Ok, let's break down the game.
The Rams stink. The offense really stinks. Have the players given up or are they just outmatched week after week, sack after sack? I'd say you can make the case for both. Either way, the games are getting tougher and tougher to watch.
Linehan ax watch
Reports of Linehan being eighty-sixed ahead of the team's week nine bye swirled across the internet and became fodder for broadcast pundits this weekend. Finally, team President John Shaw stepped in to halt the rumors.
This shouldn't be a surprise. Only Jerry Jones can get away with threats to his head coach in the middle of the season, and with the injuries plaguing the Rams, Shaw risks the team getting labeled as a runaway franchise in complete disarray. Remember, Shaw et al hired Linehan.
That doesn't mean a coaching change in two weeks is out of the question entirely. Behind the scenes, there Linehan and his bosses could be settling down for a "conversation about his future" and opening the possibility of Linehan removing himself from the head coach role. Maybe. The Rams still have another game to play before the bye week, a home game against a Cleveland team that's no longer the league's doormat - the Rams and the Dolphins now share that dubious distinction.
Talk of the players giving up on Linehan doesn't help his cause. John Czarnecki of Fox Sports notes the growing chasm between the coach and his players:
And his players know it.
There was one sideline exchange between Linehan and Bulger in which the quarterback walked away rolling his eyes. And that was just one of several outbursts between Linehan and some of his players as the losses -- seven straight now -- keep piling up.
The Rams need help and probably have considered elevating defensive coordinator Jim Haslett into Linehan's role, but that's not the answer right now. The Rams seem to have suddenly gotten old overnight, and Linehan can't seem to right the ship or at least get the offensive line to perform. They are a joke right now, and Bulger is paying the price.
Losing the players can create as many, if not more, problems for Linehan than the injuries.
Whatever the case, Shaw's buttressing of his head coach isn't going to stop the rumors or the demands for Linehan's head. Check out this blog entry from Mike Florio in the Sporting News:
The Rams aren't just losing; they're being embarrassed. They were competitive in the early weeks of the season; now it looks as though they aren't even trying.
He ought to be able to win at least one game, so the Rams can avoid becoming the first franchise to finish a season 0-16.
Oh the intrigue!
I have to say, Haslett has the defense playing well. Contributions from guys like Wroten, Clifton Ryan, and the backfield prove that Haslett has them motivated. Rumors of Haslett tied to some head coaching jobs during the offseason, particularly at the college level, make it obvious that he doesn't intend to be a solely defensive coordinator for much longer, and the what he's done with the Rams defense should definitely garner him some notice. At this point in the season, I'd certainly be willing to see what he could do with the whole team.
Not-so-subtle insinuations about Haslett being a good candidate to replace Linehan in mid-season along with the constant drumbeat of calls for Linehan's head surely creates a little tension in the office. It would have to. Now, Haslett and Linehan are both professionals who should easily be able to ignore gripes in the press and focus on the task at hand. However, if the season continues to spiral out of control, tensions among everyone associated with the team will run higher and higher, increasing the likelihood that this issue can add to fuel to the fire and create problems among the coaching staff.
Stay tuned, this season could get interesting yet.