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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Haslett confession a start in the right direction

    Posted by Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune October 10, 2008
    Susan Poag / The Times-PicayuneJake Delhomme sat on the Saints bench as Aaron Brooks, hampered by a shoulder injury, led the Saints to three losses at the close of the 2002 season.

    Did you feel the earth move Friday morning?

    That tremor was caused by an axis-shifting confession from former Saints Coach Jim Haslett.

    Haslett, who is preparing for his head coaching debut with the St. Louis Rams this weekend, finally admitted he should have benched quarterback Aaron Brooks at the end of the 2002 season for backup Jake Delhomme.

    It took six years, a job change and a dose of humility, but he finally admitted it.

    "We had a chance to go to the playoffs, and I got hard-headed because Aaron Brooks got hurt, " Haslett said to Rams beat reporter Jim Thomas in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week. "I should've put the backup in and didn't. Everybody wanted the backup in, and I didn't. In hindsight, I probably should have, because the backup turned out to be a pretty darn good quarterback, Jake Delhomme."

    Of course, that hardly will pacify the tortured souls of Saints fans, who suffered through the agonizing 0-3 finish that year.

    And it certainly wasn't what we heard back in the day.

    Back then, no one in the Saints' organization wanted to admit what everyone in America knew: Brooks was injured and needed to be benched in favor of Delhomme.

    Remember the situation? The Saints started the season 6-1 and entered the final three weeks of the season at 9-4 and needing just one win against either Minnesota, Cincinnati or Carolina -- a trio of cellar-dwellers that were a combined 15-33 -- to earn a playoff berth.

    "There is nothing physically wrong with him, " Haslett said of Brooks at the time. "Physically, there's nothing wrong with him at all. Physically, his arm is fine."

    Brooks' sub-par performances, though, indicated otherwise. After injuring his right throwing shoulder against Tampa Bay in Week 13, Brooks wasn't the same. Before the injury, he completed 56.8 of his passes. After the injury, he completed 44.6 percent. His passer-efficiency rating in a closing loss to Carolina was an awful 26.9, the worst of his career.

    Haslett knew Brooks was injured. But he stubbornly fought conventional wisdom because he wanted to avoid a quarterback controversy.

    He believed in supporting his starting quarterback and didn't want to start the kind of merry-go-round at the position that had plagued the Saints' franchise for years. No doubt, Brooks' fragile ego also played a part in the decision.

    In so doing, though, Haslett violated a cardinal sin in coaching: You always do what's best for the team.

    The injury eventually required offseason shoulder surgery for Books. The damage to Haslett's reputation and job security wasn't as easy to repair. He'd blown a chance to earn a second playoff berth in his first three seasons, something no other coach in Saints history had accomplished. Three years later, Haslett was out of a job.

    Perhaps emboldened by his new lease on life, Haslett finally came clean this week, taking full responsibility for the decision.

    "Aaron wanted to stay in . . . and I should've made the change, " Haslett said.

    As confessions go, it's not exactly Clinton-Lewinsky, but it's still refreshing to hear all these years later.

    And it's clearly a positive sign for Haslett, whose stubbornness was infamous during his six-year tenure at the helm of the Saints.

    At 52, Haslett seems to understand the errors of his hard-headed ways.

    If he's learned from past mistakes, then he can be the answer in St. Louis -- or for another team at season's end -- because he knows the game as well as anyone.

    The league is filled with coaches who made the most of second chances.

    Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Tony Dungy and Mike Shanahan won Super Bowl titles in their second stints as NFL head coaches after being canned the first time around.

    Five years after being axed in Chicago, Dick Jauron has guided the Buffalo Bills to a 4-1 start in his third season.

    "I know I'll be better, because after you sit back and you analyze the six years down there, you start saying, 'Well, I wish I would've handled this game a little bit better, ' " Haslett said. "Game management to me is big because things happen fast. Dealing with the players."

    Haslett's confessions are a start in the right direction as he embarks on his newest challenge.

    They're also a good lesson for first-time head coaches everywhere, including current Saints Coach Sean Payton. In his first stint as a head coach, Payton has proven to be remarkably flexible on some things and amazingly stubborn on others.

    He'd be wise to listen to Haslett's confession and avoid similar pitfalls.

  2. #2
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    Re: Haslett confession a start in the right direction

    OK, What happens in New Orleans, stays in New Orleans. Who cares about the Saints, Jim Haslett is home now! Who knows if Jake Delhomme was ready at the time. Hopefully, Coach Haslett can light a fire under the Rams asses! NOW IS THE TIME FOR THE RAMS TO GO!

  3. #3
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    Re: Haslett confession a start in the right direction

    Live and learn. That is the advantage of having a coach who has done the job before. He has had plenty of time to look back at his past performance and should have a better idea about what worked and what didn't.

  4. #4
    rubberneck Guest

    Re: Haslett confession a start in the right direction

    Quote Originally Posted by dgr828 View Post
    OK, What happens in New Orleans, stays in New Orleans. Who cares about the Saints, Jim Haslett is home now! Who knows if Jake Delhomme was ready at the time.
    Since Delhomme took the Panthers to the NFC Championship game the next year, I would say he was ready. Also, Delhomme had played very well in a game that season, proving he was better that Brooks. Haslett screwed his team and the city by ego alone.

  5. #5
    Fortuninerhater's Avatar
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    Re: Haslett confession a start in the right direction

    Let's just hope that Marc Bulger starts earning his money so we don't have to cross that bridge, particularly since Haslett has already stated that Marc is the starter for the remainder of the season.

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