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Sunday, September 21, 2008
Shakeup could be looming for Rams


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

 
 Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
 The job of St. Louis Head Coach Scott Linehan could be on the line after a dispiriting 37-13 loss to Seattle Sunday.

SEATTLE -- Impervious to coach Scott Linehan's angry pleas following two dispiriting defeats, the St. Louis Rams shrugged off an ominous directive from ownership in Week 3.

"Things will get better," owner Chip Rosenbloom had said, "and if they don't, changes will be made."

Not much improved for St. Louis during a 37-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field Sunday. With a couple of exceptions, the Rams played as though nothing were at stake. They played as though Rosenbloom had guaranteed their contracts and offered raises for every rushing yard allowed -- all 245 of them.

Given what Rosenbloom said and how the Rams responded, it's tough in envision Linehan making it past the bye in Week 5. At this rate, it's tough to imagine any coach wanting to stick around.

The Rams are a mess.

"Any questions?" Linehan asked at his postgame news conference.

Well, yes. About that 27-6 deficit in the first half, coach. How did it get out of hand so quick?

"Well, you were probably at the same game I was at," Linehan said. "They were able to pretty much do what they wanted to do in the first half, really."

A public-relations staffer cut off the news conference after three minutes, about as long as the Seahawks needed to score their first points.

A coaching change in September or October isn't going to fix the Rams right away. The question now is whether Rosenbloom can sit back and watch his team suffer from the same problems week after week.

"There's going to be a lot of speculation and we're not ready to play when we first come out, but we just get our butts kicked at first," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "Teams have been playing better than us in the first quarter, but I don't think it's a lack of effort. I think it's just execution because guys are pretty excited all three games and we just come out -- I wouldn't say flat -- but just not playing good football."

Rams players approached for interviews were accountable for their mistakes. Fullback Dan Kreider owned up to the missed block that let Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson force a fumble on a sack. Cornerback Ron Bartell took the blame for an illegal-contact penalty that sustained a 15-play Seattle scoring drive in the second half.

The Rams' locker room has its share of diligent, hard-working professionals. But something is clearly missing. This team has no confidence, no fire, none of the urgency that should come naturally.

"These guys have it in them," said Kreider, who won a Super Bowl with the Steelers. "We've worked hard every week. Sometimes guys don't think you can do it, then you don't work hard during the week. You can't say that at all. Every guy has come out and worked hard every week."

The Rams seemed to be waiting for a veteran leader to do something, anything, to change the game and possibly change this hopeless season. Instead, they watched Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck show them how it's done.

Seahawks running back Julius Jones was 20-plus yards into his 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter when a hustling Hasselbeck chopped down the safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Fakhir Brown with a diving block. The play was as inspiring as anything a quarterback could do without the ball in his hands.

Some of the Rams' younger players, notably defensive linemen Adam Carriker and Chris Long, competed with obvious urgency. They deserve better than this.

The Rams are an aging team, but they have enough talent to compete. No team with Bulger, Torry Holt, Steven Jackson and Orlando Pace should run its first red-zone play of the season with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter of the third game.

Holt was the most skilled and accomplished receiver on the field Sunday, but Seattle stopgap Billy McMullen, signed less that two weeks ago, had more yards.

Jackson was the most talented runner at Qwest Field, but the Seahawks' short-yardage back, T.J. Duckett, had more yards in relief (79) than Jackson has enjoyed in a game this season. Jackson's longest run against Seattle covered 8 yards, 7 fewer than Hasselbeck's longest scramble.

Pace, though diminished by injuries in recent seasons, still ranks among the better offensive tackles. Bulger absorbed only one sack, but he had only 39 yards passing in the first half.

The Rams have used recent first-round draft choices for Carriker, Long and cornerback Tye Hill. They still have La'Roi Glover at defensive tackle. But the defense might be the worst in the league, allowing more than 500 yards in the opener at Philadelphia and 407 more yards against Seattle.

The Seahawks were without six injured receivers, starting running back Maurice Morris and both starters on the right side of their offensive line. Jones still rushed for 140 yards.

"Clearly, there is an attitude thing going on," Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "There is an attitude adjustment that is needed. You guys up on the pressbox can probably feel it, too. Some might call it confidence. I call it attitude. I think the attitude has to be there and right now, it isn't."

That's not what ownership was looking to hear less than a week after putting the head coach on notice.