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  • Linehan puts passion on display

    By Jim Thomas

    He was part Dick Vermeil. Why, he nearly teared up explaining what it meant to be an NFL head coach.

    "I promised my wife I wouldn't cry, so I'm not going to do that," Scott Linehan said Friday. "But it's fulfilling a dream. Being in the greatest profession in the world, and being in the greatest league in the world. How lucky am I?"

    And he was part Mike Martz - almost eerily so - in describing his offensive style, his insistence on calling plays. Even his tendency to become impatient at times.

    "It's aggressive; it's attacking," Linehan said. "I think it will be similar to a lot of the things you've seen here before. ... We want to be dominant, be relentless."

    He did everything but invoke Martz's pet phrase: fast and furious.

    As for his passion for play calling, Linehan said, "It's like giving up a dog, or something. I can't give that away."

    Similarities aside, during his introductory news conference as the new coach of the Rams, Linehan made it clear there will be no identity crisis at Rams Park.

    "I'm Scott Linehan," he said. "I'm not anybody other than that, and I will never try to be like anybody else. But I will always work on being a little bit better every day so that our team can continue to improve."

    So who is Scott Linehan?

    He's the youngest of seven children.

    "My entire family was teachers," Linehan said. "My dad was a high school principal. That was where I developed the work ethic."

    He played college football at Idaho for Dennis Erickson, who went on to win two college national championships at Miami and become a head coach in the NFL.

    "He was one of the first people to basically become an attack-style offensive coach in college football," Linehan said. "He used a spread offense. ... He had the biggest influence on me as to the style of offense and system.

    "John L. Smith, the head coach at Michigan State, gave me my first job. He also gave me another job later in my career and actually hired me a third time. He's hired me three times; I don't know what the heck's wrong with him. ... He's been a great mentor for me."

    Then there was Jim Lambright, who gave Linehan his first NCAA Division I job in 1994 as an assistant at the University of Washington.

    And Mike Tice, who hired Linehan out of the college ranks in 2002 to be a coordinator in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings even though Linehan had no NFL experience.

    And Nick Saban, who lured Linehan away from Minnesota a year ago to revive the sagging Miami Dolphins offense.

    "So, I've named a lot of people there," Linehan said. "I don't want to exclude anybody, but those are the people who have been the most influential as far as where I'm at right now."

    Linehan said his goal is to continue - and to build on - the recent tradition of excellence established by the Rams.

    "It's really hard for me to believe that there are many teams in the modern era, for example the last seven years, that have won or been in the top five in wins, won an NFC championship and a world championship," he said. "We will hold the entire organization to that standard."

    He will strive for dominance on the field.

    "We want to be one of those feared teams," Linehan said. "One of those teams that nobody wants to play."

    Linehan preached the importance of having a progressive attitude in terms of working to get better, cultivating leadership, and striving for excellence.

    "I don't know if you've read the recent book by John Wooden - he had a quote in there that I highlighted," Linehan said. "He said, 'Never try to be better than any one person. But never cease trying to be the best you can be.'

    "You'll get the best from this organization, from the coaches we hire and from the people that work within this system. Boy, I can't tell you, I can't wait to do it."

    All in all, it was an upbeat, energetic and unifying message for a Rams organization that has gone through a lot in the past year - from in-fighting to Martz's illness, to the shortcomings on the field, to the death of broadcaster and former Rams player Jack Snow.

    As for the image in some corners of the "dysfunctional Rams," Linehan said: "You've got to remember that there are always going to be bumps in the road in life. The recent history of this organization isn't what happened last month, last year. It's what's happened in the modern era. And this is one of the most dominant programs, one of the most studied, one of the most emulated programs in the modern era in football."

    Although his first priority is to assemble his coaching staff, Linehan said he will make it a priority to get to know the veteran players as soon as possible.

    "There can't be a quick meeting, and then move on," he said. "I want to set those times and make sure I put the time in to hearing them out. I want to hear their opinions. What they think of the team, and the direction, and things that have happened in the past and how we can avoid those things. ... That's what you have to do to establish your credibility with the players. Don't go in talking; go in listening. That's how I have always been."

    In terms of personnel matters and the draft, Linehan said he will be part of piecing together the puzzle.

    But he added: "We'll make those decisions as a team. It will be unified. Obviously, I'm going to be involved, as will our coaching staff, but we will make decisions collectively as a group, and we will come to the right decision."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Linehan knows future is now
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas

    At age 44, Scott Linehan is still young and inexperienced by NFL head-coaching standards. He has been around long enough, however, to realize what he's facing this year.

    "I feel like I've got to win," Linehan said. "I'm not going to (con) anybody. There's no question."

    In some way, shape or form, Linehan must win "X" amount of games this season to keep his job. And what's the magic number?

    "I don't know what it is," Linehan said. "But we've got to win."

    Linehan says no one in upper management or ownership has communicated that to him. But they don't really have to.

    "They know that I know we've got to win," says Linehan, who's entering Year 3 of a four-year deal. "They've been nothing but supportive, between Chip (Rosenbloom) and Lucia (Rodriguez), and John (Shaw). And obviously, I work with Jay (Zygmunt) on a day-to-day basis.

    "They want nothing more than for our football team to have success, and to say, 'We did pick the right guy.' It pains me to not be able to give them the product. Especially a year ago."

    After an 8-8 inaugural season in 2006, a year in which the Rams closed strongly and barely missed a playoff berth, the wheels fell off in '07 when Linehan's injury-ravaged team finished 3-13.

    "We felt we should have done a lot better, in every way, basically," Linehan said. "But it happened. If you lament about it, it's not productive. You've got to take the experience, turn it into a positive, and work that much harder. Make sure you're smarter about your approach."

    The early weeks of the offseason were perhaps the toughest stretch of Linehan's coaching career. He looked inwardly at what he could do better, and then outwardly to see what could be improved around him. Here's what Linehan came up with:


    There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of Linehan moping after losses, to the point of even returning to Rams Park on Sunday nights following a defeat, munching cereal and roaming the halls in sweat pants. Trouble was, those feelings spilled over into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and on.

    Linehan concedes: "My biggest flaw is that you spend all week beating yourself up to the point where you can't let it go."

    Imagine how those feelings compounded last season as the Rams endured an 0-8 start.

    "I think that's the No. 1 job of a head coach — that he gets his team moving forward no matter whether you win or lose a game," Linehan said.

    Easier said than done. In the end, it's what drove Dick Vermeil out of coaching after his first NFL head-coaching stint with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976-82....
    -08-24-2008, 01:37 PM
  • RamWraith
    Energy, spirit help Linehan score a victory
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz

    The morning began with Scott Linehan walking into the main auditorium at Rams Park to address the team's noncoaching, nonplaying employees. On his first day on the job, Linehan wanted to reach out to everyone who works for the Rams.

    "Everyone in this room, at some point this year, will be the most important person in this organization," Linehan told the staffers. He mentioned a variety of jobs, from the person who fixes the coaches' headsets on Sunday to the crew that keeps the building tidy.

    Understand that no one gathered in that room will ever run for a first down, make a block, throw a deep pass, cause a fumble, make a spectacular catch, leap for an interception or kick a field goal.

    That's OK with Linehan.

    Coach wants everyone on his squad.

    Linehan told the staffers they were vital to the overall performance of the franchise. He told them he needed their support. He vowed to learn each of their names. At one point, he talked about how happy he was to get this opportunity, and was briefly overcome by emotion. And Linehan got choked up later, when he spoke of fulfilling the dream of becoming an NFL head coach.

    And as the staffers filed out of the auditorium, Linehan offered a greeting and a handshake.

    Dick Vermeil's kind of guy, this Linehan.

    Friday, the Rams' new head coach breezed into Rams Park, as fresh and brisk as a sunny winter morning. We do not know how many games Linehan will win, and we do not know whether he can make a successful transition from coordinator to head coach, and we do not know whether his radiant optimism will fade. This moment, for this situation, Linehan's enthusiasm and genuine personality were exactly what the Rams needed.

    It has been a sad, depressing 12 months at Rams Park. The 2004 Rams were blown away in a playoff loss in Atlanta last January. The relationship between head coach Mike Martz and team management splintered and collapsed. Martz got sick and had to be hospitalized with a bacterial infection of a heart valve. And even then, the bickering did not cease. The Rams were 2-3 when Martz departed, and injuries ravaged the roster. The Rams couldn't cope, fell apart and finished 6-10.

    And worst of all, Jack Snow died Jan. 9.

    "It's been a tough time, just brutal," team president John Shaw said. "We've all felt battered in some way."

    Linehan apparently is a quick study with sharp instincts. He was fully aware of the recent history and knew he had to change the vibe. From his first hour on the job, Linehan stressed a theme of unity and togetherness. He obviously wanted to send this instant message: The infighting, the politicking, is over.

    "The one thing I want to make sure is really established right...
    -01-21-2006, 07:16 AM
  • Rambos
    Linehan has grown into a true leader for the Rams
    by Rambos
    By Bernie Miklasz

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    [More columns]

    Scott Linehan represents a different style of NFL coaching. This grinding and demanding profession has pushed more than one head coach to the brink of madness, and more than a few of these burnout cases have contributed to their own demise.

    Whether it be all-night video study, sleeping on office couches, being isolated from their families, or having extreme mood swings, these guys can become totally consumed by coaching. They lose themselves, and then they lose their jobs.

    When Linehan became the Rams' head coach on Jan. 19, 2006, he made a promise to his wife Kristen and their three sons, Matthew, Michael and Marcus. Simply: He'd always come home at night. He would not turn Rams Park into a residence hall.

    Linehan works hard and wants to win as much as any NFL coach. But there's a balance to Linehan that I've come to appreciate. I had to learn. Through much of Linehan's rookie season, I misread him.
    His low-key manner seemed boring, but he really wasn't dull — he was steady. There's more to leadership than raging, picking arguments with reporters, or ripping players in public. And Linehan's calmness served the Rams well during a five-game losing streak. They rallied to win their last three games, finishing 8-8.

    We were looking for a show at Rams Park, because that's been the routine. Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz were often dramatic, be it the emotional DV's teardrops, or Mad Mike revealing his tormented psyche. News conferences were grand entertainment. But Linehan had to do it his way, and his stability is an asset.

    "There's going to be some good days, and some trying days," Linehan said Wednesday. "It's easy to be sky high when things are good. It's hard to be consistent when things aren't going well. Being steady gets you through to another level. You don't disintegrate and go the other way and cause other people in our group to implode. Bottom line is, if you take accountability as a team, it gets you through the tests and the stress. That starts with the coach."

    Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy and Chicago coach Lovie Smith performed a valuable service last season in getting their teams to the Super Bowl. They proved it was possible to win with class and dignity. You don't have to be mean spirited or spew lava to win in this game. Linehan is along those personality lines; he's comfortable in his skin. And as we saw last season with defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who skipped practice and got traded, Linehan doesn't tolerate foolishness. He's as tough as he needs to be.

    For Linehan, the most important development in his rookie season was staying true to his nature. Being genuine and trustworthy is good leadership. So is recognizing your weaknesses, and...
    -06-14-2007, 09:17 AM
  • RamWraith
    Linehan remains on the go
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Tuesday, Feb. 07 2006

    A pad and pen sit on the nightstand next to Scott Linehan's bed, at the ready
    for those frequent episodes when his sleep is invaded by suddenly urgent
    thoughts piercing his already cluttered mind.

    "I wake up a lot in the middle of the night and say, 'Yeah, I think I'll do it
    this way' or 'I'd better make sure I get that done before Friday,'" Linehan
    said. "I write things down. If I don't, I forget them."

    Given all that has transpired in the 18 days since he was hired as the Rams'
    new head coach, Linehan can be forgiven for the occasional mental lapse. "It
    has been a little bit of a fast pace, a lot different than anything I've been
    through," he said. "But it's also probably the most exciting time of my
    coaching career."

    Linehan, 42, never has run a team, at any level. After 13 years on various
    college coaching staffs, he entered the NFL in 2002 as the Minnesota Vikings'
    offensive coordinator. He held that post for three years, then filled the same
    position with the Miami Dolphins in '05.

    When the season ended, Linehan spent "four or five days in Miami, preparing for
    our offseason there." Then the phone started ringing and job opportunities
    began to materialize.

    Linehan hustled from coast to coast, listening to overtures. After a second
    interview with the Rams in Los Angeles - and once he visited Sedona, Ariz., to
    obtain owner Georgia Frontiere's blessing - Linehan signed a four-year contract.

    Then he plunged into his most pressing chore: putting together a coaching
    staff. While conducting interviews and considering resumes, he quickly learned
    that as a wet-behind-the-ears head coach, he had to adjust his approach

    "It's much different," he said. "I'm not concentrating on just one side of the
    ball. It's not the offense, it's the team. ... My mind is occupied day and
    night on these issues. There really isn't a time when I don't have things going
    through my head, decisions you have to make."

    A new city

    For now, Linehan is living in a Clayton hotel and trying to avoid getting lost
    as he drives a rented car along unfamiliar streets. He attempted to do a bit of
    house-hunting one day but gave up because his mind kept drifting to the myriad
    details that awaited him at Rams Park.

    "All those things that go into the planning of the offseason, there's a lot of
    thought that has to be put into that," he explained. "I've done everything but
    think in terms of X and O football."

    Wife Kristen and sons Matthew, 11, Michael, 9, and Marcus,...
    -02-08-2006, 05:57 AM
  • RamWraith
    Linehan Learning Fast
    by RamWraith
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    INDIANAPOLIS – Four years ago, Scott Linehan sat by himself inside the RCA Dome watching player after player come through and do his best to prove himself in a short period of time to the watchful eye of every NFL coach, scout and wanna be coach or scout.

    All that Linehan had to worry about then was how he was going to make the Minnesota Vikings offense better. He didn’t stick around to watch the linebackers or cornerbacks and he certainly didn’t make it a point to check out the kickers and punters.

    But there he was Friday afternoon, heading once again into the same RCA Dome to watch a bunch of kickers and punters go through their workouts. Oh, how things have changed for the Rams’ new head coach.

    “Now it’s switching gears to what we are going to do with the Rams football team and the focus has to be in that area,” Linehan said. “I have always been an offensive coach. Now I am a head coach who happens to be from the offensive side of the ball and I have got to approach the team the way I approached coaching a position as an offensive coach and do it like I did on offense.”

    The broad reach of what Linehan must do as the head coach as opposed to working as the coordinator includes more menial tasks such as watching the workouts of punters and kickers, but it extends well beyond understanding the X’s and O’s and being able to recognize and evaluate talent.

    It’s easy for any coach to say he has a plan and wants to bring in this guy or trade for that guy, but in today’s NFL, it’s not realistic to execute that plan without a genuine understanding of how the league’s economics work.

    And that is an area in which Linehan is striving to improve.

    “That’s the biggest change I think,” Linehan said. “You always have to factor into the team, what is the best fit for the team, but the economics have to fit too. I spend a lot of time being counseled. Jay (Zygmunt) is very patient and he spends a lot of time bringing me up to speed on the salary cap and how every transaction we make will affect it.”

    Until now, Linehan says he had a general grasp of how the salary cap worked, but not where it needed to be for him to be taking on the task of helping to rebuild the team.

    “I paid attention to it, but I found out it wasn’t as good as I thought it was,” Linehan said. “I am willing to learn, I am patient about it. I’m willing to admit when there’s an area I need help. Now it becomes a bigger factor because we are putting a team together. The one thing you always have to know is when you have a plan, as far as putting it all together, that it has to fit the economic side so you don’t put yourself in a bad position where you can’t get a player. You don’t ever want to do that and I have seen that happen with other teams.”

    While that understanding improves with each passing day,...
    -02-25-2006, 06:42 AM