Rams' Linehan new coach is similar to their old coach

Saturday, January 21st 2006, 2:26 pm
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ In many ways, the St. Louis Rams' new coach is very similar to the one they just fired.

Scott Linehan is a sharp offensive tactician who will call his own plays _ just as Mike Martz used to do.

``It's like giving up a dog or something,'' Linehan, the former Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, said Friday at a news conference to introduce him as Martz's successor. ``I can't give that away.''

He will also leave the defense, largely, to the coordinator. Again, just like Martz.

``The reason you hire coaches is to do the job you hired them for,'' said Linehan, who agreed to a four-year contract. ``I'm going to be involved just so I'm informed.''

The Rams hope the similarities stop there. Clashes with the front office hastened an end to Martz's six-season stay with the Rams, a run that included four playoff appearances.

Martz was fired the day after the season ended and the day after he was cleared medically to return to his job. He missed the last 11 games because of a heart infection.

For Linehan, running the Rams is going to be a team effort.

``We're going to do things together, we're going to make decisions together, and we will come to the right decision,'' Linehan said. ``We're not always going to agree, but we're not going to be disagreeable about it, and that's what the most important thing is.''

Another similarity: Linehan, 42, and Martz both got their first head coaching job with the Rams. Linehan has been in the NFL for four years, serving as offensive coordinator in Minnesota for three years before moving to Miami last season.

The Vikings had the No. 1 offense in the NFL in 2003 under Linehan. And during Martz's glory years, Linehan was a big fan, looking to borrow any of the wrinkles.

``I have always admired what the Rams have done offensively, and coach Martz is obviously the guy that's been doing that on the offensive side,'' Linehan said. ``We studied and emulated a lot of things offensively that were done here, just like everybody else in the league, and everybody knows it.''

Still, Linehan pledged not to forget the defense. His top priority is to hire an established defensive coordinator, and he wants a defense that is every bit as aggressive as the offense.

``I think one of the problems when you get such a wonderful, dominant offensive scheme like they've had here that sometimes you get that little brother syndrome,'' Linehan said. ``A lot of it is just bringing them into the fold.

``You've basically got to have the same goals up in reverse order so we're all playing together and on the same page.''

Team president John Shaw described Linehan as ``one of the young, bright offensive minds in the NFL.'' He said Linehan stood out during a 17-day interview process.

``After all of these interviews, it was clear to us that coach Linehan should be the next coach of the St. Louis Rams,'' Shaw said.

Even Martz expected Linehan to thrive with the Rams.

``He'll make his mark,'' Martz said. ``He's a bright guy and he'll get the players' respect.''

But he also said this was the honeymoon period for the new coach.

``They'll pick the players and coaches for him, and he'll do whatever they want him to do,'' Martz said.

It will be Linehan's first head coaching job at any level in a career that began at Idaho, his alma mater, in 1989. He called it a ``dream come true,'' but promised his wife, Kristen, that he wouldn't cry at his news conference.

``I don't think anybody can tell you or prepare you for all the things I need to be told and prepared to be a head coach who's ready to go out there today,'' Linehan said. ``You really don't know what path it's going to take you, but you're always preparing yourself for this day.''

Guard Adam Timmerman approved of the move. The Rams initially had been seeking a defensive-oriented coach since the team finished 30th in the NFL and allowed more points than all but one other team.

Instead, Shaw went for an offensive mind to take advantage of the team's talent base.

``One of our strengths has been our offense,'' Timmerman said. ``It's good to have an offensive coach who really is going to know how to use those things rather than do a full 180 and try to get a defensive guy.''