By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Monday, Nov. 10 2008
Rams coach Jim Haslett canít sift through the wreckage of a 47-3 loss and
announce that the team simply isnít good enough to compete.

Oh, that thought crossed his mind Monday after he digested his teamís
capitulation to the Jets in New Jersey.

But Haslett doesnít have that luxury. He is an interim coach, working with no
guarantee of future employment.

His challenge is to win football games with the players on hand. If he doesnít,
then he wonít coach the Rams past this season.

Sure, itís too bad that running back Steven Jackson missed another game with
his leg injury and is just ď50-50,Ē as Haslett put it, to play this week.

Itís unfortunate that two players who were on practice squads earlier this
season committed big turnovers in this game.

Itís regrettable that Haslett didnít have a bigger say on draft selections and
free-agent signings during the disastrous Scott Linehan Era.

Thatís the way it is. So all Haslett can do is get back to work with his staff
and his team. Mondayís film review was not pretty.

ďOn offense, there was a breakdown on every single play,Ē Haslett told
reporters during his afternoon news briefing. ďEvery single one there was
something, either the quarterback, the running back, the line, the tight ends,
the wide outs, it was something.Ē

This was no exaggeration. The Rams screwed up every single offensive play one
way or another.

And that was just one of the problems. Another was the defensive line, which
got manhandled.

ďThey took it to us up front,Ē Haslett said. ďI thought (Nick) Mangold and
(Alan) Faneca and those guys beat our defensive line up pretty good.Ē

Some how, some way he must connect with these players on some level and inspire
them to play smarter and tougher football. He started by challenging them
Monday.

ďIt was an interesting meeting today to say the least,Ē Haslett said. ďIím sure
you guys will talk to the players and I think they understand where weíre
coming from. Itís not on coaching, this is not on coaching, this had nothing
to do with coaching, it had nothing to do with the scheme, it had nothing to do
with Xs and Os.

ďOn the defensive side, there were plays that I saw run in practice 15 times
last week that we didnít execute in the game and the same guys that ran the
same defense for the last three years, so I donít want to hear that they didnít
know what they were doing or whatever because weíve run the same stuff for a
long time.Ē

Haslett doesnít want to hear about the team being downtrodden after all these
losses. That just sounds like excuse-making to him.

ďTo sit here and say that youíre fragile and all that, I think itís bull,Ē
Haslett said. ďI think itís just that you had five turnovers. You add playing
bad on defense, not lining up right and doing the things you have to do and
tackle and then you add that with the mistakes youíre making on offense, and it
comes out to be bad football.

ďEven if you line up right on defense and you do a great job and you line up
right on offense and do everything right, and you still turn the ball over five
times, itís still bad football. Thereís going to be 40 points scored. You donít
turn the ball over five times in this league away, in a visiting city, against
Brett Favre and a good football team, youíre not going to beat anybody.

ďYou can say itís the psyche, you can say itís adversity, you can say whatever
you want to say, it doesnít make a difference. Five turnovers are five
turnovers. You add that you donít get any, and you have a chance to get two of
them at least, and you donít get them. Call it whatever you want to call it. To
me, itís just bad football.Ē

There is not a whole lot he can do with his lineup. He could bench quarterback
Marc Bulger, as he did for the second half against the Jets, but there is no
reason to believe that will improve things.

Fill-in Trent Green hasnít done much with his two appearances. So Haslett
decided to give Bulger another start.

There has been some talk of giving rookie guard John Greco a start at guard,
perhaps in place of the disappointing Jacob Bell -Ė who could fill in at tackle
and guard.

Young receivers Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley could gain even
bigger roles -Ė but they still are making lots of rookie mistakes.

Veteran Torry Holt complains about being phased out of the offense, but is he
really working as hard as he can? Is he still striving for prominence in this
offense?

Offensive coordinator Al Saunders could get a lot more daring with his calls,
but how creative can he get when lead running back Kenneth Darby is getting
caught up on the playbook?

The Rams have seven games left. If they pull themselves together, they could
still win some games.

They will face the ***** twice down the stretch and they are not good. The Rams
have a home game against the reeling Seahawks, too, plus dates at The Ed with
the Bears and Dolphins.

If Jackson returns and the other so-called leaders pull their heads out, maybe
the Rams could still salvage some self-respect this season.

That is Haslettís only shot to keep this gig.