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VooDoo coach says he wants to build on the team's success

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  • VooDoo coach says he wants to build on the team's success

    Tuesday, June 29, 2004
    By Jim Derry
    Staff writer
    The Arena Football League arguably enjoyed its most successful season in 18 years of play, and the expansion VooDoo was part of the reason.

    The league set an overall attendance record, with the VooDoo ranked third, averaging more than 15,000 fans.


    From Our Advertiser




    The leader on the football field was AFL Coach of the Year Mike Neu, the man in charge of a team that set a record for most wins for a first-year team (11). In a Q & A session with staff reporter Jim Derry, Neu looks back on the season, how he ended up in New Orleans and his thoughts on his new hometown.


    Putting your playoff loss aside, this season had to be satisfying for you?

    It was. I'm very excited to be recognized as the most successful expansion team in the history of the league. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to have come to New Orleans. I've been dealt an incredible hand to have these kinds of facilities, to have these kinds of resources, to have a partnership with an NFL team and to have a team to be able to attract free agents to. I was given an unbelievable opportunity from (owner) Tom Benson and (executive vice president of football operations) Mickey Loomis to come here, and, although I am disappointed about not winning the playoff game and having a chance to win a championship, to be able to win 11 games, which has never been done before, and qualify for a first-round playoff game at home (is satisfying).


    You won the Coach of the Year award in just your second season as a head coach in the league (Neu was coach of Carolina in 2002). How much has your background shaped you, with your experience as a player and assistant coach in the AFL and as a head coach in af2?

    It has a lot to do with the person I am and the coach I am right now. Those experiences and those trials and tribulations, that's what makes you who you are. I wouldn't trade that path for anything. To be a quarterbacks coach (at Nashville in 1998), to be an offensive coordinator (at Nashville in 1999), to be a head coach in the af2 league (at Augusta, Ga., in 2000) was a start. That experience I gained there -- putting an organization together from scratch -- I mean, those experiences are some of the best I've had. Then there was the opportunity in Carolina, where I learned about free agency. Those experiences had everything to do with who I am. Even when I was a player in Nashville and Orlando. . . . I've had great teachers all along.


    As a quarterback in college (Ball State), how did you go from playing football to playing and coaching arena football?

    As a quarterback, you always want to throw the football on every down. When I first got into the arena league in 1996, I thought this is great, throwing on every down, and what better league could there be for a quarterback? The thing that is very unique about the arena league is the quarterback. You have to be very sharp. You've got to make great decisions. You have to be fast. You have to be thinking all the time because you don't have any time to waste in the pocket. . . . You have to think like a quarterback when you're out there coaching this game.


    Players talk about how important it is to have solid team chemistry, and you had 25 players who seemed to really like playing together. How do you assemble that?

    I wanted certain guys in free agency. The nucleus of our team, I've had a chance to coach some of those guys in the past, and I knew what they were about, character-wise. . . . They're good people, and they work hard. They always come to work every day on time, enjoy what they do, and these cats hang out with each other away from the field. I think that in itself tells you a lot about them as teammates. They love each other.


    How easy will it be for you, knowing that you should have the same core group of guys going into next season?

    When I interviewed all the players before they left, I told them that I hoped they felt as if they were treated like a man and treated like a pro. I hope they felt well-respected, and I think the tough thing for us is that we're going to have to keep all those guys from going other places. I think, through the experience we had here and the fun we had and the support we've got, I think a lot of those guys will be back.


    Do you think the fact that you're close to their age (33) has helped you?

    I think that it has. I can relate to those guys, and my approach has always been that I feel like I'm a teammate. The only difference is I'm in a different role. I don't try to put myself on a pedestal. I just try to work hard. I try to treat players with respect, and I try to demand the most out of each and every guy. I don't try to be somebody that I'm not. I try to be a hard worker, and when guys see that, they buy into what you do. . . . I think being younger helps me understand them a little bit better.


    Talk about how the city has seemed to have learned the game and is excited about it.

    With the fan support, we've just been overwhelmed. I talk to fans in restaurants, in a grocery store, after a game, and they're so genuine. They have a passion for the game, and we were very fortunate that they gave us a chance. We were a new product coming in, if you will, and not a lot of people knew about the arena league, with it not being here since (the New Orleans Night) in the early '90s. After we worked hard on the field, people respected that, and they got their friends to come out also. But I can't say thanks enough to our fans, because they created the best environment that I've ever been in in the arena league, and they have made it truly a home-field advantage when we play at New Orleans Arena. I can't wait to one day award those fans with a trophy.

    . . . . . . .


    Jim Derry can be reached at [email protected] or (504) 826-3839.

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  • RamWraith
    Entire news conference in wrting
    by RamWraith
    President John Shaw

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    (Introduction of Scott Linehan as the Rams’ new head coach)

    “Good morning. It is my pleasure today to introduce Scott Linehan as the new head coach of the St. Louis Rams. The hiring today culminates an aggressive and extensive search for a new head coach where we interviewed a wide range of candidates including three NFL defensive coordinators, two offensive coordinators, a college head coach and one former NFL head coach. After all of these interviews it was clear to us that coach Linehan should be the next head coach of the St. Louis Rams. By way of background, Scott Linehan is considered one of the young, bright offensive minds in the NFL. Last year, he was the (offensive) coordinator of the Miami Dolphins and for the three years before that, he was the (offensive) coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. For the three years that he was the Vikings coordinator, their offense ranked in the top four in the NFL. Prior to that, he was a college coach for 13 years. Scott is married to his wife Kristen for 17 years, and he has three young boys. On behalf of Georgia Frontiere, Stan Kroenke, Jay Zygmunt, myself and the entire Ram organization, I welcome our new head coach, Scott Linehan.”


    Head Coach Scott Linehan

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    (Opening statement)

    “It feels kind of like kickoff. I’ll tell you, I’m pretty excited about this opportunity. I do want to tell you on behalf of my wife, Kristen, and our three young boys, we are very, very excited to be a part of the Ram family. I also want to thank John [Shaw], and Jay [Zygmunt], and obviously the ownership. I had a wonderful meeting with Georgia a couple days ago, and it’s been a great experience, and they’ve done a lot of extensive work. I don’t know how they do it. There were a lot of great candidates that they’ve been evaluating, and I feel very honored to be selected for this position. The one thing I want to make sure is really established right away is that this is going to be a family environment here at the Rams. We will do things cohesively as a group, as a unit and make decisions as a team from day one. That’s how things get done. That’s how things get done properly. That’s the most important thing that I feel needs to be established right away. The next thing is I believe this is a new Rams era within, what I believe, is a great tradition. The tradition here is kind of a well-kept secret in a way, because some people don’t really describe it that way to me. It’s really hard for me to believe that there are many teams in the modern era, for example the last seven years, have won or been in the top five in wins, won an NFC Championship and a World Championship. That is outstanding. It is a tradition that we will hold, the entire organization to that standard and to get back to that level of excellence...
    -01-21-2006, 07:00 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rosenbloom/Haslett Comments
    by RamWraith
    Rams Owner/Chairman Chip Rosenbloom

    September 29, 2008



    (Opening remarks)

    “First of all I would like to say; this is a sad day because we lost Jack Faulkner last night who I have known since I was eight years old. I feel, he is apart of the Rams family, our family and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I can’t overstate the significance that he has played in the history of the Rams. We lost one of the great connections to our past and so, sorry to his family. I just wanted to say that.”



    “I wanted to talk a little bit about Scott Linehan. Scott lost his job and he is a good and decent man, an honorable man. He came to speak with (President) John (Shaw), (Owner/Partner Chair, Community Outreach) Lucia (Rodriguez), and I last night. And after the talk with (Owner/Vice Chairman) Stan (E. Stanley Kroenke), Lucia and John and (President, Football Operations/General Manager) Jay (Zygmunt), we made the decision that a good man had to lose his job today. He took 100-percent of responsibility for the failures of this organization. But we are all comparable; we all share in the responsibilities of losing games. That includes other coaches, that includes the players, that includes the administration, that includes the ownership. I feel that Scott will have a future because I think under different circumstances he will be successful. I really would like to say, that the kind of pressure that he has been under has not been reasonable, just from a humane level. My heart goes out to him and his family. You all know him as a kind, decent and honorable guy and when he walked into that hotel room yesterday, he took 100-percent responsibility and put no blame on anybody else in the organization, in any category, at any position, on any of his players. I think we should all inspire to be men like Scott Linehan. That is what I like to say about Scott and now I would like to introduce our new head coach Jim Haslett. Jim coached successfully for six years in New Orleans. He was a fantastic player. I think we have the elements of success in our future. I think that, after meeting with Jim, he is the man that can turn this team around. I think that the community deserves a team that wins and I think that Jim Haslett is the man to do it. Without any further ado, I would like to introduce Jim.”



    Head Coach Jim Haslett

    September 29, 2008



    (Opening remarks)

    “I would like to thank (Rams Owner/Chairman) Chip (Rosenbloom) and (Owner/Partner Chair, Community Outreach) Lucia (Rodriguez), and (President) John Shaw, and (President, Football Operations/General Manager) Jay (Zygmunt), for this opportunity. This is not really the way you want to become a head coach, at someone else’s expense. I thought that Scott (Linehan) did about as good a job as you can get, he tried everything and obviously...
    -09-30-2008, 04:19 AM
  • RamWraith
    Players and Coaches Quotes from Sept. 7
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, September 7, 2005

    Head Coach Mike Martz

    (On making the transition to the regular season)

    “There’s just no similarity. [During training camp] you’re looking at personnel, it’s time to scrimmage, you’re looking at plays. You’re trying to find out who you have that’s new to the team that can help. Now you’re starting to run, so it’s totally different.”

    (On preparing for a team with as many new players and coaches as San Francisco)

    “Anytime you play a team that is new like this with new coordinators, they’re new on both sides of the ball, there’s a little bit of trepidation. You need to go back and do your homework on it. Obviously, you have a number of things ready, just in case, so to speak. So I think we’ve done our homework and we’re prepared for those kinds of things, and we’ll adjust as need be, but it does give you a little more problem.”

    (On how early he started thinking about the San Francisco game)

    “I guess, as soon as they were on our schedule. At first when the schedule came out, but we do that each year, especially with the fact that it is a division game and we’re opening up with them out there. So we’ve been thinking about this for some time.”

    (On whether this game being opening day and against the ***** makes it special)

    “I’m more concerned about the Rams, really, to be honest with you. That’s what we talked about. We concern ourselves about the Rams and our uniforms and all that stuff. I’m not being disrespectful to them at all, that’s not the point. We can’t control anything about the *****. It’s a great rivalry. There’s a lot of tradition behind it. We pay our due respect to that. They are well coached. They are a good team. We understand all of those things, but that is as far as that goes.”

    (On whether there is a noticeable difference having T Orlando Pace participating all preseason)

    “Yeah, there’s just a remarkable difference. The fact that he’s been here, where he is in the offense, allows us to insert things that this time last year we couldn’t do because we had to wait for him to get in and get him up to speed. One guy can keep the entire offense under wraps until the season starts, and that’s what happened the last two years. With him here now we have been able to move on.”

    (On whether the rivalry has the same meaning as when the Rams were in Los Angeles)

    “It does. I think that Isaac [Bruce] and myself, we are the only two that are left that were coaching or playing at the time in L.A. that made the transfer here…this goes way back. Even growing up in San Diego watching this rivalry for many years, you have a real respect for the competitive nature of this matchup.”

    (On whether he takes pride in his record against San Francisco)

    “Nothing that happened yesterday has any bearing...
    -09-08-2005, 05:12 AM
  • RamWraith
    Head Coach Scott Linehan Tuesday, January 02, 2007
    by RamWraith
    Head Coach Scott Linehan

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007



    (Opening statement)

    “We came out, like we said after the game, really healthy, especially the last two games; which, if there’s a positive about going into this offseason, not getting in and all that was the disappointing part, but we came out really healthy. Don’t have a lot of issues as far as our teams health concerns that you’ll have to address. I think a number of things we have are guys that have to get things cleaned up. I know Alex Barron has cartilage in his knee that will probably be looked at. Torry (Holt) has the same kind of thing. Dexter Coakley’s getting a small plate taken out of his ankle this afternoon. Paul Smith’s getting evaluated on that neck that he had. Those are the kinds of things that are going to be addressed and attended to here right away. I think the important thing is that we’re able to address these things now so it’s not a lengthy offseason thing that keeps them out of the offseason program, things like that.”



    (On his thoughts on his first season as head coach)

    “One time around the track. Learned a lot. Got a lot more to learn, but I think progress has been made, and we’re making the adjustments necessary to get to the next step; which we weren’t able to get to, but we made a concerted effort to get there. I think it makes it easy to set our goals for next season, and we can make the same amount of improvement that we made in one year from this season to the next, and it gives us a legitimate chance to achieve the goals we actually set for ourselves last year.”



    (On the low point of the season being the Carolina game)

    “I did joke about it, but it really wasn’t very funny. It was a low point. I make reference to this a lot. My wife asked me the same thing. She mentioned it was the two Seattle games for her, but I told her it was Carolina for me just because I felt like we were stumbling, and we didn’t really look like we had the direction we had going into that game. I thought we competed very hard all year long, but I felt in one game, in my opinion, and I know there was a little stretch there where we were down a little bit, but that was the game where I didn’t feel like we showed the competitive spirit necessary to win football games in the NFL. We had to make some major adjustments. It always starts with the head coach, and then I think the other coaches and players need to do the same thing. Hopefully we were able to overcome a time like that, and really move on and learn from it.”



    (On the high point of the season)

    “I think the last game. The way we finished. We started off high with a 4-1 record, but we easily could have lost a game or two there. We had some breaks to be honest with you. We played our best football at the end. I don’t think we played our best football...
    -01-03-2007, 01:35 PM
  • RamWraith
    Linehan transcript on coaching moves
    by RamWraith
    Head Coach Scott Linehan

    Tuesday, January 24, 2006



    (Opening statement)

    “I’ve been meaning to make this announcement. I, obviously, wanted to do it before it ever got out, but you know who things are; people find things out before I do, half the time. So I’m here to formally announce the hiring of my two coordinators. First, Jim Haslett, who you are all very aware of, whose coaching resume and reputation speaks for itself. Jim has been on my list. I’ve been very much hoping, for our sake, that he would be available during this while process. I knew going into it that he was going to be pursued by a number of teams as a head coach because of his reputation. We’re lucky enough, I believe, to have his services. He feels it is the best situation for him to stay in the business, which shows you he is a true coach. I’m sure it would be an obvious temptation after going through the year that he, his staff, and his family have gone through this past year to just take a breather, but he is a football coach, and wants to go to the best place available. And I’m very happy to announce that he is going to be our defensive coordinator, and very excited about it. He’s a great fit. I looked at a number of candidates. There were a lot of really good candidates to evaluate and visited with a number of them over the phone or in person. And we met over the weekend, actually here in the South Florida part of the world. He was good enough to come down and visit with me on Sunday, and we visited a little bit more yesterday. put some thought into it over the evening and decided this morning that this is where he wanted to be, so I’m very excited about that.”



    “On the offensive side, Greg Olson is going to be our offensive coordinator. Greg and I have a history. We go way back. We’re both Dennis Erickson raised, young coaches or players. I played for Dennis. He coached with him as a graduated assistant for Dennis at Washington State University. We were raised under the same system in college, ran the same systems in college at different places. We have never worked together; we have worked with each other in clinics and camps and things over time. I have admired Greg’s ability to evaluate. A little history on Greg is he recruited, coached, and groomed John Kitna at a small college in both of our home state, Washington, Central Washington. John has gone on a very successful pro career. He then coached at my alma mater, after I left the University of Idaho to go to the University of Washington, and coached the quarterbacks there. Then was named the quarterback coach at Purdue University. He evaluated and helped recruit Drew Brees, and coached Drew Brees through his college career. We all know Drew was one of the all-time greatest college quarterbacks in the history of the game. A lot of that falls on Greg’s ability to, number one, evaluate him, not a lot of people were recruiting Drew...
    -01-24-2006, 04:04 PM
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