Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Owner Rosenbloom pledges change if Rams don't turn it around
ESPN.com news services
ST. LOUIS -- A day after unleashing a lengthy tirade about his winless team's poor play, St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan was more positive Monday about turning the season around, saying, "I don't have a choice and neither does anybody else around here."
That reality became more apparent when team owner Chip Rosenbloom told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team's play was "not acceptable" and warned changes will come if things don't improve.
The Rams, 3-13 last season, have in two weeks endured a pair of lopsided losses -- a 38-3 drubbing by the Eagles in Week 1 and a 41-13 loss to the Giants on Sunday, in which they were outscored 28-7 in the second half and gave up six sacks.
Things are bad enough in St. Louis that Las Vegas has installed the Seahawks, who are also 0-2 and have been swamped by an early wave of injuries, as 10-point favorites.
Just how bad are the Rams?
The offense is 3-for-26 on third-down conversions, has yet to run a play inside the opponent's 20-yard line and has allowed quarterback Marc Bulger to absorb 10 sacks. The defense has coughed up 963 total yards and allowed a league-high 79 points.
When Rosenbloom assumed control of the team in January after his mother, team owner Georgia Frontiere, passed away, he said there would be no sudden changes until he could evaluate the team. But in an interview with the Post-Dispatch, he made it clear that he's seen enough.
"Obviously, the game of football is about winning," Rosenbloom said, according to the report. "The level of play is not acceptable to me or anybody in the organization."
In the interview, Rosenbloom asked that the team's fans remain patient.
"I am happy for this team to be in St. Louis, where we have an appreciative fan base," he said, according to the report. "And I hope that the fans will not waver in support of their team -- even when times are a little tough."
But he also pledged that change would come if things don't improve.
"Things will get better," Rosenbloom said. "And if they don't, changes will be made."
Linehan, who is normally soft-spoken but unleashed a lengthy diatribe after Sunday's loss, tried to be more upbeat a day later.
"In my mind, we're going to beat Seattle," Linehan said. "I'm not making any guarantees. In my mind we're going to beat Seattle and we're going to right this ship, OK, because we don't have a choice.
"When you don't win games, people are going to want the head coach's head. That's the way it works," Linehan added. "I've accepted that only as part of the job, but not as part of where we're going."
Jokingly, Linehan said he thought about radically altering the schedule in search of a positive result, perhaps by holding practice at midnight and having players sleep during the day. Seriously, he noted it was pointless to worry about practicing the red zone offense until the Rams get there.
"We could eat baloney sandwiches on Wednesday, penalize the team for not playing very good," Linehan said. "We could try all that stuff. The bottom line is it's how we play on Sunday and what we do when we get in those moments that's going to decide our fate."
Linehan did, however, hint at personnel changes this week. The list of potential candidates could include safety Corey Chavous, cornerback Tye Hill, wide receiver Dane Looker and offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Nick Leckey.
Linehan was 8-8 in 2006, his first season as a head coach at any level. But the Rams are in the midst of a sorry 3-15 skid dating to last season, and echoes of their 0-8 start last year are lingering with an increasingly hostile fan base.
Thus far the addition of offensive coordinator Al Saunders is an early-season flop -- the Rams scored their only touchdown of the season on a fluke play against the Giants. And the statistics only hint at how much the offense is struggling: Sunday, Bulger limped away after Jackson bumped knees with him on one handoff, and Jackson tripped on the turf on what could have been a 66-yard touchdown run.
"I think it's a fragile group and we've got to stay the course," Saunders said. "I'm disappointed, certainly. I'm not discouraged about these guys, because I know what we can do down the road."
The defense has been every bit as shaky. The Giants had six gains of 28 yards or more while foiling the Rams' pregame strategy of controlling the run and stopping Plaxico Burress.
"I think there are some individuals lacking confidence," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "They just need to go out and play."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.