Browns-Rams: Linehan in Limbo?

The situation in St. Louis could be described, charitably, as a "bit of a mess". Since the unexpected usually happens in the NFL, it's all that much more reason for the Browns to be on alert. Here's the latest from the Rams camp...


Rams president John Shaw shot down televised reports Sunday that coach Scott Linehan could be fired during the team's bye week, which comes after this week's home game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Rams are 0-7 and have lost their last two games by a combined score of 55-9. They have yet to score an offensive touchdown on the road, and they have lost their four road games by a combined total of 114-19. In the second half of those games, the count is 74-9.

Asked about the reports of Linehan's imminent demise, Shaw told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "That's a ridiculous report. There will be no coaching changes during the bye week. No one's happy about 0-7, including our head coach. But that's ridiculous."

Shaw reiterated what he told the paper a few weeks ago when he said any evaluations of Linehan would come after the season is over.

It's difficult to fathom how an offense that had so many superlatives last season in Linehan's first year could descend to such failure. In 2006, the Rams had just 18 turnovers and quarterback Marc Bulger had just eight interceptions. Currently, the Rams have 23 turnovers, including 15 in the four road games. All of those have gone against the quarterback. Bulger has seven interceptions and two lost fumbles, while Gus Frerotte is responsible for the other five interceptions and another lost fumble.

In his last three road games, Bulger has had passer ratings of 35.6, 42.7 and 38.0. At Baltimore, Frerotte's rating was 30.6.

In Sunday's 33-6 loss to Seattle, Bulger, returning after missing two games because of broken ribs, was intercepted three times and lost two fumbles. The defense, while showing some improvement, has just four takeaways in the road games.

The offensive line was guilty of five false starts against the Seahawks, and pass protection was poor, leading to seven sacks.

Asked if this was the worst the offense has looked this season, Linehan said, "I would say that last week wasn't very good either. But it was not good in a number of ways. Just numbers-wise, we had a number of errors. We had pre-snap penalties, as well as the turnovers, that created problems."

While Linehan has tried to avoid linking the offensive problems to issues with the line, he alluded to that after Sunday's game when asked why the blocking isn't better. Said Linehan, "That's a good question. We analyze that very thoroughly, and it's a group of guys that haven't played together. And it goes to show you that when you have a group that is consistently working together as a group, you get better results. We have been in and out of different lineups, and I think it creates a problem. It's obvious to me that that is one of the areas that we struggle. And I think a lot of it has to do with that."

Of the top eight offensive linemen entering training camp, three are on injured reserve, including All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace, and another, Todd Steussie, was released from injured reserve after reaching an injury settlement with the team.

Only once has the same line that started a game finished the game. Over the course of the first seven games, there have been three left tackles, three left guards, two centers, four right guards and three right tackles.

Asked to explain the offensive problems, tight end Randy McMichael said, "You can't explain it. There is nothing that can be said. You can talk and try to correct it, but you have got to get it done. It is about man-on-man, who wants it more. Sometimes it is not about technique, or coaching, but who wants it more. And sometimes, you know, you fall short. So we have to go look ourselves in the mirror as a man and say, 'What do I want to do? Do I want to fold the tent up or come out and play like a man for these last nine games?'"


BULGER AND LINEHAN DISPUTE? TV cameras caught QB Marc Bulger rolling his eyes toward coach Scott Linehan in the first quarter after Linehan had some words following another failed red-zone trip. On second-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Bulger rolled to the right and was sacked rather than throwing the ball away.

Asked about what was said, Bulger would only say, "I think every player and coach are going to get into it probably 10 times during a game. I honestly don't know what it was, but I'm sure it was on TV. Five seconds later, it's just football. That's the way it is. That's the kind of thing that happens when you're 0-7. And it happens when you're 10-0. On offense, it's all just to get things corrected.

"It's not a thing where I'm right and you're wrong. It's just explaining yourself and coaches explaining themselves and you're all just trying to get on the same page and get better. There's not a lot of time for arguing out there. I'm sure whatever everyone saw was less than five seconds. I'm not worried about it."

ROMBERG REGRET: C Brett Romberg probably shouldn't have played after suffering a sprained left ankle in Week 6 against Baltimore. But he started, and he lasted until the third quarter when he injured his other ankle and also banged his right knee.

Said Romberg, "I felt it on the first play, but after that it felt good. I think the medicine kicked in a little bit. And then, all of a sudden, the right one went. I've got all the luck in the world. I was sitting back pass blocking, and I guess Marc (Bulger) got sacked into the back of my leg. It didn't feel too good. I think it's probably the same (type of injury) as last week."

NOT BITTER. NOPE: FB Madison Hedgecock was cut by the Rams following the first game of the season, and he was immediately claimed on waivers by the Giants. Since joining the Giants, the team has won five of six games.

Said Hedgecock, "I got an opportunity here and I've got to make the best of it, because I think they did me a wrong in St. Louis. I didn't deserve none of that. Why would you get rid of a key person in your offense after your first game? I made the team, I played the first game. The head coach had a guy he wanted to bring in, one of his old players."

That would be TE/H-back Richard Owens.

When it was noted the Rams were 0-6 (prior to Sunday's game), Hedgecock said, "Yeah, 0-6, I'm happy. Every day they lose, I laugh. And every day we win, I laugh."

RAMS PLAYER NOTES

--RB Steven Jackson, who has missed four games because of a groin injury, is expected to play Sunday against Cleveland.

--C Brett Romberg now has two badly sprained ankles and is not expected to play next Sunday against Cleveland. Romberg played with an injured left ankle against Seattle, and he left the game with an injured right ankle.

--DE Leonard Little will need surgery at some point to repair torn ligaments in his toe. Because of how painful the injury is, Little played sparingly Sunday against Seattle. If he continues to have trouble contributing, it's possible he might have surgery before the end of the season.

--DE Victor Adeyanju played solid against the run vs. Seattle, filling in for the injured Leonard Little (toe). He had seven tackles.

--C Andy McCollum will start Sunday against Cleveland with Brett Romberg expected to miss the game due to an ankle injury.



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