Rams players not surprised coach in danger of losing job

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- Given the sorry start to their season on the heels of a three-win year, it's no surprise to St. Louis Rams players that coach Scott Linehan is on the hot seat.

The Rams (0-2) have been outscored 79-16 the first two games and have lost 15 of their last 18 dating to last season. New owner Chip Rosenbloom, who along with his sister inherited the franchise after the death of their mother, Georgia Frontiere, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier in the week that "things will get better, and if they don't, changes will be made."

Linehan said he spoke with Rosenbloom right after Sunday's 41-13 loss to the Giants and again Monday before his day-after disaster news conference. He's 11-23 early in his third season, but noted there's plenty of time to right the ship given Sunday's game at Seattle will be the Rams' first against the NFC West.

"I said 'Chip, I know what position you're in,'" Linehan said Wednesday. "I take it as support. I also don't disagree with the fact that people have to step up."

Linehan indicated Monday that he may make some lineup changes, but said nothing had been settled.

"Even if we did, we wouldn't announce it," Linehan said. "I don't see any up side."

He also felt upbeat enough to chide media for not noticing it was his 45th birthday, adding "That kind of ticks me off." After jokingly suggesting he may punish players at lunchtime, he confirmed that baloney sandwiches were not on the menu.

Defensive end Leonard Little, who addressed the team after Sunday's loss, said it's up to the players to turn the season around. Little, a holdover from the franchise's glory years, said he was moved to speak out even though he hadn't played because of a hamstring injury.

"Everyone's under the microscope right now," Little said Wednesday. "Hopefully we'll respond to the criticism and whatever everybody says about us."

Quarterback Marc Bulger also was around the last time the Rams made a change in 2005, when Mike Martz missed much of the year with a heart ailment then was replaced at the end of the season. Bulger's strategy: concentrate on boosting an offense that has scored one touchdown and has yet to run a play inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

"What happens with ownership upstairs, it's out of your control, so you just have to prepare with the game plan and study Seattle and try not to get too caught up in how bad things are right now," Bulger said. "You just have to keep grinding and find a way out of this hole."

The solution is obvious to Little, who's likely to be out again this week: play to the finish. The Rams were down 20-13 early in the fourth quarter after Torry Holt, flat on his back in the end zone, hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Bulger after it was tipped a couple of times by the Giants' Kenny Phillips.

"You could just feel the energy in the stadium turn to our favor," wide receiver Dane Looker said.

The Giants responded with an 82-yard drive and the rout was on.

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