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It's the protection, stupid

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Couple of random musings to start the morning.

There's one less head coaching job available as of this morning. The Parcells Dolphins made Tony Sparano their head coach, one of Parcells long time assistants. There's an interesting line in the ESPN story about the Sparano hiring. "Sparano coached tight ends and offensive line for Parcells during their four years together with the Dallas Cowboys. The ends and offensive line are two important areas for Parcells."

That bit leaped out at me with all the wondering we've done about Art Valero and his TBA position with the Rams. Through the Linehan era of Rams football, I've never had the impression that their was a system-wide approach to the offense, something that we really saw evolve in the Martz era. It seems like every NFL head coach carries some guiding philosophy about how the offense should work and all the parts are then synced to that unifying idea. Assuming Linehan and the Rams plan to unify their approach on offense is a stretch. Valero's hiring, with his experience with tight ends, running backs and the line at least gives me hope that Linehan intends to better integrate all three of those offensive elements into the Rams attack. Awakening the inner pass blocker in Steven Jackson will be just as important as making sure the tackles hold their ground after the snap. So when whoever ends up calling for a Bulger pass to Holt on a crossing pattern in the middle of the field, knows that all the parts are working in unison to make the blocks they need to make which in turn allow Bulger time to throw and Holt time to run his route and add some yards after the catch. Clearly the injuries had much to do with the offense being broken, but through all of the last 32 Rams games, the flow has been fleeting at best. Hopefully, the coaching moves can better ensure that happen in 2008.

Don't skim that ESPN article; read it thoroughly. The issues facing the Dolphins parallel to some extent the issues facing the Rams, notably the needs on the offensive line.

Being an offensive line coach -- and a good one in Dallas -- also helped Sparano get the job because Parcells believes the game is won along the offensive and defensive lines...

Once Parcells fired offensive line coach Hudson Houck -- one of the best in football -- everyone in the league knew Sparano was going to be the head coach because of his experience in coaching the offensive line. Other than maybe rookie center Samson Satele and tackle Vernon Carey, the rest of the line is probably going to be replaced over the next two seasons.


First, don't read me wrong; I'm not trying to canonize Parcells. But the focus on the part of the game that happens at the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped is key. More often than not, that's exactly where the Rams lost their games in the Linehan era. Yes, a big part of that was due to the plague of injuries. However, with Linehan calling the plays through most of tenure here, I had the distinct impression that most of his energy was devoted to mapping out the play calling at the expense of making sure the individual parts of the offense that make the plays work, like the line and the blocking game, worked like they were supposed to work. Hopefully, that's among the changes coming alluded to above.

Also note the last sentence, about the Dolphins replacing their line over the next two seasons. The Rams seem to be in a better place than but at the moment. Pace has a couple seasons or more left in him, but the time involved in rebuilding an offensive line underscores the need to draft and groom a suitable replacement sooner rather than later.

  • Young? Hungry? On the other side of the state, a KC Star columnist, Jason Whitlock, wonders why the Chiefs didn't try to inject some life into the team by hiring a "young, hungry" coordinator. Zampese is one of the names mentioned as a "young, hungry" guy that some "NFL experts are high on."

  • Pro Football Weekly keeps alive the possibility of the Rams hiring a "personnel heavyweight" to run the draft and rework the roster.

  • Sounds like Carson Palmer may not be sad to see Zampese leave.

  • The Rams might be looking for a new QB coach too. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the Saskatchewan Roughriders may approach Rams QB coach Doug Nussmeier about their head coaching vacancy. He's got CFL coaching experience, having spent 2001 with the B.C. Lions as QB coach and 2002 with Ottawa as the OC.

  • I suspect NFL head coaching candidates are licking their chops at the potential of the Colts job being available. Tony Dungy will announce his decision to stay or go on Monday. Who wouldn't want to step into a gig with Peyton Manning as the team's QB?

Finally, a homework assignment. Read this NY Times article about the role of running backs in today's NFL. Obviously, with Steven Jackson in the last year of his contract, we've got a big ol' elephant in the room to discuss.