No, the sack totals haven't finally added up. That headline is my paraphrasing of what's probably the most under-reported aspect of Steven Jackson (latest) buzz generating interview, the one where he hammered the Rams for their decision to bench QB Marc Bulger.
The point he's making when he says the Rams have lost Bulger for the season is that head coach Scott Linehan can't effectively come back to Bulger and ask him to play again after what's happened, something that would seem to confirm the whispers that Bulger says he'll no longer play for Linehan.
In the video below, ESPN analyst Darren Woodson argues that benching Bulger and turning to Green, while not the best move, was the only way to shake up a locker room with low morale and the danger of that spreading even further. I honestly don't know how much further it could spread, or if it matters.
There's probably already too much friction between Linehan and some of his key players like Jackson, and obviously Bulger. We know Torry Holt's had his very public disagreements with Linehan in the past, and while he plays hard, I can't imagine he's a big Linehan guy. Nobody's saying this, but I suspect Fakhir Brown got cut because of a problem with the coach (or coaches); why else would a team struggling with pass defense and depth at CB release their top veteran player? Brown wasn't playing like their best CB, but there's plenty of reason to believe Brown's play wasn't just a rough start to the season. Check out what else Jackson had to say in his interview:
"We should be loose, we should be going out there playing football. But I think a lot of people right now are playing for their jobs. As far as fans listening, it's really hard to play for your jobs. We're not winning. Yes, it boils down to winning and losing in this business that we play in. But when you are playing not to lose your job, that is when you are not going to make plays."
The rift between Linehan and his players has passed the point where reconciliation is possible. You don't need to do much reading between the lines on this quote from LT Orlando Pace to get a sense of how players feel:
"Hopefully I do my job so I don’t get replaced."
That's just not the kind of thing Pace is know for saying. Nor is it what you want to hear from one of your core veterans. The players are near revolt and the team is in disarray. At this point, Sunday's outcome doesn't matter - just like the three wins last year - the Rams have to make changes. Firing Scott Linehan is the place to start. Just two weeks ago, I personally was willing to extend the grace period, but it's clear now the problem is irreconcilable.
Something may be afoot already, as the PD's Bill Coats reported this afternoon that Linehan jogged off the field without making himself available to the media in order to attend a meeting with GM Jay Zygmunt, a man synonymous with the franchise's overall decline. Burwell says can 'em both, and I have to say I agree 100%.