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Linehan out as head coach of Rams after 0-4 start

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

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will replace Linehan on an interim basis, Rams spokesman Rick Smith said.

"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," Chip Rosenbloom, owner and chairman of the Rams, said in a statement released by the team. "Unfortunately, the situation with the Rams as they exist today is no longer acceptable and we have to make a change.

"We do this with a heavy heart, and we thank Scott for his efforts and dedication on behalf of the Rams."

Linehan, just four games into his third season, had an overall 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 Rams scheduled a news conference later Monday.

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 straight 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, among 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 new owner Chip 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.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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