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Winless Rams fire coach Scott Linehan

Monday, September 29, 2008 | 5:12 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — The winless St. Louis Rams fired coach Scott Linehan on Monday, the day after a fourth consecutive lopsided loss to start the season.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will replace Linehan on an interim basis. The Rams scheduled a news conference for later on Monday.

"I have enormous respect for Scott Linehan as a person and believe under the right circumstances he will be regarded one day as a fine head coach," owner Chip Rosenbloom said in a release. "Unfortunately, the situation with the Rams as they exist today is no longer acceptable, and we have to make a change."

Linehan had an 11-25 record in his first head coaching job. The Rams have been outscored 147-43 this season, and have allowed at least 30 points in seven straight games dating back to last year.

The move was made heading into the Rams' bye week and several hours after the Buffalo Bills outscored them 25-0 in the second half of a 31-14 victory Sunday.

St. Louis has lost 17 of its last 20 games overall.

The 0-4 start is the second in a row for the Rams, who lost their first eight games last year en route to a 3-13 finish that landed them with the second pick in the draft.

A sign at Sunday's home game read: "Congress. Now bail out the Rams."

Haslett was fired as coach of the New Orleans after the 2005 season and joined the Rams on Linehan's first staff in 2006.

The Linehan era was mostly a dreary time for the franchise, especially on the heels of the wild highs and lows of predecessor Mike Martz, who helped the Rams win their lone Super Bowl after the 1999 season and led them to a second Super Bowl as coach in the 2001 season.

The Rams were 8-8 in 2006, Linehan's first season. The team rallied to win four of its last six games after Linehan turned over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

Numerous offensive line injuries, beginning with seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace's season-ending shoulder injury in the opener, paved the way for last year's poor season. Linehan reclaimed play-calling duties that year after three games.

Linehan, 45, again relinquished the play-calling this season after replacing Olson with Al Saunders, one of several moves in a staff overhaul. Other changes were made, with training camp moved to a remote location in Mequon, Wis., and Linehan attempting to inject more energy into a his low-key personality.

On Sunday, he benched quarterback Marc Bulger, the highest-paid player in franchise history, and went with 38-year-old backup Trent Green. That was one of six lineup changes for the Bills game.

None of it worked.

Linehan knew his job was in jeopardy Sunday, having been put on notice by Rosenbloom. He emptied the playbook, going for first downs twice on fourth down and using a handful of trick plays with a juggled lineup led by Green.

The firing was the second in-season coaching change by the Rams this decade. Martz was replaced after five games in 2005 by interim coach Joe Vitt due to medical reasons. Martz was let go for good the day after that 5-11 season.

The last Rams coach removed during the season for nonmedical reasons was Bob Waterfield, replaced by Harland Svare after eight games in 1962 when the Rams were in Los Angeles.

 


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