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  1. #1
    Fat Pang's Avatar
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    Last Chance Saloon.

    I'm not often tempted to indulge in the off-season debates that 'rage' in those awful 6-7 months that we have to endure until the new season begins. Given what happened last time out, and at the risk of sounding blasphemous, you could be forgiven for shelling out considerable sums of money in the vain hope that we could defer next season in favour of a walk-through.

    An extended season long walk-through could be just the thing for us to avoid another 3-13 season, and it'd give 'Bilious' Bill Belichick a chance to get his mojo back and kick-start his next dynasty with another comprehensive taping of our beloved Rams.

    Some hope on both counts, but I think that last season was sufficiently traumatic for many of us to entertain some pretty outlandish thoughts. What happened last season isn't going to be solved by an extension of the status-quo. It was evident at the close of the season that substantial change was necessary if we are to have any hope of turning the train-wreck into a playoff express. Recent moves would point to lessons learned, but its almost the changes that haven't been made that still attract column inches. Zygmunt and Linehan are still there, and whilst to my eyes, Zygmunt has the higher capacity to stymy any revival, Linehan has a lot to prove in what is likely to be his final season.

    It has always been my position that any new coach should be given three seasons to work a tunraround and that the circumstances of Linehan's second season weren't enough to change my mind. Nevertheless, I am fairly convinced that next season, barring a turnaround of Vermeilian (not sure that works ) proportions, will be Linehans last in the hot seat. To be blunt, I'm not sure that the conditions exist, either in the draft or FA, for Linehan and staff to engineer the changes in the playing staff required to propel this team to better than 9-7, and I think it will take a record in excess of that for Linehan to keep his job.

    The first hurdle that has to be surmounted will be the teams cap situation. I echo the wonderment of those who bemoan the burgeoning size of our cap relative to the shrinking size of our achievment. We have next to no money at the present time for keeping those players that we need, whilst signing players to effect change and sigining our draft choices. I would proffer an explanation however and suggest that sentiment is a very real issue that clouds the view on our road to redemption.

    Simply speaking, keeping players such as Bruce and Little may be a price too high in view of our desire to radically improve our record. Bruce in particular, would be a painful loss, but I think the time might well have arrived for both Bruce and the team, where a more realistic view of utility and reward has to be taken. The question could be phrased as, "Is Isaac now worth what he's paid?", and whilst I accept the arguments surrounding intangibles that will be offered, I maintain that valuing those intangibles over performance on the field, will hinder our ability to develop for the future and perhpas even our teams playing record.

    Controversial I know, and it will anger many on these boards I consider to be my friends but I think its worth saying.

    Little, to me, is much more straightforward. No longer the player he was, and never the inspiration of a dominant defence (as much as he could dominate on occasion on a personal level), Little is at an age and in a condition where he can no longer justify his cap number. I hate talking of people who I will never meet and whose hopes and dreams I seem to be trampling all over like this, but its time for a parting of the ways. The Rams need an every-down solution at this spot and I don't feel Little will be able to fulfill that requirement whilst providing a cap-friendly deal into the bargain.

    We need to create the space necessary to effect real roster change, and it will require some unpalatable but necessary choices.

    On its own however, cap space is useless unless you use it. A look at our FA class of last year indicates very clearly that neither the depth or the quality exist in this area for the Rams to be able to pick up nicely priced talent to be able to work that by-product of a quick fix that free-agency was believed to be able to supply. Bennett in particular, would look to be an expensive mistake and James Hall was disappointing. Injuries again played their part, but last season is indicative of the limits of free-agency and what it can achieve relative to price.

    The draft is seen as our avenue of salvation, and it may well turn out to be so, but I think its interesting that Devaney is already talking about a 'couple' of drafts. He knows, as do we all I think, that its going to take more than a single draft to right this particular ship, and I don't see Linehan getting past this one if that record doesn't cruise past .500.

    This is a draft that must work for Linehan, and as a consequence, we may see a gamble on the first day. Not in the league of a Jacoby Shepherd or a Trung Canidate, but Jake Long may be too safe a pick for the franchise to make, they may feel that instant impact is required and that a Gholston or a Dorsey is needed to supply from day one. I make no prediction here but I think the second pick will have more than the usual weight attached to it when we choose. For much the same reason, I see a trade down as being extremely likely. The Rams have too many holes for a single pick, however high, to be the answer.

    You could almost say that if the Rams pick Jake Long first that Linehan is on a hiding to nothing and that the front office have almost taken a decision on him. The 'long' view being favoured over giving Linehan the ability to gain impact immediately. This might be a reach on my part, but again, I just throw that one out there.

    In terms of the players that we have, whilst I thought that some of their behaviour was unfortunate, it seems that Linehan has to win them over quick and then keep them in his corner. This requires that we win early and often, a slow start wil see him doomed. Bulger has to take responsibility for improvement in his own performance and Jackson has to have that year that we know he's capable of and that he talks so confidently of delivering. Defensive players have to keep playing for 60 minutes and their coordinator needs to spark a revival.

    We need change, not just in terms of the playing and coaching roster but in terms of the whole mentality of the franchise. I'm not sure that's deliverable next season or even the season after that, but I feel sure that unless Linehan and staff manage to enigneer a dramatic turnaround, we're looking at another couple of seasons of frustration.

    Linehan may be drinking in the Last Chance Saloon, but there's every chance we'll be picking up the tab for the next couple of years unless its a team effort we see from here on in.
    Last edited by Fat Pang; -02-26-2008 at 04:16 AM.

  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Last Chance Saloon.

    Great read Fat. I certainly hope we keep Bruce. Little on the other hand I feel is expendable? (depending on who we draft).

    As far as Linehan is concerned I agree he has to have a CINDERELLA turn around.

  3. #3
    Chris58's Avatar
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    Re: Last Chance Saloon.

    Good job. Very well thought out.

    It's ironic that a FA market that can't deliver value and a draft that won't solve all the Ram problems this year will likely result in Linehan's demise at the end (or sooner) of his third year. Like a president who inherits a sliding economy from his predecessor and gets blamed for it, Linehan, in spite o his flaws, came into an organization on the slide, and will likely be the lightning-rod for its failures.

    As for Bruce/Little- if the Rams showed any organizational acumen, letting these two go would rankle few fans. But since the cupboard is bare, we fans hang on to these two past-prime performers, like a battered wife to her abusive husband because she has no where else to go.

    This will be a 2-3 season turnaround, IMO. Too bad for Linehan.

  4. #4
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Last Chance Saloon.

    Very nice job FP and annexed comments. :r

    I look forward to that new / necessary mentality in our Rams franchise. Starting this '08 season.

  5. #5
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    Re: Last Chance Saloon.

    Your right I think Little is no longer the player he use to be. I would like to see us sign Bruce & drop Little. As for Linehan, you guys are right, he needs a CINDERELLA season to come back in 09.

  6. #6
    ramsanddodgers's Avatar
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    Re: Last Chance Saloon.

    Welcome back!

    GO RAMS!!

  7. #7
    RAMFANRAIDERHATER is offline Registered User
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    Re: Last Chance Saloon.

    As always FP, very well said and well thought out. I would have given you props, but I have to "spread it around".

    It's a sad day in Ram's nation, for that we all agree, but one that we must endure. The state of this organization, and the players on the field have reached new lows. But as a Ram fan of many, many, many seasons.... I've endured this agony before, and I suppose, I will endure again. I'll be here when the dust settles and we're steady playoff contenders again.

    Like you, I'm pretty sure it will take the better part of not less then two years, but probably more in the neighborhood of 3 or 4 years to right this wayward ship. Stranger things have happened, and if we all remember the 1998 season, we were saying the same things. But Cinderella appeared in 1999 and we had that magical season when all hope seemed lost. Let's hope we catch lightning in a bottle next year and get 9 or 10 wins and make some noise.

    Since the writing of this thread, as we all know, Bruce is lost to the hated ones, and much of Ram nation is in shock and denial. But it was time. Little is also a player that's no longer the impact player we now need so desparately. So, IMHO, his time is also about up as a Ram.

    This offseason will be one of the most interesting in recent memory, and the success, or failure of this franchise for many years to come may be riding on the decisions made in the next few months.

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