Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Oct 2007

Linehan Takes Pole Position In Race To Be Fired

There are two 0-7 teams in the NFL, Miami and St. Louis. The Dolphins are playing with a first-year head coach; the Rams are not. As a result, it's not surprising to see that it is Scott Linehan who is taking more heat for his team's performance. Linehan has plenty of excuses- his offensive line is in shambles, his star running back has missed most of the season, his second receiver hasn't played much and his quarterback is gutting it out with a smashed-up ribcage. No NFL team is going to function in that condition. Even so, it looks increasingly possible that Linehan will be fired before the season is finished.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 22 Oct 2007

26 comments, Last at 24 Oct 2007, 12:02pm by Theo, Holland


by NorvTurner (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:15pm

I will be available soon.

by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:26pm

Re: 1
That's gotta be the post of the month.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:38pm

As for Cameron, I think he's doing the best he can with a truly awful team. It's mindboggling to me that anyone thinks the Dolphins ever had a chance this season.

The Dolphins have three good players: Jason Taylor, Ronnie Brown, and Zach Thomas. Who's their fourth-best player? Channing Crowder? Marty Booker?

The Rams, comparatively, have plenty of talent, and they're still doing horribly. Part of that is injury, but much of that is clearly coaching.

Alex Barron could be a good tackle if he didn't false start all the time. For two years, now, Linehan's staff hasn't been able to correct that problem. It really shouldn't be so hard to teach someone not to move until the snap; other coaches do that without a problem. We also know perfectly well that Torry Holt can be a game-changing weapon on the level of Marvin Harrison. When Linehan inherited him, Holt was the all-time leader in receiving yards per game. But he's been totally innocuous during Linehan's tenure.

Linehan is allegedly an offensive guru, primarily because he happened to be the offensive coordinator for Randy Moss with the Vikings. I'd be willing to forgive his unmitigated disaster of a defense if he could use the Rams' offensive weapons effectively, like he did (somewhat) last year. But at this point, I don't see what he's contributing to the team.

by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:45pm

This only strengthens the argument that Orlando Pace was the greatest offensive lineman that ever played the game.

by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:51pm

Linehan used to coach the Fins and he imported seemingly a half dozen players to St. Louis, so what do you expect?

That having been said, I still think the Rams will finish 4-12. Which is 4 more wins than the Fins will have. In '07 and '08 combined.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:59pm

Re: #3

Make that two good players. Word out of Miami is that Brown is gone for the year.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:01pm


Excellent! A good OC who can't cut it as a head coach is exactly what the Rams need! I wonder why they haven't tried it before?

by citizen jason (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:03pm

There was a shot during the Seahawks game of Bulger rolling his eyes in a "what an idiot" sort of way after talking with Linehan. Based on that, I think he's gone at the end of the year, if not sooner ...

by Kneel Before Zod! (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:17pm

3: 3 good players, one on IR and the other two getting old.
I used to hate the dolphins but now I pity them. I hope next years draft class is so good they are hate worthy again.
I don't blame the coaching, in fact I thought Cameron made some logical calls that I've seen other coaches fail at.
I also suspect they are playing for next year by being quick to put guys on IR and trading Chambers which indicates some feeling of security.

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:33pm


I'll repeat what I said about Cameron in the 'Audibles' thread;

Cam Cameron continues to impress me with his willingness to try and convert 4th down. If Miami don’t get 4 wins, Cameron is probably toast, and I think that would be a shame. Purely subjective, but I think he has the makings of a good HC.

The Chambers trade and Green to IR suggest that he feels comfortable for next year, but he really needs to get in the win column.

Peter King was spot on today about the source of Miami's troubles: between 1998 and 2003, Miami had 59 picks. Not a single player that they drafted or traded for with those picks is on the Dolphins roster. For draft futility that has to be some sort of record.

by db (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:27pm

Miami's draft for 2000-03 was handled by Dave Wanstedt who is currently destroying football at Pitt. I probably didn't spell Wannabe's last name right as I have been trying to forget him. Head coach wise he was the mother of all Turners.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:57pm

I think it's unfair to blame Dave so much for total lack of players from those drafts. It's not like none of those players are in the NFL. Teams that rapidly flip coaches often drain their talent away as each new management team cleans house. Fast flipping of management and roster is a sign that Dolphins problems probably go very, very high up the management structure (I.E. ownership). Let's not forget drafts 2004-2006. It's not like Nick Saban's players are coming through for Cam either. Saban's defensive draft picks have been terrible, he also apparently decided not to sign ~1/4 of the team last offseason leading to the loss of most of Miami's best reserves. Is Cam a good HC? He certainly has the offense playing OK at times, but his defense is beyond terrible. He can't have too many more 42-7's this season or it maybe too hard to keep him. At some point your team has to show some fire. As a Dolfan all I have to say about the AFC east is Ugh. The only one who must feel worse are the TV executives who have one of the greatest teams to come along in a while and they can't put any of their divisional games on a national broadcast.

by mshray (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:11pm

If you listen to the talk around SF, Mike Nolan is likely to make it a two-horse race. Given that it's his 3rd year & he has more control over player personnel decisions than Linehan (I think anyway), he should bear more direct responsibility for the four game skid that has no end in sight. The Niners were supposed to make a big leap with all their free agent signings, they have fewer injuries to blame it all on, and, most damning in the Bay Area, they now look demonstrably worse than the Raiders. Remember, the Niners are only two fluke plays from being winless. If Dante Hall doesn't fumble a fair catch they lose to the Rams. And if Eric Green has the sense to knock a fumble out of the end zone instead of trying to pick it up, they lose to Arizona too. In both 'wins' they were held below 200 yds total offense.

by Takao (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:40pm

Well, hopefully the Dolphins can pass on Brohm or Woodson and get ahold of a playmaker like DeSean Jackson.

by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:10pm

#10: The Fins won't win 4 games this and next season combined. I have the exact opposite view of Cam you do--IMO he's a brain dead zombie with all the leadership ability of a lamp post who has the classic look of a man *way* over his head. This is the same guy who made a top ten pick based exclusively on how well he knew the guy's FAMILY.

#12: Damn right it's ownership. Isn't it a bit strange to you that they've had all these coaches and players go through in the last decade, and the results keep getting worse? Wayne Huizenga has publicly admitted he doesn't know a thing about football, and his hires certainly reflect that. He also seems to be *extremely* gullible when it comes to dealing with his employees. How did this man become a billionaire again?

by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:11pm

BTW that last post was only a hint of an iota of a sliver of what I say every day on my Dolphins message board. Well okay it's not *mine* just the one I post at :-)

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:25pm


It might be a little unfair to blame all the personnel mistakes on Wannstedt, but it isn't. He did exactly the same thing to Chicago. He had a reasonable team when he arrived and let all the good players go and replaced the with complete crud. The only Wannstedt draft pick that was any good was Olin Kreutz, and you can even question that pick as the Bears already had Casey Weigman who is/was a pretty good palyer anyway.

by emcee fleshy (atl/sd) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:52pm

#4 - argument?

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:29pm

Art Shell better lineman than O Pace.

Also Raiders happy they have Lane Kiffin and not some bum like Scott Linehan or Norv Turner or Kirk Cameron.

by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:29am

I can imagine your happiness, Raiderjoe. You already got as many wins as last year.

by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:39am


O. Pace injuries and the Rams offensive collapse have a more statistically significant inverse relationship than say... global warming, increase of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters and the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s.

by SoulardX (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:19am

#3 You are very correct on Randy Moss being the reason Linehan got the rep as a good offensive mind.

The exact same thing happened to Culpepper that year. Now, look at them both. Linehan is being mocked in press conferences by the STL media and being told he should watch college football games to spice up his offense.

Culpepper can't do anything either, well except take sacks and run for 4 yards.

Interestingly, while Tom Brady is one of the alltime great QBs, he didn't have one of the alltime great statistical seasons until Moss arrived.

Moss--when he tries-- makes players/coaches completely exceed their normal results.

Moss has now made four people/seasons--Randall Cunningham, Culpepper, Linehan and Brady.

by Tim D. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:24am

#21: Pfft, next you'll tell me that there's some giant, invisible, flying spaghetti monster swatting down the Rams' passes with its noodly appendage.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:25pm

"Culpepper can’t do anything either, well except take sacks and run for 4 yards."

To be fair to Culpepper, thats better than any Raider's QB has done since they lost the SB in 2002

by Bullwinkle (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:11am

Re: Paragraph 3.
It actually makes a great deal of sense to put a bandage on a gunshot wound. It depends on the size of the bandage and the severity of the wound.
I think Mr. Burwell meant Band-Aid but was afraid of copyright problems. Man up, Bryan!

by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:02pm

23. Actually; there is. But it's your free choice to believe that or not. RAmen.