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  • Rams are mixed over reunion with Scott Linehan

    Rams are mixed over reunion with Scott Linehan
    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/31/2009

    Old Rams coaches don't die, or even fade away. Instead, they go to Detroit to work as offensive coordinators.

    The last time the Rams played Detroit, in 2006, Mike Martz was the Lions' first-year offensive coordinator. Martz was fired as Rams head coach after the '05 season.

    On Sunday, the Rams renew their series with the Lions. This time, Scott Linehan will be calling plays as Detroit's first-year offensive coordinator, 13 months after being fired as Rams head coach.

    "Scott's awesome," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. "Our philosophies meshed right away. ... Our vision here is to be a big, physical team that can run the football and stop the run. That's not an overnight transition.

    "The philosophy here was totally different in the past. So it takes some changing. But Scott fits right into that. He's had offenses that have led the league in rushing. And he worked for a guy that I worked with and know very well, Nick Saban at Miami."

    Linehan wasn't "awesome" in St. Louis. After a promising 8-8 inaugural season in 2006, in which the Rams won their last three games and contended for a wild-card berth on the final Sunday of the regular season, the team collapsed in '07. The Rams started 0-8 that season, then righted the ship somewhat by winning three of their next four.

    Prior to Game 13 in Cincinnati that year, the Post-Dispatch ran a story in which then-team president John Shaw said Linehan probably would be back in 2008. The team didn't respond well to that news.

    "If you hear about me jumping off the Arch, you'll know why," was one starter's reaction.

    The Rams didn't win again under Linehan, losing their final four games of '07 to finish 3-13, and then started 0-4 in '08 before Linehan was fired at the start of the bye week.

    Typically, Rams players said all the right things this week about Sunday's "reunion" with their former head coach. When asked how he got along with Linehan, Marc Bulger said "fine."

    But Bulger was not a big Linehan fan, and he didn't exactly wax poetic about seeing his former head coach Sunday at Ford Field.

    "The more you play in this league, the longer you play, you're going to run into guys every week," Bulger said. "Whether it's Indianapolis or Arizona, Green Bay, you always know guys if you've played for 10 years, and it's no different this week."

    Bulger was benched by Linehan early in the '08 season, a move that running back Steven Jackson sharply criticized on his radio show.

    On Thursday, Jackson took the diplomatic approach when asked for his thoughts on facing Linehan.

    "I'm definitely going to say hi," Jackson said. "But no real thoughts on it. I'll just say that I wish him the best in his career and whatever happens after this."

    Some younger players were more enthusiastic in their comments.

    "I love the guy," said third-year defensive tackle Clifton Ryan. "He drafted me. He gave me a shot, so I have no problems with him. When I see him in pregame, I'm going to give him a big hug. After the game, I'm going to give him a big hug."

    "I've got a lot of respect for him," said cornerback Ron Bartell. "A lot of guys in this locker room have a lot of respect for him. So it'll be good to see him. But this isn't about Coach Linehan vs. the Rams players that he coached. It's about the St. Louis Rams vs. the Detroit Lions. That's the only thing we're worried about."

    Since his abrupt departure on Sept. 29, 2008, Linehan has not spoken to St. Louis reporters. Multiple phone and text messages left for Linehan since then by the Post-Dispatch have gone unanswered. This week, Linehan turned down a formal interview request made through the Lions' public relations department.

    But Linehan did speak briefly to members of the Detroit media this week about the prospect of facing his old team.

    "My feeling is that chapter and my experience there is closed," Linehan told the Booth Newspapers of Lansing, Mich. "My focus and all of my time and energy is on what we're doing now. This is a very important game for our football team. We're playing at home and it's been three weeks since we've had a win, and that's all I'm thinking about now."

    Linehan did allow that he keeps an eye on what's going on in St. Louis.

    "I pay attention to it," he said. "It's natural to pay attention to it. (But) to me, my job is to focus on what we need to do. I really don't think a whole lot about it, and I'd like to keep it that way."

    The Rams' woes have hardly disappeared since Linehan's dismissal. They were 11-25 with him as head coach; they're 2-17 since he was fired.

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  • RamWraith
    Linehan knows future is now
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/24/2008

    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:

    HE HAD TO HANDLE LOSING BETTER

    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
    Linehan puts passion on display
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/20/2006
    )

    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...
    -01-21-2006, 07:13 AM
  • RamWraith
    Linehan has chance to repay the Rams for unusual loyalty
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Jan. 03 2008

    I hope Scott Linehan realizes how rare it is to receive the kind of support and
    loyalty being shown to him by Rams management.

    Coaches are getting fired all over the NFL. I don't have the time or the column
    space to list all of the dismissals, but guys who have established much better
    credentials than Linehan are being kicked out of the building.

    After one ugly season in which injuries were a major factor, Baltimore fired
    head coach Brian Billick. He won a Super Bowl for the franchise this decade and
    was 13-3 in 2006. Kansas City just swept out four assistants, including Mike
    Solari, who had built one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.

    The Detroit Lions made a scapegoat of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Never
    mind that the Lions defense allowed 32 points a game during a 1-7 collapse to
    end this season; head coach Rod Marinelli sacked Martz. Why not fire the
    defensive coordinator? It seems that the defensive coordinator is uniquely
    qualified: He's Marinelli's son-in-law.

    In this tableau of change, Linehan survives. He wasn't the next Rich Brooks or
    even Bob Hollway previous St. Louis NFL head coaches who were gone after only
    two dismal seasons on the job.

    Team President John Shaw and general manager Jay Zygmunt are standing by their
    man and taking a beating from an angry fan mob. The popularity of Shaw and
    Zygmunt has never been lower than it is right now.

    Can Linehan pay back that loyalty?

    "I've got to do a much better job," Linehan said Wednesday in a conference
    call. "I'm evaluating myself first. I've got a lot of things I have to do a
    better job of. I've never, ever dodged that responsibility. It goes with the
    territory. I accept it. I understand it has to be a lot better. I'm not going
    to continue to do things the same way. If you do that, I've always believed
    there is a good chance you will get the same result. I've got to make a number
    of adjustments."

    I want to believe Linehan.

    So let's throw it down:

    Does Linehan have the innate ability to lead? You can't fake leadership; it
    comes naturally. But making changes in one's personality can lead to improved
    leadership; Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel has demonstrated that.

    Is Linehan willing to welcome important veterans into the loop, accept some
    of their advice, and show respect? First order of business: schedule lengthy
    dinners with quarterback Marc Bulger, wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce
    and running back Steven Jackson. Ask them to be brutally honest in their
    criticisms of his work....
    -01-03-2008, 06:41 AM
  • Rambos
    Linehan has grown into a true leader for the Rams
    by Rambos
    By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    06/14/2007

    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 takes hard look at himself
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Tuesday, Jan. 01 2008

    There will be coaching staff changes and numerous player changes in the weeks
    and months to come. But before going there, Rams coach Scott Linehan is
    starting his evaluation process by looking in the mirror.

    "I'm actually spending this week really putting a lot of thought into
    evaluating the season, starting with myself to be honest with you," Linehan
    said. "Looking at the things that I've got to change first, before we start
    talking about the staff and the personnel on our team. If I can come to terms
    with that first, I think I can make much better decisions (on everything else)."

    With the dust barely settled on a 3-13 season, Linehan already has come to one
    key conclusion on Linehan. Namely, he has to do a better job of handling
    adversity.

    "I personally was devastated by the way we started the season," Linehan said.
    "I didn't want to admit it, or tried not to show it. And I'm not going to say
    the first four games or eight games; I'm talking about the first couple (games).

    "If you go into a season, and you drop your first game or first two games, if
    you're feeling that disappointment or whatever, it sometimes may affect you."

    After squandering second-half leads in home losses to Carolina and San
    Francisco to start the season, Linehan believes he started pressing.

    "And it showed up in maybe how I coached, how we played and performed," Linehan
    said. "Hopefully, I've learned that lesson, and won't do that again. ... You've
    really got to put those (tough losses) to bed as quick as possible, and move on
    and get yourself ready to go with a whole fresh approach."

    But Linehan realizes he can't sit around all month in self-reflection. The
    annual West Coast summit meeting with team president John Shaw and president of
    football operations-general manager Jay Zygmunt will take place sometime in
    mid-January.

    The Senior Bowl is in late January, and because the Rams finished with the
    worst record in the NFC, Linehan and his staff probably will be asked to coach
    one of the squads of NFL draft prospects all week leading up to the all-star
    game.

    "I'm not opposed to that," Linehan said. "Certainly with the high pick we have
    this year, it can be very valuable."

    The Rams have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. The Senior Bowl also is a
    job fair for assistant coaches looking for jobs, and head coaches looking for
    assistants.

    Does Linehan foresee many changes on his coaching staff?

    "I don't know," Linehan said. "There possibly could be a change...
    -01-01-2008, 06:10 AM
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