Rams to hire Miami coordinator Linehan as coach

Updated: January 19, 2006, 11:00 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Continuing the runaway trend toward hiring first-time head coaches, the St. Louis Rams have chosen Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as the successor to the deposed Mike Martz.

Linehan will be introduced as the Rams' head coach at a news conference Friday.

Scott Linehan
Al Messerschmidt/WireImage.com The Dolphins' offense ranked seventh in the AFC under Scott Linehan this past season.

The choice of Linehan came Wednesday evening after St. Louis officials concluded the last interview with the three finalists, a meeting with highly regarded Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. All three finalists -- Linehan, Rivera and San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron -- had traveled to Los Angeles this week for the follow-up interviews.

It is believed the decision came down to Linehan over Cameron, as Rams officials had come to believe in the last few days that a coach with an offensive background would best fit their team. Rivera met last week with the Rams and, while he was said to have been impressive, he was not as detailed as the others in his ideas for staffing.

The consensus around the NFL earlier Wednesday was that Linehan and Cameron were very close in the running as the Rams continued to deliberate the strengths and weaknesses of all the candidates. During an informal brainstorming session among team officials last week, Linehan rated as the most impressive candidate.

Despite reports that Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders might be a late entry into the St. Louis coaching derby, Rams sources said he was not interviewed.

In all, the Rams interviewed seven candidates. The only candidate with previous head coaching experience was Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, the onetime head coach of the New York Giants.

Linehan, 42, has only been in the NFL four seasons, serving as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings (2002-04) and then the Dolphins (2005). He is regarded as a bright and creative offensive mind, a coach who favors the power running game linked to a vertical passing attack.

Before joining the Minnesota staff, Linehan had a 14-year career in the college ranks.

The Rams became the sixth team to hire a first-time head coach rather than one with prior experience. Of the seven teams that have chosen new coaches in the past week -- only the Chiefs' Herman Edwards had previously been an NFL head coach.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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