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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Wild card still possible for Rams with 7 games to go

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/15/2006


    As he addressed the team Monday after a bitterly disappointing loss to Seattle, coach Scott Linehan took a survey.

    "If anybody in this room had a perfect game, you can get up and walk out," Linehan said. "If any of you feel like you did everything perfect, that gave us the perfect chance to win the game, then you don't need to be in this room."

    It was his way of telling the Rams that everybody needs to pick it up rookies, veterans, coaches, himself.

    "Nobody I saw got up and left," Linehan said.

    Linehan had another message for his squad. Despite the four-game losing streak and the team's 4-5 record, all is not lost. Not yet.

    "We've got seven games left," he said. "We've certainly got to start getting some wins here in a hurry. But we have a lot of football to be played. We can't get into that state of misery because we dropped some games.

    "Some teams might be 4-5 a different way than we are right now, but we're all 4-5, and we can all put ourselves in a better position by getting a win this week. That's the only way you can look at it. If you don't, then you're just going to go into that sea of negativity, so to speak, that you can't get out of. We can't go there."

    Nine games into the season, the four NFC division leaders are 6-3 or better: Chicago (8-1), Seattle (6-3), the New York Giants (6-3) and New Orleans (6-3). For the Rams, it will be very difficult to catch Seattle in the West. Because Seattle swept the season series, it has the tiebreaker edge. So, in essence, the Seahawks are three games up on the Rams with seven to play.

    Even so, two wild-card berths remain totally up for grabs. Behind the division leaders are four teams at 5-4 (Atlanta, Carolina, Dallas and Philadelphia). And four teams at 4-5 (the Rams, Green Bay, Minnesota and San Francisco).

    A couple of teams among that group will get hot enough down the stretch to nail down a playoff berth. Linehan's message to the team: Why not us?

    To prove his point, Linehan mentioned the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 7-5 in early December last season but got hot down the stretch and won Super Bowl XL as a wild-card entry.

    Of course, there's a big difference between 4-5 and 7-5. Namely, three victories. But you get the point. Linehan is accentuating the positive.

    "You've got to look at things that way," he said. "You've got to look at them with a positive spin and understand that as bad as you feel about a ballgame, it is a ballgame. It is one. ... We've got to figure out a way to get ourselves back to .500, get to 5-5, and focus on that."

    That's the goal Sunday at Carolina. The Panthers reached the NFC title game a year ago but have been far from overwhelming this year. Among the Rams' seven remaining opponents, only Carolina and Chicago currently have winning records. After Carolina, the Rams have four of their final six games at home.

    On paper, those factors work in the Rams' favor. But the Edward Jones Dome hasn't been anything close to the home-field advantage it once was. On Nov. 5 against Kansas City, Chiefs fans made almost as much noise in the dome as Rams fans. The atmosphere could be very similar Dec. 11 when the Bears come to St. Louis for the Rams' only Monday night game of the season.

    As for the won-loss record of the remaining opposition, this has been a season when the Rams have had to claw for everything. There have been no sure things. In fact, the only sure thing is that nearly every game will go down to the wire.

    Seven of the Rams' nine contests have been decided by seven points or fewer. And in those seven games, the trailing team had a chance to either tie or win in the closing minutes in many cases, in the closing seconds.

    It doesn't seem to matter who's on the opposing sideline. The Rams played one of their best games of the year against one of the best teams in the league Denver. But they can't figure out how to beat San Francisco, a team that has improved lately but still doesn't match up on paper with the Rams.

    But no matter whom the Rams play, or where they play them, to have any chance at the postseason, three things must happen:

    The defense, which has deteriorated into a team weakness after a strong start, must regroup and play better. Perhaps the defense can build off its strong second half in Seattle.

    The offense, which has moved the ball consistently much of the season, must find a way to finish off drives and go for the jugular. No more squandering excellent field position. Or letting teams hang in ballgames.

    Silly mistakes must be kept to a minimum. Namely, things like false starts, or personal fouls after touchdowns. Football is a game of emotion, but poise under pressure is invaluable in tight games.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Wild card still possible for Rams with 7 games to go

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/15/2006


    As he addressed the team Monday after a bitterly disappointing loss to Seattle, coach Scott Linehan took a survey.

    "If anybody in this room had a perfect game, you can get up and walk out," Linehan said. "If any of you feel like you did everything perfect, that gave us the perfect chance to win the game, then you don't need to be in this room."

    It was his way of telling the Rams that everybody needs to pick it up rookies, veterans, coaches, himself.

    "Nobody I saw got up and left," Linehan said.

    Linehan had another message for his squad. Despite the four-game losing streak and the team's 4-5 record, all is not lost. Not yet.

    "We've got seven games left," he said. "We've certainly got to start getting some wins here in a hurry. But we have a lot of football to be played. We can't get into that state of misery because we dropped some games.

    "Some teams might be 4-5 a different way than we are right now, but we're all 4-5, and we can all put ourselves in a better position by getting a win this week. That's the only way you can look at it. If you don't, then you're just going to go into that sea of negativity, so to speak, that you can't get out of. We can't go there."
    I may be comprehending this wrong or reading to much into this. Seems like Linehan is trying to avoid the obvious. He knows as well as his team knows (rookies,veterans,coaching staff, front office,ownership) that he, Linehan ,made some bonehead decisions vs the Seahawks. That's where the, did any one play perfect comes from. Redirecting the attention away from himself. I would say that he could of lost some respect with that approach.

  3. #3
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Wild card still possible for Rams with 7 games to go

    I'm not so sure he lost any respect with his statement. Everyone on the team knows that there were bonehead decisions made by players and coaches alike and that it was team loss. If Linehan was spinning it, that might be different, but the points he was making were completely legitimate. You also have to take into account that the players interviewed after the game all stuck up for Linehan and his decisions. To me, that's a sign of respect.

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    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Wild card still possible for Rams with 7 games to go

    or a sign that they dont want to be benched

  5. #5
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Wild card still possible for Rams with 7 games to go

    Well, two of the guys who spoke out in support of Linehan were Bulger and Jackson, and I don't think they are the type to play politics and I don't think either have any worries about being benched.

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    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Wild card still possible for Rams with 7 games to go

    You're right about those two probably not having to worry about being benched. I wouldn't really take what they say to the press as what they truly feel either. I believe both are smart enough to realize that any disagreements are best kept in house, especially after the debacle last year with the FO and Martz.

    I'm really just playing devil's advocate here. I will agree though that it is definitely better to hear them both say they agreed with his decision rather than have them say that they disagreed with it. However, I doubt we will ever know for sure what both of them really think.

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