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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Train wreck of the Rams could use new engineer

    By Bill McClellan

    I walked into the pressroom at the Rams headquarters in Earth City Monday afternoon, and Coach Bryan Burwell gave me a shout. "Now it's officially a disaster!" he exclaimed, as if I walk around with a sign on my forehead, "I brake for train wrecks."

    Of course, I do brake for train wrecks, and this football season has become one. The Rams are off to an 0-3 start, and two of those losses have come at home against teams the Rams should have beaten. What's worse, the Rams have been dull. It's one thing to be outscored in an exciting thrill-a-minute game. That used to happen in the days of the Greatest Show on Turf, and before that, in the days of Air Coryell and the Cardiac Cards. Occasional, exciting losses we can handle. But to lose in a dull, plodding fashion? That's unthinkable for a team with a fine quarterback, Hall of Fame receivers and an All-Pro running back.

    Especially an All-Pro running back. Coach Burwell has said over and over again that if you have a beast like running back Steven Jackson, you have to use him. Coach Bernie Miklasz has agreed. In fact, Coach Miklasz predicted a Ram victory last Sunday, but only if Jackson were featured. "If the Rams steadily give the ball to No. 39, Steven Jackson will have a break-out game. But I need to see the commitment to the run before I believe it."

    Why would Coach Miklasz have to worry about the commitment to the run? Doesn't Coach Burwell share that commitment?

    Well, yes, but there is this fellow named Scott Linehan. Even though he doesn't write a sports column for the newspaper, he still has a say in what the Rams do. In a strictly technical sense, Linehan is the coach.

    He is extremely unpopular. In fact, as I was driving to Earth City, I was listening to KFNS, one of the sports-talk radio stations; Kevin Slaten and his callers were beside themselves with rage and all of it was directed at Linehan. He should never have been hired! He's totally incompetent!

    His greatest sin? He is too committed to the run. And yes, that seemed clear to me, too. His game plan Sunday at Tampa Bay was to steadily give the ball to No. 39 and hope the big guy would have a break-out game. Who comes up with a game plan like that? The Rams did not even get a touchdown. Sixty minutes of football and one lousy field goal is all they had to show for it.

    During the season, the Rams have a press conference every Monday afternoon. Linehan goes first. He is followed by his offensive and defensive coordinators.

    The headquarters in Earth City are first-class — we did not steal the Rams from Los Angeles on the cheap — and the Rams hold their press conferences in an auditorium that seats more than 100 people. In the good old days when the Rams would host playoff games and NFC championship games, that kind of capacity was needed. No longer. There were only about 20 of us at Monday's affair.

    Linehan was wearing a pull-over shirt and sweat pants. He had the demeanor of a man who has been kicked hard and often. First thing, he announced that Jackson was injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game.

    Well, of course he was, I thought to myself. You run him over and over and over, what do you expect? You ever hear of something called the forward pass?

    I probably wasn't the only one thinking that, and Linehan must have sensed it. "One week, 'You threw it too much. Get Steven the ball.' The next week, 'You ran it too much. You have to throw these guys the ball,'" he said. He sounded wistful.

    Shortly before that riff, somebody had asked him about the play-calling of offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

    "I think Greg called a great game," Linehan said.

    Yeah, and Casey Jones had a great ride out of Memphis until he hit that freight train at Vaughn.

    After Linehan was done, Olsen came in. He seemed almost apologetic. He was followed by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. He said all the right things about football being a team game and so on and if the defense has to shut somebody out to win, then that's what they have to do. If Linehan were Julius Caesar, Haslett would be Cassius. "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. …"

    But this is not a Shakespearean play. It's a train wreck. After the press conference, I went back into the pressroom. Coach Miklasz was doing his radio show. Coach Burwell was his guest. I wondered if Linehan were listening. I hope not. With all due respect, a football coach should never take advice from the sports columnists. He should listen to the beat writer. Jim Thomas has been covering the Rams since they moved here. Let him call the plays.

  2. #2
    UtterBlitz's Avatar
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    Re: Train wreck of the Rams could use new engineer

    An entertaining read Bill McClellan.

  3. #3
    mikhal5569's Avatar
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    Re: Train wreck of the Rams could use new engineer

    I hope Scotty takes the hint to heart, he's running out faithfuls and the schedules not getting any easier. Tick tock, tick tock.
    Last edited by mikhal5569; -09-26-2007 at 11:37 AM.

  4. #4
    Fat Pang's Avatar
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    Re: Train wreck of the Rams could use new engineer

    I think there might be more than an element of irony present in this article.

  5. #5
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Train wreck of the Rams could use new engineer

    I think there might be more than an element of irony present in this article.
    You are correct sir

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