to be able to run the ball effectively to beat Tampa. All the work they did outside at Rams Park during training camp and the preseason should have them well-prepared for the Florida heat. The Bucs' defense isn't a floormat, but it's not what it used to be. The FB, Madison Hedgecock wasn't a bad blocker. He wasn't James "the Hammer" Hodgins, in terms of blowing away people, but for the most part, Hedgecock would at least get in the way. So his release surprised me a little, although I had known for a few weeks that Linehan was leaning that way. Keep in mind, too, that Hedgecock was the fullback in the opener against Carolina, and the Rams were only one of three in that game in the red zone. (Same as they were against San Fran.)
Paul: Do you think the Rams should offer the league $500k and a couple of '08 picks for a look at all their opponents playbooks? Could that turn this season around?
Jim Thomas: What's $500K to a guy that's making $4.2 million. And you know the Patriots will be drafting some where around 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 in the first round. So if the Rams were doing the drafting that means they will be out somebody like Trung Canidate and Robert Thomas. I thought Goodell's penalty was very weak. I know Goodell a little from his days "supervisiing" the expansion derby of the early '90s, and was disappointed by the light penalty. If he wanted to make Belichick or other teams think twice about cheating, he should have made the Jets game a forfeit loss for New England.
Joe Harris: So far in his career, Steven Jackson has never lived up to the hype or up to his potential. Does this make him overrated? Or does he just need more time to develop?
Jim Thomas: In his three NFL seasons, Jackson has two 1,000-yard rushingg seasons. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season, almost setting an NFL record in the process. He has easily outperformed the other top backs taken in the 2004 draft. Despite his disappointing start in '07, I would hardly call this overrated.
Ed H.: Jim:
Why is the endzone like kryponite to the Rams? It seems like they either don't have a redzone offensive plan, or at least they don't have a good one. Are they working on this during practice?
Jim Thomas: Ed, believe it or not, the Rams work on this a lot in practice. Last year, the Rams also started very slowly in the red zone and ended up finishing in the top 10 in red zone offense. So I think the struggles are partly to do with not playing the regulars much in the preseason. They need to run the ball better in the red zone. They need to get Bennett and McMichael more involved in the red zone.
ramboy 81: Hey jim why ,don't the rams play mr hagans over looker or one of there TTHEY NEED HIM OUT THERE BAD. THANK U
Jim Thomas: As good as Hagans looked in the preseason, remember, he was doing it against most team's second_, third_ and fourth_stringers. Looker has added value as a holder. And Jeff Wilkins is very particular about his holders. He has been the No. 3 QB in both games, and thus eligible to enter the game in the fourth quarter. If nothing else, I would love to see him come in and run a couple of trick plays.
bash-on: `O' Line, backs and tight ends. Are we going to go into a maximum protection shell against that Tampa Bay pass rush? Do we really think that our tackles can stand up against Gaines Adams & friends? Or that the middle of our line can keep those tackles out and that our backs will get the right reads and make their blitz pick-ups? If we pull back to protect, what does that do to our passing game? More screens and draws? Given time to throw, are the Tampa Bay cornerbacks going to be able to stay with our wide-outs?
Jim Thomas: Good questions. The Tampa defense has hardly been a juggernaut so far this season. They have given up more yards than the Rams. Gaines Adams has yet to record his first NFL sack. In short, although still good, the Bucs defense isn't what it used to be. There's no Warren Sapp, no Simeon Rice, no Booger McFarland. I would love to see the Rams establish the run, then start working in play-action. With Bennett back in good health, I'd like to see the 3-receiver set become the base offensive set, rather than two tight ends. You can still send out a lot of receivers on patterns if you get the ball out quick.
Tater: Jim, You mentioned that Tory Holt did not speak to the press after the game. I'm sure he was upset about his very rare fumble. But could he also be peaved that after his fumble his number was not called? Is this a trend? Last week after Action Jacksons fumbles he was an afterthought. Could this also be a reason for Tory's silence?
Jim Thomas: Tater, you noticed this too!!! The Oliver Stone in me wonders the same thing. (Jackson and Holt getting little action after costly fumbles.) Here's an intriguing add-on to Holt's silence. Yesterday, a few reporters caught up with Jackson in the hallway at Rams Park as he was leaving, and Jackson cleared the air on his sideline tantrum. Well, about a half hour before that, Holt walked out and (politely) declined to speak to reporters. Very curious, since Holt almost always is willing to share his thoughts _ win, lose, draw, good game or bad. P.S. _ I thought Holt looked much more like the old Holt against San Francisco in terms of his knee. I think the fact that the Rams really practice only three times a week once they hit the regular season mode (Weds., Thurs., Fri.,) probably is helping the knee and keeping it from getting overworked.
Dave Fish, Roch N.Y.: Well I have to say that I am not to surprised by the 0-2 start.But the way they lost is a bit surprising.I feel like I'm watching a real good team lose and can't figure out why. The pundits will say turnovers will kill you and thats whats happening here. The offence looks pitiful the coach is to blame and the lack of depth is not an excuse. We will have a long season but I will continue to watch and if I lived in St. Louis I would have season tickets and would not bail.
Jim Thomas: However, disappointing the loss to San Francisco was, I thought it was a very entertaining game. Lots of intensity. Lots of twists and turns in the plot. Drama at the end. I know the fans want better. We all want better. But I think we all we're spoiled but what happened from 1999-2003. It's not as if the Rams have fallen off the earth since then (although it might still happen!!!) They've only been mediocre since that last division title in '03. Overall, I think the fans have hung in pretty well.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Again, the most dumbfounding part of the first two games has been the offense's inability to score TDs. The special teams were very good in Game 1, not so good in Game 2. The defense was good in Game 2, not so good in Game 1. But where are the points?
Mike: Why does Olsen insist on running plays, such as the end around to Bruce or the quick outs to Bruce and Holt, to WRs that can't run, have no blocking in front of them, and that were never known for their abilities to make defenders miss in the first place? If they're going to run plays like that, why not try to get Hagans on the field here and there?
Jim Thomas: In my mind, the end-round to Bruce was a good call, but at the wrong spot on the field. I believe he was running to the short side of the field _ I think the Rams were on the near hash. Also, when you run that play down that close to the goal line, the defenders are right there. Even if they're fooled, they don't have that far to run to recover. Do you recall one of the first plays of the game? It may have been the first. The Rams faked an end around, but handed it off instead. Had the end gotten the ball there, in the middle of the field with plenty of room to his left, it would've been a big gain. Most teams don't expect an end-around that early in the game. I would like to see more trick plays. Maybe a little no-huddle mixed in for the occasional series or two. But those quick tosses to Bruce and Holt confound me as well. For all the wonderful things Bruce and Holt have done in St. Louis, those quick tosses have never been their forte. I'm not sure why the Rams keep trying them.
kent smith: I hate to be a Linehan hater right now, but losing two at home, maybe it's time to for a change, I see Rich Brooks written all over this Rams team. Can the Rams wait a year, and see if they can get in the Bill Cowher race? Rams fan for over 40 years!!!(and a little frustrated right now)
Jim Thomas: Wow! It's awful early to start looking for a new head coach. Linehan is just 18 games into his tenure. I think it would take a total debacle for the Rams to think about a change after two seasons.
Mike: Ryan looked good against the Niners. If he continues to play well does Wroten spend more time on the bench when he is reinstated? Will we see some situations with Wroten, Ryan, and Carriker all on the field at the same time?
Jim Thomas: One game does not a career make. But Ryan did all that in 18 snaps. I think the Rams should make more use of Ryan. If he continues to be productive, it will be hard to lower his workload. Personally, I have my doubts that Wroten will ever amount to anything. He has now had at least four instances of drug-related issues since his senior year of college. He's only in his second year in the NFL. His next suspension will cost him a year in a league. What gives the Rams any hope that Wroten will suddenly clean up his act?
Mike: Jackson needs to shut up and put out. He was averaging less then 3 yards per carry. How many times did he run on 1st down and lose 2 yards and we’d be faced with 2nd and 12. Then, they knew we were going to pass, so they blitzed and beat the crap outta Bulger and now we’re 3rd and long. So why did he want the ball in his hands in the critical moments when he proved all day long he couldn’t get it done??? I don’t blame Linehan for not giving him the ball. Do you think they should’ve used Leonard more? He had some nice catches.
Jim Thomas: I don't think Jackson's anger was necessarily about not getting the ball. I've yet to look at the tape, but it didn't look like Jackson had much running room. When DTs are quickly in the backfield on basic red zone running plays, that's not a good sign. And no one as confused SF's defensive front with the Steel Curtain when it comes to run defense. I do like the fact that Leonard is getting worked in. He's certainly not in Jackson's class as a runner, but he is a good pass catcher. He runs north-and-south but has a certain niftiness to him, at least from what we've seen so far. And I will say this: So far his pass protection and blitz pickup has been good, probably better than Jackson's.
Buzz: How long will it realistically take for Brandon Gorin to learn the offense well enough to play RT? Surely he would be a better choice than Milford Brown, who has never played Tackle before? Also, did not having a fullback hurt the running game against SF? Thanks. Buzz
Jim Thomas: A lead-blocking fullback has never been used much in Linehan's system. But on plays when the Rams tried to use someone else in that role (particularly TE Klopfenstein) things didn't work out well in the running game. I expect Richard Owens, who was signed last week and has more fullback experience to dress this week. That might help. I was very surprised to see Brown given the start at RT. I think he's a guard, a decent guard. He doesn't have the quickness or body type to play right tackle. I would have rather seen Golberg given a shot. As for Gorin, it may take a couple weeks to get him up to speed.
Del D: I will not dwell on past. The preseason is over. We did not get the boys enough hits. Result, poor timing by Bulger, fumbles, injuries. The human body has to be conditioned. The Rams were not so we go through it during the regular season.
I will not ask B.S. questions. Fire Linehan or Haslett? Ain't gonna happen. The Rams are notorious for keeping coaches until their contract expires then not resigning them. Remember ST coaches, 5 of them. Or DC Marmie.
Bench Bulger? Again please. Ain't gonna happen. You do not give him 60 mil then set him down. Besides his stats are not horrible. No int's & good % despite all those drops.
All those injuries and suspensions happen to every team simply not true. Lost or moved LT Pace, RG Incognito, RG Brown, RG Terrell, RT Barron, fill in LT, RG, RT Goldberg, WR Bennett, DE Little, LB Tinoisomoa, DE Moore, signed CB Vinett, CB Brown, CB Hill. Who is next?
My final topic before my question is regarding the PD writers. The public believes every word they read to be gospil. So now we have writers BM and JG telling all that Linehan is on the hot seat. Granted it could be better but not on the hot seat.
My solution - no looking back. It's over. Shut up those writers and all those negative posts. The season starts Sunday at TB Sunday in a must win game. No more complaining about lack of PS time, drops, fumbles or injuries.
Can it be done?
How do you address doing it?
Jim Thomas: I have yet to do a lot of study on Tampa. But the formula for victory is relatively simple:
1.) Defense must continue the intensity and focus it showed against San Francisco. Gore's run notwithstanding, that was a v-e-r-y good performance. You can win a lot of games with a defense playing like that.
2.) Get the running game going. The Rams have started well on the ground against Caro. and San Fran, but after 1 1/2 quarters, things have slowed to a crawl. Why? I'm not sure. Are the other teams making adjustments by then? Is conditioning a factor in the line, with the guys gradually tiring?
3.) Be more productive in the red zone. A 33% TD ratio in the red zone, the Rams' current figure, is a prescription for defeat. For starters, the Rams have to eliminate those red zone turnovers, and negative (penalties, sacks, negative running plays) in the red zone.
Sounds simple. But easier said than done.
Jack Dempsey: Hey JT,
After watching "Money" kick nearly, if not all, of his kick offs to only the 6 or 10 yard line, then seeing the missed field goal at the end, I wonder how this guy led the league in touchbacks in the past. What's with the inconsistency? Do we have yet another injury that has not been disclosed? From my seat at the Ed, I thought that last kick would be good. I now think that it was the poster child for this season: "Just a bit short". What do you think? Yeah, everything is topsy turvy after week 2, but the cream usually rises to the top in this league, and I suspect the Rams will have to look up to see these teams.
Jim Thomas: Wilkins has been kicking for a long time, and he just doesn't have the leg strength on kickoffs that he had, say, five years ago. He's 35 years old. But he remains one of the best long-distance field goal kickers in league history. But as Wilkins freely admits, 55, 56 yards is right on the edge of his range.
Milton DC: Jim,
Dante Hall is a great kr/pr for the Rams. Do you think that bringing him in as a receiver effected his return ability on Sunday? Why not use M. Hagans who showed promise during pre-season? He has great hands and seems to find the end zone. No need to panic but lets try something new.
Jim Thomas: With Drew Bennett healthy for the *****, Hall wasn't used that much as a receiver Sunday, so that's not an excuse. Right now, there's no way for the Rams to have Hagan active on game day unless they decide to activate six WRs. You've got Bruce, Holt, and Bennett _ Dante Hall (as the No. 4 and the return man) and Looker (occasional No. 4 and holder). So to have Hagans active, who do you drop? Keep in mind that Looker is very good as a holder and Wilkins is very particular about his holders.
Todd Thrasher: Jim,
The Rams have become a very boring team to watch. With all of the talent they have, they don't seem to go downfield much or do any "razzle dazzle", which I feel keeps defenses on their toes. I know I'm probably spoiled from 'the greatest show on turf', but why don't the Rams take any big shots down the field? Is it a lack of variety in the play-calling or the inability of the players making those plays? Also - I've never seen a team that is so good at taking their own crowd out of a game. I hope the players realize that we want to be behind them - but with all of their mistakes - they take their own crowd out of the game. Frustrating! Thanks, Jim!
Jim Thomas: Well, the Rams did have seven pass plays of 20 yards or more Sunday against San Francisco. Even on a good day, the Greatest Show would take that. So getting the ball downfield wasn't the problem Sunday.
Dave, Pittsburgh: I think Linehan is a dangerous combination of poor personal attributes to ever be a good head coach in the NFL. His post game press conference was of drastic difference as other (0-2) coaches like Andy Reid & Sean Payton. They possessed a leadership aura about themselves as opposed to Scott’s quivering voice and nervous twitches. What would it take for Linehan to keep his job or more importantly lose it?
Jim Thomas: I think it's way too early to pass judgement on Linehan. I thought it was very interesting to see him display emotion at a press conference. He'd never really done that before. As I've mentioned earlier on this post, I think nothing short of 2-14 or 1-15 even has John Shaw thinking about making a coaching change.
Brian Hudson: Am I the only former football fanatic that has lost the enjoyment of watching the NFL? I use to find it hard to wait for games to come on on Sundays. Now, it is so boring with all the delays, commercials, poor announcers,etc. I can't pinpoint when I realized that the NFL had lost its appeal to me. Do others feel the same? The atmosphere at the dome is anything but fun or exciting.
Jim Thomas: All the TV delays are mind-boggling. And there's a lot the Rams could do to make the game-day atmosphere better. But there's nothing like winning to help create atmosphere. No one was complaining about atmosphere during the Greatest Show days.
jeff h: in my view leonard little has had very little pass rush in both games run defense is what it is but why haven't the rams tried to pressure the qb more and what else can they try. plus i like barron at left tackle
Jim Thomas: Little has had a relatively quiet two games, although he has come close on several occasions. He's still getting double-teamed on almost every play. He was in and out of the lineup in the second half Sunday with a banged up toe. But the Rams have yet to play with a significant lead, which helps the pass rushers, and opponents have thrown only 44 passes against them _ which is the third-lowest total in the league. Again, I've yet to look at the tape, but I think Barron was only so-so at LT against San Francisco. He did get beat _ to the inside _ on the play that resulted in Steven Jackson's sideline tirade.
Ramalamadingdong: Heya JT - do you think the answer is to get the playcalling out of Olson's hands and back into Linehan's?
Because to me, the O looks just as uninspired and unimaginative as ever. No passes over the middle to ANYBODY, much less a TE or running back to slow the 9er blitz.
Martz would have been licking his chops against the 9ers and sliced and diced them mercilessly.
Jim Thomas: It could go that way, although I think Linehan would prefer to be CEO on game day rather than play calling. It was puzzling to me why the Rams didn't try more passes over the middle when the 'Niners were blitzing so many guys from the edge. It's simple math. You have an overload of guys on the edge, that has to leave less guys somewhere else (in the middle).
Dan: Were the Rams anywhere on the radar for Tank Johnson? It not, WHY NOT?
Jim Thomas: Well, I answered this earlier. But with two guys on drug suspension (Fakhir Brown, Claude Wroten), and another guy facing two alcohol-related trials in the next three months, why do the Rams need to add another off-the-field problem waiting to happen?
Chad: I put all of the rams problems on the heads of the coaches. Due to weak and passive play calling they have put the rams season directly into the toilet. There were mistakes that should have not happened but the other teams didnot make us pay because of those mistakes. The coaches should have prepared the team and themselves for the real thing a long time ago. Thanks coaches.
Jim Thomas: I wouldn't say the seasons' in the toilet, but it's certainly heading towards the bathroom. Even with all the offensive line injuries, I would say the biggest problem this season has been the lack of production on offense. The play-calling has been curious.
What are the teams thoughts on Alex Barron? I keep hearing he has all the tools to be great, but I do not see it on the field. How do the coaches honestly feel? Obviously he was one of the players Bulger "called out" last season. The Rams must go OT early in the 2008 draft, must they go there twice? Pace cannot be counted on, who knows he may retire?
Jim Thomas: I think the coaches would like to see Barron get more serious about the game. I think he's starting to get there. This needs to be his breakthrough year, but in fairness, he's starting over in a sense at left tackle. Even if Pace returns, I think OT is a Day 1 draft priority.
Derrelle: Hello since the general public can't speek to coach Linehan could you please tell him that the answer to the rams problems is that the team is not having fun together. It seems that everyone on the team came to fight a individual war the object of football is team work. This team is seperated into too categories Defense and offense when their suppose to ride and die together. This team does not fight together the appropriate thing for Steven Jackson to do instead of him shouting at the coach was to get the offensive line together and look at the photos and see what they could do better on the next serious or what kind of holes that the line could open up or Marc Bulger should go join the the recievers to look over the pictures and view what went wrong with a certain play instead of putting on a ball cap and standing next to Gus Frerotte looking at the defense. The players need to be more involved with each other because they are loosing
together it seems that the rams or looking at it like its work as usual and not like they enjoy work, and let's be honest if you dont like your job your not going to perform up to standards. Linehan has to make these guys enjoy football everybody is in panic mode and we know when you panic misteaks happen this is only the second game relax and have fun. Tell Linehan to tell the offense it's ok to talk to the defense and vice versa we are all on the same team we are all fighting for the St.Louis Rams look at how the Patiots came together sunday night as a team after the game and rallied together behind their coach, the talent is in place we are just not enjoying football right now
Jim Thomas: It's hard for me to say how close _ or unclose _ this team is. Corey Chavous is a great mentor to the younger players. Has a lot of them to his house for dinner. Bulger frequently takes the o-line out for dinner. I think a little emotion on the sideline is a good thing. But I don't know if screaming at the coach on the sideline accomplishes much. You are dead right on this: It's no time to panic. Not two games into a season. This is the time when players' professionalism and focus are tested.
Tom: Jim ~
Thanks for your time. I was hoping you could talk a little about the health of this franchise for a change of pace. How are they doing, and is there any talk about what could happen down the road. And I'll clarify this in three areas:
A new stadium
Stan Kronke buying out Georgia
Overall opinion of life of the franchise in St. Louis
With the talk on some message boards stating that the Rams might be looking for a new stadium in the next 5 - 10 years, people in St. Louis are pushing the button and saying "Let 'em go" which would be a HUGE mistake and would secure that this city would only see pro football on television. Your thoughts?
Thanks again for your time.
Jim Thomas: With all the new stadiums being built, the Rams have gone from one of the top two or three most profitable teams to a ranking I believe somewhere in the 20s in profitability.
There has been a lot of quiet negotiating about upgrading the stadium. Remember, one of the clauses in the lease said the league had to be in the top 25 percent of stadiums. There are some improvements in the works, but the more dramatic improvements won't be made until the 20th anniversary of the stadium. (We're already in Year 13 believe it or not.)
I don't think Georgia's going anywhere any time soon. I do get a sense that management and ownership are frustrated at the amount of attention the baseball team gets in comparison to the football team by the St. Louis media. There was a time, I believe, when one of Stan Kroenke's goals was full ownership of the team. I'm not sure that's the case now, particuarly since Kroenke owns so many pro franchises these days. (Nuggets, Avalanche, English soccer).
I think the franchise is fine here in St. Louis. After the latest round of relocation, the league seems intent on having franchise's stay put. Would they do as much to keep the Rams in St. Louis, if stadium issues and decreasing fan support became a real problem? I'm not sure. But again, short term, I think we're fine.
Dave, Pittsburgh: Jim, you should be fired instantly. Every sports town counts on there sports writers to keep the owners honest. How can you call yourself a professional when you dish out this garbage that 4-12 wouldnt get him fired, 3-13 wouldnt, 2-14 may not and now you even say 1-15 may not get it down.
You are not a representation of the fans and I for one am really taken back out your spineless approach to this disapointing product the rams have provided us. Scott Linehan has taken a good football team and made a disaster out of them and you accept it.
Shame on you as you are selling the fans out, as well as yourself. I sincerely doubt Bernie or Randy would sit by quietly and let the Rams ownership stick their hands up there rumps and control everything they say.
Jim Thomas: Every town also calls on sports writers to keep their readers honest, even if that means telling it like it is as opposed to how you'd like it to be two games into the season.
Throughout my career in journalism, I've always been a beat writer. Not a columnist. It is my job to report what's going on objectively, and honestly. Over the years, I have won local, state, and national sports writing awards. I have had my family threatened, and myself threatened because of things I have written. Because sometimes objectivity and honesty hurt.
Sorry to disappoint you.
P.S. _ Linehan inherited a 6-10 team. Last time I checked, 6-10 was not a good record.
Steven: I'm a long time Ram fan and have been through many ups and downs with this team. I'm more than disappointed by the rash of negative fan postings in the forums and what-I-believe-to-be some unfair articles by local reporters.
How would you characterize the coaching staff and player's attitude right now? Are they feeling the outside pressure? Does there appear to be any panic? Or would you say they are confident?
Jim Thomas: I do think the players _ particularly the offensive players _ are feeling the pressure. And the coaches as well. They all expected better two games into the season. And their not immune to criticism. But I don't sense panic. Usually, Wednesday and Thursday are a better barometer of a team's mindset. We'll see how they react during the rest of this week.
big ben: whats up big man, yonkers here!!!!!!!!! well, what a horror show watching the rams ...... frisco is pathetic how can we lose to them?????? should i go to the game sunday being that i live in tampa????? i'm scared to where my ram jersey do we have a chance sunday?????? is coach scott in trouble?
regards big ben
Jim Thomas: Yonkers!!!! What's up. Sorry I haven't answered your e-mails lately. It has been a little crazy around here lately. Go to the game. Where your Rams jersey. Avoid trash talking. Sure the Rams have a chance. Way too early to say Linehan's in trouble. Regards. . . .
With that I've got to go. Appreciate all the interest. See you next week.
Re: Thomas Live
Re: Thomas Live
I'm learning there are not too many fans that have a clue about football.
Re: Thomas Live
Nice fans we there in St.Louie.
Re: Thomas Live
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding......we have a winner !!!!! Give that man a cigar!
Originally Posted by Rambos
Folks, the vast majority of football fans are blithering idiots who know less about winning in the NFL than Brittany Spears knows about good parenting practices. ---But HUb, there are plenty of posters here who are quite knowledgeable about the sport.--- Indeed, but this board is not the vast majority.
Some things are easy to see.....such as the playcalling. Anybody can see that has not been the most successful approach. Maybe it was the "best" shot at the time, but hindsight has removed the guesswork and made room for 2nd guessers. That part is easy. I don't have to be a doctor to know the difference between Lasik and a vasectomy.
However, far and away, what it takes to improve an NFL team is beyond the realm of the drive-by fan. Fortunately, there is a position where the fan can know this limitation and still offer words from wisdom with it in mind. And thankfully, that position correlates (for the most part) to membership at ClanRam.
Re: Thomas Live
That is the biggest compilation of idiot nonsense that I have ever read. What a bunch of bandwagoning losers ....