Rams Hire Dolphins Assistant Linehan as Head Coach
Jan 19, 6:55 PM (ET)
By R.B. FALLSTROM
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Rams hired Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan on Thursday, the sixth first-time NFL head coach to land a job in the last two weeks.
The team called a news conference for Friday to introduce their fourth head coach since moving to the Midwest in 1995.
It's the first hire outside the organization, however, since Dick Vermeil was lured out of retirement in 1997. That move produced the franchise's only Super Bowl victory after the 1999 season.
The 42-year-old Linehan impressed the team in two interviews. Then, he passed a final test with a meeting with team majority owner Georgia Frontiere in Arizona.
Linehan helped the Dolphins finish 9-7, winning their last six games. He had been one of three finalists along with Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Linehan replaces Mike Martz, who was fired one day after the Rams finished a 6-10 season. That move also came one day after Martz received medical clearance to return to the job after missing most of the season with a bacterial infection of the heart.
Speculation regarding possible candidates to replace Linehan as the Dolphins' offensive coordinator included Martz.
Of seven coaches hired since the regular season ended, the only one with previous head-coaching experience is Herman Edwards of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Linehan has never been a head coach at any level. He's been in the NFL for four years, the first three as offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings where he helped produce the top-ranked offense in 2003.
Last season, the Dolphins improved from 29th in total offense to 14th, and went from 31st in rushing to 12th. Linehan shuffled Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown successfully at running back, and coaxed a career-high 18 touchdown passes from Gus Frerotte.
Also, wide receiver Chris Chambers had his best season and was picked for the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Linehan moved from the press box to the sideline for games midway through the season. Players raved about him though he didn't speak to the media, in accordance with coach Nick Saban's rule that assistant coaches are off limits.
Saban predicted that Linehan will be a "tremendous asset" to the Rams and said he "did an outstanding job" in his one season with Miami.
"Before Scott joined the Dolphins, I considered him to be one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the league," Saban said in a statement. "After working with him this past season, I also came to appreciate his work ethic and organizational skills. I have a great deal of respect for Scott, and I know he is well qualified to be a head coach in the NFL."
A quarterback at Idaho, Linehan passed for 7,018 yards, then began a 14-year college coaching career as an assistant at the school in 1989.
Martz missed the last 11 games with endocarditis, an infection of a heart valve, and Joe Vitt served as interim coach. Martz interviewed for the vacancy in New Orleans filled by Sean Payton, and Vitt interviewed for the vacancy with the New York Jets filled by Eric Mangini.
The day that Martz was fired, team president John Shaw said that Vitt, a longtime Martz acquaintance who had been linebackers coach and assistant head coach before taking over, would not be a candidate.
It had been expected that the Rams would seek a defensive-minded coach, given that the team finished 30th in the NFL and allowed more points than all but one team. Instead, Shaw went for an offensive mind that could take advantage of the team's talents on that side of the ball.
Wide receiver Torry Holt and offensive tackle Orlando Pace both made the Pro Bowl, and the offense also features 1,000-yard running back Steven Jackson, quarterback Marc Bulger and wide receiver Isaac Bruce.
Bulger missed half of the season with shoulder injuries, a major reason for the team's record.
The Rams made the playoffs four times in six seasons under Martz, who was done in more by clashes with the front office than coaching. Martz was offensive coordinator under Vermeil on the team's Super Bowl championship team in 1999 and led the Rams to another Super Bowl where they were upset by the New England Patriots in 2001, but bad blood built between he and director of football operations Jay Zygmunt the last few years.